Frontrunning: March 15

  • Obama, Cameron discussed tapping oil reserves (Reuters)
  • Greek Bonds Signal $2.6 Billion Payout on Credit-Default Swaps (Bloomberg)
  • China leader's ouster roils succession plans (Reuters)
  • China’s Foreign Direct Investment Falls for Fourth Month (Bloomberg)
  • Greek Restructuring Delay Helps Banks as Risks Shift (Bloomberg)
  • Concerns Rise Over Eurozone Fiscal Treaty (FT)
  • Home default notices rise in February: RealtyTrac (Reuters)
  • China PBOC Drains Net CNY57 Bln (WSJ)

Farage On Europe: Determined But Delusional

In one of his most vociferous speeches (which is saying something for the eloquent Englishman), UKIP's Nigel Farage takes his peers in the European Parliament to task on their "determined yet delusional" attempt to keep the Euro propped up (as they desperately avoid using the 'D'-word - default). Citing many of the shocking statistics we have ever-so-quietly posted (such as 50% youth unemployment in Greece, the sovereign bond litigation against the Greek government, and the German FINMIN saying a third bailout for Greece is possible), he conjures images of the stuff-upper-lip English ignoring the carnage around them as they enjoy dinner. Striking at the heart of the problem, Farage notes that what is being done is not to save Greece (in fact it will 'crucify' them - as is already evident in their GGB2 pricing) but to save the "failing Euro project" and he ends with a critical lesson for the outspoken political leaders that surround him and their unequivocal statements

Art Cashin On The Oldest Sovereign Bankruptcy And The UK's Bitter Experience With Perpetual Bonds

Greece just defaulted. Again. No surprise - the country has been in default half the time since 1820. Curiously, Greece is also the first recorded sovereign defaulted as Art Cashin notes in his piece today. He also reminds us that the UK's plans to return the 100 Year bond are nothing new. In fact, the Consol, or the UK perpetual, was around in the 1700's. Things did not work out very well back then...

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 14

Going into the US open, European equity markets have carried across some risk appetite from last night’s Wall Street news that 15 out of 19 major US banks had passed the Fed’s stress test scenarios. This risk appetite is evident in Europe today with financials outperforming all other sectors, currently up over 2%. Data released so far today has been relatively uneventful, with Eurozone CPI coming in alongside expectations and Industrial Production just below the expected reading for January. Taking a look at the energy complex, WTI and Brent crude futures are seen on a slight downwards trajectory so far in session following some overnight comments from China, highlighting the imbalance in the Chinese property market, dampening future demand for oil. Looking ahead in the session, the DOE crude oil inventories will shed further light on the current standing of US energy inventories.

Troika Finds Greece Already Likely To Miss Bailout Budget Targets

The money for Greece has not yet been wired, and already a deeper dive into the previously released Troika report shows  what is glaringly obvious to anyone who follows the actual collapse of the Greek economy: that the country is already on course to miss its budget targets for the immediate future (for insane EU assumptions on what the Greek economy should look like through the lens of a Eurocrat, see our chart of the day). The Telegraph reports: "Athens has probably cut spending enough to bring its primary deficit down to 1.5pc this year as agreed. But "current projections reveal large fiscal gaps in 2013-14" according to a leaked draft report by the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In its report, the troika said Athens will have to impose further fiscal cuts of as much as 5.5pc of GDP to meet next year's targets." And while Europe may be terminally fixed, translated this means that the aborigines of the southern colony of Bavaria Sachs will see their wages cut even more, and even more people will be unemployed soon just to appears the first lien debt holders. This in a country of 10.8 million where just 36% of the population works. So Greece, which today received a rare bit of highly irrelevant but good news, when Fitch became the first rating agency to upgrade the country's credit rating from Default to B- (even as its new bonds saw their yield surge to 19% on the second day of trading), will in a few short months be forced to once again deal with even more consequences of being the proud recipient of the inverted European bailout, whereby the country's gold is used to fund Eurobank capital shortfalls.

A Bit Of Humor Amid The Financial Insanity

Back to basics with some definitions:

DEFAULT, n. Semi-mythical celestial occurrence that passes by Earth every 76 years. 
I was worried for a second about that Greek default, but I realise there's nothing to see now and all is well.

FEDERAL RESERVE, n. A wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
The Federal Reserve voted to give a few more billion dollars to Wall Street.

US GOVERNMENT, n. Another wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
We seem to be running out of Goldman Sachs alumni here in the Treasury. No, wait, we've still got hundreds of 'em. 

A Visual Simplification Of The CDS Market

CDS is once again (still) in the spotlight. We have moved on from debating whether or not a Credit Event has occurred in the Hellenic Republic, to concerns about whether the CDS market will settle without a problem. There is a lot of talk about “net” and “gross” notionals and counterparty risk.  What I will attempt to do here, is build a CDS world for you. We will look at various counterparties, the trades they do, and the residual risks in the system. It will be loosely based on Greek CDS but some liberties will be taken. None of the institutions are real world institutions (in spite of how much they sound like some people we know). It is a simplification, but to make it useful, it has to be robust enough to give a realistic picture of the CDS market/system.

Presenting Bridgewater's Weimar Hyperinflationary Case Study

Last month, the world's biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater, issued a fascinating analysis of deleveraging case studies through the history of the world, grouped by final outcome (good, bad and ugly). As Dalio's analysts note: "the differences between deleveragings depend on the amounts and paces of 1) debt reduction, 2) austerity, 3) transferring wealth from the haves to the have-nots, and 4) debt  monetization. Each one of these four paths reduces debt/income ratios, but they have different effects on inflation and growth. Debt reduction (i.e., defaults and restructurings) and austerity are both deflationary and depressing while debt monetization is inflationary and stimulative. Ugly deleveragings get these out of balance while beautiful ones properly balance them. In other words, the key is in getting the mix right." Of these the most interesting one always has been that of the Weimar republic, as it certainly got the mix wrong.

After Greece, Here Are The Four Things That Keep Bank Of America Up At Night

The Greek CDS auction has not yet taken place, nor has one quantified how many Greece-guaranteed orphan bonds with UK-law indentures have to be made whole (at a cost to Greece of course, no matter how much Venizelos protests), and somehow the world is already moving on to bigger and better risk strawmen. Because if one sticks their head in the sand deep enough, it will be easy to ignore that European banks have gradually over the past year or quite suddenly (as in the case of Austrian KA Finanz) taken about €100 billion in now definitive losses on their Greek bonds and CDS exposure. Luckily, just like in the US, there is now over $1.3 trillion in fungible cash sloshing in the system, allowing banks to 'fungibly' fund capital shortfalls and otherwise abuse every trace of proper accounting, when it comes to a post-Greek default world. The problem is that none of this actually solves the fundamental insolvency issues plaguing the 'old world', but what it does do, is force the accelerated depletion of an aging and amortizing asset base. That's fine - as Draghi said the ECB can "always loosen collateral requirements even more." So while we await to hear just who will sue Greece and Europe, and how much cash will have to be paid out to UK-law bondholders (before the Greek default is even remotely put to rest), here is a listing of what Bank of America (recall - BofA is the one bank most desperate to remove any lipstick from the pig due to its need for more QE) believes will be the biggest risks to its outlook going forward. In order of importance: 1) Oil prices (remember when a month ago we said this then ignored issue may soon hit the very top of investors worry lists?), 2) Europe; 3) US Economy; and 4) China. That about covers it. Oh and massive debt issuance supply too as well as the even more epic straw man that is this Thursday's stress test. Remember: stress tests will continue until confidence in the ponzi returns!

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

The coming years will be marked by a seismic change in the economic landscape in the US. Firstly and most importantly, we are going to see economic growth slow down dramatically. The reasons for this slow down are myriad but the most important are: 1) Age demographics: a growing percentage of the population will be retiring while fewer younger people are entering the workforce. 2) Excessive debt overhang.