Back in May 2012, when we were making fun at the latest iteration of the now fatally discredited European stress tests, we took the first of many jabs at the what may currently be the world's most systematically important, and undercapitalized, bank in the world, Deutsche Bank, which was so bad that it wasn't even allowed to appear on a screen of Europe's most undercapitalized banks - and we helpfully pointed out its true capital ratio of just under 2%, and an implied leverage of 60x! Fast forward 13 months to a Reuters interview with former Kansas City Fed president and FOMC dissenter and sole voice of reason at the Federal Reserve, and current FDIC Vice Chairman Tom Hoenig, who confirmed that once again Zero Hedge was just a year ahead of the curve: "It's horrible, I mean they're horribly undercapitalized," said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig in an interview. "They have no margin of error."
Just when the Super Goldman Mario Bros (Monti and Draghi) told us everything is fine in Europe, and it is not only safe but encouraged to get back in the pool, the first canary of 2013 just died.
As we reported previously, the stock of the oldest bank in the world, Italy's venerable Banca Monte Dei Paschi of Siena, was halted in early trade after plunging on news that the bank had engaged in not only the previously reported secret derivative transaction with Deustche Bank to hide losses before a prior government bailout, but yet another derivative transaction, this time with Nomura, signed three years ago and whose intention, ironically, was to reduce 2012 earnings by some €220 million.What the ultimate purpose of these deals was is still unclear and will likely become apparent eventually, however it will likely require the former Chairman of the bank, Giuseppe Mussari, who served as Chair from 2006 until April 2012, and who officially quit his post as Italy's top banking lobbyist after today's revelations, to testify. One person whom he may testify against is none other than current ECB head Mario Draghi, who just happened to be the head of the Bank of Italy from 2006 to 2011, or the entire period when Monte Paschi was engaging in what increasingly appears to have been fraudulent activity.But don't worry: just like in the US, nobody of signfiicance is about to go down for this "glitch" which is about to be blamed on some poor mid-level shmuck, and which nobody in the senior level management had any idea about, and certainly not the person who ultimately would have had to give the green light: the current head of the ECB.
To some, today is Martin Luther King day and as a result the US markets are closed, especially since today is also the day when Obama celebrates his second inauguration with Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor at his side (hopefully not on the taxpayers' dime). To others, January 21 is nothing more than the anniversary of the real beginning of the end, when five years ago a little known SocGen trader named Jerome Kerviel could no longer hide his massive futures positions and was forced to unwind them, sending global indices plunging resulting in the biggest single day drop in the Dax (-7.2%), and punking the Fed into an unannounced 75 bps cut. Luckily, today such cataclysmic unwinds are impossible as the market is priced perfectly efficiently, without central bank intervention, price transparency is ubiquitous and the Volcker rule has made prop trading by banks, funded by Fed reserves (which are nothing more than the monetization of excess budget deficits) and excess deposits, impossible.
After last week's event-a-palooza, where the headlines, the spin, the erroneous HFT trading, and the propaganda (Draghi is too cold; Draghi is too hot; Draghi is just right) just refused to stop, we finally enter the summer proper where all of Europe is on vacation, as is congress. Add on top of this a very light macro event week and an earnings season which has seen the bulk of companies already report, and we expect the volume in the coming 5 days to be among the lowest recorded in 2012, and thus in the past decade. Which of course means that the cannibalization among the market makers will continue as more and more firms succumb to "trading anomalies."
Pushing them to build up more debt to push additional debt on over-indebted nations who clearly can't pay back their current debt is quite foolish. Recession and depression looms everywhere.
We seem to get the daily barrage of messages and soundbites out of Germany demanding that countries stick to existing plans and that “austerity” is the only way forward. Germany continues to love to point the finger at the other countries and accuse them of borrowing too much and that these countries need to suck it up and pay what they owe. For now we will ignore the fact that Germany itself was one of the first countries to break the Maastricht Treaty. What Germany seems to be forgetting is that they jeopardized their own credit quality (as we first pointed out here). With bunds at record lows, this may not be obvious, but for the past 2 years, Germany has been throwing around guarantees and commitments like they meant nothing. We have argued since the beginning that all these guarantees were dangerous. Guarantees are more dangerous than CDS since it is truly impossible to figure out how much debt has been guaranteed or how likely the guarantees are to be honored. Germany is the ultimate backstop and seems to have forgotten that debt exists in two states - Debt is either Repaid or It Isn’t! No wonder Josef Ackermann came out in favor of more support for Europe. He has the good sense to see how bad this is - from EFSF/ESM support to bank losses to TARGET2 imbalances, it's just not pretty at all.
The good news: Spanish Q1 GDP printed -0.3% on expectations of a -0.4% Q/Q decline. Unfortunately this is hardly encouraging for the nearly 25% of the labor force which is unemployed, and for consumers whose purchasing habits imploded following record plunges in retail sales as observed last week. The bad news: Spain now joins at least 10 other Western countries which have (re) entered a recession. Per DB: "Spain will today likely join a growing list of Western Developed world countries in recession. Last week the UK was added to a recession roll call that includes Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Czech Republic, and Slovenia. Debt ladened countries with interest rates close to zero have limited flexibility to fight the business cycle and this impotency will continue for many years." Alas, the abovementioned good news won't last: from Evelyn Hermman, economist at BNP - "The Pace of Spain’s economic contraction may increase in coming quarters as austerity measures bite more sharply." Of course, it is the "good news" that sets the pace each and every day, as the bad news is merely a further catalyst to buy, buy, buy as the ECB will allegedly have no choice but to do just that when the time comes. And something quite surprising from DB's morning comment: "If it were us in charge we would allow more defaults which would speed up the cleansing out of the system thus encouraging a more efficient resource allocation in the economy at an earlier stage." Wait, this is Deustche Bank, with assets which are nearly on par with German GDP, saying this? Wow...
From the Deustche Bank voodoogist who just can't catch a break on any coin toss so far in 2011. Below are Joey La-Vorg's latest thoughts on the unfolding stagflation in the US: "We have trimmed our current quarter growth estimate further based on the most recent economic data which showed higher inflation in the current quarter as well as preliminary evidence that the soft patch is extending into June. Core inflation is presently up 1.5% year-on-year, and we expect it to further accelerate through yearend (2.1%). The larger-than-expected increase in the CPI implies the inflation adjustment to current quarter consumption will be larger than we initially anticipated, thereby softening the profile of household spending in real terms. Furthermore, we expect June to be another dismal month for auto sales. As a result, we lowered our Q2 PCE estimate to 1.0% from 2.0%, which in turn lowers Q2 GDP to 2.3% from 2.7%."
Is The Criminal Case Against Goldman About To be Reopened, As Robert Khuzami's "Ethical" Reputation Lies In RuinsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/11/2011 20:09 -0400
After a few days ago we described in detail the facts behind the ACA lawsuit against Goldman, we were left scratching our heads how it could be that the SEC could ever possibly scuttle this criminal case which was obviously a slam dunk through court, and which based on the disclosures presented by ACA, is a blatant violation case of 10(b)-5 securities fraud and underwriter representation. We asked: did the SEC hide a key piece of the case against Goldman to fast track a settlement process? We concluded that even the SEC's otherwise completely inexperienced legal team should have been able to get this case through the finished line without the need to settle. Two developments today may allow us to postpone the head scratching for at least a bit. According to the FT, the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations is about to issue a report which "will press the SEC to reopen its investigation into the bank." And in a completely separate report, we learn from Bloomberg that the SEC's top enforcement official, Robert Khuzami, who settled the SEC case with Goldman, is now being probed for his role in Citi's abrupt settlement over the summer. According to Bloomberg disclosures in a letter that served to open the probe "Khuzami ordered his
staff to drop the claims after holding a “secret conversation,
without telling the staff, with a prominent defense lawyer who
is a good friend” of his and “who was counsel for the company,
not the individuals affected.” We hope readers are able to put two and two together, and ask: just why is Robert Khuzami, former General Counsel for Deutsche Bank, still pretending to represent investor interests, when he obviously has far more powerful (and rich) interests to answer to?
As predicted in May, DB honors its obligation to flush good shareholder capital down the toilet.
Open Letter to the US DOJ: In response to your open investigation regarding the suppression of silver prices in the COMEX futures markets by JP Morgan, we believe that two PM ETFs, the SLV, of which JP Morgan serves as custodian, and the GLD, of which HSBC serves as custodian, firmly deserve a thorough investigation as well.
Circle Jerk 101: The SEC's Robert Khuzami Oversaw Deutsche Bank's CDO, Has Recused Himself Of DB-Related MattersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/24/2010 13:08 -0400
The incest continues: the WSJ has informed that the SEC's chief investigator, Robert Khuzami, used to be general counsel for Deutsche Bank, and presumably reviewed numerous CDO-related transaction, while on the "other side" of the wall. "As part of that job, he worked with lawyers who advised on the CDOs
issued by the German bank and how details about them should be
disclosed to investors. The group included more than 100 lawyers who
also defended the bank against lawsuits and vetted other financial
products, these people said." The good: he probably knows more about CDOs than any other person in government administration history, and thus would not have brought on the Goldman case without being aware of all the potential tripwire nuances (and yes, if the Goldman case gets to the discovery stage, which it will, it is game over for Goldman's defense strategy, which means settlement and/or much worse). The bad: who knows how many Deustche Bank CDO's of comparable or worse nature he allowed to see the light of day. The most interesting: "Because of Mr. Khuzami's old job and his financial interest in the
company, he has recused himself from any matters related to Deutsche
Bank, according to an SEC spokesman." With Greg Lippmann's (legendary head of CDO trading at the German firm whose assets are greater than all of Germany's GDP) recent sudden departure, and the SEC being prevented from bringing CDO-related charges against the bank (for the time being), is DB currently actively cleaning up its tracks? After all the firm was one of the top 3 CDO issuers in the period under consideration.
The (in)famous Greg Lippmann is gone. The question is why? Is Deustche Bank about to report the next Wells receipt? Of course not: Goldman did not do so even though it held it for 9 months.
The most recent broker to realize that private risk does not exist as a result of global moral hazard is Deutsche Bank, which is actively promoting ta long risk/short sovereign CDS trade. That is happening as IG13 trades at its all time record tights of 77 bps. In other words, buying an index of 125 investment grade credit provides less than 1% of incremental risk return. Pretty soon the ABX trade will be buying IG. Until then, however, the only risk continues being that of sovereign balance sheet, courtesy of onboarding of virtually all private sector risk at the Central Bank and via other backstop mechanisms.