Mark To Market
First we got Italy telling the world quietly it would not meet its deficit target for 2013, and will in fact experience debt/GDP growth in all outer years, and now we get the Bank of Spain, also taking advantage of today's market rally to dump its own set of bad news, namely that Spanish banks will need to provision another €29.1 billion, and will have higher core capital requirements of €15.6 billion (this is fresh capital). 90 banks have already complied with the capital plan, 45 have yet to find the needed cash. Putting this into perspective, the amount already written-down is €9.2 billion. So, just a little more. And this assumes there are no capital shortfalls associated with any impairment from the YPF -> Repsol follow through, which as Zero Hedge already showed, would leave various Spanish banks exposed. In other news, there is one more hour of trading: we suggest every insolvent entity in the world to quickly take advantage of the interim euphoria, as tomorrow may not be so lucky. Of course, in the worst case, Japan will just bail everybody out.
By now everyone is aware of Argentina's disturbing plan to nationalize YPF over the protests of Spain, and soon EU. And as we noted yesterday, the equity value of YPF is essentially a doughnut as BofA stated, if somewhat more correct politically. YPF continues to be halted on the NYSE as per a T2 halt (aka "The news has begun the dissemination process through a Regulation FD compliant method(s).") and there is little availability for price discovery at the first derivative level. However, where discovery is ample is at the second degree, namely Spanish Repsol-YPF which is a majority owner of YPF, whose CDS continue soaring, and hit a whopping 391 earlier today, well over 100 bps compared to the Friday closing spread. For a massive energy production company this is a big move and we can only hope its Spanish bank shareholders are well insulated from mark to market losses, although somehow we doubt it.
There are relatively few natural buyers of Spanish long dated bonds here. Fast money is likely caught long, and it will take a potentially reluctant ECB and some already overly exposed Spanish institutions to step up and stop the slide. It may happen, but many of the policies that “bailed out” Greece created very bad precedents for bondholders, and some of those are coming home to roost, as is the understanding that LTRO ensures that banks can access liquidity, but does nothing to fix any problem at the sovereign level.
With ZIRP and LTRO it is hard to get a good read on the Spanish yield curve and what anything means. Spanish 10 year yields have risen 9 days in a row, 5 year yields have moved higher 8 out of 9 days, and the 2 year has been much more mixed, until recently. The 2 year yield is out 19 bps in those 9 days, but 18 bps of that move has occurred the last 2 days. The 2 year bond fits the sweet spot of LTRO, is likely to be held by banks in non mark to market accounts, so it has been stable, but it has even started to leak a little. The move is small, almost trivial, yet with all the things working to support 2 year bonds, it is curious that it is able to widen at all, let alone 18 bps in 2 days.
One of the big stories of the week was that Morgan Stanley “reduced” its exposures to Italy by $3.4 billion mostly by unwinding some swaps they had on with Italy. Morgan Stanley booked profit of $600 million on the unwind. The timing couldn’t have been worse coming on the heels of the “Darth Vader” resignation at Goldman Sachs, attracting more attention to profits on derivatives trades was the last thing the investment banks need. Much of the outrage seems misplaced though. In this case, don’t blame Morgan Stanley, blame Italy, and be very afraid of what else Italy has done.
As gold loses its 200DMA once again (along with Silver weakness) as the USD rallied post FOMC and stocks were starting to limp lower, Jamie saved the day and the stock market had that most embarrassing of affliction - premature exuberation. While it seemed to have come as a shock to some that banks passed the stress test, the market's reaction (given only recently markets were worrying over NIMs, trading revenues, and real estate) was incredulous. The US majors were all up 6-7% (apart from Morgan Stanley which managed a measly 3.8% on the day!). With XLF now up more than 37% from its Oct11 lows, financials remain the major outperformers in this rally and we note that credit markets are missing the fun - the last time JPM stock was here, its CDS was trading 25bps tighter. Credit and equity moved in sync and tore higher on the JPM news. Gold (and Silver) which had been falling managed a decent bounce into the close while the USD closed at its highs post FOMC as did Treasury yields as for the first time since the 2011 bubble popped, the NASDAQ closed above 3000 (thanks in large part to AAPL's 3% rally over $568).
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.
While AIG FP often made the contracts look like insurance products, the banks were very careful to make sure that the products were “credit derivatives” because they needed the regulatory capital relief provided by them. Didn’t the Fed at some point get concerned about the counterparty exposure to AIG FP? Isn’t counterparty risk something that the Fed is responsible for monitoring (or the ECB in the case of foreign banks)? When the Fed let MS and GS become bank holding companies and get the ability to use Fed lending programs, didn’t they ask about the AIG FP exposure? Goldman, which always claimed it was hedged, must have had a massive short position in AIG CDS to be hedged – again, no one at the Fed noticed this? CDS may be unregulated, but when virtually every big financial company in the world has large notionals on with AIG, huge mark to market gains on those positions, no collateral from AIG, and big shorts in AIG CDS, couldn’t someone do their job? This should have been noticeable in 2007!
Even With Back Dated Deals Featuring Only One Party, One Can't Escape Greece's Problem Shared By Much Of The EUSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 03/08/2012 14:34 -0400
Even With Back Dated Deals Featuring Only One Party, One Can't Escape Greece's Problem Shared By Much Of The EU. Let's look at some nasty consequences...
We know how AIG and MF ended, as of yet we don't know how LTRO will end. Lots of "carry" trades have worked out well, but when they don't, the result is pretty ugly. Now we are seeing margin calls from the ECB starting to occur and we noted yesterday that MtM losses will start to evolve in some of the carry trades as risk is unwound very recently - perhaps we are getting a sneak peek at the cause of the next vicious cycle crisis.
Now that the hype of LTRO is over (for now) people are starting to focus on the details and some of the potential consequences. This is a first cut based on bits and pieces from various LTRO documents released by the ECB. We haven’t seen anything that resembles a document fully describing the current LTROs, but are trying to find it, and will refine this analysis as more details come to light. Between early maturity possibilities, the floating rate nature of the loan, and now the variation margin we discussed last night, it seems LTRO may rightfully be the driver of the 'stigma' extensively noted here previously.
The latest quarterly report out of CoreLogic is as usual full of curious insights about the state of US housing. Key among them is the finding that "negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for 27.8 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the fourth quarter, up from 27.1 in the previous quarter. Nationally, the total mortgage debt outstanding on properties in negative equity increased from $2.7 trillion in the third quarter to $2.8 trillion in the fourth quarter." In other words, courtesy of no Mark To Market, there is at least $2.8 trillion in debt held by investors (read banks and GSEs) that is marked at par and should be impaired. And one wonders why Fannie lost $16.9 billion in 2011 (up from $14.0 billion in 2010), and needed another taxpayer injection of $4.6 billion in Q4: it is so banks can pretend reality exists, and in the process avoid evicting tenants who live in these underwater homes, and who can pretend they don't have to pay their bills, but can spend money on iGadgets instead. Yet the scariest data point is that if one is currently in Nevada and looks at three houses right this second, two of them are underwater, or said otherwise, have negative or near-negative equity.
So, yesterday it was revealed that both Goldman and JPM had about 145 billion of “gross” notional outstanding on CDS related to the PIIGS. That means they each had roughly 145 billion of purchases and sales. They spoke about various netting agreements that makes the real number lower. They also mentioned with collateral and on a mark to market basis, the real exposure is far lower. Fine, though I wonder why they don’t execute the “master” netting and get the gross notionals down? Wouldn’t that help the system? If these were cleared or on an exchange, all they would have a single net exposure for each country. The collateral and netting would be handled at the central clearing or exchange. Wouldn’t that be simpler? Safer? The e-mini S&P future contract seems to be able to trade that way just fine, and it is more volatile than CDS on most days. Italian CDS is in 25 bps today – seems like a lot, but the up-front payment to buy or sell Italian CDS has changed by less than 1%.
Somehow, following three years of defaults, the world has only now figured out that the ISDA CDS trigger determination committee is made up of the same bankers, who stand to lose everything in the case of global out of control contagion, such as that which may occur if an unwelcome CDS trigger sends the house of cards collapsing, and force mark to market losses on all those institutions which hold impaired debt at par (all of them). As a result, the ISDA meeting which is currently in process is expect to find absolutely nothing, and we agree, however not for that particular 'conspiratorial' reason, but because ISDA is waiting for the PSI outcome for a realistic finding on a credit event. Because after all ISDA is not stupid: they don't want to appear like a pushover - remember how vehemently ISDA had opposed a Greek CDS trigger in the days when Europe still was not prepared for this outcome - but on the other hand wants to preserve some CDS market credibility, which would disappear if none of the recent events in Greece were to trigger CDS. Yet more Greek creditors are getting impatient. Even as the first ISDA meeting has to find (that there has been no CDS trigger), the association's determination committee has just released that it has gotten a second question whether a "Restructuring Credit Event occurred with respect to The Hellenic Republic?" We find it rather odd (or not really) how suddenly quite a few requests are springing out of the woodwork by creditors who obviously are interest in a Greek default. As such the PSI gets quite interesting, because if the pre-PSI action is any indication, quite a few creditors are rather interested in triggering just the event they now consistently badger ISDA with.
Everyone and their mum knows by now that Italian bonds have rallied since the first LTRO and we are told that this is symptomatic of 'improvement'. While we hate to steal the jam from that doughnut, we note Peter Tchir's interesting chart showing how focused the strength is in the short-end of the bond curve (which we know is thanks to the ECB's SMP program preference and the LTRO skew) but more notably the significantly less ebullient performance of the less manipulated and more fast-money, mark-to-market reality CDS market as we suspect, like him, the CDS is pricing in the longer-term subordination and termed out insolvency risk much more clearly than the illiquid bond market does, and perhaps bears closer scrutiny for a sense of what real risk sentiment really looks like.