- RadioShack files for bankruptcy; Sprint to take over some stores (Reuters)
- Kansas To Issue Bonds and Invest Proceeds to Boost Pension Returns (WSJ)
- Merkel to Make Last Push With Putin as Pessimism Prevails (BBG)
- Islamic State in Syria seen under strain but far from collapse (Reuters)
- Texas Swagger Fades Fast as Oil Town Squeezed Hard by OPEC (BBG)
- SEC probes Blackberry options trading ahead of Reuters report about Samsung talks (Reuters)
- Spanish Bonds Underperform Italy’s as Podemos Gains Popularity (BBG)
- Steelworkers Union Rejects Offer From Refiners (WSJ)
- Brazil January Inflation at Fastest Pace in Nearly 12 Years (BBG)
Six years on from the financial crisis and central banks are still hacking away at interest rates. Australia and Romania's did this week and while Poland and India held off, both are expected to prune rates later in 2015.
What Denmark has just done is "back-door QE", because as some forget, there are two ways to push the price of an asset higher (thus pushing its yield lower in the case of a bond): increase demand, which is what conventional QE does when central banks buy bonds, or reduce supply. Which is what Denmark just did by completely cutting off all Treasury issuance "until further notice". As a result, paradoxically, increasingly more speculators are betting that the "Trade of 2015" could be doing precisely the opposite of what the Danish central bank is hoping will happen: i.e., shorting the EURDKK (or going long the DKKEUR) in hopes that when the Danish peg finally does break, it too will result in long Swiss France-type profits.
As we detailed previously, the first USD-denominated Chinese corporate bond default last week - of developer Kaisa Group - signals considerably deeper problems in China's economy as one manager noted, "everyone is rethinking risk right now." As Bloomberg reports, Chinese companies comprised 62% of all U.S. dollar bond sales in the Asia-Pacific region ex Japan last year, issuing $244.4 billion and that huge (and illiquid) market "has been too complacent," according to one credit strategist who warned, investors would be “rational to adopt a cautious approach in view of the fact that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime. It would be irrational to continue thinking that after Kaisa none of the companies will see a similar fate."
... things like a 50%+ drop in oil prices happen. Which at some point will lead more people to wonder what the real numbers are. For emerging nations, those numbers will not be pretty for 2015. They’re going to feel like they’re being thrown right back into the Stone Age. And they’re not going to like that one bit, and look for ways to express their frustration. Volatility is not just on the rise in the world of finance. It also is in the real world that finance fails to reflect. At some point, the two will meet again, and Wall Street will mirror Main Street. It will make neither any happier. But it’ll be honest.
“You never know where the skeletons in the closet are or what company will be next," warns one Chinese credit analyst and as the CNY30 billion indebted Chinese developer Kaisa Group (that we initially discussed here) admits it can’t say if it plans to meet a bond deadline today as a local news website said lenders took steps to preserve assets. The builder of residential communities and shopping centers must pay about $26 million in interest on its 10.25 percent 2020 debentures today (which appears unlikely) and its bonds have crashed to below 30c. The big question, as Bloomberg notes, is who's next?
David Rosenberg, formerly of Merrill Lynch and currently of Gluskin Sheff, who famously flip-flopped from being a self-described permabear to uber-bull last summer for the one reason that has yet to manifest itself in any way, shape or form, namely declaring that wage inflation as imminent (it wasn't, but perhaps Mr. Rosenberg was merely forecasting the trajectory of his own wages) and generally an end to deflation, has a rhetorical question for his paying clients, as asked in his letter to investors from January 2. To wit: "THIS IS WHAT PASSES FOR ANALYSIS?" We too follow up with an identical question not only for Mr. Rosenberg's clients, but for our own readers.
"most investors take a relatively short-term view and assume that what has happened most recently will continue. They fail to recognize that economic and market forces are always working to press companies (and whole industries) back toward their respective grooves... companies rarely perform way above the industry average or way below it indefinitely. There is a constant tendency to regress toward the mean..."
Drilling Our Way Into Oblivion: Shale Was About Land Gambling With Cheap Debt, Not Technological MiraclesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/21/2014 15:00 -0500
The shale patch can exist in its present form only if it has access to nigh limitless credit, and only if prices are in the $100 or up range. Wells in the patch deplete faster than you can say POOF, and drilling new wells costs $10 million or more a piece. Without access to credit, that’s simply not going to happen. That’s about all we need to know. Shale was never a viable industry, it was all about gambling on land prices from the start. And now that wager is over, even if the players don’t get it yet. So strictly speaking my title is a tad off: we’re not drilling our way into oblivion, the drilling is about to grind to a halt. But it will still end in oblivion.
If prices fall any further (and what’s going to stop them?), it would seem that most of the entire shale edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned something bad. We might well be looking at the development of a story much bigger than just oil.
The central banks are now out of dry powder - impaled on the zero-bound. That means any resort to a massive new round of money printing can not be disguised as an effort to “stimulate” the macro-economy by temporarily driving interest rates to “extraordinarily” low levels. They are already there. Instead, a Bernanke style balance sheet explosion like that which stopped the financial meltdown in the fall and winter of 2008-2009 will be seen for exactly what it is—-an exercise in pure monetary desperation and quackery. So duck and cover. This storm could be a monster.
The precipitous decline in the price of oil is perhaps one of the most bearish macro developments this year. We believe we are entering a “new oil normal,” where oil prices stay lower for longer. While we highlighted the risk of a near-term decline in the oil price in our July newsletter, we failed to adjust our portfolio sufficiently to reflect such a scenario. This month we identify the major implications of our revised energy thesis. The reason oil prices started sliding in June can be explained by record growth in US production, sputtering demand from Europe and China, and an unwind of the Middle East geopolitical risk premium. The world oil market, which consumes 92 million barrels a day, currently has one million barrels more than it needs.... Large energy companies are sitting on a great deal of cash which cushions the blow from a weak pricing environment in the short-term. It is still important to keep in mind, however, that most big oil projects have been planned around the notion that oil would stay above $100, which no longer seems likely.
"... Shortly after returning from a trip in late 2009, Farmer erased electronic notes, in Microsoft Word format, that were stored on thumb drives, Zip drives and a shared drive at Citadel, agents wrote in a summary of one of the interviews with him. Farmer also threw away his handwritten notes because that was his normal practice and because they were incriminating, agents wrote. Farmer got rid of e-mails as well, according to their summary. “This,” they wrote, “wiped the slate clean."
This may not quite be the blow-off top in the merger bubble as companies rush to frontrun the ECB and buy whatever still isn't nailed, but it is getting close. Because while earlier today Baker Hughes announced it would accept the Halliburton offer to buy it unchallenged in a $35 billion transaction leading many to wonder just how much lower the price of oil is still set to drop, moments ago the Allergan "White Knight" swooped from up on high, and as had also been leaked in recent weeks, Actavis agreed to buy the botox- maker which Ackman and Valeant had been so eagerly chasing for months in order to let the roll-up pharma pad its non-GAAP books with another 2-3 years of pro forma "synergies" add backs. This means that between Halliburton and Actavis, today we have had the first $100 billion "Merger Monday" in over a decade.
"Solutions to the world's problems are not produced in a meeting between Bill Gates and George Soros... Renewal has to come from below... Limiting the influence [of the richest] is of the utmost importance... so that today's upper-class, high-finance capitalism can once again revert to being a capitalism of the real economy and the societal center."