Earlier today we got one hint that not all is well in the European banking system, as far less than the expected €200 billion was tendered back to the ECB in the second LTRO repayment operation, when just 27 banks paid back some €3.5 billion. Another, perhaps far bigger one, comes courtesy of AAA-rated Netherlands, which just experienced its first bank failure since 2008 following the nationalization of SNS Reall NV, as the previously announced bad loan writedown finally claimed the bank. As a reminder, half a month ago we got news that "SNS Reaal NV (SR), a Dutch bank and insurer struggling to wind down a money-losing real estate lending unit, fell the most in more than two months after a report said it may have to post a 1.8 billion-euro ($2.4 billion) writedown on property-finance loans." Today we got the inevitable conclusion: nationalization, one which will cost taxpayers about $5 billion to avoid contagion to what many see as Europe's "strongest" banking system.
After two consecutive down days in the market, it was time to get real, and like clockwork the dollar and yen devastation started right out of the gate in overnight trading, when first the USDJPY exploded higher, followed promptly by the EURUSD, both of which hit new period highs, of over 92, and just why of 1.37 respectively. And with not one funding currency around to push risk higher, but two, futures have ramped enough to undo all of yesterday's losses and then some. Bad news was either promptly ignored, such as China's official PMI coming in at 50.4, below expectations of the 50.6 print, or offset by conflicting data, with the HSBC China PMI print moments after at 52.3, higher than the 52.0 expected, taking us back to early 2012 when the Chinese PMI was contracting and expending at the same time.
Back in 2011, BlackRock's Larry Fink revealed one of the great unspoken truths of capital markets, namely that "markets like totalitarian governments." They also like authoritarian socialism, sprinkled in with a healthy dose of nationalization, because as Bloomberg reports, one of the biggest beneficiaries of over ten years of the "glorious socialist revolution" in Venezuela, coupled with over 1000 nationalizations by the bed-ridden and roughly 15 times deceased Hugo Chavez (if one believes all the rumors), is none other than Goldman Sachs, which generated some 681% in returns due to "aligning its interests" with those of the unshakable Venezuelan ruler.
Italian Scandal Widens As Italy's Third Largest Bank Set To Get Third Bailout In 3 Years; Draghi, Monti ImplicatedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2013 13:09 -0400
While little has been said in the mainstream western press about the ongoing fiasco surrounding Siena's Banca Monte dei Pasci, Italy's third largest bank and the world's oldest which may get its third bailout in three years - or even be nationalized - as soon as today, for fears that it may break the thin veneer of "recovery" in the European financial system, the situation on the ground in Italy is getting more serious by the minute, and will have implications on both next month's general election, on Mario Monti, on Silvio Berlusconi, on frontrunner for the Prime Minister post Pier Luigi Bersani, and reach as far up as the head of the ECB - Mario Draghi.
The platinum group of metals (PGMs) have received some perhaps unwarranted attention in recent weeks as the 'coin' idiocy came and went; but, it is noteworthy, as Eric Sprott points out that with demand rising and supply under pressure, the outlook for investment in physical platinum and palladium is increasingly compelling. The following infographic (and various supply and demand dynamics) provides a succinct picture of what these metals are used for, where they are produced, and the supply/demand imbalances.
Are German industrialists getting cold feet?
Fairness Doctrine Backfires: After Depardieu Backlash, French FinMin Says Superrich Tax "Plan B" Would Be TemporarySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2013 15:20 -0400
Back in July, when news of what we dubbed the French "Fairness Doctrine" first emerged, i.e., the new socialist government's intent to tax the evil millionaires at a 75% tax rate, we had two observations: i) that "we are rotating our secular long thesis away from Belgian caterers and into tax offshoring advisors, now that nobody in the 1% will pay any taxes ever again" and, somewhat contradicting the above, ii) that "The good news is that with the entire world set to adopt 100%+ taxes on "wealthy" individuals as defined arbitrarily by Ph.Ds, there will be no place to hide." Well, the US promptly followed France into a lite-version of the Fairness Doctrine, which proved us half right, yet one place that has refused to increase its tax rate for the poor or rich, keeping it at the flat 13% for individuals is Russia, which explains why following last week's news that Russia had granted famous French expat millionaire Gerard Depardieu citizenship, the actor best known as Obelix and Rasputin, eagerly rushed to accept his new red passport in Sochi following a bearhug from none other than Vladimir Putin.
Shinzo Abe's re-election on the basis of his monetary policy aggression plans have sent the JPY reeling (as he hoped for) and the NKY soaring - but it is his more aggressive perspective on patriotism that could lead to far greater problems. As the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently noted,all eyes are fixed on Abe as "Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands destroyed the framework for keeping a balance, which means ‘shelving a conflict'," a Chinese diplomatic source said, adding that "China has no political methods to return the situation to the (pre-nationalization) state. Therefore, there are no other ways except for looking for a new framework." As a precondition for establishing the framework, an executive of the think tank said, "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should not take actions that heighten the tensions further. It is the same as a game of go. If Japan escalates the conflict, China will be prepared to respond to the move." As a result, Japan-China relations will enter into a highly volatile period, ruining any hope of a resurgence in Japan's real economy, and more worryingly, the think-tank concludes, China's conflict with Japan is inevitable.
Another boring session, worsened by year end inactivity… Good close. Fiscal Cliff haggling on-going with a positive spin this time and Risk riding high.Spain catching up and paring yesterday’s soft patch, as is Italy. ESToxx at the highest since Aug 2011. Credit very squeezed. EUR strong. Merry Mood!
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus " (Bunds 1,42% +5; Spain 5,29% -12; Stoxx 2647 +0,7%; EUR 1,322 +50)
The man who singlehandedly fought the administration over the idea of converting Fannie and Freddie into the latest taxpayer-funded handout machine, FHFA head Ed DeMarco, and refused to write down Fannie and Freddie home loans in yet another Geithner-conceived debt forgiveness scheme, whose cost like any other non-free lunch will simply end being footed again by yet more taxpayers (what little is left of them), appears to have lost the war, and with the second coming of Obama appears set to be replaced as head of the FHFA. The WSJ reports that "The White House has begun preparations to nominate a new director to lead the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as soon as early next year, according to people familiar with the discussions. This would pave the way for President Barack Obama to fill what has become one of the most important economic policy positions in Washington." And so the impetus for as many as possible to default on their mortgage in a wholesale scramble to obtain debt forgiveness, will soon take the nation by storm, while the contingent liability will be transferred to those who still believe that taking out debt should be a prudent activity and one that takes into account future cash flows. In other words, the solvent middle class - those who were prudent stupid enough to save when they should have simply be doing what the government does and spend like a drunken sailor, preferably on credit, will soon be punished once more. And like it. Because according to the new broke normal "it's only fair."
A “new era”: 48% of the French consider themselves living in poverty or on the way to it.
During the its first term, the Obama Administration thus far has proven itself in favor of increased Government control and Central Planning. That is, the general trend throughout the last four years has been towards greater nationalization of industries (first finance, then automakers and now healthcare and insurance), as well as greater reliance on our Central Bank to maintain our finances.
Remember when fundamentals mattered? Neither do we, and why should they: the New Normal market has long since stopped pretending to be able to discount a future that is entirely politically driven, and thus irrational, and the only thing that matters is being able to respond as fast as possible to blinking red headlines. This explains the best performing asset classes on November: at the very top, something one would never expect to see - the Nikkei, which soared on "hopes" the return of politician Shinjiro Abe would mean the nationalization of the BOJ, 3% inflation targeting, and a surge in monetization. And while this is good for Japanese equities, it would crush all local banks who hold the bulk of their assets in JGBs, which would in turn plunge, and likely result in another bank sector bailout, no to mention annihilate pension funding for tens of millions. But such is the new normal.
Dominoes are lined up. Next in line: one of the world’s largest (but dying) shipyards.