Rosenberg Recaps The Record Quarter

What a quarter! The Dow up 8% and enjoying a record quarter in terms of points — 994 of them to be exact and in percent terms, now just 7% off attaining a new all-time high. The S&P 500 surged 12% (and 3.1% for March; 28% from the October 2011 lows), which was the best performance since 1998. It seems so strange to draw comparisons to 1998, which was the infancy of the Internet revolution; a period of fiscal stability, 5% risk-free rates, sustained 4% real growth in the economy, strong housing markets, political stability, sub-5% unemployment, a stable and predictable central bank. And look at the composition of the rally. Apple soared 48% and accounted for nearly 20% of the appreciation in the S&P 500. But outside of Apple, what led the rally were the low-quality names that got so beat up last year, such as Bank of America bouncing 72% (it was the Dow's worst performer in 2011; financials in aggregate rose 22%). Sears Holdings have skyrocketed 108% this year even though the company doesn't expect to make money this year or next. What does that tell you? What it says is that this bull run was really more about pricing out a possible financial disaster coming out of Europe than anything that could really be described as positive on the global macroeconomic front. What is most fascinating is how the private client sector simply refuses to drink from the Fed liquidity spiked punch bowl, having been burnt by two central bank-induced bubbles separated less than a decade apart leaving David Rosenberg, of Gluskin Sheff, still rightly focused on benefiting from his long-term 3-D view of deleveraging, demographics, and deflation - as he notes US data is on notably shaky ground. This appears to have been very much a trader's rally as he reminds us that liquidity is not an antidote for fundamentals.

10 'Facts' That Should Worry Europe's Equity 'Fiction'

As the first day of the quarter brings new money and new hope for global asset allocators, Credit Suisse has shifted to a more negative 'underweight' stance to European equities. Laying out 10 reasons for their displeasure, they dig into the details a little with a positive view on domestic German equities and the broad DAX index (and USD earners) while notably negative on France and Spain in general (with Spain expected to underperform Italy). Varying from too much complacency on the resolution to the crisis, to political flash points, valuations, and relative economic momentum. This smorgasbord of anxiety-inducing 'facts' may well prove enough to topple the 'fiction' of a liquidity-levitated equity market - that credit seems to have already realized. Most notably the five factors that need to be 'fixed' before the Euro crisis is resolved, and the under-estimation of the de-leveraging required in the periphery, leaves mutualization of debt as the game-changer that still seems a long-way off. The complacency angle seems the most relevant to us - and we see equities once again pull away from any sense of reason indicated by the sovereign, financial, and corporate credit market, this complacency becomes more and more dangerous.

Schrodinger's Market As European Equities Surge And Credit Shrugs

On this first day of the second quarter, and especially since the US open (and the ISM print) European equities decided all was well and rallied broadly back to their highs of last week. In the meantime, credit markets (sovereigns, financials, and non-financials) sold off quite notably from a positive start and despite a small rally into the close (which sovereigns did not participate in) closed practically unchanged. It seems Schrodinger's cat is indeed present not just in Chinese PMI, US jobs data and regional surveys, but also in the risk asset markets as credit market participants are dramatically different in their views (and flows we suppose) going into this quarter. We also note that Europe's VIX has collapsed in the last few days to a more normalized level relative to US VIX.

The True French Debt To GDP: 146%

In my continuing attempt to debunk what the European Union presents as facts; I turn my attention to France. I have already given you the correct debt to GDP ratios for Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany which follows the exact principles of what any corporation in America or Europe would be mandated to report or suffer the slings and arrows of being held accountable for Fraud. I include contingent liabilities, derivatives, promises to pay, various guarantees and all of the normal accounting practices to be considered on any balance sheet except the sovereign nations of Europe. In the end, of course, it is your decision but at least we can begin any consideration based upon the facts and not based upon a fictitious account. Again, I divide up the liabilities into two categories, their national obligations and their European obligations; the European Union, the European Central Bank and finally for the other European institutions for which they bear some burden. Then I add it all up, divide by their GDP and we arrive at a factual accounting. Nothing complicated here except sleuthing about to get the data which is no easy task as it is hidden in various nooks and crannies.

Greece Set To Default On Foreign-Law Bonds On May 15

Back in January, when we wrote "Subordination 101: A Walk Thru For Sovereign Bond Markets In A Post-Greek Default World", we said that "because while the bulk of the bonds, or what is now becoming obvious is the junior class, can be impaired with impunity (pardon the pun), it is the UK-law, or the non-domestic indenture, bonds, which are the de facto fulcrum security."  In other words, from the very beginning the ball game was all about the non-Greek law bonds, whose indentures make it impossible for a non-makewhole take out settlement. Alas, we underestimated the stupidity of the European authorities who in their pursuit of a prompt if messy conclusion to the Greek restructuring, which ended up with a CDS trigger, were left with a tranching of the Greek balance sheet into a ridiculous seven classes, which crammed down the Greek law bonds into yet another separate class, an outcome which will shortly bite the European pre-petition sovereign market (i.e., Portugal, Spain and Italy) in the ass. What we did not however underestimate at all, is the critical value of strong indenture provisions, or, in other words, the willingness of UK-law bondholders to not comply with terms forced down their throat. As reported earlier today by the Greek Ministry of Finance, a whopping 20 of 36 classes of non-Greek law bonds have rejected the nation's attempts to restructure, and now appear set for an epic legal showdown, whose outcome will determine whether or not the UK non-UK law spread will explode, or if the entire European bond market will shoot itself in the foot itself, after all strong indentures appear to be merely a bond prosectus placeholder which will never be honored. Most importantly, we are delighted that UK-law bonds have understood one thing - by being the fulcrum security as we said, they have all the leverage. If Greece thinks it can take them in court and not pay them anything, well that may well be the ballgame for the European bond market.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 2

European cash equities are seen mixed as the market heads into the US session, with the DAX index the only bourse to trade higher at the midpoint of the European session. European markets were seeing some gains following the open after the weekend release of better than expected Chinese manufacturing data, however the main price action of the day occurred after some European press reports that the Bundesbank had stopped accepting sovereign bonds as collateral from Portugal, Ireland and Greece garnered attention, however the Bundesbank were quick to deny reports and state that it continues to accept all Eurozone sovereign bonds. Following the denial, participants witnessed a slight bounceback, but failed to push most markets into the green.  Data releases from Europe so far have been varied, with outperformance seen in the UK Manufacturing PMI, beating expectations and recording its highest reading since May of 2011. However, the French manufacturing PMI came in below expectations, weighing on the CAC index as the session progresses. A further release from the Eurozone has shown February unemployment coming in alongside expectations recording a slight increase from January to 10.8%.

The Eye Of The Hurricane Passes: Full List Of European Known Knowns As The New Quarter Begins

It appears that these days a EUR1 trillion hot liquidity injection (such as that from the ECB's LTRO 1+2) will buy you about 3 months of breathing room. Then the ostriches have no choice but to pull their head out of the sand, especially in Europe, where after three months of spread tightening, and hence the belief that "all is fixed", things are starting to turn ugly again: sovereign government spreads are beginning to widen, Europe is demanding more money from the IMF (i.e. America, even as the BRIC countries are starting to consider a world without the USD as a reserve currency, and are now forming their own bank) to boost its firewall, strikes are promptly converting to riots, Italian bank stocks are being halted due to rapid moves lower, the LTRO stigma trade is at 2012 wides, in short everything we grew to know and love in Q3 and Q4 of 2011. Ironically, having papered over the symptoms courtesy of fresh new money, the underlying causes were never addressed, and only got worse as the deteriorating European economic data suggests. What is scary, as UBS shows, is that this is just the delayed carryover from 2011! Just like the US which had the benefit of abnormally warm weather to mask a "bounce" in the economy which was never structural, so Europe had a relatively quiet quarter in terms of newsflow. Things are about to change: read the following for why the eye of the hurricane is about to pass over Europe and why this time around there is $1.3 trillion less in firepower to delay the onset of reality.

Europe: "€1 Trillion May Not Be Enough"

A core piece of last week's European newsflow was that following much pushback, Angela Merkel, who understands the underlying math all too well, finally dropped her opposition to expanding the European "firewall" in the form of a combined EFSF and ESM rescue mechanisms, to bring the total "firepower" to €800 billion (ignoring for a moment that when the true dry powder of the combined vehicle is just about €500 billion net as explained here, hardly enough to rescue Spain, let alone Italy). Yet as has been explained here repeatedly, and as Merkel has figured out, this is easily the most symbolic expansion of a rescue facility ever. Because while the ECB's agreement to allow Eurobanks to abuse its €1 trillion discount window for three years (which is what the LTRO is), following the replacement of JC Trichet with a Goldman apparatchik, at least infused the system with $1.3 trillion in new fungible liquidity (and resulted in a stock market performance boost for the ages, one which is now unwinding), the 'firewall" does not represent new money, nor is a "firewall" to begin with - it is merely one massive contingent liability which will remain unfunded in perpetuity. Slowly the German media is waking up, and in an article in Der Spiegel, the authors observe that "Even a 1-Trillion Euro Firewall wouldn't be enough." And they are correct, because the size of the firewall is completely irrelevant, as explained later. All the "firewall" does is shift even more backstop responsibility on the only true AAA-country left in the Eurozone, Germany. However, the main cause of problems in Europe - a massive debt overhang which can at best be rolled over but never paid down due to the increasingly lower cash flow generation of Europe's (and America's) assets, still remains, and will do so until the debt is finally written down. However, it can't because one bank's liability is another bank's asset. And so we go back to square one, which is that the system is caught in the biggest Catch 22, as we explained back in 2009. We are glad to see that slowly but surely this damning conclusion is finally being understood by most.

Another Failed Grand Plan In Europe

The last hour has spewed forth more disingenuous clap-trap from European finance ministers. From 'sufficiency of the firewall' to the 'absurdity of Spain needing a bailout', it beggars belief that these humans can look at themselves in the mirror every morning (as they feel the 'need' to lie' - or are simply ignorant of the reality). At some point in the near future there will be about €40 billion of money sitting in the ESM and a bunch of promises from countries failing to live up to existing debt obligations, and that is the big firewall? The correlation between who is providing the guarantees and who will need them cannot be ignored. This new €500 billion number doesn’t exist, it’s not just meaningless, it’s non-existent if Italy or Spain needs money. People can take away whatever they want, but unlike LTRO which had real injections of liquidity, this is just like the July plans from last year and the November “grand” plans. It sounds great, especially when too many people are willing to blindly follow what the politicians want them to, but it doesn’t work in practice.

European Bailout Stigma Shifts From Banks To Sovereigns As Bundesbank Refuses PIG Collateral

Back in early February, the ECB's Margio Draghi told a naive world when discussing the implication of taking LTRO bailout aid, that “There is no stigma whatsoever on these facilities." We accused him of lying. Additionally, we also suggested to put one's money where Draghi's lies are, and to go long non-LTRO banks, while shorting LTRO recipients. In two short months the spread on that trade has doubled (see below), which intuitively is not surprising: after all, as a former Goldmanite (and according to some - current), Draghi is merely treating Europe's taxpayers like the muppets they are. As such, fading anything he says should come as naturally as Stolpering each and every FX trade. Yet what that little incident shows is that despite all their attempts otherwise, the central planners can not contain every single natural consequences of their artificial and destructive actions. Today, we see learn that the same Stigma we warned about, and that Draghi said does not exist, is starting to spread away from just the bailed out banks (becuase we now know that the LTRO was merely a QE-like bailout of several insolvent Italian and Spanish banks), and to sovereigns. From Bloomberg: "Germany’s Bundesbank is the first of the 17 euro-area central banks to refuse to accept as collateral bank bonds guaranteed by member states receiving aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported." And where Buba goes, everyone else is soon to follow. And what happens then? Since it is inevitable that Spain and Italy will be next on the bailout wagon, what happens when over $2 trillion in bonds suddenly become ineligible for cash collateral from the only solvent central bank in the world (aside for that modest, little TARGET2 issue of course). Will it force the ECB to be ever more lenient with collateral, and how long until the plebs finally realize that the ECB has been doing nothing but outright printing in the past 5 months? What happens to inflationary expectations then?

Mark Grant Explains The Farce, The Hustle, And The Scam

When considering the financial condition of each and every country in the European Union there are certain facts that are left out and left out on purpose. In our opinion, the structural deformity of the European Union is, in itself, one of the main reasons that any attempt at a fiscal or economic fix never seems to work. Whether some proposed firewall is $760 billion or $1.3 Trillion or $13 Trillion makes no difference as in zero, nada, nothing and null. It is an IOU, a promise to pay and it is not counted in any European sovereign debt numbers nor is it counted in the figures for the European Union’s debt. It will not stop Spain or Portugal or Italy from asking for or needing money. This whole discussion is a head fake, a deception and a ruse carefully plotted out for investors in one more attempt to mislead the entire world. If you wish to be a statistic in the Greater Fool Theory be my guest but I refuse to be apart of this unadulterated scam.

The Insanity Of The Sarkozy Carry-Trade's Contagion Risk In 3 Charts

The last month has seen a considerable amount of the post-LTRO gains in Italian and Spanish Sovereign and Financial credit markets (and stocks for the latter) given back. The stigma priced into LTRO-encumbered banks has also surged to post LTRO record wides - more than double its best levels now. This is hardly surprising - while the LTRO was nothing but a thinly-veiled QE printfest, it is the action that was taken with that newly printed money that has created dramatially more contagion risk and sovereign-financial dependence as an unintended consequence. The collosal (relative and absolute) size of the reach-around Sarkozy carry-trade buying in local sovereign debt for Italy and even more so Spain is highlighted dramatically in these 3 charts for BNP, most notably the increase in banks' holdings of sovereign debt compared to their share of Eurozone sovereign debt - i.e. the banks in Italy, and more so Spain, are hugely more exposed to their sovereign's performance and with Spain's massive budget cuts - a vicious cycle of austerity to growth-compression to credit-contraction to Greece (firewall or not) is leaking into their bond markets, even with an active ECB doing SMP although inflation-constrained from LTRO3 perhaps.

The Full Math Behind The "Expanded" European Bailout Fund

As noted earlier, futures this morning are higher despite a plethora of economic misses (and despite 57% of March US data missing as per DB), simply on regurgitated headlines of an "expanded" European €7/800 billion bailout fund. There is one problem with this: the headlines are all wrong, as none apparently have taken the time to do the math. Which, courtesy of think tank OpenEurope, is as follows: "The real amount of cash that is still available to back stop struggling states, should it come to that, is only around €500bn." Of course, that would hardly be headline inspiring: recall that that is simply the full size of the ESM as is. But even that number will hardly ever be attained, and the ECB will have to step in long before Europe needs anything close to a full drawdown: "The problem here is that if it’s too big and terrible to ever be used, it’s likely that it won’t ever be used. Even jittery markets will be able to figure out that a large fund which would damage French and German credit ratings if ever extended will never be fully tapped. So clearly some circular logic at play. And let's not forget that it’s still far too small to save Italy and Spain should if worse come to worse." Circular logic? Check. Another check kiting scheme? Check. Spain and Italy still out in the cold? Check. Conclusion -> buy EURUSD, and thus the ES, which has now recoupled with every uptick in the pair, but not downtick.