Portugal

A Lesson For Europe: Why Iceland Won't Join The Euro

In a brief but as usual succinct statement, MEP Daniel Hannan points out the country that decided to say no to establishment-rules and stuck to its guns by taking losses, devaluing its currency, and growing its way out of its pit of despair. The eloquent Englishman notes Iceland's current enviable position in terms of not just growth but Debt to GDP and proffers upon his European Parliamentarian peers that perhaps, just perhaps, there is a lesson in here for all European governments (cough Greece/Portugal cough). 67% of 'shrewd and canny' Icelanders are now against joining the Euro.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 27

As we head into the US open, European cash equities are seen in positive territory with strong performance observed earlier in the session from the FTSE MIB. This follows reports from the Italian press regarding commentary from the Chinese President Hu Jintao who promised to encourage Chinese industry to look towards Italy with confidence, in a conversation with the Italian PM Monti on the sidelines of the nuclear safety summit in Seoul. Markets have also been reacting to an article from Der Spiegel, citing economists who have warned that the German central bank could be facing hidden liabilities of up to EUR 500bln should there be a break up in the Eurozone. This has prompted some risk-averse flows into the Bund which has seen fluctuating trade so far in the session but remains in positive territory as North America comes to market. In individual equities news, following overnight reports from Abu Dhabi concerning buying a stake in RBS, company shares were seen up 6%. Source comments from earlier in the session regarding the sale speculated that the stake could be up to a third of RBS. Looking ahead in the session, the market awaits US Consumer Confidence data due at 1500BST.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Such As A "Fiscally Credible" UK And Its Upcoming 100 Year Gilts

Firstly, Britain’s ‘safe-haven status’ is a fallacy. It is no more safe than many of the other major economies who are choking on debts that cannot be paid off. The only reason it HAS that status currently is because of the very Achilles Heel that will ultimately prove to be its demise - the ability to print its own currency. By NOT being a part of the euro experiment, Britain has kept control of its fate and has been able to print its way out of trouble - so far - while its neighbours to the east have all been lashed to the deck of the same sinking boat, but the day is coming when Britain’s profligacy will become important again. As I keep saying; none of this matters to anyone until it matters to everyone. Secondly, interest rates may have ‘fallen to a record low’ but they have done so in the same way heavily-indebted gamblers often ‘fall’ from hotel rooms - with a big push (only this time from the Bank of England and not a guy called Fat Tony). Like US Treasurys,  the price of UK gilts would be nowhere near these levels without a captive and very friendly buyer in the shape of the central bank.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 23

European cash equity markets were seen on a slight upward trend in the early hours of the session amid some rumours that the Chinese PBOC were considering a cut to their RRR. However, this failed to materialise and markets have now retreated into negative territory with flows seen moving into fixed income securities. This follows some market talk of selling in Greek PSI bonds due to the absence of CDSs. This sparked some renewed concern regarding the emergence of Greece from their recovery. Elsewhere, we saw the publication of the BoE’s financial stability review recommending that UK banks raise external capital as soon as possible. This saw risk-averse flows into the gilt, with futures now trading up around 40 ticks.

Frontrunning: March 23, 2012

  • More HFT Posturing: SEC Probes Rapid Trading (WSJ)
  • Fed’s Bullard Says Monetary Policy May Be at Turning Point (Bloomberg)
  • Hilsenrath: Fed Hosts Global Gathering on Easy Money (WSJ)
  • Dublin ‘hopeful’ ECB will approve bond deal (FT)
  • EU Proposes a Beefed-Up Permanent Bailout Fund (WSJ)
  • Portugal Town Halls Face Default Amid $12 Billion Debt (Bloomberg)
  • Hidden Fund Fees Means U.K. Investors Pay Double US Rates (Bloomberg)
  • Europe Weighs Trade Probes Amid Beijing Threats (WSJ)
  • Bank of Japan Stimulus Row Fueled by Kono’s Nomination (Bloomberg)

Ugly European Sovereign CDS Rerack

An ugly day all around as European sovereign CDS jump the most in three weeks...

                    5Y                       10Y             5/10's
ITALY           374/382  +15      365/385         -10/0
SPAIN          432/440  +15      426/446          -5/5

Thomson Reuters GFMS Global Head: "Buy This Gold Dip" As $2,000/Oz Possible

The global economy remains on shaky ground.  China’s manufacturing activity contracted for its 5th straight month, the US recovery is still very early to call, and the euro zone debt crisis may not be finished. Eurozone PMI data is due later today which will show how the economy is doing after Greece averted default earlier this month. Thomson Reuters GFMS have said that gold at $2,000/oz is possible - possibly in late 2012 or early 2013. Thomson Reuters GFMS Global Head of metals analytics, Philip Klapwijk, featured on Insider this morning and advised investors to "buy this gold dip”.  Gold should be bought on this correction especially if we go lower still as we may need a shake-out of "less-committed investors." Klapwijk suggested that a brief dip below $1,600 is on the cards but the global macro environment still favours investment, notably zero-to-negative real interest rates and he would not rule out further easing by either the ECB or the Fed before year end.

Europe's 'Success Story' Double Dips: Irish Economy Re-Contracts, As Predicted

Remember Europe's so-called success story - Ireland? Time to scratch it off the list, as the "best performing" PIIG, and "peripheral reform" wunderkind, just reminded everyone that the only true success story in Europe is that other I country - Iceland, after its fourth quarter GDP unexpectedly dropped 0.2%, well below consensus estimates of a 1.0% GDP boost. Odd - recall that back in October, following the announcement that Greece would be allowed to extract a bondholder haircut, initially at 50% and ultimately at 78.5%, we said that "this means that Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy will promptly commence sabotaging their economies (just like Greece) simply to get the same debt Blue Light special as Greece." Looks like Ireland is well on its way to doing just that, and the GDP slide is actually not all that surprising. Next: prepare for more "surprising" GDP misses from Portugal, Spain and, of course, Italy.

Mark Grant's Wake Up Call: Italy Has $211 Billion In Notional Exposure To Derivatives, And Other Trivia

It was nothing more than a footnote in the Morgan Stanley financials; a $3.4 billion pay-out by Italy to settle a derivatives contract made in 1994. Say goodbye to 50% of the tax hikes imposed by the Monti government because that is what was wiped out by this payment. It is also interesting to note that that Mario Draghi, currently President of the European Central Bank, was the Director-General of the Italian Treasury when this derivative was formulated. Then comes the bomb, only mentioned in a brief article yesterday on Bloomberg, and not noted anywhere in the Press this morning. Marco Rossi Doria, an undersecretary in Monti’s administration, tasked with responding to a parliamentary interrogation on derivatives, admitted that the Italian Treasury had $211 billion in "notional" exposure to derivatives, which is around eleven percent (11%) of Italy’s total GDP. This new exposure, coupled with the work I did a few days ago and noted in my commentary of March 17, now brings Italy’s actual debt to GDP ratio to a whopping 144.3%.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 21

Going into the US open, most major European bourses are trading in modest positive territory this follows the publication of a Goldman Sachs research note titled “The Long Good Buy” in which the bank outlines its thoughts that equities will embark on an upward trend over the next few years, recommending dropping fixed-income securities. We have also seen the publication of the Bank of England’s minutes from March’s rate-setting meeting in which board members voted unanimously to keep the base rate unchanged at 0.50%; however there was some indecision concerning the total QE, with members Miles and Posen voting for a further increase to GBP 350bln, however the other seven members voted against the increase. Following the release, GBP/USD spiked lower 35 pips but has regained in recent trade and is now in positive territory.  Looking elsewhere in the session, UK Chancellor Osborne will present his budget for this financial year at 1230GMT. We will also be looking out for US existing home sales and the weekly DOE inventories.