'All-Clear' As Europe Recovers Post-NFP Losses

All it took was a Frenchman losing his nerve, some chatter on QE, and a few more weak US and EU data points, and hope for better Chinese GDP, and sure enough - free-money-flow is back on the table and risk assets are responding. European equity and credit markets have all but totally recovered to their Thursday closing (pre-NFP-plunge) levels. European sovereigns are mixed with Portugal 27bps wider than pre-NFP, Spain unch, and Italy -11bps but EURUSD is higher on the day and now back above last Thursday's highs as we note Europe's VIX dropped in sync with US VIX today - still maintaining relatively elevated levels historically relative to the US.

Poor Cheshire Is Off His Tea

The Wizard predicts it will be Greece, Portugal and Ireland all back at the trough in 2012 and Spain lining up for its first feeding. Italy remains a question mark but with a real debt to GDP ratio of 200% the structural issues will not be overcome by anything that Mr. Monti has proposed to date. As we all focus on the sovereigns in the last few days I point out that the European banks are down around 2%-4.5% in Germany, Italy and Spain today while the largest bank in Portugal has seen its share price drop 15% this morning.  You may ignore the ugliness and the markets may ignore it for this or that day but the European ugliness is not going away and I would be a seller on any pop in equities or risk assets because the European landscape is a quite Bleak House.

RobertBrusca's picture

The European debt struggle may have just entered a new phase. Don’t blink. Like any classy magician’s trick the idea is to get you looking one place while the real action is going on somewhere else. And that has been the recipe over the past week or so. While everyone has been watching the Spanish and Portuguese debt auctions, the real damage was done in Germany where the German government’s bid-cover ratio on a ten-year bund auction came in less than ‘one.’  

Phoenix Capital Research's picture


What makes this time different? Several items:

  1. The Crisis coming from Europe will be far, far larger in scope than anything the Fed has dealt with before.
  2. The Fed is now politically toxic and cannot engage in aggressive monetary policy without experiencing severe political backlash (this is an election year).
  3. The Fed’s resources are spent to the point that the only thing the Fed could do would be to announce an ENORMOUS monetary program which would cause a Crisis in of itself.

The Anatomy Of A USD-Funding Crisis And The Fed's Global Swap-Line Bailout

The Fed's currency swap with the ECB is nothing more than a covert bailout for European banks. Philipp Bagus of Mises.com explains how the USD-funding crisis occurred among European banks inevitably leading to the Fed assuming the role of international lender of last resort - for which US taxpayers are told to be lucky happy since this free-lunch from printing USD and sending them overseas provides an almost risk-free benefit in the form of interest on the swap. Furthermore, the M.A.D. defense was also initiated that if this was not done, it would be far worse for US markets (and we assume implicitly the economy). The Fed's assurances on ending the bailout policy should it become imprudent or cost-benefits get misaligned seems like wishful thinking and as the EUR-USD basis swap starts to deteriorate once again, we wonder just how long before the Fed's assumed role of bailing out the financial industry and governments of the world by debasing the dollar will come home to roost. As Bagus concludes: "Fed officials claim to know that the bailout-swaps are basically a free lunch for US taxpayers and a prudent thing to do. Thank God the world is in such good hands." and perhaps more worryingly "The highest cost of the Fed policy, therefore, may be liberty in Europe" as the Euro project is enabled to play out to its increasingly centralized full fiscal union endgame.

Apple Is Now Larger Than...

The Apple comparisons have come thick and fast but today's Bloomberg Chart-of-the-day really highlights the macro fundamental weakness in Europe and the micro-bubble in corporate America's shiny new toy. Apple's market cap is larger than the combined market cap of companies in Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

Why Normalcy Has Not Yet Arrived

We have been mis-lead first by the short term effects of the LTRO and then by the political commentary that everything had returned to normal. Hard data will show that things now are about as normal as 9/15/08, the day Lehman filed for bankruptcy... It is just not Greece and Ireland that are experiencing huge drop-offs in the M-1 money supply but Portugal -14.00%, -13.80% in Italy and Spain is quickly approaching double digit numbers.  Even in developed countries the signs are worsening as the Henderson Global Investors gauge, the Real Narrow Money Supply, peaked at 5.1% in November, then dropped to 3.6% in January and was 2.1% for February. This is comparable to the declines seen in mid-2008 and so I bring this to your attention. Equally as worrisome is M-2 in the United States which fell below 1.6% last month for the first time since records have been kept in 1959.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 9

Last Friday saw the release of a below-expected US Non-Farm Payrolls figure, causing flight to safety in particularly thin markets, with equity futures spiking lower and US T-notes making significant gains. Data from this week so far in Asia has shown Chinese CPI is still accelerating, coming in above expectations at 3.6% against an expected 3.4% reading. Looking ahead in the session, there is very little in the way of data due to the reduced Easter session in the US and the European and UK markets closing for Easter Monday.

LTRO #Fail And Two Types Of Credit Losses

Two weeks ago we noted that all those banks that 'invested' in Spanish and Italian 'Sarkozy' carry-trades post LTRO2 are now under-water on their positions (on a MtM basis). The last week or so has seen this situation deteriorate rather rapidly with Spanish yields now backed up all the way to mid-November levels (and notably Spanish equities below their November lows) removing all the LTRO-exuberance leaving all Spanish banks under-water on their carry trades (should they ever have to MtM). At the same time, the critical aspect of LTRO (that is reliquifying tha banks to avoid the credit contraction vicious cycle that was beginning) has also failed. LTRO-encumbered banks now trade with a credit spread on senior unsecured (but now hugely subordinated) paper of 305bps on average (compared to non-LTRO-encumbered banks trading at 180bps on average) - back up near January's worst levels and almost entirely removing any of the tail-risk-reduction expectations that LTRO was supposed to provide. As Peter Tchir notes, there are two types of credit losses - default/restructuring (Greece and soon to be Portugal/Spain et al.) and bad positioning (or forced selling as risk becomes too much to bear - Spanish Govt/Financial credit) - these two sources of self-fulfilling pain are mounting once again. The simple truth is that without endless and infinite LTRO (or printing) funding for banks there is not enough demand for Europe's peripheral junk (as the Spanish auction highlighted) and the lack of performing collateral means the next stage will be outright printing (as opposed to a veiled repo loan) and that fact is beginning to creep into US financials as systemic contagion spreads.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 5

European equities are taking losses as North America comes to market, with particular underperformance noted in the periphery bourses. Risk-aversion pushed both Spanish and Italian yields higher, with the spread between the Spanish 10-year and the Bund crossing above 400BPS for the first time since Late November 2011. The yields have now come off their highs but still remain elevated. It should be noted that markets are generally light today heading into the Easter weekend as investors take risk off the markets, so large surges in volumes have been observed. In the FX markets, EUR/CHF briefly broke below the SNB’s staunchly defended 1.2000 level on some exchanges, but uncertainty remains over the exact low due to different exchanges registering different prints. Needless to say, all exchanges witnessed a 30pip spike upwards in the cross with significant demand seen pushing the cross away from the floor. EUR/CHF now trades around the 1.2020 level.

Frontrunning: April 5

  • Portugal Says Some Town Halls May Need to Restructure Their Debt (Bloomberg)
  • Draghi Scotches ECB Exit Talk as Spain Keeps Crisis Alive (Bloomberg)
  • China PBOC Injects Net CNY25 Bln Into Money Market This Week (WSJ)
  • BoE warns on mortgage limits (FT)
  • Apple investigating new iPad WiFi issues, tells AppleCare to replace affected units (9to5Mac)
  • Juppé promises French hard line in EU (FT)
  • ECB liquidity fuels high stakes hedging (FT)
  • Fed’s Lacker Says Markets Saw Odds of Policy Easing as Too High (Bloomberg)
  • Japan minister to ask for nuclear reactor restart: media (Reuters)

Guest Post: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Part 3

Who will buy our debt in the coming months and years? Europe is saturated with debt and doesn’t have the means to purchase our debt. Japan is a train wreck waiting to happen. China’s customers aren’t buying their crap, so their economic miracle is about to go in reverse. The Federal Reserve cannot buy $1 trillion of Treasury bonds per year forever without creating more speculative bubbles and raging inflation in the things people need to live. The Minsky Moment will be the point when the U.S. Treasury begins having funding problems due to the spiraling debt incurred in financing perpetual government deficits. At this point no buyer will be found to bid at 2% to 3% yields for U.S. Treasuries; consequently, a major sell-off will ensue leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity. In layman terms that means – the shit will hit the fan. The Federal Reserve and Treasury will be caught in their own web of lies. The only way to attract buyers will be to dramatically increase interest rates. Doing this in a country up to its eyeballs in debt will be suicide. We will abruptly know how it feels to be Greek....The entire financial world is hopelessly entangled by the $700 trillion of derivatives that ensure mass destruction if one of the dominoes falls. This is the reason an otherwise inconsequential country like Greece had to be “saved”.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 4

More pain in Spain has been the theme so far in the European morning as poor auction results across three lines has resulted in significant widening in the 10-yr government bond yield spreads over benchmark bunds with the Spanish 10yr yield up some 24bps on the day. In combination with this the latest Germany Factory orders also fell short of analysts’ expectations and as such the lower open in bund futures following yesterday’s less than dovish FOMC minutes has been completed retracted and we now sit above last Friday’s high at 138.58.