Portugal

The Failure Of The Firewall

The markets are getting mislead, one more time, by the spin that Europe places on events; by the focus that the giant European propaganda machine spits out from various sources again and again and again. You may recall, in the not too distant past, how the firewall was the thing, how the money needed to be bigger and how we were all led to believe that this giant, massive wall of Euros would protect the core nations of Europe. These nations included Spain and Italy without question and now the first mighty oak has fallen as Spain stepped up to the plate and swung the begging bat. Firewalls, of any size, do not do one thing to stop the infection of those that are heading economically south and Europe has placed its full concentration on the totally wrong aspect of the problem which has been to ward off the evil spirits of the bond vigilantes instead of on fixing the financial problems of the nations and so the problems continue and worsen. Over the weekend Spain said their second quarter results would be worse than the first quarter and Italy said there may come a moment when she needs help and the basis of what is driving the markets heightens as the economies of a mostly recession bound Europe are getting worse. What have we learned in short, in brief, in actuality is that the concept of some mighty firewall is a failed concept and Spain has just proved the truth of that.

Europe's Unanswered Questions

The EU summit to save the Euro (the nineteenth, or thereabouts) has, quite remarkably, agreed to do something to try and save the Euro. As UBS' Paul Donavan notes "As ever with a Euro summit there are unanswered questions. Grandiose statements are what heads of government specialise in – the details are left to later" - it is one of the reasons why Maastricht produced a monetary union that was flawed from the outset. Once “create a single currency” had been agreed, politicians lost interest. The statement from the summit itself was woefully inadequate, but below UBS lays out what additional questions need to be answered. Always keep in mind though, "Going into this summit we had a monetary union in Europe that clearly did not work. Coming out of this summit we have a monetary union that still does not work."

Despite 'Nouveau-Deal', European Bonds End Week Unch

Exuberance rules and it seems everyone and their mum believes that something significant just happened in Europe in terms of a 'game-changer'. We suspect this is anchoring bias writ large - we've been down so long that any up feels great. While every asset class jumped dramatically on the day - EURUSD 4-sigma surge, stocks up 3 to 4%, Credit snapping tighter, Europe's VIX plunging, and Sovereign bond yields gapping down - the truth of the matter is that if this were truly a 'game-changer' then would it not be likely that risk assets would be higher than they were just a week ago? Between the total uncertainty of the actual plan's implementation and Merkel still pouring cold water timelines on things; we note that Spanish and Italian bond spreads end the week practically unchanged; Corporate and financial credit spreads are at 6/21 high levels (but not beyond); Europe's VIX has compressed dramatically in our favor for relative to US VIX but remains at 6/21 levels; and only stocks are above those 6/21 highs in their typical high beta excited hopeful manner. Into a thinly traded weekend ahead of July 4th, we would have expected a little more from this nouveau-deal.

Epic EUR Short Squeeze Sends Risk Soaring, Gold Over 1600

The squeeze is on. EURUSD is probably the most extreme example of the squeeze-factor potential of what is at its heart a lot more talk and lot less action. Up almost 250 pips from its pre-summit-statement levels, EURUSD is just under 1.2700 - which in context is only back to 6/21 levels. As we noted on June 3, the epic level of CFTC non-commercial EUR spec shorts were ripe for a squeeze-fest, while on the other hand we specifically said "the pain trade will be any appeasing announcement from Europe." Sure enough we got just that (supposedly) and EURUSD is now up well over 300 pips from those levels as the clear pain trade plays out. The USD weakness has driven commodities higher with Gold reaching $1600 once again (6/21 levels). European sovereigns are (somewhat expectedly given the euphoria - though just how much has actually changed is unclear) also rallying hard on the day but while they have compressed spreads markedly, they have stalled at unchanged on the week (though Portugal remains notably wide on the week). Credit and equity markets in Europe are in sync and have snapped higher to 6/21 levels also (with financials outperforming modestly). Europe's equity markets are all soaring - up 3 to 4.5% - as DAX is now outperforming the S&P 500 on the year once again. Big moves (multiple sigma in bond and FX markets) and yet we can't help but think they were hoping for more than just a retracement of one week's price action.

Hardball In Brussels

In the final analysis Europe is quite exposed at this moment and may be for quite some time. The ESM, after the change in seniority status, must be re-affirmed in at least two countries that are the Netherlands and Finland and Germany has not yet approved it yet either. The EFSF has already spent $450 of its capacity on Greece, Ireland, Portugal and now $125 billion for Spain. The balance left in the fund is tissue paper thin and that is all that is in existence presently for any more problems in Europe. Plans and schemes aside, the amount of money that could actually be used today is a drop in the proverbial bucket.

As Europe Moves To An "E-TARP", Goldman Is Selling Spanish, Italian And Irish Bonds To Its Clients

Below is Goldman's quick take on the E-Tarp MOU (completely detail-free, but who needs details when one has money-growing trees) announced late last night. In summary: "We recommend being long an equally-weighted basket of benchmark 5-year Spanish, Irish and Italian government bonds, currently yielding 5.9% on average, for a target of 4.5% and tight stop loss on a close at 6.5%." By now we hope it is clear that when Goldman's clients are buying a security, it means its prop desk is selling the same security to clients.

European Stocks Revert Back Down To Credit's Pessimism (As 2Y Swiss Drops To Record Lows)

Just as we noted yesterday, the ludicrous late-day ramp in European equity markets relative to the absolute nonchalance of credit (corporate, financial, and sovereign) markets, has now reverted totally as broadly speaking Europe ends the day in the red. Spain and Italy stock indices bounced a modest 0.5% on the day as the UK's FTSE and Germany's DAX suffered the most (down 1-1.5%) on Banking Lie-Bor drama and unemployment respectively. Corporate credit leaked a little wider on the day with the investment grade credits underperforming (dragged by weakness in financials). Financials were notably weak with Subordinated credit significantly underperforming Senior credit (bail-in anyone?). Sovereigns were weak overall (not just Spain, Italy, and Portugal this time) as Spain's 2s10s has now flattened to year's lows. Swiss 2Y rates dropped further - to record closing lows at -35.2bps (after being -39bps at their best/worst of the day - suggesting all is not well, and Bunds largely tracked Treasuries as the SCOTUS decision came on and pushed derisking across assets. EURUSD tested towards 1.2400 early on but is holding -35pips or so for now at 1.2430.

Sometimes "No" Means Exactly That

As it dawns upon the world that Ms. Merkel means exactly what she says and is not going to back down you may expect a quite negative reaction in the equity markets and a widening of spreads for some risk assets along with a strengthening of the Dollar. I am talking about the “Trend” here and not some trading strategy for today’s business. Germany is not going to flinch and cannot both due to local politics and to the now obvious fact that Germany has just about reached the limits of what she is financially able to do with a $3.2 trillion economy. To put it quite simply; they have run out of excess cash and more European contributions are only going to weaken the balance sheet of the nation and seriously imperil Germany’s financial condition. I say, one more time, Germany is not going to roll over and all of the pan European schemes brought forward by the bureaucrats and the poorer nations are not going to go anywhere. There is one novel possibility here and that is that the Germans, like the British, may opt out. Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland et al may just say, “Fine, go ahead if you wish to have Eurobonds and the like but we will not guarantee them.” All plans do not need to have an either/or solution and this may well be Germany’s position in the end which would place the periphery nations and France in quite an interesting, if unenviable, place.

European Stocks Soar (And So Do Peripheral Bond Yields!)

It's another one of those hope-fueled days in Europe as European stock indices across evey nation close comfortably in the green as the EU Summit begins. Germany has taken all the substantive things off the table and Cyprus and Portugal threw in the towel but nevertheless, stocks are 1-2.5% higher (with Italy and Spain outperforming). We assume this is reflexive pricing of 'the crisis is now so scary that the ECB will have to do something' but it seems the FX and Sovereign bond market missed that pre-emptive hope-driven view as Portugal yields/spreads spiked, Spain pushed back up to 6.93% and saw further flattening in its yield curve (as short-dated LTRO-enthused bonds underperform dramatically) as 2s10s is almost back to six-month pre-LTRO levels. Italian spreads pulled off their worst levels to close mixed but remains over 40bps wider on the week. EURUSD closed down over 35 pips at 1.2450 and stocks were in a world of their own also relative to credit markets today.

The Summer Of Their Discontent

This Summit is likely to be the one where the masks come off the revelers at the Ball and where the faces behind the masks are unveiled for all to see. We predict this weekend will be full of many “Oh My God” moments which will go unreported in the Press but where it dawns, with a wicked thump, that the wealthy nations of Europe are unwilling to pay for the poorer ones and that all of the make nice comments of the last thirteen years were no more than polite conversation in the European parlors. This Summit will not be the end but it may well mark Churchill’s famous postulation that it is the beginning of the end. The cries of anguish are about to be met with refusal and the realization that “No” is actually “No” will produce, I fear, the exact same reaction of a six year old unruly child who throws himself on the floor in utter frustration when he does not get what he wants. It is still now, it is quiet; but it will not be soon!