Sovereign Risk

Goldman Sachs On How To Navigate The Slowdown

Remember when a week ago the world was slowing down? Apparently all it takes to forget reality is for Europe to sweep the fact that its banks are insolvent under the rug courtesy of a systematic farce conducted by the very system the banks are part of, rendered even more "credible" since as of today it appears no banks will fail the stress test. On the US earnings front, a materials company beating reduced expectations and a chip maker having just record the best quarter in its history (what growth next for Intel: 80% margins? 90%? every household in China buying an i7 980 for their 7th toaster in their 5th house?), even as global trade is paradoxically stalling following an all time record month for Chinese trade? Americans may be unemployed and homeless but they sure like their iPads and their fast PCs. Either way, to remind readers that despite the latest market run up on no actual positive economic data, here is Dominic Wilson, Director of Global Macro & Markets Research at Goldman, with advice to clients on how to navigate the "slowdown."

Moody's Downgrades Portugal From Aa2 To A1

Moody's believes that the Portuguese government's financial strength will continue to weaken over the medium term, as evidenced by the recent and ongoing deterioration in the country's debt metrics. "The Portuguese government's debt-to-GDP and debt-to-revenues ratios have risen rapidly over the past two years," says Anthony Thomas, Vice President - Senior Analyst in Moody's Sovereign Risk Group. "This deterioration came about due to the government's anti-crisis measures and the operation of the budget's automatic stabilizers, such as higher unemployment benefits, when the economy went into recession." Looking ahead, Moody's expects the government's debt metrics to continue to deteriorate for at least another two to three years, with the debt-to-GDP and debt-to-revenues ratios eventually approaching 90% and 210%, respectively, before stabilizing once the budget has moved back into a primary surplus position.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Why isn't the popular financial media reporting the fact that Greece's funding costs increased after the $1 trillion dollar bailout? Why isn't it pointed out the Portugal's credit rating has been dropped - post bailout? Exactly what is $1 trillion US dollars good for these days - trick question, but I dare 'ya to answer :-)

CEBS Releases Details On Stress Tests For 91 Banks, Adverse Scenario Assumes 3% Cut Vs GDP Forecast, Cajas To Be Included

The Council of European Banking Supervisors has released the much anticipated detail on the stress test farce, whose results are to be announced on July 23. On the most relevant topic of sovereign impact, here is what the press release says: "The sovereign risk shock in the EU represents a deterioration of market conditions as compared to the situation observed in early May 2010." In other words there is no detail whatsoever and once again it is more than likely that not even JPM's downside expectation of a 25% haircut on Greek bonds will be met. Since "early May" excludes those days right after the $1 trillion bailout package, when spreads actually got even worse, to say that this will be an objective test is, as usual, a Tim Geithner inspired joke. Interestingly, the CEBS will include Spain's Cajas clusterfuck in the test, which puts the last nail in the coffin of any credibility this test may have had, as an objective analysis will promptly result in the shuttering of over 40% of Spanish lenders, as we discussed previously. As for the core assumption: "On aggregate, the adverse scenario assumes a 3 percentage point deviation of GDP for the EU compared to the European Commission’s forecasts over the two-year time horizon" we wonder whether this will also account for the fudged GDP numbers previously presented to Eurostat, courtesy of Goldman Sachs' financial innovation division.

Reggie Middleton's picture

I've written blog posts calling government officials liars when they said the Greek crisis was over, written posts calling for inevitable haircuts while the bulls said the Greek crisis was overblown, and even put up with BS EU stress tests that won't even account for the possibility of default - or its economic cousin, restructuring. Well, how ironic that the EU puts out the criteria for its banks stress tests sans default/restructuring scenarios today, the same day that Greece releases a press release of a broad restructuring of its hospital debt. Hmmmm.... As realistic as platinum frog farts!

Morning Gold Fix: July 7, 2010

On Tuesday, gold dropped to its lowest level in 6 weeks as investors explore riskier assets. China’s statement that it has no plans to start allocating more gold to its reserves (percentage wise), isn’t giving bulls much to work with this morning. Gold opened at $1212.2 per 100 troy ounces, and dropped to 1195.1 by closing time.

Reggie Middleton's picture

HSBC's Chief Economist states that emerging markets hit a bump in the road in terms of growth (duhhh!) but their longer term outlook is positive. I agree, but since we happen to live in the present, we have a few wrinkles to iron out first. After all, it can be said that HSBC is simply talking their book since they are highly levered into the emerging markets! Here is my take on the situation from a more objective perspective.

Weekly Credit Summary: July 2 - Something For The Weekend

Stocks were the worst performers on a beta-adjusted basis relative to IG and HY in the US as EUR seemed to lose it status as worst of a bad bunch for a week as SovX and FINLs managed decent gains on the week. It seems our view of the credit market anticipating a turn in the cycle was correct and the consumer-sensitive sectors have seen equity play catch up to credit's warning signs from MAY. Many sectors are getting closer to fair across the capital structure but Leisure, Energy, Telecoms, and Consumer NonCyclicals still have room to drop in equities relative to credit's perception of risk. Tech, if anything, looks a little overdone in its sell-off in equities but this is perhaps due to less liquid credit and more highly levered Tech plays in stocks.

As Curve Flattening Accelerates, Morgan Stanley Goes All In, Tells Clients To Bet Against Fat Tails

The2s10s has plumbed fresh new lows: - the most levered trade in the history of the world (the curve steepener for the uninitiated) is now the most abhorred. The amount of neg P&L incurred here over the past 2 months is just staggering. After hitting an all time of 290 in March, the 2s10s has collapsed by over 20% in the last three months. And as the leverage associated with this trade is second to none, the impact of this collapse is magnified hundreds of times, not to mention that the money banks charge for mortgages (if anyone wanted these to begin with) and credit cards is marginally so much lower that Q2 and certainly Q3 bank profitability will be very badly impaired. Which is why we were eagerly anticipating the one firm which has been the biggest defendant of the steepener trade to come out with its "double or nothing" all-in on the economic rebound which is critical for this bearish flattening to terminate. Today, we got our wish. As expected, Morgan Stanley's Jim Caron throws the kitchen sink into the bull case, and this time also pitches the "no fat tails" trade - the same trade that worked miracles for Boaz Weinstein and Merrill Lynch. Alas, with MS clients sick and tired of losing money, almost as much as Goldman's FX clients, this could be too little too late. Furthermore, with trite claims such as "no ‘double-dip’, We expect growth in China to slow but expect a soft landing, No deflation in 2H10, Policy rates to remain lower for longer, Europe to muddle along, and solvency risks in 2H10 overstated" it may be difficult for MS to find the last standing greatest fool out there. As for pitching the "Iron Butterfly" to said fool, good luck. But it sure sounds cool.

Morning Gold Fix: June 30, 2010

Gold traded in a wide range on Tuesday as markets reacted to frightening news. Slowing growth from China shocked the market, driving oil prices more than $3 lower,dropping the Standard & Poor 500 ~30 handles and leaving gold and the dollar as the prime beneficiaries. More contagion fears from Europe and paltry consumer confidence reports didn’t help matters either. Gold sold as low as $1228 per 100 troy ounces on Tuesday before ultimately closing just over $1246, a $4.80 gain for the day.

Daily Credit Summary: June 29 - Equity Catch-up

Today's action in CDS land was negative pretty much across the board with breadth extremely negative as only a handful of single-names managed to eke out gains as there was a quite evident up-in-quality shift. HY names handily underperformed IG names on the day. High beta IG names also underperformed significantly as off-the-run indices underperformed on-the-run once again and the Top 100 CDO referenced names significantly underperformed the broad market.

Daily Credit Summary: June 24 - Risk Never Left (But Italy Did)

Greece was the standout in Europe (and in fact across most sovereigns) with a 60bps decompression today (closing below 1000bps but managing to get above and trade handily upfront for much of the day). This is a 200bps decompression since the roll and while volumes remain marginal, bonds have weakened with the 2-5Y range inverting even more significantly. Calls for 50% haircuts on Greek sovereign debt in the stress tests, and an increasingly glib view of the effectiveness of the stress tests saw FINLs shift wider once again with SEN and SUB moving pretty much in line and notably FINLs and ExFINLs not decompressing. This is interesting as perhaps we are seeing the contagion leaking back into non FINLs (which would make sense via direct channel from lending/credit as well as indirect via austerity/growth slowing).