As EURUSD leaks very gently lower into the new year (but stocks popped excitedly across quiet European markets that lacked a bond market supervisor to keep them honest), we thought it might be interesting to look at the relative strength of the Euro against six different measures. From FX option risk-reversals to ECB's European Bank Lending statistics, QE and sovereign risk relationships to Fed/ECB balance sheet dynamics, and finally from futures commitment of traders data to EUR-USD swap spread frameworks, the results are unsurprisingly mixed with a bias towards EUR weakness. Between the European auctions (and redemptions) of the next two weeks, and the FOMC meeting on the 24-25th January, we face quite a rude awakening from the low volume holiday week malaise.
We have extensively discussed the extremes to which European Sovereign spread risk has moved over the past few months. Furthermore, if we normalize by looking at a GDP-weighted credit spread across all of the members of the euro-zone, we are at all-time record wides on this measure. One question that has come up again and again is 'given the market's credit perceptions, why isn't the EUR lower?'. It appears that this is mainly due to regime shifts in the relationship as the correlation between EURUSD and European sovereign risk is extremely high when government intervention (specifically QE uncertainties and fed swap lines) is not rife. The point is that for the last four months, EURUSD and European sovereign risk have been almost perfectly correlated suggesting that as long as there is no ring-fence on risk, the EUR will continue to weaken significantly and at a minimum the EURUSD is an effective hedge against sovereign credit deterioration. Watching this relationship may provide insight into repatriation effects or government intervention as well as offer insight into how EURUSD will move given specific bond moves - a 100bps rise in Italian bond spreads alone infers a 140pip drop in EURUSD for example.
As early as July, we pointed out the increasingly likely endgame in Europe with regard to the EFSF and centralizing/concentrating credit risk. Well sure enough, sovereign risk has risen dramatically for Germany (among many others obviously) as traders realized standing on the shoulders of giants does nothing but push them further into the dirt. What is becoming more worrisome, and dramatically escalating, is the rise in sovereign CDS relative to government bond yields - or the so-called 'basis' - as it becomes ever more clear that government-bond-yield-by-mandate may not be as 'real' a measure of the risk-free rate as CDS.
Despite Preemptive Gold Margin Hike In Shanghai, Gold Is Poised To Close May Near Record On Sovereign Risk WorriesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2011 14:50 -0500
After a near epic margin driven collapse in silver, which appears to have been largely forgotten as the metal has resumed it upward climb, it is gold which has once again regained the crown in the fiat substitute race. As Reuters reports: "The speculators are coming back, mainly driven by the European debt crisis," said a Singapore-based trader. "Gold is likely to slowly move up during the summer unless we see big headlines, such as the U.S. raising interest rates earlier than expected." Of course, where some see "speculators" others see rational investors who are already discounting the inevitable next step by the central planner cartel, which forced to deal with a slowing economy will have no choice but to inflate the global adjusted monetary base (and dilute outstanding fiat) by another several hundred billion. Elsewhere, in preparation for another gold breakout, the Shanghai Gold Exchange hiked gold and silver margins once again, this time preemptively. "The Shanghai Gold Exchange said
on Monday it will raise margin requirements on gold forward
contracts to 12 percent from 10 percent from the June 2
settlement, a move to help ward off excessive volatility in
global markets during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday on June
6. The bourse will also hike silver forward contracts to 17
percent from 15 percent. It will also set gold daily trade
limits to 9 percent and silver at 12 percent from June 3." Still, the gold fixing at the close of NYMEX trading was $1,539.1, $30 away from all time nominal highs. Incidentally, would it be too much to ask of the exchanges to provide the general public with just what the formula is that they use to make their margin hike (and, reduction) decisions? They would be amazed how quickly any allegations of collusion with the administration would disappear if only a little transparency was introduced to the "system."
Simon Black, aka Sovereign Man, who recently has been a frequent guest on the pages of Zero Hedge, was interviewed by The Daily Crux, and explains why in a world of relentless printing of credit money, and thus a surge in global sovereign debt, sovereign risk is rapidly becoming the first and foremost risk factor for investors. Courtesy of his extended travel experience, Black, who visits 50 countries each year and actually performs due diligence, summarizes his thoughts on all those pundits who base their macro views on a tourism brochure: "I spend my life trying to put my boots on the ground in as many places as possible to really see with my own eyes what's going on in the world and what the opportunities are, rather than take some idiot's recommendation on Fox Business News who doesn't know his ass from his elbow." In addition to getting some more background on Black, who is oddly low-profile in a world filled with media whores, here is one chance to evaluate key risks vicariously courtesy of a man who actually has "been there, done that."
Time to buy some peripheral European CDS - As our friends at Kerrisdale Capital point out, "There’s been a lot of talk recently about Hungary following in Greece’s footsteps and potentially defaulting on its debt. Bulgaria and Romania are two other weak economies in Eastern Europe, and the chart below shows bank exposure by country to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Greece. The situation in Greece could make it difficult for Bulgaria and Romania to roll over their debt, an event which would in itself reduce the value of Greece’s assets, creating further difficulty for Bulgaria and Romania."
MarkIt reports Italian CDS has exploded by 50bps, from 200 on Monday to 250bps, a new record. The weakness is spreading globally now. A slightly delayed CMA report indicates that the biggest CDS movers are all sovereigns, and led by Korea and other Asian names. In the meantime eurodollar futures are pushing ever higher, even as Libor is still testing the temporary breaks at 0.53%. All fine and dandy, until you look at Euribor, where things are getting surreal. We will discuss this shortly.
The current system and the global imbalancing act is going to change. The nature of that change is unclear. Comparing similar pasts to the present and extrapolating future effects is one approach. However, such mean reversion doesn’t work along an established time frame. What can be counted on is that unsustainable phenomenon like current account imbalances, negative savings rates, seeming infinite asset price appreciation will change. One way or another, falling savings rates and rising deficits become rising savings and falling deficits.
With regard to risk factors for economic activity, members concurred that, while there were some upside risks such as faster growth in emerging and commodity-exporting economies, there remained downside risks such as the possible consequences of balance-sheet adjustments in the United States and Europe as well as potential changes in firms' medium- to long-term growth expectations. They also agreed that attention should be paid to the effects of various recent international financial developments on Japan's economy, such as increased concerns about sovereign risk and developments in financial regulation and supervision around the globe. - Shirakawa et al.
A look at the relationship between sovereign risk, the price of oil and investment strategy in a possible Financial Crisis 2.0 scenario.
While nothing new to constant Zero Hedge readers, Rosenberg's recap in a few simple paragraphs of what is happening in the European periphery, the EMU, and with sovereign balance sheets is a must read for all recent entrants into fundamental sovereign default analysis.
Why Blaming CDS For The Sovereign Risk Flare Is Idiotic, And Why Gold Is Now A Global Fiat-Currency AlternativeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/05/2010 11:51 -0500
The ever so handsome Tim Backshall of Credit Derivatives Research explains to all rabid anti-CDSites why CDS is the last thing one has to worry about in the spreading sovereign crisis, and why looking at 10% budget deficits (just like Lehman's $50 billion underwater balance sheet was responsible for the firm's bankruptcy, instead of unfounded speculation that naked shorting was the cause) may be the actual reason why half of Europe will soon have to be bailed out. CDS are merely instruments to express a view. And if Joe Cassano found a job somewhere where he is the party responsible for selling tens of billions in gross sovereign notional, then so be it. That said, bailing out the seller of Greek, or any other nation's, protection will hopefully not become an issue all too soon. Alas, the rumor that this seller may be Goldman Sachs (that BS about Greek banks selling Greek CDS causes 5 minute bouts of hypoxia-inducing guffawing in every CDS trader in the business) may mean that one year from now, when AIG is long forgotten (and defunct), we will be discussing why the Fed bailed out Goldman's Greek exposure at 100 cents on the dollar. Lastly, another point by Backshall - don't sell your gold. Should a full blown fiat contagion take hold, the dollar may go higher, but gold, which can not be printed in the mad dash to prop up the Titanic in its final minutes, will surely not go lower.
The dead cat bounce in the most shorted names is taking some of the recent peripheral high fliers tighter, at the expense of increased widening at the "risk-free" core. We expect much more of this risk transfer from the zone of perceived risk to the heart of Europein the weeks/months to come. Some key levels: HY 600, IG 101, SovX 110., Greece 415, Portugal 225, UK 99.50
Sovereign risk was once again front and center on the minds of investors today. Despite the EU's efforts to 'back' Greece's cost cutting plans, investors remain far less sanguine than Almunia. Greek bonds managed a small 7bps rally relative to Bunds (which widened 2bps) as CDS were around 9bps wider (compressing the basis a little more). Don't read too much into the small rally in bonds (the basis remains wide at 55-60bps and we suspect given the convergence today that some are putting the trade on).
Spreads were mixed in the US with IG unch, HVOL wider, ExHVOL weaker, and HY rallying. IG trades 1.5bps wide (cheap) to its 50d moving average, which is a Z-Score of 0.2s.d.. At 92.25bps, IG has closed tighter on 30 days in the last 282 trading days (JAN09). The last five days have seen IG flat to its 50d moving average.
Dubai - meet Greece. Apparently credit traders appreciate biblical allusions, as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou "promised" for the third time today that all is good in the debt-stricken country, claiming there is "no way" the country would leave the euro or seek aid from the IMF. Credit's response: Greek CDS surges to an all time high of 327 bps, and the country now represents 24% of SovX risk.