Today, without much fanfare, US debt to GDP hit 101% with the latest issuance of $32 billion in 2 Year Bonds. If the moment when this ratio went from double to triple digits is still fresh in readers minds, is because it is: total debt hit and surpassed the most recently revised Q4 GDP on January 30, or just three weeks ago. Said otherwise, it has taken the US 21 days to add a full percentage point to this most critical of debt sustainability ratios: but fear not, with just under $1 trillion in new debt issuance on deck in the next 9 months, we will be at 110% in no time. Still, this trend made us curious to see who has been buying (and selling) US debt over the past year. The results are somewhat surprising. As the chart below, which highlights some of the biggest and most notable holders of US paper, shows, in the period December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2011, there have been two very distinct shifts: those who are going all in on the ponzi, and those who are gradually shifting away from the greenback, and just as quietly, and without much fanfare of their own, reinvesting their trade surplus in something distinctly other than US paper. The latter two: China and Russia, as we have noted in the past. Yet these are more than offset by... well, we'll let the readers look at the chart and figure out it.
Today the US Treasury quietly and efficiently auctioned off enough debt to satisfy nearly 20% of the entire second Greek bailout funding needs (thank you repo markets and multi-trillion repo custodians BoNY and State Street). Tim Geithner just sold $32 billion in 2 year bonds at a rate of 0.31%, right on top of the When Issued, which was the highest yield since August 2011, yet nothing too dramatic. Since this is the short end of the curve where Bernanke is fully in control, the range in recent auctions has fluctuated from 0.222% to 0.31%. Yet as noted last week, the biggest "beneficiary" of short-end purchases have been Primary Dealers - are they starting to choke on thier holdings? And who will they sell to this paper which yields absolutely nothing. The auction internals were a snooze - the Bid To Cover was 3.54, a drop from January's 3.75, but higher than the TTM average of 3.42. Dealers took down 54.66%, in line with the average, Indirects left holding 35.84%, and 9.5% for the direct. Overall, nothing to write home about, and the bottom line is that the US just added another $32 billion to its net debt of $15.413 trillion, or a new record high debt/GDP ratio of 101%. It is going much higher.
The CDS index market remains one of the most liquid sources of hedges and positioning available (despite occasional waxing and waning in volumes) and is often used by us as indications of relative flows and sophisticated investor risk appetite. However, as Kamakura Corporation has so diligently quantified, the broad CDS market (specifically including single-names) remains massively concentrated. This concentration, evidenced by the Honolulu-based credit guru's findings that three institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank National Association, have market shares in excess of 19% each has shown little to no reduction (i.e. the market remains as closed as ever) and they warn that this dramatically increases the probability of collusion and monopoly pricing power. We have long argued that the CDS market is valuable (and outright bans are non-sensical and will end badly) as it offers a more liquid (than bonds) market to express a view or more simply hedge efficiently. However, we do feel strongly that CDS (indices especially) should be exchange traded (more straightforward than ever given standardization, electronic trading increases, and clearing) and perhaps Kamakura's work here will be enough to force regulators and the DoJ to finally turn over the rock (as they did in Libor and Muni markets) and do what should have been done in late 2008 when the banks had little to no chips to bargain with on keeping their high margin CDS trading desks in house (though the exchanges would also obviously have to step up to the plate unlike in 2008).
European Companies Are Now Funding European Banks And The ECB - Is "Investment Grade" Cash Really Just Italian Treasurys?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/09/2012 11:31 -0500
While hardly news to those who have been following our coverage of the shadow banking system over the past two years, today Reuters has a curious angle on the European "repo" problem: namely, it appears that over the past several months the primary marginal source of cash in the ultra-short term secured market in Europe are not banks, the traditional "lender" of cash (for which banks receive a nominal interest payment in exchange for haircut, hopefully, collateral) but the companies themselves, which have inverted the flow of money and are now lending cash out to banks (with assorted collateral as a pledge - probably such as Italian and Greek bonds), cash which in turn makes its way to none other than the ECB (recall that as of today a record amount of cash was deposited by European "banks" with Mario Draghi). From Reuters: "Blue-chip names like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Peugeot are among firms bailing out Europe's ailing banks in a reversal of the established roles of clients and lenders. One source with knowledge of the so-called repo deals or short-term secured lending, said the two U.S. pharmaceutical groups and French carmaker were the latest to sign up for them." Which intuitively makes sense: as has been well known for years, companies are stuck holding on to record amounts of cash, although what has not been clear is why? Now we know, and it is precisely for this reason: corporate treasurers have known very well that sooner or later the deleveraging wave will leave banks cashless, and corporates themselves will have to become lenders of last resort, especially in a continent in which the central bank is still rather concerned about sparking inflationary concerns.
Seeking to recover more than $200 million in illegal overcharges and penalties, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has filed suit against State Street Bank and Trust -- one of the world's leading providers of financial services to institutional investors -- for committing "unconscionable fraud" against California's two largest pension funds -- CalPERS and CalSTRS.
SEC Informs State Street It Will Authorize Civil Enforcement Action For Violation Of Anti-Fraud ProvisionsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/10/2009 12:35 -0500
In June 2009, the Staff of the SEC provided State Street Bank with a “Wells” notice related to the SEC’s ongoing investigation into disclosures and management by SSgA of its active fixed-income strategies during 2007 and prior periods. The SEC Staff has informed us that it is proceeding with an enforcement recommendation to the SEC Commissioners asking the SEC Commissioners to authorize a civil enforcement action against us alleging violations of antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.
Continuing the series of State Street presentations on relevant market topics, the latest piece "What are the Implications of the Growing Use of Electronic Trading" focuses on the nuanced difference between "real liquidity" and "liquidity hazard", depending on whether one is a price taker or market maker. Yet based on limited available public disclosure, non-premium clients of the NYSE and other PT-espousing exchanges have no visibility of who and under what conditions any given broker/dealer and quant become one or the other. And while merely a few years ago HFT was less than half of traded stock volume, recent data indicates high frequency trading now accounts for over 70% of US volume, and thus it is important to reasses what is the relevant set of data disclosure by dominating broker/dealers. The risk is palpable - as State Street itself notes, there is "equity capital at risk."
Liquidity, as frequent readers know, is a fascinating topic to Zero Hedge. Liquidity black holes, as one would imagine, is doulby so. However, when a firm like State Street, which is at the heart of the multi-trillion dollar stock lending endoskeleton of the market discusses both of these concepts, one must pay attention. The below report is a State Street presentation from 2003 discussing what happens in those episodes when liquidity disappears and how that impairs all other axes of proper market function.
Zero Hedge has always been fascinated by the behemoths of securities lending (or not so much lately) State Street and Bank Of New York: these firms, which allegedly had just marginal toxic exposure, were in the front lines for the TARP bailout and have traditionally been handled with velvet gloves by the administration. In fact, many would say the custodian firms are in a league of importance much higher than even Goldman or JP Morgan as with their repo activity, security lending and cash collateral reinvestment, they are the de facto center of the shadow banking system.
State Street (STT) stock tumbled 33% in premarket trading (last at $24/share). The world's largest money manager for institutions said 2009 profit will be little changed from last year after Q4 earnings fell 71%. What is curious is that according to Bloomberg out of the 18 analysts who cover the stock, 9 have a buy rating, 9 have a hold and 0 are at sell...yup, good to see sell-side research ahead of the ball on this one too.