State Street

A Modest Proposal To Boost US GDP By $852 Quadrillion: Build The Imperial Death Star

Since at this point US society is irrevocably split into two camps, on one hand those who believe Keynesian propaganda, where the only cure for unsustainable debt is more debt, and on the other those who believe that a return to a gold standard is the only way to prevent an epic socio-political collapse, also known in official US circles as "extremists", and since we know that the status quo will never let the latter get their way without a fight (quite literally and quite violently), it is only logical that 'if you can't beat them you have to join them'. In which case we believe that instead of breaking windows, or starting wars, or even expecting a growth boosting alien invasion that would lead to a surge in GDP that may or may not come, one should not only go for broke, but do so in style. As such we propose that the US, already the world's most expansionist and aggressive foreign policy power, not like there is anything wrong with that of course - it is all for the sake of liberating oppressed foreign oil, should one up itself and build the true symbol of its contemporary socio-historical status: the Imperial Death Star. Yet the real benefit in addition to blowing up various alien world that refuse to bail out the world's central bank confederacy, is that the cost of construction of said Keynesian masterpiece, would be an epic $852 quadrillion, which in turn would go straight to US GDP.

Treasury Prices $35 Billion In Forgettable 5 Year Auction

Little to note about today's unremarkable bond auction of $35 billion in 5 Year bonds. Hot on the heels of yesterday's just as unremarkable  2 year bond auction, which saw total US debt/GDP surpass 101% two weeks after total debt/GDP rose over 100% for the first time, the details surrounding today's issuance were more or less as expected: the closing yield of 0.90% was inside the When Issued of 0.905%. The Bid To Cover was 2.89, weaker than January's 3.17, but right inline with the TMM BTC of 2.89. The Indirects took down 41.8%, Directs 12.9%, and the Dealers held at 45.3%, all in line with TTM average, so nothing to write home about. Overall an auction that just added a few pips to the total US debt/GDP, with the proceeds, especially by the Dealers, promptly to be pledged back into the repo market with the blessings of BoNY and State Street, where it is never heard from again.

As US Debt To GDP Passes 101%, The Global Debt Ponzi Enters Its Final Stages

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.

Quiet 2 Year Bond Auction Adds $35 Billion To Total Debt, US Debt To GDP Now At 101%

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 Market And Anti-Trust Considerations

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?

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.

Insider Perspectives On Liquidity, Funding, And Markets

Year end markets are infamous for distorting price action as illiquidity, bank and company window dressing, and risk paring tends to characterize investment decisions and valuation quirks.  In this market climate it can be challenging to differentiate between fundamental moves versus liquidity provisioning and the pursuit to flatten books and race to the finish line.  In the above spirit, typical year end position imbalances are suspicious as are global finance needs and the apparent dysfunctionality of funding market functioning and an information arbitrage between different markets in understanding of such minutia...The circular nature of worsening emerging and global fundamentals, lower sovereign growth prospects, associated financing challenges, lower asset valuations, regulatory cushions to such catalyzing asset sales, bank balance sheet illiquidity and, hence, funding stains tis the season.  Just a DAILY comment to elevate the ebb and flow adjustments of markets and policy makers to such linkages.   

The Rumors Were True: Paulson Liquidates A Third Of His GLD Gold Share Class; Buys More Bank Of America And Capital One

Well, he may not be liquidating, and he may be telling others he has experienced barely any redemptions, but Paulson's gold share class, represented entirely by the fund's GLD holdings would beg to differ: as of September 30, Paulson's total holdings of GLD were down by a third from 31.5 million shares or $4.6 billion at the end of Q2, to 20.2 million or $3.2 billion. And as is well known, GLD is not an actual investment for Paulson, but merely a representative asset class for those who opt to have their fund holdings represented in gold (the smart ones) instead of in dollars. Indicatively the only Paulson & co investors who made any money, or at least did not lose much, were those who opted for a gold share class. Either way, it is now safe to assume that at least a third of the fund has been permanently redeemed, further confirmed by the drop in the AUM from $29 billion to $20.7 billion as per the actual filing. But wait, there's more: while Paulson was busy selling across the board, in the process liquidating all of his JPM holdings as well as his positions in Comcast (no CNBC for you), Savvis, NYSE Euronext and State Street, and following in Tepper's footsteps in selling across the board, the former Bear trader did what all other allegedly doomed institutions do and added to, you guessed it, the biggest loser Bank of America, increasing his position by almost 4 million shares... even as the total value of his 64 million BAC stake, which closed Q3 at the same price it is today, dropped by $269 million! And that's why he is a billionaire and you are not. At least we know who Tepper was selling to. But that's not all: Paulson also added 1.1 million share to his CapitalOne position, bringing the total to 22.2 million shares, even as the total value of his revised position dropped by $210 million to $880 million. And so forth. Some other names in which he took brand new stakes in (picture that: he did not spend all of Q3 selling) in Motorola Mobility, Nalco, Cephalon, AMC and a bunch of irrelevant others. So to all those who are now in the same place they were in 2008: tough, but at least your fees made JP into a multi-billionaire. Congratulations.

Guest Post: A Raging Case Of Bailout Fatigue

Access to Fed backup support “leads you to subject yourself to greater risks,” Herring says. “If it’s not there, you’re not going to take the risks that would put you in trouble and require you to have access to that kind of funding.” All of this might conceivably make citizens revolt against an entity that uses their money to secretly fund the “Wall Street aristocracy.” It might make them vote for a Gary Johnson or a Ron Paul, someone who favors dismantling the Fed. Or not. When a story as big as this one generates a bare minimum of media coverage, you know it’s probably headed for that huge waste bin in the corner of the parking lot. The one marked Bailout Fatigue.

Is It Time For The Financial World To Panic? 25 Reasons Why The Answer May Be Yes

Every now and then it is easy to forget that the one or two "better than expected" data points blasted by flashing headlines do nothing that merely mask what is an otherwise quite deplorable and deteriorating reality. For the disconnect between America and the rest of the world look no further than this chart showing the dramatic divergence between the DJIA, which has just gone positive for the year, and every other major global stock market. Yet for those who require a narrative to go with their numbers, here is The Economic Collapse with the latest of their traditionally comprehensive bulletins, this time summarizing the "25 signs that the financial world is about to hit the big red panic button."

Presenting The Merger Arbs Getting Decimated By The News Corp-BSkyB Deal Collapse

For everyone asking who will be broadly liquidating to compensate for the News Corp-BSKYB merger arb catastrophe, meeting margin calls, and overall trying to prevent a fund blow up, here is the list. The biggest recent accumulators: Odey, Nomura, State Street, Lloyds, Taconic, Perry and PPM. These are the funds, which per CapIq loaded up LSE:BSY shares in the last 1-2 quarters, almost certainly based on merger arb assumptions.