State Street

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.

Italian Regulator Urges Banks To Destroy Shorts, Pull All Stock Borrow, Generate Marketwide Squeeze

Frequent Zero Hedge readers may recall that back in the spring of 2009, when the market needed a desperate boost by any and all insivible hands, we exposed one of the methods of ramping stocks as being stock custodians, in this case State Street and Bank of New York, generating a wholesale squeeze by pulling borrow, or in other words retrieving lent out shares so those who are short are forced to cover. Many laughed assuming this was merely yet another deranged rant. It wasn't. Fast forward to today, when we learn that the Consob, Italy's market regulator and SEC equivalent, has "recommended to stakeholders who have lent shares in Italian companies to retrieve them" - i.e., playbook artificial short squeeze 101. This is two days after the Consob banned naked short selling: a move which had disastrous consequences after the market continued plunging and would have collapsed entirely had it not been for the ECB and/or China buying Italy bonds before yesterday's Bill auction. ""Yes, we've exercised moral suasion by asking all those who have lent shares to retrieve them," Consob Chairman Giuseppe Vegas told journalists on the sideline of a conference." And now you know how to generate a market-wide short squeeze.

Moody's Puts BofA, Wells Fargo And Citi On Downgrade Review: Cites Risk Of No Government Support, Mortgage Exposure As Risks

Moody's Investors Service has placed the deposit, senior debt, and senior subordinated debt ratings of Bank of America Corporation (A2 senior), Citigroup Inc. (A3 senior), Wells Fargo & Company (A1 senior), and their subsidiaries on review for possible downgrade. Each of these ratings currently incorporates an unusual amount of "uplift" from Moody's systemic support assumptions that were increased during the financial crisis. The review will focus on whether these ratings should be adjusted to remove this unusual uplift and include only pre-crisis levels of government support. At the same time, Moody's said that it will assess improvements in Bank of America's and Citigroup's standalone financial strength, and that this may temper the extent of any ratings downgrades that could result from its review of these firms' unusual level of systemic support...Despite this progress, these banks still have sizable residential mortgage exposures; their credit costs could therefore spike if the US economy were to contract again. Further, they continue to face litigation costs related to faulty foreclosure practices.

Aaaand.... It's Gone: Tiny Tim Plans Shelving Of AIG Stock Offering After Stock Plunge Continues

Remember the other most hyped up re-IPO ever, AIG (after that other Marxist-inspired, union-lubricating, channel-stuffing debacle GM)? The same company that nearly brought down the system, that insured more disaster prone garbage than even Berkshire Hathaway, which is  92% owned by the government because it wouldn't look cool if the government fully nationalized everyone after Lehman was left to die, and was subsequently eagerly attempting to buy back its toxic filth at half off prices from Goldman's Bill Dudley who just so happens works at 33 Liberty now? Well, you can kiss that goodbye: the FT reports that "AIG and the US Treasury are discussing whether to shelve or scale back plans for a large public offering this month because of the lacklustre performance of the insurer’s shares in recent weeks, people close to the situation said." You can also kiss the Treasury's boasts of a break even on its AIG "investment" - this despite 2 years of endless market levitation, forced short squeeze, margin hikes, several wars, $4 trillion in monetary and fiscal stimuli, and most certainly, the kitchen sink. "People involved said the most likely outcome of the deliberations would be for the offering to proceed at a smaller size and closer to the Treasury’s break-even point. This would allow the restructured company to provide a longer record to the market before a larger sale later this year. Shares in AIG have fallen more than 30 per cent since January 20, hitting $29.62 on Tuesday and jeopardising taxpayers’ profits on the share sale. Treasury’s break-even level is $28.73 a share and officials have been reluctant to approve an offering below that price." This likely also means that any follow on equity capital raises by AIG will be relegated to CDO issuance and other "silly paper" that will be bought only with other people's money.

PriceStats - The Beginning Of The End For BLS Data Manipulation?

Had enough of neverending BLS inflation data manipulation? You may be in luck. Hot on the heels of the MIT Billion Prices Project (which we were delighted to see recently came back on line), there now is... PriceStats, potentially the most revolutionary concept to come to the fielf of econometrics, and thus fiscal and monetary policy in ages.