Maybe its time for a new version of the old regime at the Fed. That is, for the Eccles Building to eschew interest rate-pegging and ZIRP entirely, and thereby allow financial markets to once again engage in honest price discovery and two-way trading; and to allow the natural business cycle to meander along its own capitalist path as determined not by the 12 members of the monetary politburo, but the 317 million consumers, producers, investors, entrepreneurs and even speculators who comprise the real main street economy.
The selloff last year was a desperate warning about the lack of resilience in credit and funding. That repo markets persist in that is, again, the opposite of the picture Janet Yellen is trying to clumsily fashion. Central banks cannot create that because their intrusion axiomatically alters the state of financial affairs, and they know this. It has always been the idea (“extend and pretend” among others) to do so with the expectation that economic growth would allow enough margin for error to go back and clean up these central bank alterations. That has never happened, and the modifications persist. Resilience is the last word we would use to describe markets right now, with very recent history declaring as much.
Update: in direct flashback from the summer of 2011 when the ECB leaked news only to retract it within minutes, this just happened: CONSTANCIO: DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT 1 TLN-EURO QE MODEL REPORT
When in desperate need to crush your currency (being bought hand over fist by the Chinese), so urgently need to boost German exports, since you are unable to actually do QE as per your charter, what do you do if you are Mario Draghi? Well, you leak, leak, leak that you are contemplating QE, and then you leak some more. Such as today.
- ECB HAS MODELED BOND PURCHASES UP TO 1 TLN EUROS, FAZ SAYS
- ECB TESTS SHOW INFLATION COULD BE BOOSTED 0.2% TO 0.8%: FAZ
Like US inflation soared on the $1 trillion QEternity? Can't wait. In other news, expect zero reaction from gold on this latest news that another $1.4 trillion in fiat is about to flood the market. If only inbetween Mario Draghi's jaw bones.
Over the past two weeks, Trust Preferred (or TruPS) CDOs have gained prominent attention as a result of being the first, and so far only, security that the recently implemented and largely watered-down, Volcker Rule has frowned upon, and leading various regional banks, such as Zions, to liquidate the offending asset while booking substantial losses. But... what are TruPS CDOs, and just how big (or small) of an issue is a potential wholesale liquidation in the market? Courtesy of the Philly Fed we now have the extended answer.
The Unspoken, Festering Secret At The Heart Of Shadow Banking: "Self-Securitization" ... With Central BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/15/2013 17:45 -0400
The implication of this particular and quite unprecedented shadow banking circle jerk, which could very easily make even the direct wealth transfer resulting from trillions in QE pale by comparison, is so stunning that we leave it up to the reader to come to their own conclusion.
There was some hilarious news overnight: such that supposedly Spain's GDP rose 0.1% in Q3 thus ending a 2+ year recession. There is no point to even comment on this "recovery" - we will merely remind that starving your economy of imports for the sake of generating a GDP-boosting trade surplus, while consumption declines, solves nothing and point readers to charts of Spanish non-performing loans, housing prices, and unemployment, oh and the massive Bad Bank of course, and leave it at that. In terms of real news, futures are lower following a drubbing in Asia over the previously discussed concerns over tighter Chinese monetary policy. Amusingly, as Reuters notes, this has hit global shares still high on hopes of extended U.S. stimulus on Wednesday, when the dollar tentatively steadied at an eight-month low after its latest slide. The immediate casualty is the USDJPY, which continues to slide and is approaching the 200SMA. In short: fears that China may have resumed tapering have offset yesterday's hope that "horrible" job numbers mean no Fed tapering until mid-2014.... New Normal fundamentals.
Frequent readers will recall that in the past, on several occasions, we expected that MBIA would rise due to two key catalysts: a massive short interest and the expectation that a BAC settlement would provide the company with much needed liquidity. That thesis played out earlier this year resulting in a stock price surge that also happened to be the company's 52 week high. However, now that we have moved away from the technicals and litigation catalysts, and looking purely at the fundamentals, it appears that MBIA has a new problem. One involving Zombies. These freshly-surfacing problems stem from a particular pair of Zombie CLO’s – Zombie-I and Zombie-II (along with Zombie-III, illiquid/black box middle-market CLO’s). While information is difficult to gather, we have heard that MBIA would be lucky to recover much more than $400 million from the underlying insured Zombie assets over the next three years, which would leave them with a nearly $600 million loss on their $1 billion of exposure which would materially and adversely impact the company's liquidity. And as it may take them a while to liquidate assets in a sure-to-be contentious intercreditor fight – their very own World War Z – MBIA may well have to part with the vast majority of the $1 billion in cash, before gathering some of the potential recovery.
With home prices rising at near-record paces in SoCal, corporate debt yields at record-lows, equity markets surging at near-record rates, and high quality assets dwindling by the minute under the heel of a central bank jack boot; it is perhaps no surprise that investors have switched from finding leverage through the balance sheet (i.e. crappy quality firms) to finding leverage through the instrument (i.e. structured credit). The trouble this time is that yields (and spreads) being so low, the creators of the new-normal ABS, CDOs, and CLOs have to stoop to the old tricks to make their money (as we noted here). As Bloomberg reports, bond issuers are once again exploiting the credit rating agency pay-for-performance business model to create "high-quality" collateralizable assets from utter garbage - such as auto loans.
- Gold Bears Defy Rally as Goldman Closes Short Wager (BBG)
- Still stuck on central-bank life support (Reuters)
- Ebbing Inflation Means More Easy Money (BBG)
- So much for socialist wealth redistribution then? François Hollande to woo French business with tax cut (FT)
- Billionaires Flee Havens as Trillions Pursued Offshore (BBG)
- Companies Feel Pinch on Sales in Europe (WSJ)
- Brussels plan will ‘kill off’ money funds (FT)
- Danes as Most-Indebted in World Resist Credit (BBG)
- Syria says prime minister survives Damascus bomb attack (Reuters)
- Syria: Al-Qaeda's battle for control of Assad's chemical weapons plant (Telegraph)
- Nokia Betting on $20 Handset as It Loses Ground on IPhone (BBG)
- Rapid rise of chat apps slims texting cash cow for mobile groups (FT)
- Calgary bitcoin exchange fighting bank backlash in Canada (Calgary Herald)
Unfortunately for the apparently not quite big enough to not fail Italian bank's former leaders, the Monte Paschi derivative debacle just won't go away. As Reuters reports today, the first (or many) arrests have been made. Gianluca Baldassarri and four other people suspected of criminal conspiracy to commit fraud were arrested after police seized EUR40mm of apparently ill-gotten gains. The alleged fraud and bribery case charges Baldassarri (who left shortly after the arrival of the new CEO in Jan 2012) of misleading regulators over the true nature of a secret derivative contract that was found in a safe by the bank's new management in October 2012. Echoing JPM's London Whale, they uncovered a 'systematic overshooting of risk limits' in the management of the group's EUR24bn prop book. Baldassarri was arrested quickly after the police found evidence that he was trying to cash in securities worth over EUR1mm soon after the funds were seized.
Remember all those soaring German confidence indices that said ignore the negative GDP print and focus on a future so bright, ze Germans've got to wear Zeiss? Appears the confidence may have been a tad massaged upwards because following a spate of weak corporate results out of Europe's growth dynamo, the German HDE retail association said Christmas sales for November and December were down some 0.7% from the prior year. Specifically German retail sales plunged -1.7% from November on expectations of a modest -0.1% decline, while on a year over year basis December imploded a whopping -4.7% vs expectations of -1.5%. Did the Germans blame the weather of lack of government spending, or maybe say to only focus on the positive aspects of the report (if any)? No. They were not girlie men about it. In now traditional news, Greek retail sales in November followed suit and plunged just a tad more than in Germany imploding by some -16.8% in November. Remember: once they hit 0 they can only go up. But the biggest news certainly was Germany, whose economy continues to deteriorate and is probably what spurred Buba president Jens Weidmann to say that ongoing bailouts could threaten the strongest members.
Earlier today, the Financial Stability Board (FSB), one of the few transnational financial "supervisors" which is about as relevant in the grand scheme of things as the BIS, whose Basel III capitalization requirements will never be adopted for the simple reason that banks can not afford, now or ever, to delever and dispose of assets to the degree required for them to regain "stability" (nearly $4 trillion in Europe alone as we explained months ago), issued a report on Shadow Banking. The report is about 3 years late (Zero Hedge has been following this topic since 2010), and is largely meaningless, coming to the same conclusion as all other historical regulatory observations into shadow banking have done in the recent past, namely that it is too big, too unwieldy, and too risky, but that little if anything can be done about it. Specifically, the FSB finds that the size of the US shadow banking system is estimated to amount to $23 trillion (higher than our internal estimate of about $15 trillion due to the inclusion of various equity-linked products such as ETFs, which hardly fit the narrow definition of a "bank" with its three compulsory transformation vectors), is the largest in the world, followed by the Euro area with a $22 trillion shadow bank system (or 111% of total Euro GDP in 2011, down from 128% at its peak in 2007), and the UK in third, with $9 trillion. Combined total shadow banking, not to be confused with derivatives, which at least from a theoretical level can be said to offset each other (good luck with that when there is even one counterparty failure), is now $67 trillion, $6 trillion higher than previously thought, and virtually the same as global GDP of $70 trillion at the end of 2011.
The decision to downgrade Italy's rating reflects the following key factors:
1. Italy is more likely to experience a further sharp increase in its funding costs or the loss of market access than at the time of our rating action five months ago due to increasingly fragile market confidence, contagion risk emanating from Greece and Spain and signs of an eroding non-domestic investor base. The risk of a Greek exit from the euro has risen, the Spanish banking system will experience greater credit losses than anticipated, and Spain's own funding challenges are greater than previously recognized.
2. Italy's near-term economic outlook has deteriorated, as manifest in both weaker growth and higher unemployment, which creates risk of failure to meet fiscal consolidation targets. Failure to meet fiscal targets in turn could weaken market confidence further, raising the risk of a sudden stop in market funding.
There are two forthcoming dates which will set the direction and strength of the tide and certainly have a marked affect upon the ventures. They are this Sunday, May 6, when both the French and Greek populace will decide on who is running their government and then on May 31 when the Irish have their refrendum. At the least one must be thankful that there are Democracies that are working and that no group of Generals or some thug is making the decisions. Forthcoming we visualize many Socialist demands such as Eurobonds being made and Germany standing alone in the corner and refusing to fund which will make for all kinds of volatile markets. The bigger crisis though, we fear, will be when Germany says no to funding some grand Socialist idea. The problem is the size of the economy. The German economy is 25% of the American economy and it is going to get down to a matter of capital and what Germany can afford without being downgraded and a European Union without a AAA rated Germany is a very different affair both for the EU’s debt structure and for the Euro. In June the Fed’s Operation Twist comes to an end. There is no new stimulus plan on the table in either America or in Europe now. This means that the last four years of monetary easing and living off of that which has been printed is coming to an end. The consequences of this, historically, have been declines in the equity markets.