We have discussed forecasts for the second (and certainly not last ) February 29 3 Year LTRO in the past, with expectations for its size ranging from €1 trillion all the way up to a mindboggling €10 trillion. Today, Goldman has conducted a poll focusing on investors and banks, to gauge the sentiment for what has over the past 2 months been taken as the latest Deus Ex, which is really nothing than yet another bout of quantitative easing, only one in which the central bank pretend to be sterilizing 3 year loans by accepting any and virtually all collateral that banks can scrape off the bottom of their balance sheets (as a reminder, back in the financial crisis, Zero Hedge discovered that the Fed was accepting stocks of bankrupt companies as collateral - certainly the ECB is doing the same now). And once the banks get the cash instead of lending it out, or using it for carry trades, they simply use it to plug equity undercapitalization due to massive asset shortfalls on their balance sheets which are mark-to-unicornTM, yet which generate zero cash flow, even as banks have to pay out cash on their liabilities. In essence, the banks convert worthless crap into perfectly normal cash with the ECB as an intermediary: and that is all the LTRO is. Luckily, as we pointed out, even the idiot market is starting to grasp the circular scam nature of this arrangement, and the fact that it is nothing short of Discount Window usage, and because of that, the stigma associated with being seen as needing this last ditch liquidity injection is starting to grind on the banks. It is only a matter of time before hedge funds create portfolios in which they go long banks which openly refuse to use LTRO cash, and short all the other ones (read every single Italian and Spanish bank out there, and most French ones too) because at the end of the day one can only fool insolvency for so long. But once again we are getting ahead of the market by about 3-6 weeks. In the meantime, and looking forward to the next LTRO, whose cash will be used exclusively to build up "firewalls" ahead of the Greek default, here is what Goldman's clients expect to happen...
The mainstream view uniting the entire political spectrum is that all our financial problems can be fixed by what amounts to top-down, centralized policy tweaks and regulation: for example, tweaking policies to "tax the rich," limit the size of "too big to fail" financial institutions, regulate credit default swaps, lower the cost of healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare), limit the abuses of student loans to pay for online diploma mills, and on and on and on. But what if the rot is already beyond the reach of more top-down policy tweaks? Consider the recent healthcare legislation: thousands of pages of obtuse regulations that require a veritable army of regulators staffing a sprawling fiefdom with the net result of uncertain savings based on a board somewhere in the labyrinth establishing "best practices" that will magically cut costs in a system that expands by 9% a year, each and every year, a system so bloated with fraud, embezzlement and waste that the total sum squandered is incalculable, but estimated at around 40%, minimum....The painful truth is that we are far beyond the point where policy/legalist regulatory tweaks will actually fix what's wrong with America. The rot isn't just financial or political; those are real enough, but they are mere reflections of a profound social, cultural, yes, spiritual rot. This is the great illusion: that our financial and political crises can be resolved with top-down, centralized financial reforms of one ideological flavor or another. It is abundantly clear that our crises extend far beyond a lack of regulation or policy tweaks. We cling to this illusion because it is easy and comforting; the problems can all be solved without any work or sacrifice on our part.
Humans are a flawed species. Our minds are easily manipulated. We don’t like pain. We prefer instant gratification. We are susceptible to mass delusion. We will often choose hope over critical thought. Those with higher IQs will regularly attempt to take advantage of those with lower IQs. Fear and greed are the two motivations used by the minority in power to control and manipulate the majority. The American people have been led astray by a small group of powerful men. We were herded through a door in the wall of perception that promised an American dream of material goods, entitlements and pleasure with no obligations or responsibility to future generations. There is only one choice that can save this country from ruin. Each individual must make a choice to either to continue supporting the manipulative, corrupt status quo or coming back through the Door in the Wall.
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley
Hank Paulson started the extortion racket. Greek prime ministers practice it weekly. Now Christine Lagarde jumped in too. Taxpayers please step up to the plate. Or else—
Nowhere in S&P’s statement about “global economic and financial crisis”, did it clarify that sovereigns were hit due to backing their largest national banks (and international, US ones) which engaged in half a decade of leveraged speculation. But here’s how it worked: 1) Big banks funneled speculative capital, and their own, into local areas, using real estate and other collateral as fodder for securitized deals with derivative touches. 2) They lost money on these bets, and on the borrowing incurred to leverage them. 3) The losses ate their capital. 4) The capital markets soured against them in mutual bank distrust so they couldn’t raise more money to cover their bets as before. 5) So, their borrowing costs rose which made it more difficult for them to back their bets or purchase their own government’s debt. 6) This decreased demand for government debt, which drove up the cost of that debt, which transformed into additional country expenses. 7) Countries had to turn to bailouts to keep banks happy and plush with enough capital. 8) In return for bailouts and cheap lending, governments sacrificed citizens. 9) As citizens lost jobs and countries lost assets to subsidize the international speculation wave, their economies weakened further. 10) S&P (and every political leader) downplayed this chain of events.... The die has been cast. Central entities like the Fed, ECB, and IMF perpetuate strategies that further undermine economies, through emergency loan facilities and bailouts, with rating agency downgrades spurring them on. Governments attempt to raise money at harsher terms PLUS repay the bailouts that caused those terms to be higher. Banks hoard cheap money which doesn’t help populations, exacerbating the damaging economic effects. Unfortunately, this won't end any time soon.
When it comes to corruption, cronyism and general muppetry in Washington D.C., the only real question is 'where does one start?' Yet one has to start somewhere to conclude with a list of the ten most corrupt and despicable marionettes in D.C. Which is precisely what JudicialWatch has done in its annual compilation of the "Top 10 Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington D.C." for 2011. And confirming what everyone knows, that both the left and right are merely irrelevant names for the same general social affliction, or should we call it by its true name - wealth pillage - the split is even between democrats and republicans. In no particular order, the winners of 2011 are...
My thoughts on the coming year.
Three years ago, Congress balked at the mere thought of giving Hank Paulson's (so lovingly portrayed in Andrew Ross Sorkin's straight to HBO Too Big To Fail) proposed TARP, which came in an "exhaustive" 3 page term sheet with limited bailout powers however with virtually unlimited waivers and supervision, and voted it down leading to one of the biggest market collapses in history. Curiously, a more careful look through Europe's €500 billion (oddly enough almost the same size as America's $700 billion TARP) European Stability Mechanism or ESM, reveals that in preparing the terms and conditions of the ESM, Europe may have laid precisely the same Easter Egg that Paulson did with TARP, but failed. Because at its core, the ESM is like a TARP... on steroids. It is a potentially unlimited liquidity conduit (only contingent on how much cash Germany wants to allocate to it - which in turn means how much cash Germany is willing to let the ECB print), with no supervisory checks and balances embedded, and even worse with no explicit or implicit liability clauses - in essence it is a carte blanche for its owners to do as they see fit without any form of regulation. As the following brief but must watch video explains, the ESM "is an organization that can sue us, but is immune from any forms of prosecution and whose managers enjoy the same immunity; there are no independent reviewers and no existing laws apply; governments can not take action against it? Europe's national budgets in the hands of one single unelected intergovernmental organization? Is that the future of Europe? Is that the new EU? A Europe devoid of sovereign democracies?" Ironically even America's feeble and corrupt Congress stopped a version of TARP that demanded far less from the taxpaying citizens. Yet somehow, Europe has completely let this one slip by. Is it simply to continue the illusion of the insolvent Walfare State for a continent habituated by zombifying socialism, or is Europe by now just too afraid and too tired to say anything against its eurocrat class? One thing is certain: when the people voluntarily give up on democracy, out of sheer laziness or any other reason, the historical outcomes are always all too tragic.
The truth has a unique sting, and an equally unique ability to heal the destruction wrought by dishonesty, fraud and lies. The truth hurts, because the daylight of truth demands changes that the self-serving and those in denial desperately wish to avoid. But there can be no healing or reconciliation without the truth, baldly stated and plainly spoken without artifice or spin. If we can finally be truthful with ourselves as a nation, then we must admit that our financial system is fundamentally based on lies, fraud, embezzlement, misinformation, perverse filters and incentives, shadow systems that mock transparency and regulation, class privilege and the systemic flouting of the rule of law. This is the truth that hurts because it reveals the financial system as one stupendous exploitative fraud; but it also reveals the complicity and irrelevance of our judicial system and the complete capture of the legislative and Executive processes of governance. There is a system of government in which rule of law is merely a propaganda screen, where financial and political Elites run the show and escape the consequences of their actions: it's called tyranny. The truth is that we live in a financial tyranny. There is no other truthful way to describe the U.S.
Cashin On The Anniversary Of Bank Of The United States' Failure, The Start Of US Bank Runs And The Great DepressionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/12/2011 10:15 -0400
Art Cashin recalls how it all started 81 years ago. Naturally, it "ended" with World War 2. Will history rhyme, or will "this time be different"?
The reason why some profitable companies pay no taxes. And why others pay too much. It’s so fundamental to business taxation. But not even tax reformers dare to mention it.
EuroTARP Cometh: Germany's Schauble To Pull A "Paulson" Will Force Banks To Take Bailout Funds, Handelsblatt SaysSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/07/2011 12:42 -0400
In yet another confirmation of just who is driving policy in Europe, Handelsblatt has broken news that 3 years after Hank Paulson "forced" US banks to take cash, Germany will follow suit next, and "bailout" the German banking sector by stuffing it to the gills with cash soon to be made even more worthless courtesy of persistent and relentless devaluation as it is used for no productive purposes but merely stave off the inevitable collapse of a financial system so broken it now requires not monthly but weekly bailouts. From the German publication: "the German bank rescue fund Soffin will force ailing banks to recapitalize next year. That's at least out of the draft bill, to be released by the Handelsblatt (Thursday edition), and the Cabinet is to decide the next week. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) is following the U.S. example: The US distressed banks were temporarily distressed during the 2008 financial crisis. The banks have since there is significantly more stable than the euro-zone in which the institutions were saved only at their own request the European Banking Eba by the banks of the euro-zone by mid-2012 its core capital to nine percent increase. Institutions that make this not your own to get guarantees from the Soffin." Simply said, because it worked (courtesy of an additional $1.6 trillion in excess reserves used fungibly by banks to plug capitalization holes) in the US, the forced bailout will work in Germany, where unlike the US, the top banks account for about 200% of German GDP. In other words, Germany is about to proceed with an implicit nationalization of its banking sector. Which means that while we thought yesterday that the German AAA-rating is the safest of all in the Eurozone, following this development we will certainly reevaluate.
The only quote worth noting from the just delivered speech by ECB executive board member José Manuel González-Páramo is the following: "We cannot completely delegate governance to financial markets. The euro area is the world’s second largest monetary area. It cannot depend solely on the opinions of ratings agencies and markets. It needs economic governance arrangements that are preventive and linear. This underscores my central point that a much more comprehensive approach to economic governance is now the priority for the euro area. And this means more economic and financial integration for the euro area, with a significant transfer of sovereignty to the EMU level over fiscal, structural and financial policies." In other words, in order to protect people from the "stupidity" of rating agencies which after years of lying have finally started telling the truth, and the market which does what it always does, and punishes those who fail, Europe must be prepared to give up "significant sovereignty" (sounds better than Anschluss) to Europe's "betters" which is another way of saying 'he who pays the piper calls the tune." And "he" in this case is, of course, Germany. In other words, courtesy of one failed monetary experiment Germany will succeed, without sheeding one drop of blood, where it failed rather historically some 70 years ago.
No, not that Sarkozy. His half-brother - the one who actually can use a calculator. In an interview on CNBC, the Carlyle group head had the temerity to tell the truth, the whole truth, and use math - that long-forgotten concept which one has to scour various backwater blogs to rediscover - to explain nothing but the truth which is that Europe needs many more trillions than either the EFSF or the ECB can afford to give. Actually, we take that back. The ECB can inject the needed €3-5 trillion, but after that concerns about localized episodes of (hyper)inflation, especially now that Kocherlakota has confirmed that the transmission mechanism between bank reserves and inflation may be broken, will be all too justified. In the meantime, Sarkozy on Europe math fail: "The math i'm working with is very simple. In the US banking sector, we had 3 trillion of wholesale funding that needed to be stabilized, got stabilized by the implementation of TARP which saw the US treasury buy $212 billion worth of preferred in the banking sector to stabilize that $3 trillion, give our banks the time to work through hair problem their problem assets. In Europe, that $3 trillion is $30 trillion. so if you multiply the $212 by 10, you get the $2.12 trillion. In my view, the issues on the European banks are bigger than the issues on the books of the US Banks. So if you want to stabilize that $30 trillion and in my view it's not that you want to, it's that you have to, you do not have a choice, you're going to have to be at least at 2.1 trillion and i suspect it may need to be more." Q.E.D. - there, the math wasn't that difficult, was it?
A Majority of Americans (Including Both OWS and the Tea Party) AGREE on the Most Important Issues … We Just Don’t Realize ItSubmitted by George Washington on 11/22/2011 21:59 -0400
Stay divided and conquered, America ... stay stupid (Love, the Bernanke, Turbo Timmy, Lloyd "Doing God's Work" and the gang)