Ireland

SF Fed: This Time It Really Is Different

It appears that after months of abuse for their water-is-wet economic insights, the San Francisco Fed may have stumbled on to the cold harsh reality that this post-great-recession world finds itself in. The crux of the matter, that will come as no surprise to any of our readers, is credit and "its central role to understanding the business cycle". Oscar Jorda then concludes, in a refreshingly honest and shocking manner that "Any forecast that assumes the recovery from the Great Recession will resemble previous post-World War II recoveries runs the risk of overstating future economic growth, lending activity, interest rates, investment, and inflation." His analysis, which Minsky-ites (and Reinhart and Rogoff) will appreciate - and perhaps our neo-classical brethren will embrace - is that the Great Recession upended the paradigm that modern macro-economic models omitted banks and finance and this time it really is different in that the 'achilles heel' of economic modeling - credit - cannot be considered a secondary effect. His analysis points to considerably slower GDP growth and lower inflation expectations as he compares the current 'recovery' to post-WWII recoveries across 14 advanced economies - a sad picture is painted as he notes "Today employment is about 10% and investment 30% below where they were on average at similar points after other postwar recessions."

A Quick Reminder Ahead Of Tomorrow's Spain Debt Auction

The Centre for European Policy Studies published their own findings this week and they estimate that the Real Estate accumulated overhang is actually almost $500 billion which equates to 59% of the IMF revised projections for Spain’s GDP. The EU and the ECB may not mandate that the Spanish banks have to mark-to-market in the normal fashion but a quick calculation indicates that the equity of the major Spanish banks is well into the red and past the blood line of any sustainable position. In my opinion, I would state, that the Spanish banks are in fact bankrupt and are only still alive given the financial shenanigans of how Europe allows the numbers to be calculated. I am well aware that many in Europe do not like to be confronted with the truth and that the stock market in the United States is so myopic that they wish to ignore the truth but the numbers are right in front of your nose if you care to look and reality has a funny way of catching up with the markets and reminding them one still equals one in the end. I am an adherent of the Greater Fool Theory and the trick is to let the other guy be the Greater Fool and not one of us. The “when” is unknowable but the “if” is behind us now and I suggest great caution.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

The bailout gravy train is slowing and possibly even stopping right at the time when Spain (a REAL problem) is going to start looking for a bailout. So what do you think happens when the ECB chooses to print more and Germany threatens to pull out the Euro… OR the ECB tells Spain it can’t provide any additional funds?

 

Bank Of Spain Releases Details Of Additional Capital Needs For Spanish Banks

First we got Italy telling the world quietly it would not meet its deficit target for 2013, and will in fact experience debt/GDP growth in all outer years, and now we get the Bank of Spain, also taking advantage of today's market rally to dump its own set of bad news, namely that Spanish banks will need to provision another €29.1 billion, and will have higher core capital requirements of €15.6 billion (this is fresh capital). 90 banks have already complied with the capital plan, 45 have yet to find the needed cash. Putting this into perspective, the amount already written-down is €9.2 billion. So, just a little more. And this assumes there are no capital shortfalls associated with any impairment from the YPF -> Repsol follow through, which as Zero Hedge already showed, would leave various Spanish banks exposed. In other news, there is one more hour of trading: we suggest every insolvent entity in the world to quickly take advantage of the interim euphoria, as tomorrow may not be so lucky. Of course, in the worst case, Japan will just bail everybody out.

Spain Goes Irish On Regions

Slowly but surely, the Spanish authorities are gradually socializing the rest of the world to the dismal truth that we have been so vociferously arguing - that their debt levels (or more specifically their debt/GDP ratios) are significantly higher (explicitly) than their current official data suggest. Today's news, via the WSJ, that the Spanish government may take over some regions' finances, in an attempt to shore up investor confidence (just as Ireland did with its banks and we know how well that worked out?) is yet another step closer to the 'realization'  that all that is "contingent" is actually "explicitly guaranteed." As we noted here, this leaves Spain's Debt/GDP nearer 135% than its 'official' 68.5%. The WSJ notes comments from a top government official that "there will soon be new tools to control regional spending" and that they may take over at least one of the country's cash-strapped regions this year. As we broke down extensively here, this is no surprise as yet another group of political elite find the truth harder to deal with than the blinkered optimism they face the media with every day and yet as PM Rajoy notes "Nobody can expect that deep-seated problems be solved in just a few weeks", the irony of the euphoria felt around the world at the optical rally in Spanish spreads for the first few months of the year is not lost as Spain heads back into the abyss ahead of pending auctions and what appears to be more ponzified guarantees of regional finances (as long as they promise to pay it back and have 'a plan'). The simple truth is, as acknowledged by Rajoy, Spain has lost the trust of financial markets.

"Pied Piper Always Gets Paid And Hamelin Still Rests On German Soil"

Each day then that passes, as the cash river runs dry, will change the dynamics of the investment world. The biggest change that I see forthcoming on the landscape, beyond those which I have noted, I believe will take place in Germany. China is heading towards some sort of landing and most of Europe is now officially in a recession. The bite of the austerity measures will deepen the process and between the two I think we will begin to see a decline in the finances of Germany which will bring all manner of howls and screams. Germany cannot keep heading in one direction while the rest of its partners founder all around them. The demands of Berlin are self-defeating eventually as demand falls off and I think we are just at the cusp of deterioration in Germany. The problem, all along, has been that Eurobonds or other measures representing a transfer union will cause the averaging of all of the economies in Europe so that the periphery countries benefit with a higher standard of living while the wealthier nations have standards of living that decline as the result of accumulated debts for the troubled nations. This will bring out nationalism again in force as the grand dream succumbs to the grim reality of the costs for nations that have lived beyond their means. The Pied Piper always gets paid and Hamelin still rests upon German soil.
 

Soros On Europe: Iceberg Dead Ahead

George Soros has been a busy man the last few days. Appearing at the INET Conference a number of times and penning detailed articles for the FT (and here at Project Syndicate) describing the terrible situation in which Europe finds itself - and furthermore offering a potential solution. Critically, he opines, the European crisis is complex since it is a vicious circle of competing crises: sovereign debt, balance of payments, banking, competitiveness, and structurally defective non-optimal currency union. The fact is 'we are very far from equilibrium...of the Maastricht criteria' with his very clear insight that the massive gap, or cognitive dissonance, between the 'official authorities' hope and the outside world who see how abnormal the situation is, is troublesome at best. Analogizing the periphery countries as third-world countries that are heavily indebted in a foreign currency (that they cannot print), his initial conclusion ends with the blunt statement that "the euro has really broken down" and the ensuing discussion of just what this means from both an economic and socially devastating perspective: the destruction of the common market and the European Union and how this will end in acrimonious recriminations with worse conflicts between European states than before.

How The ECB Is Turning Spain Into Greece

As Spanish CDS surge and bonds shrug off the very recent gloss of a 'successful' Italian debt auction, the sad reality we pointed out this morning is the increasing dependence between Spanish banks, the sovereign's ability to borrow, and the ECB. As ING rates strategist Padhraic Garvey notes this morning, the bulk of the LTRO2 proceeds were taken down by Italian (26%) and Spanish (36% of the total) and the latter is even more dramatic given the considerably smaller size of Spanish banking assets relative to Italy. The hollowing out of the Spanish banking system, via encumbrance (ECB liquidity now accounts for 8.6% of all Spanish banking assets), is a very high number - on par with Greek, Irish, and Portuguese levels around 10% where their systems are now fully dependent on the ECB for the viability of their banks. His bottom line, Spain is not looking good here and while plenty of chatter focuses on the ECB's ability to use its SMP (whose longer-term effectiveness is reduced due to scale at EUR214bn representing just 3% of Eurozone GDP), consider what happened in Greece! The ECB did not take a Greek haircut and so the greater the amount of Greek debt the ECB bought, the greater the eventual haircut the private sector was forced to take. By definition, every Spanish bond that the ECB buys in its SMP program increases the default risk that private sector holders are left with.

Uncrossing The Rubicon Toward A Euro Federal State: Germans Challenge ESM, Fiscal Pact In Constitutional Court

And the plan was going so well. The plan, of course, being to dispose of German budget sovereignty and transfer decision-making authority to a fully immune organization seated in Luxembourg, which just happens to be a tax haven, in the process stripping not only all of Europe, but also Germany of sovereignty, with the ESM being run by a few bankers, held accountable to no one(explained here). German FAZ has just announced that jurists and 2 political parties in Germany are going to appeal to the Constitutional Court, and demand an end of the Merkel Fiscal pact and the ESM, both of which have been implemented without so much as an inquiry as to what the people think, those millions of ever angrier Germans we wrote about back in July. That may be finally changing.

Poor Cheshire Is Off His Tea

The Wizard predicts it will be Greece, Portugal and Ireland all back at the trough in 2012 and Spain lining up for its first feeding. Italy remains a question mark but with a real debt to GDP ratio of 200% the structural issues will not be overcome by anything that Mr. Monti has proposed to date. As we all focus on the sovereigns in the last few days I point out that the European banks are down around 2%-4.5% in Germany, Italy and Spain today while the largest bank in Portugal has seen its share price drop 15% this morning.  You may ignore the ugliness and the markets may ignore it for this or that day but the European ugliness is not going away and I would be a seller on any pop in equities or risk assets because the European landscape is a quite Bleak House.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 12

Heading into the US open, European stock markets are experiencing a mixed session with particular underperformance noted once again in the peripheral IBEX and FTSE MIB indices. The Portuguese banking sector specifically is taking heavy hits following overnight news from Banco Espirito di Santo that they are to issue a large quantity of new shares, prompting fears that further banks may have to recapitalize. The financials sector is also being weighed upon by a downbeat research note published by a major Japanese bank on the Spanish banking sector. Elsewhere, the Italian BTP auction was released in a fragmented fashion showing softer bid/covers and the highest yield since mid-January in the only on-the-run line sold today. Similarly to yesterday’s auction, the sale was not quite as poor as some as feared. Italy sold to the top of the range and as such, the Italian/German 10-yr yield spread is now tighter by 13BPS, currently at 361BPS. From the UK, the DMO sold 20-year gilts with a lower bid/cover ratio and a large yield tail, prompting gilt futures to fall by around 10 ticks after the release. Later in the session, participants will be looking out for US PPI data and the weekly jobless numbers.