Ireland

David Rosenberg Discusses The Market With Bob Farrell, Sees Europe's Liquidity Crisis Becoming Solvency In Q1 2012

For the first time in while, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg recounts his always informative chat session with Bob Farrell and shares Farrell's perspectives on the market ("his range on the S&P 500 is 1,350 to the high side and 1,000 to the low side. He was emphatic that there is more downside risk than upside potential from here. His big change of view is that we have entered a cyclical bear phase within this secular downtrend (he sees the P/E multiple trough at 8x). Rosie also looks at Europe and defines the term that we have been warning against since May of 2010: "implementation risk" namely the virtual impossibility of getting 17 Eurozone countries (and 27 broader European countries as the UK just demonstrated) on the same page when everyone has a different culture, language, history and religion... oh, and not to mention animosity to everyone else. So yes: Europe in its current format is finished, but what will it look like in its next reincarnation? And why does he think the European liquidity crisis will become a full blown solvency crisis in Q1 2012? Read on to find out.

Is The Euro Today The Gold Standard Of The 1930s For EU Economies?

As the IIF continues to believe it is negotiating with Greece on voluntary haircuts and Ireland follows the Greek playbook by threatening referenda and asking for bailout term adjustments, is it any wonder that the words of a supposedly united Europe ring hollow in the ears of investors who seem to expect a Euro breakup sooner rather than later. Deutsche Bank's credit team see two noteworthy similarities between the world today and where it was in the 1930s. First, they view the Euro today as creating the same problems for Europe as the Gold Standard did in the 1930s and secondly, the austerity now is perhaps equivalent to the tightening of fiscal and monetary conditions in the US in 1937. Obviously this led to a deep recession after the fragile post-Depression recovery and given the current central bankers' tendencies outside of Europe, the inevitable (and so much more easy to achieve now) print-fest solution to the necessary deflation.

The "Neutron Bomb Of Capital Calculations" And A Kyle Bass Refresher

In a double-whammy of downbeat dystopian discussions, GMO and Kyle Bass are active on the inevitability of Europe's demise. Perhaps that is too strong but the two are focused directly, in separate pieces, on the huge need for capital and the dire dearth of it available. GMO's central focus on the direct capital needs of the European banking system in the case of a recovery (but under Basel III) and under stress scenarios. Dismissing the EBA's efforts, and recognizing that the problem is capital/solvency (if there were more, the market would not be worrying about liquidity and deposit flight), their 'neutron bomb' scenario where sovereign debt is recognized as a 'risky asset' (which seems more than plausible to us), the capital needs are almost EUR300bn with Spanish and French banks dominant but Italian and German banks are close behind. As Kyle Bass notes "There is no savior large enough with a magic potion of capital to stave off this unfortunate conclusion to the global debt super cycle.". This leads to only a bad and worse outcome for Europe, as the cataclysm plays out because the banks do have an alternative to raising capital – shrink the balance sheet. Deleveraging is already going on in a number of countries, with loan-to-deposit ratios dropping in recent months in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. This reduces the capital needs of banks, but fairly quickly starts to cut into the muscle of the financial system. The banks have little alternative but to keep holding sovereign debt in the short term, since it is the collateral for their borrowing needs. And as we have been so vociferously explaining recently, should they be forced to delver even more, and sell reduce these sovereign assets, then the daisy-chain effect of de-hypothecation on shadow banking will not end well for anyone.

Six Tail Scenarios That Deutsche Bank Are Watching For Next Year

Jim Reid and his team from Deutsche have produced another magnificent compendium of information and prognostication in their 2012 Credit Outlook and while their up-in-quality preference (non-financial) may not be earth-shattering strategically, their timing view is of note. Instead of viewing the looming refi-ganza among European sovereigns and financials in H1 2012 as a reason for doom and gloom, they see it as the necessary evil to drive the ECB into the markets in size only for the latter half of the year to disappoint significantly as the reality of the underlying problems rear their ugly head once more. The down-then-up-then-worse-down perspective on markets for next year hardly sounds optimistic but it is the following six scenarios away from European woes that keep them up at night. From the positivity of a US housing rebound or Election year cycle to much more extreme downside risks such as geo-political concerns and non-European sovereign risks, their views on China, QE-evolution and Inflation concerns are noteworthy.

Guest Post: Plan B For "Breakup"

There were only two questions that mattered, going into the EU summit.

  1. Would leaders at the summit come up with any actions of their own to help end the immediate crisis?
  2. Falling short of this, would any of their actions give enough confidence to the European Central Bank to allow it step up its role and be a lender of last resort to all troubled eurozone countries, but especially to wobbly Italy? In other words, could the conservative ECB now give itself the greenlight to print euros and buy up bonds from the world’s third largest issuer?

The answer to the first question is very clear: NO. The answer to the second question is, unfortunately, another question. “Who the heck knows?” Time to consider plan B.

Frontrunning: December 9

  • Tensions Rise at EU Summit (WSJ)
  • Cameron faces showdown with Sarkozy (FT)
  • Euro Leaders’ Fiscal Union Pact Leaves Next Step to ECB (Bloomberg)
  • IMF China Chief Says Worsening Crisis May Force Hong Kong to Back Banks (Bloomberg) - same China expected to bail out Europe again
  • Putin blames Moscow protests on US (FT)
  • Boehner: Payroll Tax Cut Can Pass U.S. House (Bloomberg)
  • EU Leaders Drop Demands for Investor Write-Offs (Bloomberg)
  • Japan Imposes New Iran Sanctions (WSJ)

Put Some Lipstick On This Pig And Sell-It - The EU Statement

Nothing really new here or unexpected or earth shattering or even approved.  The bilateral loan thing is new (subject to confirmation) but something about that seems too bizarre to get excited about.  If they have the EUR 200 billion lying around to lend, why use the IMF. In the end I don’t see much here.  I cannot imagine we are going to get any new support from the ECB on the back of this.  I don’t think this is enough to get the rating agencies to take the countries off of watch.  Nothing has been really agreed to.  I’m not even sure that if everything is implemented it is enough to avoid some countries getting downgraded. Since I started reading this, markets have improved a bit, but once again, as people read more and get past the headlines and the lipstick, this is very disappointing.  The UK has taken a further step away from the EU and may have opened the door for more countries to take that step over time since everything that was “agreed to” still needs to be ratified and implemented and defined.

Last Minute Summit Mutiny Threatens The Future Of The Euro; And Why A Wholesale S&P Downgrade Of Europe Will Be Devastating

A day when everything that could go wrong for the euro and eurozone has just gotten worse. Hours away from the completion of the summit, whose failure will unleash a nuclear bomb of serial downgrades by S&P (let along expose frauds such as Sarkozy and Olli Rehn who claim, yet again, that the world will end a solution is found), The Telegraph writes that the summit is already in tatters after a rebellion and threats by Finland, Holland and Ireland are poised to scuttle the summit. Louise Armistead reports that 'Finland’s grand committee said decisions made by the ESM – the eurozone’s permanent bail-out fund set for launch in 2012 – had to remain unanimous, and not changed to the “qualified majority” that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed. The Finns are backed by the Netherlands, which fears proposals to withdraw veto powers from the ESM is an erosion of democracy and would make it vulnerable to funding bail-outs without recourse. Meanwhile, the Irish want to block plans for the “convergence and harmonisation” of the eurozone’s “corporate tax base”. The rebellion is a serious threat to German and French plans to sign treaty changes today along the lines laid out in their joint letter on Wednesday. In it, the leaders said they hoped all 27 European Union countries would sign.' And since this is the only option to bypass a popular vote, the mere thought of which would destroy the Eurozone in a flash, and since Finland and Holland are two of the core funders of the ESM (RIP EFSF), it means that the Greek scheme of playing chicken with the Eurozone, has now been adopted by everyone else in the core. In the meantime, time for the Euro is running out with less than 24 hours left until midnight on Friday, and absent a complete consensus, the summit is as good as dead, something we expected a week ago and were heckled for by Bloomberg TV. Good luck Europe - use those 24 hours wisely.

Egon von Greyerz: There Is No Deus Ex Machina Left

With most of the world’s major economies as well as the financial system bankrupt, there is only one solution that can save the world economy. Like in the Greek tragedies, Deus ex Machina is now the only way that the world can avoid a total economic collapse. This would involve God being lowered down onto the world stage and miraculously saving the plot. For those few who believe in this, may God bless them. But since this is a very unlikely solution most people will instead rely on governments and central banks to save us. But how can anyone possibly believe that totally incompetent and clueless politicians and central bankers could solve anything. They created the problem in the first place and are therefore totally unsuitable to play the role of Deus. The main objective of governments is to stay in power and thus to buy votes. Therefore they are incapable of taking the right decisions. And the opposition, aspiring to power is even less suitable since they will lie through their teeth and promise the earth in order to be elected. (We know that there are exceptions like Ron Paul, but the voters will most probably find his medicine too strong to swallow.). What about central bankers, can’t they save us? Unfortunately any sensible person who becomes a central banker loses all his senses and becomes a prisoner of the political system. So if there is no Deus ex Machina and if governments or bankers can’t rescue the world, who can and what is the solution. Let us return to the wise von Mises to look at the options available now:

“THERE IS NO MEANS OF AVOIDING THE FINAL COLLAPSE OF A BOOM BROUGHT ABOUT BY CREDIT EXPANSION. THE ALTERNATIVE IS ONLY WHETHER THE CRISIS SHOULD COME SOONER AS A RESULT OF A VOLUNTARY ABANDONMENT OF FURTHER CREDIT EXPANSION, OR LATER AS A FINAL OR TOTAL CATASTROPHE OF THE CURRENCY SYSTEM INVOLVED”

Ludwig von Mises