Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Market Slumps After European Banks Admit They Can't/Won't Raise Capital; Will Proceed With Asset Liquidations Instead

It was about an hour before the market close, which means it was time for the latest FT rumor. Only this time, unlike the 3 or so times before, the bazooka was not only a dud, it caused the inverse reaction of that intended, and led to a broad market selloff. The reason: according to the FT (and certainly take this with a salt shaker if previous experience is any indication) is that European banks have balked at the prospect of recapitalizing at current levels ("Why should we raise capital at these [depressed share price] levels?” said one eurozone bank boss. The average European bank’s equity is trading at only about 60 per cent of its book value.) and instead will opt for asset liquidations. Now, whether they won't, or, as we have claimed since the first day we heard of the ludicrous "recap" rumors, they can't, simply because absent a massively dilutive rights offering, nobody in their right mind would lend to an industry which continues to be locked out of short-term funding markets for the 4th month in a row, is largely irrelevant. As a result no new money can come in: a key prerequisite to any European recapitalization plans. Of course, it is one for a "blog" to say that, it is something else for the FT to confirm it, even if it is a rumor. So what will banks do instead: why proceed with all out asset liquidation, and sell anything that is not nailed down. The strawman is that this is capital needed to fund the banks' requirements for higher capital ratios per Basel III and what not. The truth is that banks desperately need any capital just to operate as a going concern, forget some Basel Tier 1 ratio that will only be relevant in 2016. So yes: the bitter truth comes out - recap out; liquidations in, especially of USD-denominated assets. Next step: the realization that he who sells first, sells best. So yes, the "hope, idiocy and #mathfail" induced rally was fun while it lasted. And now it is back to reality.

The REAL $200 TRILLION Problem Bernanke’s Worried About
Phoenix Capital...
10/12/2011 - 14:51
US Commercial banks have $200 TRILLION in interest rate based derivatives sitting on their balance sheets. And guess which banks have the greatest exposure?

Buffett Discloses $62,855,038 In 2010 Gross Income, $39,814,784 In Taxable Income, And $6,923,494 In Federal Taxes

Following a back and forth between Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp, we have now discovered what, according to Buffett, were the precise amounts of the Octogenarian Crony Capitalist of Omaha's 2010 gross income, taxable income and Federal tax respectively. These are as follows: $62,855,038, $39,814,784 and 6,923,494. This, apparently, was not enough for Huelskamp. The debate continues below.

The US Dollar continues to fade

Trader Dan at Trader Dan's Market Views - 1 hour ago
Dollar bulls had better hope for a breakdown in the plans of the Europeans to get their bank recapitalization rescue package moving forward because it is rapidly falling out of favor as hedge funds flee the "SAFE HAVEN" trades (buying the Dollar and the US Treasury market). The Aussie is back over the 1.00 level, the Euro has pushed up to the 1.38 level, the Loonie is at the .98 level and threatening to move back to parity and even the Swiss Franc is showing a few signs of life. There is a fairly large contingent of speculators who are (were) on the long side of the Dollar as they w... more » 

HUI nearing important chart resistance level

Trader Dan at Trader Dan's Market Views - 1 hour ago
Mining stocks have been rallying alongside the broader equity markets as the bulls are frollicking in the pastures of increased liquidity being provided to the European banks courtesty of the recapitalization plans being discussed in that corner of the globe. That has taken away fears of bank failures tied to deteriorating balance sheets over in Europe and by inference, any hit to the banks here in the US. The result is "GAME ON" for the hedge funds once again as in they come into a variety of markets once again. That had led to both a wave of short covering in the mining shares as ... more » 

So Far "Operation Twist" Is A Colossal Failure

Dave in Denver at The Golden Truth - 3 hours ago
...except for the Treasury - and for investors clamoring for the short term "safe" paper that the Fed is selling and while the primary dealers (Wall St. banks) sell back to the Fed the medium/long term paper that primary dealers have to eat in Treasury auctions in order for the Treasury to look like it is having no problem funding the Government's deficits. Take today, for instance, the Fed auctioned off $8.87 billion in 18 month - 2yr paper that was met with nearly $70 billion in bid interest. Then the Treasury auctioned off $21 billion 10yr Treasuries in what was one of the poor... more » 
Reggie Middleton
10/12/2011 - 10:42
This is what happens when Wall Street protesters organize to the extent that they can actually effect the banks the same way the corporate raiders control the Fortune 500. 

Retail Stock Exodus Continues: Fund Equity Outflows Continue For 23rd Out Of 24 Consecutive Weeks

Yes, outflows in domestic equities may be traditionally perceived as a contrarian signal, but when they hit 23 out of 24 weeks for a total of $106 billion (and the one weekly inflow was $715 million) one has to start getting concerned about the cash levels of the broader mutual fund space which as had been pointed out recently are already at all time lows. In the week ended October 5, domestic equity funds saw an outflow of $4.3 billion, which brings total 2011 outflows to a total of $93 billion. What was just as notable about the week is that while traditionally we have seen rotation from equity assets into fixed income, in the past week a whopping $6.2 billion was withdrawn from taxable bond funds as well, implying that the ever increasing volatility not only means retail has thrown in the towel on stocks but that the already painfully low yields in bonds are forcing the long-term investors to get out of the market in its entirety.

Guest Post: China: Continued Boom Or Bursting Bubble?

There are few opinions in the middle regarding the China story. People are either convinced China is a juggernaut that can’t be stopped and will become the dominant world power (a recent, global Pew Poll found that 47% of respondents think China is or will be the dominant global power), or they see a colossal bubble that will burst and cause worldwide mayhem. While some might think my world-view has a negative slant, I tend toward what I think is healthy skepticism that causes me to view things in a more realistic manner. Based on the facts as I understand them, the Chinese government has created a commercial and residential real estate bubble in an effort to keep peasants employed and not rioting in the streets. In the case of the US subprime mortgage bubble, critical thinkers like Steve Eisman and Michael Burry figured out it was a bubble three years before it burst. Jim Chanos and Andy Xei have been warning about this Chinese bubble for over a year. They have been scorned by the same Wall Street shills who denied the US housing bubble. As Eisman and Burry proved (reaping billions), just because you are early doesn’t mean you are wrong.

Chinese Copper Inventories Revealed To Be Double Estimated

In a piece of news that can not be taken well by students of Dr. Copper, the FT reveals for the first time that China's estimated copper inventories, based on numbers from the China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association, were 1.9 million tonnes at the end of 2010 which is almost double the lower end of the consensus estimate of 1.0-1.5 MM tonnes (and, as the FT points out, "more than the US consumes in a year). So while copper is doing its high beta thing on the nth short squeeze day in stocks, the smart money is starting to bail for very obvious reasons. And if the reasons are not obvious, this means that "The estimates, which were announced at a recent meeting of the International Copper Study Group but have not been made public, imply that real Chinese copper demand may have been lower than thought in recent years." In other words, and to all who are still confused by why Zero Hedge jokes at each and every iteration of economic growth driven by "inventory stockpiling", this is nothing other than trying to do at the national level, what Goldman and JPM do at the LME level each and every day: hoard and sell, only in China's case it is more hoard and forget. Alas, when China itself is the only real marginal buyer (not to mention that millions of domestic businesses operate using Letters of Credit backed by copper), things get very, very ugly, and explains why China has been so secretive about this number.

So Much For The Republic: Plosser Admits Fed Is Now In The "Fiscal Policy" Business

Philly Fed dissenter and rebel Charles Plosser, said something stunning during a Q&A session at the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton. When asked what he thought of Operation Twist, his response: "it is fiscal, not monetary policy, and does not have much credibility ....Treasury debt issuance could undo much of the effect of the Fed's attempt to lower borrowing costs, known as 'Operation Twist', Plosser said. "It doesn't have a whole lot of credibility attached to it." While we have no doubt that Twist has no credibility and both the Fed and the market will figure this weakest link out within a month, forcing the Fed to proceed, over the 3 dissenters pseudo-dead bodies, with much more LSAP, it is somewhat shocking to hear confirmation that the Fed itself now sees its duties as those of the legislative, or the body tasked with writing America's laws and funding required amounts of money via debt issuance. Granted, it is well known that America's congress is now in a state of perpetual impasse with no further stimulus likely to come as long as the GOP controls the Congress and Obama is president. But at least the American people (deserving as they are of their representatives and president) pick those in congress. The last time we checked, the "popular election" of the Fed chairman is not in the purvey of the US constitution, and the only capacity given to public representatives is to veto his nomination. Everything else is decided in a banker-filled conclave. Which then begs the question: has the Fed admitted the archaic concept of the US republic is now over and done with?

Iran Accuses America Of Purposefully Sending The Price Of Gold... Higher

That there are theories (and facts) blasting manipulation by various central banks to supress the price of gold over the years is not a secret to anyone (which incidentally is good for anyone who wishes to purchase gold at cheaper price, but that is the topic for another day). Yet one "conspiracy" we had not heard of until now is that America is actively doing what it can to send gold higher. That is no longer the case. A few days ago, none other than the capo di tutti Mexican cappi, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, proclaimed that "Iran's enemies were deliberately causing the price of gold and foreign exchange to rise in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic's economy. "The enemies and ill-wishers want to make a fuss and present wrong information to provoke and deviate the market." The plot thickens. From Reuters: "In order to disturb the market they buy a lot of gold coins with their huge amount of money ... they do the same in the foreign exchange market. But we have got enough reserves to meet all the country's needs." And there you have it: America is willing to risk the reserve status of its currency and send everyone chasing after gold simply so it can destabilize the Iranian economy... And now we've heard it all.

FOMC Minutes: Some Fed Officials Sought To Retain Option For QE3

It appears Operation Twist was not enough for all...
Remember Golidlocks:

Guest Post: To EFSF Or Not To EFSF - A Franco-German Drama

  • 4:05: “Direct help for bank recapitalization from EFSF is not at all doable” – German Economy Minister (Translation: “Frogs, I thought we told you already, your plan doesn’t fly”)
  • 6:00: “It is important to us that all banks are equipped for all eventualities and must go to market first for capital” – German Finance Minister (Translation: “May be they’ll understand if I say it – nobody seems to take Roesler serious”)
  • 6:19: “There is no doubt on the soundness of French banks” – French government (Translation: “Hopefully the dim-wits at Agence France-Presse will print my statement without embarrassing typos”) etc.

Weak 10 Year Auction Saved By Primary Dealers Taking Down Most Since May 2009

Today's $21 billion 10 Year reopening was not pretty. First, the tail was a notable 3 bps with the When Issued trading at 2.24%, ahead of the auction pricing a disappointing 2.27%, well above the record low 2.00% from September, although still materially lower than average yields in the past year. As troubling was the Bid To Cover which came at 2.86 or the lowest since November 2010's 2.80 (compared to the LTM 3.10). Then looking at the internals should be a cause of concern for anyone who believes that China will not retaliate for the currency bill passed yesterday by Congress, after Indirects took down just 35.0% of the full $21 billion, the lowest since February 2010, at a 81% hit rate. Directs also showed very little interest in the bond taking down only 6.4% compared to an LTM average of 10.7% (and the previous 11%). Who was the savior? The recently expanded Primary Dealers of course, which took down 58.5, the most since May 2009. Overall, an ugly auction although whether the reason for the weak demand is due to inflation expectations returning, or a capital reallocation from bonds into other assets, is for now unknown.

Banks, Credit Events, And Sovereign CDS

Maybe the moment we should be trying to avoid is the one that allows weak institutions to exist. The weak institutions do not provide loans because they are too afraid of losses since they mainly survive by the good grace (and money) from governments at central banks. That is bad enough, but they crowd out new money. Who is going to go after markets where even a sleepy BAC could briefly wake up and crush you before you ever got started. I have heard of some interesting companies out there trying to provide loans to those who need them, but they can’t get any traction. Too Big To Fail aren’t too sleepy to allow potential competitors to grow. Stocks can rally. Lehman Moment can be said 500 times today. Every politician can worry about the impact of triggering CDS. Every banker can claim the world would end if they are made to pay for their bad decisions. In the end, Iceland and Ireland both improved only AFTER they let banks fail. The US, for all the talk about Lehman, is only doing worse than that since it decided banks couldn’t be allowed to fail.

Guest Post: Health Care Costs Got You Down? Try Internationalizing

I know that America’s politicians and crackerjack team of central bankers don’t see any signs of ‘non-transitory’ inflation, but anyone who has been to the doctor or written a check for an insurance policy knows otherwise. Hey, they’re on government health plans anyways, how could they know? The increase is usually in the ballpark of 10% to 20%. It’s crazy to think about the thousands of dollars each year that go out the door on a plan that I never use, all so that I don’t get stuck with a $200,000 emergency room bill in case of some highly improbable event. It makes no rational economic sense. In every other country that I travel to, I don’t have any insurance. If I go to the doctor, I pay cash. If I go to the emergency room (and it’s happened quite a few times), I pay cash. This is one of the great things about travel and living overseas– healthcare is usually quite reasonable, often downright cheap.

Kiss Tax Revenues Goodbye - Greek Civil Insubordination Takes On A Surreal Twist

While we understand the motive of Greeks to cripple the financial nerve center of the country by effectively immobilizing the finance ministry and subjecting the country to a 9 day shutdown, we are yet to witness the ingenuity of the people, when angry, to completely lock down the country's financial apparatus, especially when it comes to the revenue side of the ledger. Behold the latest reason why the next time the Troika does its paper napkin "assessment" of the Greek deficit to GDP it will be double digits, and have a 2 handle.

Pimco's Prediction For Pension Plans: "Pain"

While it won't say much new to those "stupid enough" to exist in the intersection of the "Retired" and "Alive" Venn circles under the Bernanke central planning regime, we suggest any pensioners who hope to see their life savings generate some...any... return (on capital, or of capital) in their lifetime, to simply skip this article and read some of our cheerier fare. So here is the punchline for pension fund managers which now predict an utterly insane 11% equity return which is the only thing that would make their Pension Plans whole: "In the early nineties, plan sponsors, if biased in their forecast, were generally biased toward conservatism. From 1997 through 2007, expectations, although a bit rosy at times, were largely within the realm of reasonableness. In our view, a long-run equity risk premium of 11% is pure jibber-jabber. It is wishful thinking. I dare not predict the level of the S&P 500 ten years out, but an ERP this high suggests the S&P would have to reach unprecedented levels. If this is what plan sponsors are counting on, I, like Clubber Lang, predict Pain." And "Hope is neither a training plan nor an investment strategy." Uh, wrong. Have you seen the EURUSD these days?

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