Investment grade and high yield credit spreads are wider on the day (with investment grade underperforming so far) but the divergence between a somewhat well-synced equity and credit market yesterday and today's ramp in stocks is remarkable. We suspect this is the hangover from print-print-print expectations playing out in a more USD-based numeraire stock market but the underperformance of HYG once again suggests hedgers are more active in credit and less exuberant than equity players. Broad risk markets are supportive of ES up here as CONTEXT remains in sync helped by Oil (which is odd given the divergent drop in the Energy sector earlier this afternoon - CVX/RIG leak) and TSY 2s10s30s mostly.
About a month ago we suggested that the EUR weakness was perhaps a major headfake as liquidity runs and repatriation flows would sustain a stronger-than-expected EUR (especially relative to the USD). Well, today Deutsche Bank's Macro strategist points out that French balance of payments data was hugely revealing about this potential source of strength. While we note that EURUSD remains hugely disconnected from its empirical relationship with sovereign spreads (GDP-weighted), swap-spreads, financial-to-corporate risk differentials, and equity prices - it seems the the typically negative investment abroad (outflows) has now seen 4 months of inflows (too long a period to be simply noise) and with considerable size also. While DB's analysis offers little guidance on when this period of repatriation will be over - we suspect there is more support to come than many expect - even as everything points to a weaker EUR. Perhaps most interestingly, DB notes one broad conclusion is that the EUR is probably the worst instrument to express negative EUR area views, with both periphery bonds and equities purer gauges of stress.
Isn't trading this market fun? As readers will recall, one of the two reasons for why the market plunged overnight was speculation that Monti may have trouble forming a cabinet. As is to be expected, stocks are now surging because according to recent information, at least the Italian government unknown may be taken off the checklist, even if nothing can be said about his ability to actually pass required austerity, to chance the country's medieval labor laws, which are controlled by the shadow government regardless, or the fact that Italy has over $300 billion in debt to roll in the next year. From Reuters, "Italian Prime Minister designate Mario Monti will meet Italy's President on Wednesday morning to inform him that he will be able to form the country's next government, a statement from the presidential palace said on Tuesday." Now, the other and far bigger reason for the plunge in futures, it bears reminding, is that the Spanish bond auction was a failure with just 3.2 EUR of the 3.5 EUR sought, was raised. If only Goldman could wave its magic wand and fix this far bigger problem which is endemic to all of Europe as it seeks to raise over $2 trillion in the next 2-3 years. That, and the fact that Belgium, Spain, France, Austria and virtually everyone else execept for Germany (for now) closed at what are new all time high spreads.
The stock market seems to be the last group still buying into the Europe "gets it" argument. The credit markets now seem to be fully diverging from equities, and offer more opportunities here than stocks. In credit, Europe is starting to look attractive versus the US. Sovereign credit looks better than bank credit in Europe. High Yield may not be bad here, but we think HYG/JNK definitely got ahead of themselves at these prices.
Goldman Stolpers Clients Again As EURUSD Breaches 1.3500, Squid Stopped Out On Friday EURUSD Trade RecoWell, it didn't take one day... It took a whopping two days for our always contrarian call to do the opposite of what Goldman said on Friday, to materialize. As we said on Friday afternoon, "Time to sell the EURUSD with both hands and feet, not to mention with MF Global-type leverage: that uber-contrarian FX indicator, Goldman's Thomas Stolper, who has not had a notable call correct in the past 2 years, just came out with a long EURUSD call, calling for a 1.40 target and a 1.35 stop loss. Yes, this means Goldman is now selling EURUSD until 1.40 and will begin buying it at 1.35." 48 hours later Goldman's clients lose big, Goldman's flow desk wins, and anyone who agreed with our traditional cynicism made several thousand pips assuming the proper use of MF type leverage.
While bubble-spotting among equity investing tilts is often futile, the ever-increasing call for investors to buy high-quality dividend-paying stocks has become as over-used a term as 'long-term investor', and 'buy-the-dips'. It seems the general belief is that a 3-5% dividend yield will provide 'protection' to cushion volatility as it offers income above Treasuries. Back in September we highlighted both the apples-to-unicorns comparison that is dividend yields to TSY yields and moreover, how risk (and ultimately capital loss) should play a critical part in the decision of asset allocation. Today we take a quick look at dividend stock performance over the last few years and find something intriguing - and not often mentioned - that dividend stock portfolios appear to significantly underperform in sell-offs and marginally underperform in rallies. So if you want a high beta crowded trade, admittedly with some carry, buy high quality dividend-paying stocks.
We all know some 3 trillion euros of debt in Europe is uncollectible. So why isn't anyone talking about the one and only solution, which is writing off all that debt? Since nobody knows how much bad debt there actually is in the Eurozone--care to guess on the market value of all those underwater mortgages in Spain or the true size of Italy's debts?--that 3 trillion is just a guess, but it's probably a reasonable starting point. Let's start with the most basic fact about all this uncollectible, impaired, bad debt: every euro of debt is somebody else's asset. Wipe out the debt and you wipe out the asset. That's why there's no willingness to accept the writedown of debt: somebody somewhere has to suck up 3 trillion euros of loss. Can we please dispense with the fantasy "solutions"? There is no way Europe is going to "grow its way out of this debt." How much of the eurozone's "growth" was the result of rampant malinvestment and risky borrowing? More than anyone dares admit. It won't take austerity to crash the euroland economy, all it will take is turning off the debt spigot...Life will go on if the banks are wiped out and closed, pension funds and insurance companies take losses, etc. If those who made the bets for their own private gain aren't forced to absorb the risk, then we don't live in either capitalism or democracy; we live in a financial-fascist tyranny.
loss-absorbing capital to levels specified by regulators. They’re doing this especially to hit the level of 9% core capital-as-a-percentage of risk-weighted assets that the regulators require as a response to the most recent stress tests. While actually selling loans and exposures would be one way to achieve this so-called “risk-weighted asset optimization”, it looks like many banks are actually just choosing to fiddle around with the internal, self-created risk models that both the current Basel II and the not-so-new-and-improved Basel III regulatory regimes allow them to use. Yes, these regulatory regimes allow the banks to decide, for themselves, how risky their loans are. Which of course then drives how much or how little loss-absorbing capital they must hold. Don’t worry, though, because the regulators approve the models on a yearly basis. And which banks have taken advantage of this so far?