FINALLY. It seems that the world is waking up to the idea of putting to use the barbarous relic so despised by the financial gurus like Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. A May 25 BLOOMBERG article by Brian Parkin and Jeffrey Donovan hinted at some type of debt-sharing plan: Not a Eurobond in a traditional sense but more of a collateralized debt obligation and a concept of a REDEMPTION FUND. The fund would take all sovereign debt more than the 60% of GDP level and deposit the excess paper in a central fund. The fund would be collateralized by the GOLD RESERVES of all the European nations–an amount more than 10,000 TONS OF GOLD. As the debt levels of the abusive nations recede–and taking back the maligned paper–the TROUBLED NATIONS COULD DRAW DOWN THE COLLATERAL.
Archive for May, 2012
Click the image to watch me talk about Andrew Ross Sorkin’s piece on Glass-Steagall and where he gets it wrong.
What has Ben Bernanke wrought? Since the FED CHAIRMAN uttered that Phrase ”FISCAL CLIFF” at the now infamous April 25 press conference, the S&P has dropped more than 6% (take out month-end window dressing). Investors were unnerved by the Bernanke acknowledgement of a huge drop in GDP if the Washington politicos did not start to deal with the problem of fiscal retrenchment that awaits. It has been estimated that the hit from spending cuts and tax increases will result in at least a 3.5% hit to U.S. growth. It was Bernanke that lit the fuse and today the CBO weighed in with its great concern over the “fiscal cliff.”
As I looked at the photos from the G-8 conference, this caption became obvious. The German Chancellor is the belle of the ball as her Germany has what the World is crying for: surplus wealth in a debt-laden world. The pressure was on Chancellor Merkel to provide enough EUROS for short-term triage on the European nations hemorrhaging wealth from the huge amount of debt owed to many global creditors. As the communique revealed, there were few concrete proposals provided by the G-8 “brain trust” except that Germany “ought” to provide the financial backstop for all of Europe and, thus, the rest of the world. President Obama is well aware that any financial collapse in Europe will weigh heavily upon his reelection potential.
The media frenzy around Facebook should be a lesson to all the CHEERLEADERS living a parasitic existence off the efforts to establish legitimacy to casino capitalism. Days prior to the FACEBOOK’S IPO, the financial media was racing against itself to lift the price of FACEBOOK on its first day of trading. Anything less than a 50% increase on day one would be a major disappointment. The fact that FB closed virtually unchanged from the offering price resulted in the entire stock market closing lower as the failure of FB to rise dramatically was deemed to be a statement about the overall lack of optimism on the part of investors. When the screen screamers and cheerleaders raise expectations in a rush to be the most inane, the failed expectations can lead to disappointment. Too much TOUTING and HYPE can make financial anchors long for the DOT-COM era.
The market action has rendered this trader/analyst very weak and weary … quoth the trader nevermore. When FUNDAMENTALS MEET A DELEVERAGING SET IN MOTION IT IS ENOUGH TO LEAVE ONE WEAK AND WEARY. Every conversation I have had for three days is: What is wrong with the GOLD and how can it not rally with all the problems that the global financial system is facing? The corollary to the GOLD IS OF COURSE THE GLOBAL BOND MARKETS. Today, the SCHATZ traded down to three basis points. The U.S. 2/10 yield curve is undergoing a severe flattening as the curve closed at around 143 BASIS POINTS TODAY. The buying of high quality DEBT is indicative of a movement to havens coupled with the need for QUALITY COLLATERAL FOR THE REPO MARKET.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – Profit centres too big to fail.
By YRA HARRIS.
30 August 2002
(c) 2002 The Financial Times Limited. All rights reserved
Sir, John Plender (“How banks got in a mix”, August 21) correctly identifies the systemic dangers that accompanied the passage of the Graham-Leach-Bliley act. The repeal of Glass-Steagall has pushed the US banking system to the brink of “moral hazard”. The conglomeration of all financial services under one roof has entangled banks in numerous ethical conflicts. Additionally, Graham-Leach-Bliley has made several institutions so large that the Fed cannot allow them to fail.
A single institution’s deep involvement in every facet of financial dealings does not create greater synergy but greater risk. These large, private profit centres know they are too big to collapse. This realisation adds great uncertainty to the entire financial landscape. Rewarding private profits while socialising the risk is a pathway to disaster. Glass-Steagall should never have been repealed without a bank forfeiting its right to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp insurance.
The financial markets have been suffering the whiplash that resulted from the uncertainty of the Greek elections. It is no surprise to the readers of this blog that politics would provide a problem for those “WHO ASSUMED A CAN OPENER.” The eurocrats and European financial elite are so vested in the EURO and the politics of the EU project that they assumed all citizens of Europe would fall in line. Every referendum that did not pass was reissued under threat of a curtailment of Euro funds from Brussels. Now that the bill is coming do for all the promises. The angry electorate is saying NEIN to more AUSTERITY through the ballot box and financial markets and Europe’s bankers are quaking.
It seems that the Greek politicians know that the fear of GREECE not “honoring” its previous commitments is a powerful tool to use in negotiations with the powers in Brussels. GREECE HAS NOTHING TO LOSE IS THE OPERATIVE MINDSET OF THE SYRIZA AND ITS LEADER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS. It is the BANKS, ECB and IMF who are on the hook for a great deal of money. It is the ultimate moment of the PRISONER’S DILEMMA.
Yes, the GREEKS know they owe a great deal of money, but your banks own the paper. Also, if the Greeks were to turn violent at the continued threats from the ECB and the GREEK election results were overturned through the impact of interference from Brussels, there would be fallout from the other European nations searching for relief from austerity. I warn all readers to be leery of the nonsense that continues to be written about the politics of Europe as the SYCOPHANTS WANT TO PAINT A BETTER POLITICAL PICTURE.
A danger to the Greeks leaving the EURO would be that the drachma would be reinstated at a very depreciated level, leading to a massive resurgence in Greek tourism and other service industries, which would come at the expense of the Spanish and French tourism industries. A “liberated” Greece has the potential to create all types of economic turmoil for the other periphery nations. Just threatening the Greeks is not as simple as many optimists want to believe.
Today, Bloomberg ran a piece by a noted Financial Times journalist, Clive Crook, “Hollande Must Betray His Supporters to Save Them.” The writer notes that Mr. Hollande cannot betray the left until after June’s Parliamentary elections but then, “Whether it’s sooner or later, Hollande will be forced to acknowledge reality, and the disillusionment of the French left will be terrible.” Here again, the elite want their wishes to prevail over any sense of the PUBLIC WILL. Mr. Crook goes on to say, “Wisely, Hollande’s campaign was more about posture than specifics. We know he’s against austerity and for taxing the rich–but he hasn’t drawn up a budget.”
This is the view of the status quo within the EU at all costs camp, but if the Greeks play their HAND OF NOTHING TO GREAT ADVANTAGE THE POLITICS OF EUROPE WILL BECOME VERY VOLATILE. This afternoon it was learned that Greece will receive its next TRANCHE OF BAILOUT MONEY tomorrow. See, NOTHING CAN BE A VERY GOOD HAND.
The problem for the policymakers in Brussels is that all the other debt-stressed nations are watching closely to see if the banks and the EURO GROUP cave in for fear of a CREDIT CRISIS emanating from the Greek’s decision to soften the BAILOUT AGREEMENT. Crook ends his article with this warning: “But Hollande can’t be a good thing without letting his supporters down. That’s a hard truth to contemplate in your first week in office.” This is a major dilemma for the financial and political elite of Europe. Let’s ASSUME A CAN OPENER.
Quick Hitter: The two-year Schatz dropped to a record low 6 BASIS POINTS. Again, the rush to safety added to China’s need to invest its EUROS is playing havoc with the world’s DEBT MARKET. Finnish two-year notes dropped to 18 BASIS POINTS and the Netherlands to 28 BASIS POINTS. The demand for safety and the need for quality collateral is causing massive dysfunction in credit markets. PRICE IS NOT A BAROMETER OF QUALITY POLICY. This is causing many hedge funds to place bets on the short side of the DEBT MARKETS. They are right that the risk/reward is certainly a temptation. It will just depend on your time horizon.
A CAVEAT FOR CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: BEN, you are opening up the Pandora’s box of the FISCAL CLIFF. The world’s financial markets and commodities are starting to be very concerned about the FISCAL CLIFF that Bernanke warned about at his last press conference .This is a problem as he has alerted investors that CONGRESSIONAL and presidential failure to deal with the fiscal problem can result in a 2 1/2% to 5% negative impact on GDP in 2013. Added to this is the possibility of an increased tax on dividends. The S&Ps and DOW are nervous as a major hit to the U.S. economy coupled with the EUROPEAN MORASS can send the GLOBAL ECONOMY into a massive deflationary spiral.
THE PORTFOLIO BALANCE CHANNEL IS BEN’S BABY, SO CHAIRMAN BERNANKE you had better gain control over the FED GOVERNORS AND PRESIDENTS who are pushing for a near-term rate increase. Bernanke and Geithner have been silent on Europe, but the phone lines are burning as U.S. policymakers are pushing Europe into a greater stimulus plan for if Europe implodes America will more than sneeze. Sometimes a walk to the FISCAL CLIFF RESULTS IN A PEEK INTO THE ABYSS.
A final note: The Portuguese 2/10 curve has exploded out to 414 BASIS POINTS. Being that the Portuguese 10-year is still yielding 11%, somebody is aggressively buying the Portuguese two-year note. It could be the use of LTRO money by private banks in an effort to enhance return but it may be the ECB adding to its purchases of sovereign debt. It is important to stay attuned to yield curve moves that indicate some action from authorities or very large investors. Could it be China chasing higher short-term yield to offset the ridiculous rates on the Schatz? Chinese buying of Euros has to be invested somewhere.
Notes From Underground: A Response To The Berkshire Boys (Putting Contemporary Civilization Into The Barbarous Relic)May 7, 2012
Quick Hitter: The financial markets steadied themselves today after the initial “shock” of yesterday’s European elections. The EUROPEAN DEBT MARKETS showed resolve as both the BTPs and OAT futures performed better than the BUNDS and the EURO rallied back to almost unchanged as the market awaits the discussions between Merkel and Hollande, as well as further word about attempts to create a working government in Greece. At the end of the day, a crisis was averted but as all our readers know Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy are all still on the boil. So, while the heat was turned down NOTHING HAS REALLY CHANGED … so it goes.