Bill Gross was the darling of “access media” for promoting his favorite trade (what he called the short of a lifetime), the German bund. It captured the headlines on financial blogs but it is the wrong trade. If an investor wished to trade the “short of a lifetime,” the more appropriate tool would be the FRENCH OAT (the name for the French 10-year bond). It seems that Gross’s logic is based on the fact that the German BUND can only drop to -20 basis points because the ECB has determined that it will not purchase sovereign debt yielding less than its official reserve rate so over the time the BUND has a ceiling on its potential value. Gross is making the case that the ECB has so badly distorted the sovereign debt markets through its QE program that valuations are badly misaligned, BUT THE FRENCH OAT IS MUCH MORE OVERVALUED.
Posts Tagged ‘Gold-backed bonds’
In following up on the theme of the last three blog posts, it’s always a question how markets test central bank policies. As is frequently mentioned, when investors fear that central banks will err on the side of LIQUIDITY EXUBERANCE precious metals and hard assets are bought in efforts to prevent the POSSIBLE EROSION of asset values. In times when the market perceives the FED to be ahead of the inflation curve, investors buy long-term bonds and lock up higher rates in a belief that an aggressive Fed will successfully slow the economy. Thus, locking up high rates now will generate a higher real yield as the economy begins to slow, resulting in a flattening of the yield curves. When the Fed is deemed to be behind the curve, investors sell long-dated debt in belief that the FED will at some point have to aggressively raise rates to stem incipient inflation, resulting in a steepening yield curve.
Last night’s BLOG attempted to make sense out of all the chatter around the gold action of the last few days, and, more importantly, during the last several months. The points I tried to make were:
- A reiteration of a theme I have stated over and over again, that the GOLD MARKET WAS/IS A TIRED BULL and that investors were leaving the moorings of great store of value or haven. The GOLD has been the repository of investor and traders confidence in a very unstable, insecure investment climate. The GOLD has risen for 11 straight years and as any market can correct as the financial landscape changes. As investors have gained comfort that the world central banks have for the moment been successful in generating some economic growth, money has left the precious metals in search of more risk-oriented assets with a yield attached. It is no mistake that it is the large-cap, strong dividend stocks that have led the way. A failure to understand that and react accordingly is just a case of myopia;
- I, IN NO WAY INTENDED TO INFER THAT I HAD INTERVIEWED JIM SINCLAIR AND THAT HE PROVIDED ME WITH A PRICE TARGET FOR THE CHINESE. HE DID NOT AND I CERTAINLY DID NOT INTERVIEW HIM. THE ONLY POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE WAS THAT I AGREED WITH JIM’S RECENT COMMENTS ABOUT THE NEED FOR CHINESE AND RUSSIAN GOLD PURCHASES TO PROVIDE THE NEEDED BUYING TO STEM THE AVALANCHE OF SELLING FROM FUTURES, OPTIONS and ETFS. When markets correct, be that housing or stocks, it is THEN YOU LEARN THE PAIN OF LEVERAGE. Gold has been a very popular, profitable investment, which means that in today’s world of financial engineering leverage is involved. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim’s analysis that the massive selling can only be absorbed by a massive buyer, be it a desirous procurer or somebody with a massive short wishing to cover.
It seems that the ECB president has for the moment prevailed in a similar way as his MIT cohort Ben Bernanke has been “successful” with his famed Portfolio Balance Channel. Remember, it was Jackson Hole speech of August 2010 in which Chairman Bernanke laid out his view about the importance of the PBC, which was previously referred to by Alan Greenspan as the “wealth effect.” President Draghi has steepened the Spanish and Italian curves by threatening to purchase short-term debt and thus driving the Spanish and Italian 2-YEAR NOTE YIELDS more than 300 basis points lower.
In a relatively quiet trading day, the GOLD market rallied $25 after spending most of the PIT TRADING DAY attempting to break and set up a correction to the recent rally. Shorts ran for cover. WHY? Two stories that gave the rally a rationale:
2. A STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES “GROWING AIR OF CONCERN IN GREECE OVER NEW BAILOUT,” by RACHEL DONADIO.
The G-20 meeting in Paris seemed to yield agreement that the Europeans need to come to a vibrant resolution of the Sovereign debt issue and some plan as to how to recapitalize its problem banks. The G-20 COMMUNIQUE read like an alphabet soup of global regulatory groups (IIF, YNFCCC, MDB, IOSCO, IMF, WEB, FSB, GSIFI, SIFI, BIS … you get the idea). The Communique opens: “We welcome the adoption of the ambitious reform of the European economic governance.” This is a very brazen statement for I have not read where Europe has taken any such measures, such as fiscal unification.
The communique also noted that the G-20 nations agreed, “Those with large current account surpluses will also implement policies to shift to growth based more on domestic demand. Those with large current account deficits will implement policies to increase national savings.” Coupled with this was the vacuous words: “All countries will undertake further structural reforms to raise potential growth.” The concept of growth seemed to have been the most significant issue but when you cut through the platitudes I just cannot imagine from where the growth is going to be generated. If the SURPLUS NATIONS INCREASE DOMESTIC DEMAND WHILE THE DEFICIT NATIONS INCREASE SAVINGS IT SEEMS THAT THE EFFECT TO GLOBAL GROWTH WILL BE NEUTRAL.
The KEYNESIANS in the Obama administration cannot possibly accept this at a time when the push is for greater fiscal stimulus to generate the economic growth that FED policy has been unable to do by itself. Another area of UNCERTAIN AGREEMENT is the issue of SECRETARY GEITHNER pushing for the Europeans to use the ECB as a guarantor of European sovereign bonds. Geithner continues to pursue the Henry Paulson game plan but he fails to realize that the ECB just does not have the same legal authorities as the U.S. Treasury and FED.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reported that the Geithner push was rejected out of hand. Evans-Pritchard reported that Josef Ackermann, head of Deutsche Bank and the chairman of the IIF, said plans to leverage the EFSF may be illegal. “We cannot allow a rescue fund of this magnitude. The [constitutional] court wouldn’t permit, and nor would the people.” (Sunday’s London Telegraph). The main area of agreement from the G-20 is that the IMF is going to play a very large role in the financial rescue of the peripheries and most probably Spain and Italy. Christine Lagarde was pushing for increased IMF funding but Geithner and other heads of developed nations believed that the $390 BILLION IMF was a large enough war chest to deal with Europe’s problems.
It seems that Geithner believes in the IMF‘s larger role but wants to withhold further funding until the Eurocrats come up with a COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. Geithner let it be known in a Bloomberg interview on Oct. 11 that the European debt crisis is affecting U.S. growth and the “U.S. is going to do everything we can to make it more likely that they move as aggressively as they need to.” The EU is the second largest market for U.S. exports, trailing only Canada. The Obama administration is very worried that a slowing European economy will scuttle all of its economic stimulus plans, making President Obama’s reelection possibility an uphill battle.
Clarification: Readers of Notes From Underground are very aware that I have pushed for the IMF to enhance its war chest by issuing GOLD-BACKED BONDS, thus utilizing its GOLD hoard. Presently, the IMF has 90.5 million ounces of GOLD with a market value of $164.1 billion at market prices on August 31,2011. The IMF does not carry the GOLD on its books at market prices so I am confused by the $390 billion war chest to which Geithner and Lagarde refer.
More important though, under the Second Amendment of theARTICLES OF AGREEMENT IN APRIL 1978, the “IMF DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY UNDER ITS ARTICLES TO ENGAGE IN ANY OTHER GOLD TRANSACTIONS SUCH AS LOANS, LEASES, SWAPS, OR USE OF GOLD AS COLLATERAL…” (from the IMF website). Thus, my proposal is now laid to rest unless the IMF and its member nations wake up to the 21st Century and find a way to utilize all its assets. If the IMF is to become a bigger player in the developed world it needs to become much more creative in how it looks to stabilize the world in times of great systemic risk.
An Aside: THE GERMAN/FRENCH 10-year-note spread widened to a record 92 basis points on Friday, not a healthy sign for France.
On the other side of the world the Chinese 2/10 spread was a positive 32 points and the 2/10 spread in India was +33 points. These are very flat curves in the two largest BRICS, indicating that money is too tight in both those nations. Just something else to keep an eye on as so much uncertainty exists in the world.
The question of the impact from the austerity budget passed by Greece will not be visible under the lights of television but will rather be a process drawn out during the coming years. Tears will flow not from the irritation of tear gas but from the “NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP” that has been initiated by the power of Brussels to exact its pain from the citizenry of Greece while applying the salve of credit relief to the global banks and financial entities saddled with the debt of the profligate PIIGS.
The Portuguese DEBT AUCTION today went as well as could be contrived. While the EURO initially stuttered, by days end it had rallied and ended the day up 1 percent. Tomorrow, the Spanish raise cash through a DEBT AUCTION and the market there has been well set up to take what the Spanish government offers. Interestingly, it was the GREEK DEBT markets that had the largest rally as the GREEK TWO-YEAR NOTE dropped to 10.09 percent from 11.44 percent. The BUNDS were sold off as the safe haven status of German debt eased.