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Gordon T Long

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SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Potentially More Devastating then Lehman!

 

As horrific as the gulf environmental catastrophe is, an even more intractable and cataclysmic disaster may be looming. The yet unknowable costs associated with clean-up, litigation and compensation damages due to arguably the worldís worst environmental tragedy, may be in the process of triggering a credit event by British Petroleum (BP) that will be equally devastating to global over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. The potential contagion may eventually show that Lehman Bros. and Bear Stearns were simply early warning signals of the devastation lurking and continuing to grow unchecked in the $615T OTC Derivatives market.

 

What is yet unknowable is what the reality is of BPís off-balance sheet obligations and leverage positions. How many Special Purpose Entities (SPEs) is it operating? Remember, during the Enron debacle Andrew Fastow, the Enron CFO, asserted in testimony nearly 10 years ago that GE had 2500 such entities already in existence. BP has even more physical assets than Enron and GE. Furthermore, no one knows the true size of BPís OTC derivative contracts such as Interest Rate Swaps and Currency Swaps. Only the major international banks have visibility to what the collateral obligations associated with these instruments are, their credit trigger events and who the counter parties are. They are obviously not talking, but as I will explain, they are aggressively repositioning trillions of dollars in global currency, swap, derivative, options, debt and equity portfolios.

 

READ MORE

 

 

EXTEND & PRETEND: A Matter of National Security

 

There is something seriously wrong in America. We all sense it, but few in the mainstream media are willing to touch it or can effectively articulate it within the publicís sound-bite oriented attention span.

 

It isnít just about the remnants of the financial crisis; it isnít the protracted jobs recession and slow recovery; it isnít the trillions of dollars in deficit spending; it isnít the degree of rampant financial malfeasants. It is something deeper which reaches into the soul of who we are as a people and society. It will soon be the central theme to your investment strategy and financial security.

 

On the surface it might appear we have lost our optimism about the future and our confidence that America is still the Ďbeacon on the hillí that countries around the world admire and look to for leadership. Though our children mouth the platitudes taught by older generations, they ring hollow in the hallways with video surveillance, motion detectors and metal detectors when recited by them. The high minded ideals seem misplaced in unemployment lines where they stand with freshly minted advanced degrees in hand, huge education debts and little hope other than the faint possibility of a non-paying internship position.

 

It isnít that the American people have changed. Our government has changed.

 

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READER ROADMAP -  2010 TIPPING POINTS aid to positioning COMMENTARY

 

 

 

1

         

SOVEREIGN DEBT PIIGS

EU BANKING CRISIS
BOND BUBBLE

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
BANKING CRISIS II
RISK REVERSAL

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

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RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
US FISCAL IMBALANCES
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CHINA BUBBLE

TODAY'S TIPPING POINTS UPDATE

Last Update: 07/07/2010 04:50 PM

RED ALERT

AMBER ALERT

ACTIVITY

MONITOR

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POSTS:   WEDNESDAY 07-07-10

 

 

GEO-POLITICAL TENSIONS - ISRAEL / KOREA / IRAN

 

IRAN

 

ISRAEL

 

KOREA 

 

SOVEREIGN DEBT & CREDIT CRISIS

 

GREECE

 

ITALY

 

SPAIN / PORTUGAL

 

FRANCE

 

GERMANY

 

UK

UK ministers told to prepare to slash their budgets by 40%by Andy McSmith  Independent

 

JAPAN

 

CHINA

Fitch warns of hidden information risks in Chinese banks Finance Asia

Land Prices Are Collapsing Across China  BI

 

Baltic Dry Index Dropping 4%, Posting Longest Consecutive Loss In 6 Years  ZH

Despite the optimism from the conflicted money printers, those whose livelihood actually depends on a ceaseless influx of goods into China and broader commodity trading in general, are not nearly quite so happy, having seen a drop in their margins by almost 50% in just over a month.

 

DUBAI WORLD

 

USA

Fed's Fisher Warns of US Economic Slowdown Reuters

Steel Industry Cuts Back as Prices Fall  WSJ

Steel prices in the U.S. are tumbling after holding firm for months, potentially a bad omen for the nation's economy as manufacturing activity slows and consumers grow more cautious about big-ticket purchases, such as cars and appliances. 

Roubini- Everything Signals A Slowdown In The US, Europe, Japan, And China  BI

Here are 15 signs that the economy is slowing down  BI

Goldman Sees "Disturbing Signs" If Government Does Not Bow Down To Krugman, Reflate Monetary And Fiscal Bubbles  ZH

 

EU BANKING CRISIS

 

European banks use gold reserves to raise cash  FT

After Repeated Facts Presented That Stress Tests Are Scam, Europe Relents To Disclose Testing Methods, Even As Tests Still Remain A Scam  ZH

European Stress Tests- "All Is Not Well" - ECB Likely To Delay Liquidity Unwinds Until Next Year Causing EUR Lift Off  ZH

 

BOND BUBBLE

Comparing Changes In Quarterly US Debt And Deficits  ZH

Now that America is on record spending autopilot and nobody cares or knows just what the 2010 deficit pattern of the government will look like, and, more importantly, the debt issuance, we have compiled historical quarterly data comparing the change in US deficit and debt data. As the chart below demonstrates, over the past 10 quarters, on average the US had added $400 billion in debt each quarter, while increasing its deficit by about $275 billion, with debt issuance surpassing any given period's deficit by almost 50%. To be sure, the data in the debt change is skewed by the outliers of Q3 and Q4, which were not so much an increase in term debt, but a massive issuance in short-term debt holdings, as the entire world scrambled to place their money into ultra-secure 30 Day and other Bill securities. As a result of these two debt outlier points, the US is now stuck with rolling over half a trillion in short-term debt on a monthly basis. Either way, it is obvious that it will likely be impossible for the US to trim it quarterly debt issuance materially below $400 billion per quarter, and will likely see this number increasing as tax receipts continue declining. Additionally as quarterly deficits are unable to drop below $300 billion (note the Q2 '10 data excludes June deficit data), once interest rates start climbing, look for these numbers to surge once ever greater portions of the US deficit go to simply pay the interest on the federal debt.

Bottom line, with the US expected to generate a deficit of about $1.5 trillion in the next fiscal year, the napkin estimate says that the US will likely incur between $2 and $2.5 trillion in debt over the next year. And now you know even better why the administration is now spending money with no blueprint whatsoever.

 

 

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT/b>

As states slash budgets, business tax breaks survive Stateline

California Banks Pitch `Budget-Impasse Loans' to State Workers  BL

Another View on the Statesí Budget Plightby by Michael Powell   NY Times

 

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

 

 

HUNGARY

 

BANKING CRISIS II

 

DODD FRANK ACT

U.S. Financial Regulatory Overhaul: What a Mess BMO
Hearings That Arenít Just Theater Nocera

 

RATING AGENCIES

 

RISK REVERSAL

 

Risk On Or Risk Off   ZH
As I contended earlier in the year equity weakness in H1 2010 was driven by sovereign woes, which we are far from done dealing with, but the real kicker for a risk aversion trade will be the slowdown in the economy in H2. Last week's data has been very weak, and when one looks at the Baltic dry index there is no doubt we have a lot of still untapped capacity while the cycle appears to be rolling over. Weaker growth is what will make the sovereign story go from market jitters to actual defaults. The only antidote the world's governments have is more debt monetization and a new slew of stimulus programs but the G-20 echoes seem to prove what we have been warning about: a waning political support for more fiscal irresponsibility. Is the world about to bite the bullet? World liquidity in monetary terms is currently at all time highs so the central banks have not exactly pulled the rug but without a strong new wave of printing we have all the signs of a clear roll-over that are starting to appear. 

 

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

 

Office Vacancy Rate Keeps Climbing WSJ

RBS to offload £3bn of property loans  FT

RBS sale signals big exit from property loans  FT

U.S. Commercial Property Sales Trail Average as Supply Limited  BL

Shopping Centers Struggle  WSJ
Vacancies and lease rates at U.S. shopping centers continued to worsen in the second quarter, but the slowing pace of the deterioration hints at a recovery starting in the coming quarters. 

 

RRESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II

 

 

EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM/b>

 

 

PENSION & ENTITLEMENTS CRISIS

 


CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT

U.S. Jobs Picture Darkens  WSJ

12 Charts That Show The Broken State Of The US Labor Market   BI

Wall Street's Answer to Unemploymentby Les Leopold Huffington Post

 

GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE

 

 

CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES

 

BBP - British Petroleum

US seeks advance notice of any BP sales  FT

Hayward meets investors in the Middle East

Crisis-hit BP rules out issuing new shares  FT

Oil spill drains BP of funding options  FT

Bulgaria to pull out of oil pipeline project  FT

 

Libya eyeing 'bargain' BP shares BBC

Tony Hayward Is Preparing An Escape Plan For BP And Himself  BI


 


 

OTHER TIPPING POINT CATEGORIES NOT LISTED ABOVE/b>

 

FLASH CRASH - HFT - DARK POOLS

 

MARKET WARNINGS

A Market Forecast That Says ĎTake Coveríby Jeff Sommer - New York Times  NY Times
Ralph J. Acampora, a market analyst with more than 40 years of experience, said he moved entirely out of stocks and into cash late last month. Now a partner at Alverita, a wealth management firm in New York, he said recent setbacks suggested that the market would drop another 10 or 15 percent, probably until September or October, before resuming another "meaningful rally."  

Guest Post- "So Much For The Market Being Cheap" Charting A 50-75% Downside Case In The S&P  ZH

Submitted by Brandon Ferro, Managing Member of Hevea Partners

Some Market Thoughts worth Sharing

Historical market data that suggest our current situation resembles very scary periods in times past (i.e., the 1929 crash to be specific) is beginning to pile up.

Let's look at the set up from the perspective of charts.

Here are historical bear markets, indexed to 100% (100% = bull market peak). 

It's quite easy to see that the current bear market that began in late April has been more ferocious than the average bear market through history at this juncture of its development.

In fact, this bear market looks an awful lot like the way the 1929 crash shaped up.  While other individual bear markets have fallen faster and by a greater amount, they were all short-term crashes, such as the 1987 crash and the 1998 Asian Financial crisis crash. 

As such, they ended very quickly.  The current one, however, seems to be more drawn out, again looking very similar to the 1929 crash represented by the red line.



What is worth noting is that despite the fact that we witnessed a mini-crash in May and a $1T support package for Europe thereafter, the current tape action is still as weak as it is and is leading to the set up in these charts I'm discussing. 

Despite the latter events, one of which was supposed to be cathartic to an over-bought market and the other supportive to global economic stability, we're still hanging on the edge of a cliff it seems.



Now, let's specifically compare the 1929-1942 bear market, which began with the 1929 crash and largely ended with US engagement in WW2, to the 2000-2010 period, which has seen two massive bear markets with two major rallies of 100% and 85% in between. 



It is amazing how closely these charts resemble themselves in terms of price action and the timing of each cycleís respective moves.  It seems to me that the only major difference is the order in which events seem to be playing out. 

For instance, they had their crash quickly while we have avoided ours for 10 years with profligate monetary policy and government spending. 

It seems to me that the market is now recognizing that the game is up; no amount of additional money, bailouts or otherwise can prevent the system from collapsing under the weight of all the debt that has been allowed to build.  That's why it seems as if the far end of the black line is on the cusp of doing what the red line did on the left side of this chart in 1929.

Again, the same events, just reversed - politicians unwittingly took austerity measures in 1929-1930 that caused a depression and they're doing the same thing now, just 10 years later than expected.

If you look at the dotted black line, it represents the absolute low of the 1929-1932 depression, a roughly 85% decline in all on a monthly basis.  For context, this correlates to roughly 230 on the S&P500.

Question is, their bear market ended when we entered WW2; is Iran and Israel the catalyst for a similar situation in 2012 when this analytical work suggests our bear market could end?  They could theoretically pull the world into their mess given the resources at stake and the emergence of a resource rich country in China.

Which brings me to the S&P500 / Gold ratio chart. 

Historically, the value of the S&P500 relative to the price of gold reaches a bottom at roughly 28% (all-time low = 19%).  The ratio is currently 94%. 

Assuming a gold price of $1,500 or $2,000 (reasonable given fundamental backdrop) suggests an S&P500 value of 375-500.



Isn't it crazy to see how the market cycles vs. the price of gold through history?  This is the third major secular bear market for stocks relative to gold over the past 110 years and it shows up decisively in the chart. 

If you believe that everything reverts back to its mean and even overshoots (i.e., when you stretch the rubber band too hard in one direction it has to snap back even harder in the other), then the unprecedented explosion in the market vs. the value of gold in 2000 (almost 6.0 on the chart) relative to other historical peaks at the top of secular bull markets (1929 and 1966) suggests greater upside than $1,500-$2,000 for gold and more downside than 375-500 for the S&P500.

Further, the SPX / Gold ratio chart is where we form our timing thesis of 2012 being a potential bottom for this secular bear. 

Notice how troughs in the S&P500 relative to the price of gold have typically taken 12-13 years to play out.  The S&P500 put its peak in relative to gold 10 long years ago in 2000.  We sure are close.

Let's also look at the valuation on the market (Price-to-Earnings ratio or P/E) when it has typically reached major, major bottoms which have led to new periods of prosperity and huge, secular bull markets.



Typically, the P/E on the S&P500 has reached b/t 6x-8x earnings per share (rolling Shiller 10 year average), well below the current ~19x. 

Notice how the ďgenerational lowĒ in February 2009 (dark black), which preceded the 85% rally over the past year, was probably not the generational low everybody thought it was - the P/E on the market never went below 14x.  Also note the P/E at the 2003 lows (white).

If we assume $70 in S&P500 earnings per share in 2011 (mild recession in 2H10 and 2011) and use a 6x multiple you get an S&P500 value of 420. 

To really nail the overall thesis for you here is a comparison of the P/E ratio on the market during major, long-lasting, secular bear markets.



Iíve indexed the P/E to 100%, the point at which it peaks during the end of a secular bull market.  As the lines move right and lower it represents the amount by which the S&P500ís 10 year P/E has contracted relative to its peak in the past secular bull move.

The black line represents the bear market we've been in since 2000.  The marker represents today's data point. 

As it stands, P/E ratios have contracted by roughly 50% from their level in 2000 (45x, vs. only 35x at the peak in 1929).

Notice how much further valuations have to contract to reach the level of contraction they have reached in other secular bear markets. 

The chart indicates valuations bottom when they have declined about 80%-90% from their high.  Using the 2000 P/E of 45x this yields ~5x-9x, in-line with my chart above which says market bottoms are reached at P/Es in that range.

Letís play devilís advocate and assume that S&P500 earnings estimate of $95 (LOL) in 2011 is correctÖ

Even if it happens, this chart suggests it could be more than offset by material P/E contraction that has yet to take place.  A 6x-8x P/E on that $95 number next year would yield 570-760 on the S&P500, well below the current 1,030.

Therefore, even if you want to make the bull case for earnings, the latter chart suggests youíve only figured out half the story; you also have to make an entirely unlikely bet that the black line will diverge and we will start to witness massive P/E expansion unlike any we have ever seen before at this stage of a secular bear market.

Iím not saying itís impossible, but it sure does seem implausible given the way history looks in the chart hah?

So much for the market being cheap.

 

 

VIDEO TO WATCH

James Altucher Argues That The Fed Should Intervene Massively In The S&P Futures Market  BI

 

 

INTERESTING ARTICLES - GENERAL

Shared sacrifice will be the new economic order Rosenberg

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Rick Santelli Uncut (And GE Turbofan Commercial Free)

Having rapidly become the only person worth listening to on CNBC, Rick Santelli's insights on the economy are now far more valuable than any other guest's on the Jeff Immelt propaganda station. Which is why we were very happy to find that Eric King's latest interview was with none other than Mr. Santelli. The topics discussed are numerous, varied and and very critical to our economy, covering such concepts as deflation, deficit spending, bailouts, government spending multipliers, Fed transparency, spending cuts, austerity, the folly of Keynesianism, strategic defaults, direct bidders and treasury auctions, and lastly, tea party dynamics, making this a must hear interview for anyone still on either side of the economic fence, and who enjoys listening to Rick for longer than the 45 second segments the CNBC producers will allow.

  • Deflation: "deflation is the most disingenuous argument especially in the current conditions. [When the bubble process ends prices have to come down to reality] the process really is deleveraging, but what happens when prices go down you get the economists call it deflation. Deflation is always the biggest bogeyman in a central banker's closet. It also allows them to use the only tool in their toolbox, which is to spend money, and usually money they haven't collected yet, so it's usually a deficit form of spending. Think about what economists are trying to do: we go up too high in leverage, prices are too high, we try to correct that process, it's called deflation, and they try to put money in to prop it up at an artificial price-deleveraging is the word we should stick to"
  • Deficit spending: "the only thing that works is across the board tax cuts because it fuels the type of small business that does the bulk of the hiring"
  • Bailouts: "the only regulation that will ever work is failure. If you don't allow failure what you end up with is regulators trying to serve when it's time to take punch bowls away. Regulators never go against the grain. Back in 03-04 many in the fixed income markets saw it coming but nobody wants to pull that punch bowl away. Businesses should fail, that's the way the system was designed"
  • The Multiplier of Government spending: "Larry Summers on many occasions has said that the multiplier of government spending is greater than 1. If that was true, we'd never have another recession ever again, and I would be advocating to spend a trillion dollars every hour. It would be like a perpetual motion machine and all physicists know those are impossible. Every dollar the government spends comes from somebody's pocket"
  • Fed Transparency: "It seems to me we are making some progress on the financial audit. I absolutely agree that on all of the issues that take taxpayers' money and end up being distributed or put on the balance sheet and in any way used by the Fed, there should be an audit that should be fully transparent. I am worried about the financial accounting"
  • On Spending Cuts: "Listeners, this is going to be the most important thing I am going to say: we need to maintain the focus on spending, the politicians in my lifetime always spend. If we end up spending way more than we can take in, in essence the deficit panel becomes a tax panel. We must stop spending before we talk about VAT taxes or taxing Americans more, we need to get spending under control. The retings of congress are the lowest they have been in history." 
  • On Austerity: "Nobody wants that. But there is a silver lining - the UK have conditions in their economy worse than the US, but they came up with an austerity plan, and we see that their currency has been rewarded. The GBP has risen about 10% in a very short period of time."
  • On Keynesianism: "The Keynesians are both right and wrong. I don't think Keynes advocated the kind of helicopter-Ben spending  that many say he promoted. He promoted the kind of stimulus that created jobs, that's more the medicine for a cyclical downturn, we have a structural issue because of the bubble credit scenario."
  • On the ECB's Debt Monetization: "I think that the ECB has a huge issue and they are behind the ball. They don't have a constitution in the eurozone, they have cultural and monetary cultural issues to deal with. I think that buying securities or monetizing or QE is always a bad idea. Once there is a subsidy in the marketplace, it becomes the normal pricing mechanism. For the Fed or the ECB to unload these securities, becomes a destabilizing force and in the long run does more harm than good."
  • On Strategic Defaults: "I have feelings on this that go both ways. I think morally I would have an issue doing that, but people who did the mortgage, or the second mortgage, or took a HELOC to pay for cars, pay for the vacations, I think it is reprehensible that we end up reshuffling wealth to pay some of that off. But I think the dynamic is from the government side - I think contracts between banks and homeowners - if it's unsecured, it's unsecured, I don't have an issue with that."
  • On Direct Bidders being a proxy for the Fed (a much debated topic on Zero Hedge) and Treasury Auctions in general: "That's the best question anyone has asked me in a long time. I think there is a recycling quid pro quo going on: the Fed is making banking obsolete because a lot of the programs that they have is to take the cheap end of the curve and invest it in Treasuries. Well the Treasury needs as many buyers as it can get. I think the financial institutions are recycling easy money that should be going into John Q Public's pocket, to those that deserve credit, all this money is ending up in the forms of purchases of 10, 7, and 5-Year Notes, and I don't like that way that's working. That's why I think that raising rates would be a good thing. Why? Because it would take some of the easy ways the banks recycle the Fed's cheap money and put it back in the hands of the public and actually make banking a relationship between banks and Americans that need it whether it is for funding a mortgage or funding a small business."
  • And on Tea Party dynamics: "I think November 2 is going to be a watershed of Americans letting Washington know they're the boss."


ZHHstrong> - Zero Hedge, BI - Business Insider, WSJ - Wall Street Journal, BL - Bloomberg, FT - Financial Times

 

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Gordon T Long is not a registered advisor and does not give investment advice. His comments are an expression of opinion only and should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as recommendations to buy or sell a stock, option, future, bond, commodity or any other financial instrument at any time. While he believes his statements to be true, they always depend on the reliability of his own credible sources. Of course, he recommends that you consult with a qualified investment advisor, one licensed by appropriate regulatory agencies in your legal jurisdiction, before making any investment decisions, and barring that, we encourage you confirm the facts on your own before making important investment commitments.

 

© Copyright 2010 Gordon T Long. The information herein was obtained from sources which Mr. Long believes reliable, but he does not guarantee its accuracy. None of the information, advertisements, website links, or any opinions expressed constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any securities or commodities. Please note that Mr. Long may already have invested or may from time to time invest in securities that are recommended or otherwise covered on this website. Mr. Long does not intend to disclose the extent of any current holdings or future transactions with respect to any particular security. You should consider this possibility before investing in any security based upon statements and information contained in any report, post, comment or recommendation you receive from him.

 

         

TODAY'S NEWS

WEDNESDAY

07-07-10

JULY
S M T W T F S
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4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
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19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

ARCHIVAL

SOVEREIGN DEBT PIIGS

EU BANKING CRISIS
BOND BUBBLE

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
BANKING CRISIS II
RISK REVERSAL

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

CREDIT CONTRACTION II

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
US FISCAL IMBALANCES
PENSION CRISIS
CHINA BUBBLE
CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT
INTEREST PAYMENTS
US PUBLIC POLICY MISCUES
JAPAN DEBT DEFLATION SPIRAL
US RESERVE CURRENCY.
GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE
SHRINKING REVENUE GROWTH RATE
FINANCE & INSURANCE WRITE-DOWNS
RETAIL SALES
CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES
US DOLLAR WEAKNESS
GLOBAL OUTPUT GAP
CONFIDENCE - SOCIAL UNREST
ENTITLEMENT CRISIS
IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT
OIL PRICE PRESSURES
FOOD PRICE PRESSURES
US STOCK MARKET VALUATIONS
PANDEMIC
US$ RESERVE CURRENCY
TERRORIST EVENT
NATURAL DISASTER

 

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