The European Central Bank's (ECB) unprecedented use of a three year, low cost LTRO (Long Term Repurchase Agreement) policy initiative may have removed some of the short term pressures from the EU Banking crisis, but like the Greenspan PUT, the unintended consequences are not yet fully understood. One is the moral hazard which is fostering financial "games" to be played with reckless abandon. Some of the mischievous and cunning games are frankly questionably as being even legal! But then, nothing is illegal if the regulators and those organizations charged with surveillance are not bothering to investigate. Extend > Pretend > Bend is the new approach. MORE>>
The World Economic Forum's 2012 Risks Report, the IMF's Global Financial Stability Report and our proprietary Aggregated Global Risk Level Index (AGRLI) all suggest global macroeconomic risks are increasing. The consensus findings are that the center of gravity of Global Macro issues are a combination of Chronic Fiscal Imbalances and a Global Governance Failure. MORE>> EXPANDED COVERAGE INCLUDING AUDIO & MONTHLY UPDATE SUMMARY
The market action since March 2009 is a bear market counter rally that has completed a classic ending diagonal pattern. The Bear Market which started in 2000 will resume in full force when the current "ROUNDED TOP" is completed. We presently are in the midst of of a "ROLLING TOP" across all Global Markets. We are seeing broad based weakening analytics and cascading warning signals. This behavior is typically seen during major tops. This is all part of a final topping formation and a long term right shoulder technical construction pattern.
MORE>> EXPANDED COVERAGE INCLUDING AUDIO & EXECUTIVE BRIEF
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Latest Public Research ARTICLES & AUDIO PRESENTATIONS
EURO EXPERIMENT : ECB's LTRO Won't Stop Collateral Contagion! Released December 27th, 2011
I would argue that the problem short term is a shortage of real collateral and that US dollar cash, versus 'encumbered' cash flow, is now king. It is clear that the rampant advancing Collateral Contagion will quickly eat the futile LTRO attempt like ravenous wolves. A well circulated Tweet from PIMCO bond king Bill Gross said it all: " What does LTRO stand for? 1- A shell game; 2-Cash for trash; 3 Three-card Monti; or 4. All of the above." Here is the stark reality of what forced the ECB to offer unprecedented three year loans at absurd rates and most alarmingly, the acceptance of collateral that no other financial institutions will accept. The ECB has sacrificed its balance sheet in yet another EU "kick at the can". MORE>>
CURRENCY WARS: EU: A FLAWED FOUNDATION, BUT A BRILLIANT STRATEGY Released May 31st, 2011
It was the perception of getting something of value without any meaningful sacrifice that initially fostered the EU Monetary Union. Though the countries of Europe were fiercely nationalistic they were willing to surrender minor sovereign powers only if it was going to prove advantageous to them. They were certainly unwilling to relinquish sufficient sovereignty to create the requisite political union required for its success. After a decade long trial period it is now time to pay the price for Monetary Union. I suspect that the EU membership is unwilling to do so. Though they likely will see the price as too high to do so, the price to not do so has become even greater. They have unwittingly been trapped by a well crafted strategy. MORE>>
CURRENCY WARS: The Economic Death Spiral Has Been Triggered Released May 27th, 2011
For nearly 30 years we have had two Global Strategies working in a symbiotic fashion that has created a virtuous economic growth spiral. Unfortunately, the economic underpinnings were flawed and as a consequence, the virtuous cycle has ended. It is now in the process of reversing and becoming a vicious downward economic spiral. One of the strategies is the Asian Mercantile Strategy. The other is the US Dollar Reserve Currency Strategy. These two strategies have worked in harmony because they fed off each other, each reinforcing the other. However, today the realities of debt saturation have brought the virtuous spiral to an end. MORE>>
CURRENCY WARS: Debt Saturation & Money Illusion Released April 27th, 2011
Most of the clearly evident financial problems that surround us today stem from one cause - Debt Saturation. Most, intuitively, sense this to be a correct assessment but few can either prove it or articulate it to the less sophisticated. Let me arm you to be the "Nostradamus" amongst your friends and colleagues in explaining the problem and what the future therefore foretells. However, let me make it very clear, this will not make you popular. Smart maybe, but highly likely to make you unwanted at the social gatherings of the genteel. MORE>>
02/10/2012 2:45 AM
Postings begin at 5:30am EST
and updated throughout the day
ECB Concession Smooths Way Toward a Greek Debt Deal 02/08/12 WSJ The European Central Bank has made key concessions over its holdings of Greek government bonds, which will contribute to a reduction of the country's debt burden and smooth the path toward a new bailout for the country
The ECB has agreed to exchange the government bonds it purchased in the secondary market last year at a price below face value, provided the debt-restructuring talks have a successful outcome. The ECB won't take a loss on the transaction, but it isn't clear whether the bank will exchange the bonds at the below-par price at which it purchased them or whether it will make a profit.
The ECB bought the bonds (12B Euro) at a discount to face value in a vain effort to support the price of Greek bonds. Until now, it has insisted it be repaid the full amount. Its concession means Greece reaps the benefit of the discount, rather than the ECB itself.
The idea is for the ECB, in effect, to exchange its Greek bonds for bonds of the European Financial Stability Facility, the euro zone's temporary bailout fund. The EFSF won't hold the bonds on its balance sheet, but will return the bonds to Greece, and Greece will then agree to repay the EFSF for the price at which the fund bought the bonds from the ECB.
Greece has a €14.5 billion bond repayment due March 20, and officials have sworn to include these bonds in a restructuring that will see creditors receive new bonds with half the face value of the old ones.
1- EU Banking Crisis
BANK OF ENGLAND
Bank Of England Expands Asset Purchases By £50 Billion 02/09/12 BI As expected, the Bank Of England has expanded its Quantitative Easing program by 50 billion pounds. The total size of purchases will now be 325 billion pounds. There had been some worries that perhaps it would be more - the pound is jumping. The BOE also says it expect an ongoing "significant shortfall" in the economy to persist. Announcement
Greece was expected to report by noon (5 EST) whether its political parties have agreed to accept austerity proposals, according to a deadline set by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. Less than an hour before the deadline, however, a Greek official told Reuters that there is no deadline today.
ING Feels Impact of Euro Crisis 02/09/12 WSJ Dutch financial services company ING said it expects only a weak economic recovery in 2012 after reporting that its fourth-quarter results were dented by fallout from the euro-zone crisis.
With the SX7E bank index up 17% YTD, the market is in our view discounting that the LTRO has proven a fundamental turning point in the euro area crisis. In Chart 7 we highlight that the reception to the original, “game changing” one year LTRO in 2009 was a rise in the index of 42%.
The LTRO has been seized on by equity and credit markets as the saviour of economies and banks. It could indeed prove to be so – but only in our view if there are an indefinite number of future LTROs stretching out ahead. As soon as there are none, some macroeconomic risk will appear from the list of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy to provide a challenge to the financing of the banks – and would be likely to cause a return to the funding concerns prevalent at the end of 2011. Bank funding markets are very forward looking, as those buying long-dated debt need some reason to believe the borrower will be able to redeem at maturity. Therefore, as soon as the LTRO window is closed, we are once more counting down to the point at which banks’ funding is challenged – a point which will be accelerated by the macro volatility implicit in trying to run a single currency without socialising the debts of the currency area.
Should such a tail risk of financial volatility emanating from Europe be realized, it would drag China’s growth lower. The channels of contagion would be felt mainly through trade, with knock-on effects to domestic demand. In the downside scenario outlined in the WEO Update—which would see global growth falling by 1¾ percentage points relative to the baseline—China’s growth would fall by around 4 percentage points. The risks to China from Europe are, therefore, both large and tangible.
From 8.25% to 4.25% that is.
Budget Plan Has Familiar Ring Obama will release a familiar budget plan, calling for $3 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, including $1.5 trillion in tax increases to fall mostly on the wealthiest Americans.
Coke's Profit Slides 02/07/12 WSJ Coca-Cola said its earnings fell 71% from a year-earlier period that included a gain from the purchase of some bottling operations, while the soda giant's unit-case volume continued to rise.
Profit Falls at UBS 02/07/12 WSJ Presenting its first set of earnings under new Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti, UBS reported a 76% fall in fourth-quarter net profit, as trading in shares and bonds slowed. The bank will cut its bonus pool 40%
Just read the previous post on market volume hitting decade lows. And while there are just under 2 more months left in the quarter, absent some seismic volatility explosion in the next month (ahem, Greece) we fail to see how bank revenues will grow at all sequentially, let alone QoQ.
Furthermore, with the curve once again flattening, and mortgage rates dropping to all time lows to the point where Net Interest Margin benefits for banks have disappeared (read more on the impact on the liquidity trap from this morning's Bill Gross note),
Key M&A activity being halted by regulators on either side of the pond, and
Facebook about to suck up all IPO unencumbered capital for months, we fail to see how banks hope to generate any incremental pick up in their top line.
Furthermore, SG&A slash and burn (which the BLS fervently refuses to acknowledge ever happened) will only make top line growth far slower if a true rebound for the financial sector ever materializes.
Bottom line: the dash for trash in the financial sector is coming to an abrupt close.
Shaky Profits Threaten U.S. Rally 02/06/12 WSJ U.S. corporate profits are showing signs of flagging, even as share prices reach multiyear highs. Margins are slipping as already-lean firms find it harder to continue cutting costs
CENTRAL BANKING MONETARY POLICIES, ACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
The Fed Resumes Printing The Federal Reserve balance sheet expanded dramatically as the credit crisis became acute in 2008. The Policy Tools (shown below in black) grew by $2 trillion with the QE1 purchase of mortgage-backed securities and the QE2 purchase of long-term Treasuries. This was an unprecedented effort to support those markets, provide liquidity, and drive rates down to zero. A simple extrapolation of similar expansion policies to the end of 2014 suggests that the Fed may require an additional $2 trillion to extend its goals. The problem is that such action would surely weaken the dollar and drive gold much higher. If confidence is lost, rates could rise even as the Fed continues to print and buy securities. The Fed says that it will change its policy if conditions warrant. I think they will be forced to stop this policy well before 2014 is over. Nonetheless, in the meantime, they will plant the seeds of rising prices with ultralow rates.
Dollar's China Conundrum If a stronger-than-expected recovery in the U.S. combined with continued uncertainty about the future of the euro means the dollar strengthens, it will be more difficult for China to chalk up even limited bilateral gains without having a serious impact on competitiveness elsewhere. Financial markets are pessimistic about the outlook for yuan appreciation. Expectations for the year ahead are for 2% to 3% nominal gains against the dollar in 2012, compared with 5.1% in 2011. With China's exporters facing a tough year, and falling inflation also weakening the case for yuan appreciation, such muted expectations make plenty of sense.
if a stronger-than-expected recovery in the U.S. combined with continued uncertainty about the future of the euro means the dollar strengthens, it will be more difficult for China to chalk up even limited bilateral gains without having a serious impact on competitiveness elsewhere. Pessimistic predictions on the outlook for yuan appreciation could easily come true.
if expectations of continued loose monetary policy in the U.S. and a brighter outlook for the euro push the dollar down, the pressure will be in the opposite direction. A falling dollar opens space for bilateral appreciation without denting competitiveness too much. A weak dollar also raises the cost of the commodities that China imports, so allowing the yuan to follow it down would mean importing inflationary pressure.
U.S. Sets Money-Market Plan The SEC is finalizing a proposal to shore up the money-market fund industry, more than three years after Lehman's collapse sparked a panic that threatened the savings of millions
Itchy Investors Ramp Up the Risk With interest rates likely stuck near zero for nearly three more years, conservative investors face a tough choice: move into riskier investments or continue coming up short from low-risk investments.
FLIGHT TO HARD ASSETS - FINANCIAL REPRESSION
Mining Deals to Pile Up A Glencore-Xstrata merger would create a true rival to global mining heavyweights like Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, as well as put pressure on midsize players to either team up or grow through acquisitions.
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