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 Obama Budget is A Campaign Budget. Nothing changes until after the fall election and precisely on december 31st, 2012. Suspect budget assumptions and and the outcome on this date will make a $5T difference over 10 years. The markets will not wait and be hedl hostage to the outcome. 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 that like the US, 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. We submit the US Budget as evidence of the later.
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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.
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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>>
03/15/2012 4:54 AM
Postings begin at 5:30am EST
and updated throughout the day
The Fed said 18 of the 19 financial firms it tested retained a large enough capital buffer to continue lending in a steep downturn, defined in part as one in which housing prices and stock markets tumble sharply, and unemployment climbs to 13%. (Current unemployment is around 8.3%.) However, the Fed said at least four of the 19—Citigroup, Ally Financial Inc., MetLife Inc. and SunTrust Banks Inc.—would have to resubmit their capital plans to the Fed, amounting to a de facto rejection of their dividend or stock-buyback plans. Ally Financial was the sole institution to fall short of the test's capital requirements even without any proposed dividend payments or other capital distributions.
Demonstrates it is More Powerful than the FEDERAL RESERVE & US TREASURY
How J.P. Morgan Chase Scooped The Fed 03/13/12 WSJ - The Fed told many of the nation's largest banks around midday Tuesday that it would announce stress-test results at 4:30 p.m. EDT, after the close of the New York Stock Exchange, and that banks could issue news releases about increasing their dividends or share buybacks after the Fed's release. But J.P. Morgan, the nation's largest bank, issued a news release at 3:04 p.m. outlining its results and plans. Its shares jumped 7% after the release and pulled up other bank stocks. The next bank to disclose that it had passed the test was U.S. Bancorp at 3:58 p.m., just before the market close. Several rival banks said they received instructions from the Fed to stay quiet until the central bank put out its own results for all 19 banks covered by the latest stress test. An executive at one rival bank said the bank was instructed by the Fed "not to tell anyone" the results. The banks said they were frustrated by J.P. Morgan's release because they felt they were playing by the Fed's rules.
Fed Is 'Playing a Game With Us:' Pimco's Gross 03/13/12 CNBC - The Federal Reserve "is playing a game with us to some extent" by maintaining low interest rates, Pimco founder Bill Gross told CNBC, who also expects another round of quantitative easing. - "I think the Fed will continue to do this for a long time and subordinate investors in the bond market," said Gross, who runs the world's largest bond fund.
MOST CRITICAL TIPPING POINT ARTICLES THIS WEEK - MAR 11h- MAR. 17th, 2012
EU BANKING CRISIS
ECB - LTRO Masks Spanish & Italian (SPIT) Capital Flight
Is The ECB Masking Accelerating Deposit Flight In Italy And Spain? 03/12/12 Zero Hedge - While LTRO may have slowed the need for immediate asset sales and larger deleveraging in European banks, the two most significantly worrying trend concerns remain front-and-center - those of deposit flight and lending cuts. The latter remains a concern for the BIS, who note in their recent report, that lending curtailment by European banks focused primarily on risky (non-sovereign) and USD-denominated (EM mostly) debt as banks sought to reduce risk-weighted assets (RWA) to meet Basel III capital rules. It would appear though that banks remain in deleveraging (asset sale) mode, in anticipation of the end of ECB facilities down the road, which will become increasingly troublesome given the encumbrance of so many of their assets already by the ECB itself. What is most concerning though is the dramatic and accelerating deposit outflows from not just Greece but Italy and Spain (which just happen to be by far the largest 'takers' of LTRO loans).
Spanish and Italian (SPIT) banks dominated the use of the ECB's LTRO facilities, while Finland/Germany/Luxembourg (FINGEL) banks took only modest amounts...
As most importantly - Deposits are flooding out of SPIT banks...
1- EU Banking Crisis
COLLATERAL CONTAGION - Balance Sheet Encumberance
Why Europe Is Running Out Of Assets - Encumberance 03/12/12 Zero Hedge By demanding collateral for their bottomless pit of low-interest loans, the ECB has not only reduced banks' necessary deleveraging needs (and/or capital raising) but has increased risk for all bond-holders (and implicitly equity holders, who are the lowest of the low in the capital structure remember) as the assets underlying the value of bank balance sheets are now increasingly encumbered to the ECB. Post LTRO, Barclays notes that several banking-systems (PIIGS) now have encumbered over 15% of their balance sheets but LTRO merely extends a broader trend among European banks (pledging collateral in return for funding) and on average (even excluding LTRO) 21% of European bank assets are now encumbered, and therefore unavailable for unsecured bond holders, ranging from over 50% at Danske (more a business model choice with covered bonds) to around 1% for Standard Chartered. As the liquidity-fueled euphoria starts to be unwound, perhaps this list of likely stigmatized banks is the place to look for higher beta exposure to the downside (especially as we see EC B margin calls start to pick up).
Whether it be their direct actions with Greece (specifically subordinating the world) or their indirect actions with LTRO collateral needs, the systemic risk of Europe's banking/sovereign credit system is far higher now than it was before (and credit markets have already begun to adjust to this new reality - senior spread decompression, recent sovereign underperformance, and LTRO-Stigma - even if equities remain dumbstruck with the implicit print-fest - though very recently European financial equities have joined the credit drop more closely).
China Trade Deficit Spurs Concern 03/12/12 WSJ The weekend report of a $31.5 billion trade deficit in China for February was substantially larger than most analysts expected and followed a string of other disappointing economic data, including weak growth in car sales, industrial production and retail sales, and the continuation of a steep fall in property sales. The only bright economic star was that inflation slackened more rapidly than expected.
Economic Surprise Indices are all rolling over - Reality is not meeting Analyst/Market Expectations...
Energy Demand is dropping rapidly - suggesting that 1) global economic recovery is stalling (or magically growth has become energy independent), and 2) central bank intervention (and geopolitical tensions in their somewhat circular fashion) has led to demand destruction quicker than many would have hoped.
Kostin said there were three main reasons for his call:
The U.S. economy is stagnating, growing below trend.
In a weak economic growth environment, markets historically have a flat multiple
2012 is expected to see earnings growth of only 3 percent.
Elaborating on these three key points Kostin said at sub-2 percent, income growth is weak. Also, earnings and revenue forecasts have been cut across all sectors in the last 30, 60 and 90 days. He also blamed rising oil prices and the lack of money flow into the market.
26 - US Stock Market Valuations
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MACRO News Items of Importance - This Week
GLOBAL MACRO REPORTS & ANALYSIS
US ECONOMIC REPORTS & ANALYSIS
CENTRAL BANKING MONETARY POLICIES, ACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
FOMC MEETING - Will Fed Signal Inflation Concerns?
Financial Repression Back to Stay: Carmen M. Reinhart 03/12/12 BL Unlike income, consumption or sales taxes, the “repression” tax rate is determined by factors such as financial regulations and inflation performance, which are opaque -- if not invisible -- to the highly politicized realm of fiscal policy.
According to Dunning-Kruger, no matter how much information is provided, the unsophisticated would:
be incapable of recognizing the wisdom of such a plan;
assume they know better; and
have no idea of the extent of their inadequacy.
What’s worse is that with incompetence comes the illusion of superiority. In other words, stupid people are too stupid to know how stupid they are. It would appear then that democracy dooms us to mediocrity and misinformed choices.
San Francisco Chronicle
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