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 Global Markets have reached the point of waht can be best labeled as "Elevated Risk". Analytics measurements including Fundamenal Analysis, Techncial Analysis and Risk Anlysis all are independently signalling this along with warnings. This months report lays out the Risk Assessment, Risk Levels as determined by our proprietary aggregated Global Financial Risk Index, changes in Tipping Points and the Macro Risk-On, Risk-Off Drivers.
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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>>
04/30/2012 2:53 AM
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TIPPING POINT or 2012 THESIS THEME
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GLOBAL IMBALANCES - Impractical Solutions from Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz (YouTube Video)
EU - Slipping into Non-Credible - Non-Timely Region
Between credible and non-credible political and fiscal policies and a reflationary or deflationary monetary policy aimed at the financial system, Morgan Stanley provides a quick-and-dirty 'map' of where Europe finds itself and the four different scenarios that await this troubled region. The 'Quantum Leap' of credible fiscal integration with term liquidity support and even easier monetary policy is where everyone hoped we would be by now (especially post the October 26th Grand Plan decisions). However, the sad truth in reality is the drop in credibility of political will (or direct nationalism emerging) combined with some concerns over inflation and the dramatic fading of the liquidity impact of the ECB's latest actions means we are drifting rapidly towards 'Debt Crisis Derailment' as the elite continue to confuse insolvency and illiquidity and stick their heads in the sand with regard the reality they face under the restrictions of Maastricht.
With implicit monetary conditions dramatically easy and peripheral banks over-stuffed with sovereign debt, there is little room for anything but more encumbrance or ECB-Treaty-busting direct printing.
As lackluster as it may be, the headline number of 2.20% is still likely overstating the health of the economy:
-- The "deflater" used in constructing the reported growth rate (reflecting annualized inflation of 1.54%) will seem patently absurd to anyone who lived in the real world during the first quarter of 2012, especially if they bought gasoline or groceries. Using the CPI-U as a deflater makes the headline growth almost completely vanish.
-- Even the BEA's optimistic "deflaters" couldn't keep the per capita disposable income from shrinking during the quarter.
-- Governments continued to shrink their spending, and they sucked -0.60% from the headline number. That trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon.
-- "Real final sales" and factory production continued to be supported by inventory building -- which is unsustainable and must ultimately reverse (even if the cost of carrying the inventories has been kept artificially low by the Fed).
Our bottom line for the economy has always been the health of households. This report shows per capita disposable income is shrinking and that any improvements in consumer spending are likely unsustainable. We suspect that the softening seen in this report the harbinger of a collapsing "recovery" that will continue to unfold during 2012.
Among the notable items in the report:
-- The contribution to the annualized growth rate for consumer expenditures for goods improved to 1.47%, up 0.18% from the 1.29% for the fourth quarter of 2011. Although this number remains modest by "recovery" standards, it has been trending upward for the past several quarters.
-- The contribution made by consumer services also improved (to 0.57%), but it also remains anemic by "recovery" standards.
-- The growth rate contribution from private fixed investments dropped to 0.18% -- losing over a half-percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2011 and 1.34% from the third quarter of 2011.
-- The contribution from inventories (0.59% annualized) dropped significantly from the 1.81% reported for 4Q-2011. This drop in inventory building was inevitable, although it still represents nearly a quarter of the headline number.
-- The reported drag on GDP growth from contracting expenditures by governments moderated somewhat at -0.60% (about a quarter of a percent less than the -0.84% reported for 4Q2011).
-- The annualized contribution to the growth rate from exports rose to 0.73% (from 0.37% in the prior quarter).
-- Imports are now removing -0.74% from the growth rate of the overall economy, slightly worse than the -0.63% recorded during 4Q2011.
-- The annualized growth rate of "real final sales of domestic product" rose to 1.61%, but it is still a 1.55% below the +3.16% reported for the third quarter of 2011. If this number is accepted at face value (and not as a consequence of "deflaters" playing havoc with inventory valuations) it still indicates a much weaker economy than is conveyed in the headline number.
-- Real per-capita disposable income shrank at an annualized -0.27% rate during the quarter (from $32,699 per capita to $32,677 per capita) -- and it remains lower than it was 5 quarters ago.
With first-quarter earnings season well underway (over 65% of S&P 500 corporations have reported), today's chart provides some long-term perspective to the current earnings environment by focusing on 12-month, as reported S&P 500 earnings. Today's chart illustrates how earnings declined over 92% from its Q3 2007 peak to Q1 2009 low which brought inflation-adjusted earnings to near Great Depression lows. Since its Q1 2009 low, S&P 500 earnings have surged (up an inflation-adjusted 1120%) and currently come in at a level that is well above its dot-com bubble peak and fast approaching its credit bubble peak. It is interesting to note that the original run up in real earnings from Great Depression lows to dot-com highs took over 67 years. The current spike has taken 34 months. In the end, if corporate earnings were to continue to beat expectations (of those that reported so far this quarter, a relatively high 70% have beat expectations), then inflation-adjusted S&P 500 earnings could make new, all-time record highs this year -- a dramatic reversal from three short years ago.
Chart of the Day
MOST CRITICAL TIPPING POINT ARTICLES THIS WEEK - APR 22nd - APR 28th, 2012
The sad reality is that not only are the effects of LTRO now almost entirely gone in both sovereign and financial funding costs but the massive 'injection' of freshly printed encumbrance did nothing for the real economy. In fact, as Barclays notes in these charts from the ECB bank lending survey, not only is demand weaker for credit (i.e. the consumer is pulling back in classic balance sheet recessionary style) but the banks themselves are tightening credit conditions (reducing supply) - the exact opposite of what the ECB had in mind.
Credit conditions, for enterprises and during the past three months, continued to tighten appreciably in Cyprus, Italy and Portugal.
Weakness in demand for enterprise loans was quite broadly based in April, in Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and especially Italy (-38% net diffusion balance).
As well, weakness in demand for housing loans was also apparent in Austria, Cyprus, Spain, and particularly in Italy (-44%), the Netherlands (-42%) and Portugal (-70%)
S&P Cuts Spain to BBB+, Outlook Negative 04/26/12 Zero Hedge
Adding insult to Bayern Munich injury, we just got S&P which did the impossible and cut Spain to BBB+ from A (outlook negative) not on Friday after hours. Kneejerk reaction is a 30 pip drop in EURUSD. Oh, and most amusing, those witches among men, Egan Jones, downgraded Spain from BBB to BBB-.... a week ago. Crush them, destroy them... How dare they be ahead of the pack as usual: after all their NRSRO application was missing a god damn comma.
We believe that the Kingdom of Spain's budget trajectory will likely deteriorate against a background of economic contraction in contrast withour previous projections.
At the same time, we see an increasing likelihood that Spain's government will need to provide further fiscal support to the banking sector.
As a consequence, we believe there are heightened risks that Spain's net general government debt could rise further.
We are therefore lowering our long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on Spain to 'BBB+/A-2' from 'A/A-1'.
The negative outlook on the long-term rating reflects our view of the significant risks to Spain's economic growth and budgetary performance, and the impact we believe this will likely have on the sovereign's creditworthiness.
Countries not matching the new Merkozy-limit of a maximum of 3% budget deficit were Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and... France
In simple terms - countries need to be in the lower left quadrant (green) and yet the PIGS are rapidly heading in the exact opposite direction (upper right orange quadrant) missing both debt and deficit convergence criteria.
Citigroup's Economic Surprise Index which tracks the rise and fall of both misses and beats as well as better or worse data. For the first time in over six months, macro data for the G-10 has turned negative (with Europe having been there for a while and the US getting very close) indicating significant weakness. When this data turned from positive to negative in July 2010 it pre-empted the 'rescue' of the global economy via QE2 and each time it has dropped below its 200DMA (which it also just did) we have seen notable deterioration in equity prices soon after. What is more worrisome perhaps is the rate of deterioration over the last two months or so. Four of the last five times we dropped this rapidly we saw significant drops in stock prices soon after (Dec 2008, August 2010, and June 2011).
G-10 macro data has turned negative (upper pane) dropped below its 200DMA and is at its lowest in over six months. The pace of deterioration has been rapid (lower pane) and 4 of the previous 5 times this pace of drop has occurred, equity prices have dropped considerably soon after...
US and Europe are now back in sync as decoupling becomes a dim and distant memory though on the bright side we are not missing as badly as Europe...
and in case you were wondering how well this syncs with stock performance, her is the US-only Citi ECO surprise index relative to 3 month changes in the S&P 500...
The southern strain of Eurovirus has a much larger non-proportional impact thanks to transmission risk via its significantly greater share of sovereign and bank debt relative to the world and how these debts are financed. The transmission risk to the much-larger Northern Europe is material. We are already seeing Germany's new orders from within the Euro-zone slumping and this week's business sector surveys were very weak.
The problem with Southern Europe is one of transmission risk and non-proportional impact:
In recession, the region causes more than a proportional problem for the leveraged financial system described on the prior page. Even with German and French bank claims on Southern Europe having fallen in half since 2007 (see page 6), potential losses on remaining claims still represent a large percentage of European bank capital.
The table shows what each country reports as its sovereign debt, but these figures may be underestimated. Spain’s central government and regional debt is reported at 68% of GDP. After accounting for bank restructuring costs, write-downs on development bank loans, potential losses on government guaranteed private sector debt, and possible losses on Spain’s share of loans to other countries in Southern Europe, we estimate Spain’s debt as being ~85% of GDP.
The table does not capture how countries finance their sovereign debt. Japan’s sovereign debt is large relative to its GDP, but is 93% owned domestically; and the US is (for now) the world’s reserve currency. Southern Europe’s reliance on crossborder capital required the ECB to take extraordinary steps to offset it when it fled.
The transmission risk to Northern Europe is material. As shown below, the collapse in Germany’s new orders from within the Euro area is substantial. This week’s business sector surveys in Europe were very weak, and the only surprise to us was that people were surprised. The French and German economies are stagnant right now.
3 - Risk Reversal
RISK - Risk to Most Systemically Important Banks Now Elevated and Rising
In a little over a month, the risk of the 30 most systemically important global banks has jumped an impressive 45%.
What is intriguing is how absolutely end-of-the-world the situation felt heading into Q1 2009 and yet - with banks' risk considerably higher now, we have become so much more 'used' to this state of chaos that our anchoring bias says - all is well?
3 - Risk Reversal
JAPAN - DEBT DEFLATION
JAPAN EASES - JPY of 10 Trillion has a Half Life of Hours
"It won't be long before CPI is back above 1%", we promise, this time - we really mean it - is seemingly how the BoJ defends its decision to follow Einstein's definition of insanity by doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome (Nov 2008 was the last time CPI was above 1% YoY). Admittedly, at some point the ever-increasing BoJ balance-sheet-to-GDP will become too much even for a nation hell-bent on printing its way out of chronic deflation only to be punched-and-kicked by a balance-sheet-recession so deep and full of deleveragers. The facts are that the BoJ will expand its LSAP-equivalent program by JPY10tn (USD123bn) - raising the 'stock' - but maintaining the same pace of JGB-buying at JPY1.8tn per month - leaving the 'flow' stable - hence extending the program by around six months. At the same time they have extended the maturity of JGB purchases from 2Y to 3Y (try and wring a little more duration out of an already starved yield curve). USDJPY was entirely confused out of the gate and rallied immediately only to about-face and sell-off up to 81.45 before already giving back half of its losses to pre-BoJ anouncement. The JPY sell-off implicit carry moves did nothing to move US equity futures (which limped up 1-2pts and then gave it back) and even the NKY has retraced 65% of its post-BoJ gains. Perhaps it is all about the flow and the need for that second derivative to be constantly rising after all? Whether it is repatriation flows or carry-unwinds, JPY devaluation (as we have discussed Andy Xie's perspective on) may just have to be done 'forcefully' as opposed to 'suggestively'.
Full summary of the BOJ's action:
5 - Japan Debt Deflation Spiral
FRENCH ELECTIONS - Signals Major Shift Away From Austerity In Europe
Europe is similar to the Soviet Union in the way that the euro crisis has the potential of destroying, undermining the European Union,” he said in a debate on public policy education Tuesday. “With the profound social, economic and moral crisis that Europe is in, we can see a similar process of disintegration.”
No matter how you spin it, having debt three times your income before you are responsible for paying it down as a mitigating circumstance is simply idiotic.
UK: English graduates don’t have to repay their loans unless they make 21,000 pounds a year. They pay 9 percent of their earnings over that amount and all debts are forgiven after 30 years. Payments are automatically deducted from paychecks. Graduates don’t have to pay if they lose their job or transition to part-time work, as many working mothers do.
US: By contrast, U.S. education debt can’t be discharged through bankruptcy and almost 2 million Americans with student debt are over 60, according to the New York Federal Reserve. About $85 billion in student debt was delinquent in the third quarter of 2011. In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said U.S. student-loan debt had reached $1 trillion, based on preliminary findings.
EU: In the rest of Europe, where higher education is free or relatively inexpensive, governments are watching to see if the U.K. plan succeeds
13 - Social Unrest
CORPORATE CASH HOARDS - Why Are Corporations Hoarding Cash?
Money has gone to one of two places - bank reserves at their central banks or more critically the balance sheets of non-financial corporates...
24 - Shrinking Revenue Growth Rate
Gold & Silver Backed, Absolute-Return
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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
FEDERAL RESERVE - Money Printing is not New
Real Money Supply growth is running well ahead of any empirical trend-line, thanks to central bank largesse...
Sean Corrigan Diapason Commodities
TECHNICALS & MARKET ANALYTICS
EARNINGS - Extremely Misleading Graphs and Headlines
There is one simple reason why the market is less the jubilant about recent earnings "beats" - they all come on trails of aggressive recent trimmings to near forecasts, all at the expense of hockeysticking latter part of the year expectations.
Consensus revenue growth expectations (excluding energy and financials) are 6.5% in 2012 and 5.8% in 2013. This is lower than the 8.2% growth achieved in 2011. We think it is sensible that the revenue growth expectations are lower for 2012 and 2013 versus 2011 but don’t think estimates embed risks like the 2013 fiscal cliff or a recession in Europe. At the sector level, 2012 earnings growth expectations are highest in financials, technology, and industrials. The lowest growth estimates are in utilities, telecom, and health care.
MARGIN EXPECTATIONS - Not Realistic, Don't Pass the Common Sense Test.
One place where it is more obvious than anywhere: margin expectations, which somehow the consensus see soaring in 2013 after what has now become a very tepid 2012 (despite irrational exuberance toward the mid/late part of 2011).
With much more downside risks associated with the longer-term corporate outlook (fiscal cliff, Europe, China slow down), the market has once again reverted to its "show me" phase, where Q1 results are good, but simply not good enough to where mere hockeysticks in expectations will offset the overhanging fears of a global slowdown.
4 COMPANIES CARRING MARKET: AAPL, GOOG, IBM & ORCL
3 companies, GOOG, IBM and ORCL, and the Financial sector in general (which is neck deep in so much "one-time" DVA and otherwise accounting-based trickery we wouldn't know where to even begin) account for more than 60% of the EPS upside!
ESTIMATES STEADILY DOWN - Until Recently
The 2012 EPS estimate, currently at $106.16, reached a near-term bottom of $105.34 in February 2012, while the 2013 estimate troughed at $118.47 in early March versus the current reading of $119.24.
FINANCIAL REPRESSION - "The Financial System is Increasingly Being Rigged"
In a world with hundreds of trillions of imaginary collateral whose ultimate owner will never be tracked down, (and a daisy-chained bankrupt domino collapse will come before anyone finds out who owns what), only that which is:
APPLE CASH - Some Correlations Real Make You Go .. ummm?
Apple Cash Hits $110 Billion, Up $12.6 Billion 04/24/12 Zero Hedge - If there is anything at all less than superlative that can be said about Apple's consolidated cash hoard, which grew by $12.6 billion in the quarter and double from a year earlier, is that it is a tad less exponentially than before. Still, not bad: the country's cash stash is nearly enough to cover the first Greek bailout (will need to wait 2 more quarter for it to be sufficient to pay for the fifth one).
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CORPORATE SQUEECE - Wage Compression (Quality and Quantity of Jobs)
STANDARD OF LVING
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