Ireland’s “String and Sealing-Wax Fix”; Irish PM Loses Confidence of Own Party; European Sovereign Default Risk Hits All Time High
by ilene - November 23rd, 2010 4:53 pm
Courtesy of Mish
News in Europe regarding Ireland, Spain, and Portugal is ominous. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are soaring in Spain and Portugal. European sovereign risk jumped to an all-time high.
Lloyds TSB says "Ireland’s debt woes may spread because investors have lost confidence in policy makers".
Members of his own party are calling on Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to resign.
The quote of the day goes to Bill Blain, a strategist at Matrix Corporate Capital LLP in London who said "“Bailouts are nothing but a short-term string-and-sealing-wax fix”.
With that let’s take a look at some specific news.
Zero Confidence in Irish Solution
Lloyds says Ireland’s Woes May Spread on ‘Zero Confidence’
“The markets currently have virtually zero confidence that the bailout in Ireland will solve the European crisis even though fiscal austerity measures in both Portugal and Spain have been severe and prima facie, sufficient to ease market concerns,” Charles Diebel and David Page, fixed-income strategists in London, wrote in an investor note today.
“With markets effectively in a position to dictate policy, the risk is that the credibility crisis shifts to more sizeable European Union countries and thereby poses a greater risk to the system as a whole,” they wrote. That may also raise “valid questions about the prescriptive policy measures being sufficient to deal with issues of such magnitude.”
Credit Default Swaps Soar in Spain, Portugal
In spite of the Irish bailout, Spain, Portugal Bank Debt Risk Soars as Traders Look South
The cost of insuring Spanish and Portuguese subordinated bank bonds soared as traders of credit-default swaps turned their focus to southern Europe following Ireland’s bailout.
Swaps on Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA rose to a record while contracts on Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s second-biggest lender, climbed to the highest in more than five months. The benchmark gauge of European sovereign risk also jumped to an all-time high, while two indexes tied to bank debt surged the most since June.
Ireland’s rescue “achieves completely the opposite of what it allegedly tries to achieve, namely to calm markets,” Tim Brunne, at UniCredit SpA said in a report.
“Instead, the credit profile of both the sovereign and the impaired financial institutions has been weakened,” the Munich-based strategist wrote.
by ilene - November 22nd, 2010 4:49 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
David Rosenberg provided a nice list of risk in this morning’s client letter. The one major risk that Rosenberg and the market is largely overlooking at this juncture is the housing double dip. This has the potential to be THE most important story of 2011. As I’ve previously explained, declining asset values are highly destructive during a balance sheet recession. If the housing double dip surprises to the downside the problems that we’ve swept under the rug will quickly reemerge and this time there won’t be any political will for government intervention.
I still believe we are mired in a balance sheet recession that will result in below trend growth, deflationary risks and leaves us extremely vulnerable to exogenous risks that could exacerbate the current malaise. Rosenberg’s excellent list follows:
1. China is getting more active in its policy tightening moves as inflation pressures intensify. It’s not just food but wages too. Headline inflation, at 4.4%, is at a 25-month high. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) just hiked banking sector reserve ratios by 50 basis points to 18.5% — the second such increase in the past two weeks and the fifth for the year. This could well keep commodity prices under wraps over the near-term.
2. European debt concerns will not be fully alleviated just because a rescue plan has been cobbled together for Ireland as it deals with its banking crisis. The focus will now likely shift to other basket cases such as Portugal and Spain. Greece has a two-year lifeline before it defaults. This saga is going to continue for some time yet.
3. Massive tightening in U.S. fiscal policy coming via spending cuts and tax hikes. This is the part of the macro forecast that is not given enough attention. See States Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans on page A5 of the weekend WSJ.
4. Gasoline prices are about six cents shy of re-testing the $3-a-gallon threshold for the first time since mid October 2008. On a national average basis, prices at the pump are up 26 cents from a year ago — effectively draining about $25 billion out of household cash flow. Tack on the coming
Could The Financial Crisis Erupting In Ireland, Portugal, Greece And Spain Lead To The End Of The Euro And The Break Up Of The European Union?
by ilene - November 18th, 2010 1:39 am
Could The Financial Crisis Erupting In Ireland, Portugal, Greece And Spain Lead To The End Of The Euro And The Break Up Of The European Union?
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
The Irish banking system is melting down right in front of our eyes. Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain are all drowning in debt. It is becoming extremely expensive for all of those nations to issue new debt. Officials all over Europe are begging Ireland to accept a bailout. Portugal has already indicated that they will probably be next in line. Most economists are now acknowledging that without a new round of bailouts the dominoes could start to fall and we could see a wave of debt defaults by European governments. All of this is pushing the monetary union in Europe to its limits. In fact, some of Europe’s top politicians are now publicly warning that this crisis may not only mean the end of the euro, but also the end of the European Union itself.
Yes, things really are that serious in Europe right now. In order for the euro and the European Union to hold together, two things have got to happen. Number one, Germany and the other European nations that are in good financial condition have got to agree to keep bailing out nations such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece that are complete economic basket cases. Number two, the European nations receiving these bailouts have got to convince their citizens to comply with the very harsh austerity measures being imposed upon them by the EU and the IMF.
Those two things should not be taken for granted. In Germany, many taxpayers are already sick and tired of pouring hundreds of billions of euros into a black hole. The truth is that the Germans are not going to accept carrying weak sisters like Greece and Portugal on their backs indefinitely.
In addition, we have already seen the kinds of riots that have erupted in Greece over the austerity measures being implemented there. If there is an overwhelming backlash against austerity in some parts of Europe will some nations actually attempt to leave the EU?
Right now the focus is on Ireland. The Irish banking system is a basket case at the moment and the Irish government is drowning in red ink. European Union officials are urging Ireland to request a bailout, but so far…
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 2:43 pm
Courtesy of Gonzalo Lira
The sky is black with PIIGS coming home to roost: I was going to write my customary long and boring think piece—but the simmering crisis in the Eurozone just got the heat turned up: Things are boiling over there!
|“Euro Dead” by Ryca.|
So let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled programming, and give you a run-down of this late-breaking news:
The bond markets have no faith in Ireland—Greece has been shown up as having liedagain about its atrocious fiscal situation—and now Portugal is teetering—
—in other words, the PIIGS are screwed. I would venture to guess that we are about to see this slow-boiling European crisis bubble over into a full blown meltdown over the next few days—and it’s going to get messy.
So to keep everything straight, let’s recap:
The spreads on Irish sovereign debt widened, and the Germans are pressing them to accept a bailout—despite the fact that the Irish government is fully funded until the middle of 2011. But it’s not the Irish fiscal situation that the bond markets or the Germans are worried about—it’s the Irish banking sector that is freaking everyone out.
After all, the Irish government fully—and very foolishly—backed the insolvent Irish banks back in 2008. And for unexplained reasons, the Irish government is committed to honoring Irish bank bonds fully—which the country simply cannot afford. However, German banks are heavily exposed to Irish banks, which explains why Berlin is so eager to have Ireland accept a bailout.
Right now, European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials are meeting with Irish representatives, putting together a bail-out package. The reason the Irish are so leery, of course, is that any bail-out would be accompanied by very severe austerity measures: In other words, the Irish people would suffer the consequences of shoring up the Irish banks—which is the same as saying the Irish people would suffer austerity measures in order to keep German banks from suffering losses. Also, the EU/IMF/ECB bail-out would probably also cost the Irish their precious 12.5% corporate tax rate—a key magnet for bringing capital to the Emerald Isle.
Add to the Irish worry, Greece is once again wearing a bright red conical dunce cap: They’ve been shown up to have lied again about their fiscal situation. Three guesses what they lied about: If you guessed Greek deficit, you win—yesterday, the Greek government officially revised…
by ilene - September 18th, 2010 5:47 am
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts From The Frontline
I am on a plane (yet again) from Zurich to Mallorca, where I will meet with my European and South American partners, have some fun, and relax before heading to Denmark and London. With the mad rush to finish my book (more on that later) and a hectic schedule this week, I have not had time to write a letter. But never fear, I leave you in the best of hands. Dr. Gary Shilling graciously agreed to condense his September letter, where he looks at the risk of another recession in the US.
I look forward at the beginning of each month to getting Gary’s latest letter. I often print it out and walk away from my desk to spend some quality time reading his thoughts. He is one of my "must-read" analysts. I always learn something quite useful and insightful. I am grateful that he has let me share this with you.
If you are interested in getting his letter, his website is down being redesigned, but you can write for more information at email@example.com. If you want to subscribe (for $275), you can call 888-346-7444. Tell them that you read about it in Thoughts from the Frontline, and you will get an extra one month on your subscription. And now, let turn to Gary.
The Chances of a Double Dip
By Gary Shilling
Investor attitudes have reversed abruptly in recent months. As late as last March, most translated the year-long robust rise in stocks, foreign currencies, commodities and the weakness in Treasury bonds that had commenced a year earlier into robust economic growth – the "V" recovery.
As a result, investors early this year believed that rapid job creation and the restoration of consumer confidence would spur retail spending. They also saw the housing sector’s evidence of stabilization giving way to revival, and strong export growth also propelling the economy. Capital spending, led by high tech, was another area of strength, many believed.
Not So Fast
But a funny, or not so funny, thing happened on the way to super-charged, capacity-straining growth. In April, investors began to realize that the eurozone
by ilene - September 11th, 2010 11:37 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline
The Last Half
But It’s More Than the Deficit
Not Everyone Can Run a Surplus
Pity the Greeks
The Competitive Currency Devaluation Raceway
Amsterdam, Malta, Zurich, Mallorca, Denmark, and London
There are a number of economic forces in play in today’s world, not all of them working in the same direction, which makes choosing policies particularly difficult. Today we finish what we started last week, the last half of the last chapter I have to write to get a rough draft of my forthcoming book, The End Game. (Right now, though, it appears this will actually be the third chapter.) We will start with a few paragraphs to help you remember where we were (or you can go to www.investorsinsight.com to read the first part of the chapter).
But first, I recorded two Conversations yesterday, with the CEOs of two biotech firms that are working on some of the most exciting new technologies I have come across. I found them very informative, and we will post them as soon as we get them transcribed.
For new readers, Conversations with John Mauldin is my one subscription service. While this letter will always be free, we have created a way for you to "listen in" on my conversations (or read the transcripts) with some of my friends, many of whom you will recognize and some whom you will want to know after you hear our conversations. Basically, I call one or two friends every now and then; and just as we do at dinner or at meetings, we talk about the issues of the day, back and forth, with give and take and friendly debate. I think you will find it enlightening and thought-provoking and a real contribution to your education as an investor. Plus, we throw in a series I do with Pat Cox of Breakthrough Technology Alert, where we interview some of the leading up-and-coming biotech companies; and I also do a Conversation with George Friedman of Stratfor 3-4 times a year. Quite a lot for the low price.
by ilene - July 30th, 2010 12:58 am
The Dog Ate my Report Card
Courtesy of Gordon T. Long
Both came to an end at the same time: the administration’s policy to Extend & Pretend has run out of time as has the patience of the US electorate with the government’s Keynesian economic policy responses. Desperate last gasp attempts are to be fully expected, but any chance of success is rapidly diminishing.
Whether an unimpressed and insufficiently loyal army general, a fleeing cabinet budget chief or G20 peers going the austerity route, all are non-confidence votes for the Obama administration’s present policies. A day after the courts slapped down President Obama’s six month gulf drilling moratorium, the markets were unpatriotically signaling a classic head and shoulders topping pattern. With an employment rebound still a non-starter, President Obama as expected was found to be asking for yet another $50B in unemployment extensions and state budget assistance to avoid teacher layoffs. However, the gig is up: the policy of Extend and Pretend has no time left on the shot clock nor for another round of unemployment benefit extensions. A congress that is now clearly frightened of what it sees looming in the fall midterm elections is running for cover on any further spending initiatives. The US electorate has been sending an unmistakable message in all elections nationwide.
The housing market is rolling over as fully expected and predicted by almost everyone except the White House and its lap-dog press corp. Noted analyst Meredith Whitney says a double dip in housing is a ‘no brainer’ with the government’s HAMP program clearly a bust as one third of participants are now dropping out. The leading economic indicator (ECRI) has abruptly turned lower, signaling the economy is slowing rapidly without the $1T per month stimulus addiction, which has kept the extend and pretend economy on life support.
The gulf oil spill that was initially stated as 1000 barrels per day has been revised upwards faster than the oil can reach the surface. It now appears to be north of 100,000 barrels per day. A 100 percent miss is about in line with the miss on how many jobs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was going to create. Also, it appears the administration can’t even get its hands around the basics of administration management during any crisis event. Teleprompter politics…
by ilene - July 29th, 2010 12:51 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
The Rally Is Ending
July 29, 2010
By John R. Taylor, Jr., Chief Investment Officer
For FX Concepts, this is a big day and a very scary one as well. Because our market view is now very precise, but at odds with the accepted wisdom, we are putting ourselves out on a limb. The euro is going to be hit again and commodity currencies will come under increasing pressure. Our cyclical analysis argues that the currency markets are making a major reversal right now, today, and that this will be at least a medium term reversal in equities and credit as well. Although it is more likely that the equity and credit markets will not begin their major decline until the last week of August, the odds favor an unimpressive month ahead which means that we are at the end of the exciting part of the rally of the past two months. By the end of next month, equities will be headed lower, credit spreads will widen sharply, and government bonds will begin a rally to new all time highs. Our completely technical cyclical work implies that there will be a return to dark times in September and October, with a sharp decline driven by liquidity and solvency issues likely to set the world back on a recessionary course.
Although the cyclical picture gets more uncertain the farther out we go, we believe that there will be a major cyclical low in risk during January and another one, possibly more aggressive in the third quarter of 2011.
Using this cyclical analysis as our base, we can work backward to generate a set of fundamental conditions that would allow a cyclical picture like this to occur. If the S&P 500 is going to challenge its March 2009 lows in the next year, and interest rates are going to drop sharply while credit spreads widen dramatically, what would the US economy have to do and what would the world look like? Clearly the widespread conviction that the 2008 recession is in the rear view mirror and that growth will slowly improve in the years ahead is wrong. All the forecasts of the G-20 governments are completely off base, which means that the politicians are not prepared for another downturn. We wonder what the downturn will…
by ilene - July 20th, 2010 2:30 pm
Keep reading, mystery solved. – Ilene
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Someone bought ALL the cocoa in Europe, as in a billion dollars worth. Perhaps JP Morgan has finally closed out Bear Stearns’ silver manipulation business and is ready to move on to candy bars and body paint?
The purchase was enough to move the entire global cocoa market, sending the price to the highest level since 1977, and triggering rumours and intrigue in the City.
It is unclear which person, or group of traders, was behind the deal, but it was the largest single cocoa trade for 14 years.
The cocoa beans, which are sitting in warehouses either in The Netherlands, Hamburg, or closer to home in London, Liverpool or Humberside is equivalent to the entire supply of the commodity in Europe, and would fill more than five Titanics. They are worth £658 million.
Analysts said it was very unlikely that a chocolate company, such as Nestle or Kraft, or even their suppliers, would buy such a huge order in one go and that is was probable that one or a number of speculators, possibly hedge funds, had attempted to corner the market. By doing this, they would have control of the entire supply in Europe, forcing the price yet higher.
This is the best part: Andreas Christiansen, president of the German Cocoa Trade Association, said the “hefty” price move was “a mirror of what can be done if people control the physical stock.”
Running out of markets to corner, someone got desperate. On the upside, at least it wasn’t Europe’s entire supply of Swedish album covers.
When British hedge fund manager Anthony Ward bought about $1-billion (U.S.) worth of cocoa beans last week, there was talk he was trying to corner the cocoa market and fears that chocolate lovers everywhere would face huge price hikes for their favourite treats.
But now it appears that Mr. Ward, dubbed “Choc Finger” by the British press, may have been forced to buy the beans to get out of his own market squeeze.
Analysts believe Mr. Ward ended up on the wrong side of a private hedging arrangement with Swiss chocolate-maker Barry Callebaut AG. As a result, Mr. Ward’s firm, Armajaro Asset
by ilene - July 15th, 2010 3:15 pm
Michael Hudson writes a letter.
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Hudson to Premier Wen Jaibao, March 15, 2010
Dear Premier Wen Jiabao,
I write this letter to counteract some of the solutions that Western politicians are recommending for China to cope with its buildup of excess foreign-exchange reserves. Raising the renminbi’s exchange rate against the dollar will not cure the China-US payments imbalance. The dollar glut will continue, and so will the currency fluctuation among the dollar, euro and sterling, leaving no stable store of value. The cause of this instability is that each of these three currency areas has grown top-heavy with by debts in excess of the ability to pay.
What then should China should it do with its buildup of excess reserves, if not recycle its inflows into their bonds? Four possibilities have been suggested: (1) to revalue the renminbi, (2) to flood China’s economy with credit (as Japan did after the Plaza Accord of 1985), (3) to buy foreign resources and assets, and (4) to use excess dollars to buy back foreign investments in China, given US reluctance to permit Chinese investment in America’s own most promising economic sectors.
I explain below why China’s best course is to avoid accumulating further foreign exchange reserves. The most workable solution is to use its official reserves to buy back US and other foreign investments in China’s financial system and other key sectors. This policy will seem more natural as a response to an escalation of US protectionist moves to block Chinese imports or block China’s sovereign wealth funds from buying key US assets.
China’s excess reserves will impose a foreign-exchange loss (as valued in renminbi)
Every nation needs foreign currency reserves to ward off currency raids, as the Asia Crisis showed in 1997. The usual kind of raid forces currencies down. Speculators see a central bank with large foreign currency holdings, and seek to empty them out by borrowing even larger sums, selling the target currency short to drive down its price. This is the tactic that George Soros pioneered against the British pound when he broke the Bank of England.
Malaysia’s counter-tactic was not to let speculators cover their bets by buying the target currency. Its Malaysia’s success in resisting that crisis showed that currency controls prevent speculators from “cashing out” on their exchange-rate bets, blocking their attempt to…