Posts Tagged ‘solvency crisis’

Has the Fed Painted Itself Into a Corner?

Has the Fed Painted Itself Into a Corner?

Courtesy of Yves Smith

[unclescrooge.jpg]A couple of articles in the Wall Street Journal, reporting on a conference at the Boston Fed, indicates that some people at the Fed may recognize that the central bank has boxed itself in more than a tad.

The first is on the question of whether the Fed is in a liquidity trap. A lot of people, based on the experience of Japan, argued that resolving and restructuring bad loans was a necessary to avoid a protracted economic malaise after a severe financial crisis. But the Fed has consistently clung to the myth that the financial meltdown of 2007-2008 was a liquidity, not a solvency crisis. So rather than throw its weight behind real financial reform and cleaning up bank balance sheets (which would require admitting the obvious, that its policies prior to the crisis were badly flawed), it instead has treated liquidity as the solution to any and every problem.

Some commentators were concerned when the Fed lowered policy rates below 2%, but there we so many other experiments implemented during the acute phases that this particular shift has been pretty much overlooked. But overly low rates leaves the Fed nowhere to go if demand continues to be slack, as it is now.

Note that the remarks by Chicago Fed president John Evans still hew to conventional forms: the Fed needs to create inflation expectations, and needs to be prepared to overshoot.

This seems to ignore some pretty basic considerations. First, the US is suffering from a great deal of unemployment and excess productive capacity. The idea that inflation fears are going to lead to a resumption of spending (ie anticipatory spending because the value of money will fall in the future) isn’t terribly convincing. Labor didn’t have much bargaining power before the crisis, and it has much less now. Some might content the Fed is already doing a more than adequate job of feeding commodities inflation (although record wheat prices are driven by largely by fundamentals).

From the Wall Street Journal, “Fed’s Evans: U.S. in ‘Bona Fide Liquidity Trap’”:

The Federal Reserve may have to let inflation overshoot levels consistent with price stability as part of a broader attempt to help stimulate the economy, a U.S. central bank official said Saturday.

“The U.S. economy is best described as being in a bona


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Relief rally as Eurozone liquidity issues fade; solvency and contagion still at issue

Relief rally as Eurozone liquidity issues fade; solvency and contagion still at issue

Businessman on teeter totter with giant hand

Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns 

As in 2008, when global financial institutions were under attack, we are now facing a solvency crisis. This time the issue is Eurozone sovereign governments. 

Make no bones about it, the EU’s trillion dollar gambit has worked and a melt-up is underway because near-term liquidity issues have been put to rest.  But, this is not a liquidity crisis; it is a solvency crisis. And unless meaningful reform is taken in the Eurozone, this crisis will re-appear in due course.

Overnight, the Eurozone put together the European Stabilisation Mechanism programme, a hefty plan to provide fiscal support to any Eurozone government that runs into difficulty. While details are still coming into view, the euro and equity and bond markets have recovered tremendously. Meanwhile credit default swaps have fallen (see Marc Chandler’s pre-market summary here).

But, before we start popping the cork on the champagne, we need to realize that this stabilization mechanism and the developed market (DM) central bank swap lines only resolve liquidity issues. The genesis of this crisis is not liquidity, but solvency.

As I outlined in my last post on Germany (The Soft Depression in Germany and the Rise of Euro Populism), Germany has undergone extensive labour market reforms which Greece and Spain in particular have not. This makes Greek and Spanish labour forces uncompetitive vis-a-vis other countries also locked into the currency union, most notably Germany. The result, with the Euro well above its launch rate of 1.17 to the US Dollar, is international uncompetitiveness. Combined with extremely low interest rates, the result is a gaping current account deficit.

Unless the Eurozone attempts a beggar-thy-neighbour massive devaluation in the Euro, this closes off the export escape hatch for Greece and Spain. Therefore, in order to bring down enormous budget deficits and prevent national bankruptcy, the only option left is internal devaluation – across the board wage and spending cuts.

Ireland, which has faced similar pressures, is embarking on a path of internal devaluation right now to reduce their deficit. But reducing consumption demand at a point when the primary budget deficit is already double-digits still leaves the solvency question open. And Greeks have rioted to show the resistance to those kinds of measures.

My conclusion, therefore,…
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In Other News, Larry King is Selling Divorce Insurance

In Other News, Larry King is Selling Divorce Insurance

Courtesy of Ken Houghton at Angry Bear  

Bomb with Lit Fuse

Many months ago, I quoted the brilliant Janet Tavakoli‘s book Credit Derivatives and Synthetic Structures:   

The trader then went on to tell me that Commercial Bank of Korea would sell credit default protection on bonds issued by the Commercial Bank of Korea.
"That’s very interesting," I countered, "but the credit default option is worthless."
"But people are doing it," persisted the trader.
"That’s because they don’t know what they’re doing," I affirmed. "The correlation between Commercial Bank of Korea and itself is 100 percent. I would pay nothing for that credit protection. It is worthless for this purpose."
The trader mustered his best grammar, chilliest tone, and most authoritative voice: "There are those who would disagree with you." (p. 85)

Apparently, that anonymous trader—or another money-losing risk-mispricing hedge fund manager—is now running The Big C:   

Credit specialists at Citi are considering launching the first derivatives intended to pay out in the event of a financial crisis. The firm has drawn up plans for a tradable liquidity index, known as the CLX, on which products could be structured that allow buyers to hedge a spike in funding costs….

"The great thing about the index is that it hedges your funding costs while being very simple to trade. I believe it will reduce the systemic risk in the industry, akin to how the advent of swaps means people don’t worry about interest-rate exposures any more – they just pay a fee to hedge it," he says.

Because if funding dries up, The Big C will be there to support you!

I thought this was an attempt to make money on a premium, but it isn’t:   

Like a swap, the contracts envisaged by Citi would be entered into without an up-front premium, with money changing hands according to the index’s movements around a fair strike value.

So the model is actually that you pay a higher cost of funds during good times, and during bad times, depend on the ability of your counterparty to make you whole.

When banks do it, it’s called "deposit insurance," and it is valuable because in the worst-case scenario, the U.S. Treasury can print money. Since—the last time I checked—Citigroup …
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Zero Hedge

Netflix Prices $2BN Junk Bond Offering, Forced To Offer Higher Yield As Some Investors Get Cold Feet

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

When we reported yesterday that Netflix is looking to prefund two more quarters of cash burn - which hit $860BN in Q3 - by issuing another $2 billion in junk bonds, just six months after the company issued an upsized $1.9 billion in 5.875% bonds in April, we expected that the bond market may demand a pound a flesh and Netflix would be forced to pay as much as a 7% coupon on the new issue.

...



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Phil's Favorites

The internet has done a lot, but so far little for economic growth

 

The internet has done a lot, but so far little for economic growth

The internet is everywhere, except in the economic growth figures. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Chris Doucouliagos, Deakin University and Tom Stanley, Deakin University

The internet is transforming every aspect of our lives. It has become indispensable. But, so far, according to a new meta-analysis we have published in the Journal of Economic Surveys, the internet has done next to nothing for economic gro...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Short the S&P 500 and Go Long Gold Miners Time?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

The precious metals sector continues to be a “grind”, offering a few trades but mostly sideways to lower action. Gold prices have slogged along and this had held the Gold Miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) back… until recently.  The Gold Miners (GDX) and the broader Gold & Silver Miners Index (XAU) came to life in September and October.

The miners are in a multi-year down trend, however there is a potential bullish setup in place. See the chart below where we highlight the ratio of the Mining Index (XAU) to the S&P 500 (SPY). The ratio, which Gold Bugs want to see rising, looks to have created a bullish reversal last month at the 2016 lows at point (1).

And October is seeing a follow-through move...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Oct 21, 2018

Courtesy of Blain.

After the heavy selling the week prior there was sure to be an oversold bounce and indeed last Tuesday brought much of that.  It is always interesting to see what happens after that bounce – often in this bull market, once the indexes turn back up they move like a freight train.  This time – thus far at least – the action has been less aggressive.  Selling on Thursday took the S&P 500 right back down to the 200 day moving average and rally attempts Friday were fruitless.  In whole the S&P 500 barely budged for the week.

Yields on the 10 year have thus far held their own “breakout” level:

The Chinese market had an interesting Friday with an “...



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Insider Scoop

Morgan Stanley Downgrades A Fleet Of Freight Stocks

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related UNP 8 Biggest Price Target Changes For Monday Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For October 22, 2018 ...

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Digital Currencies

Grocers: Get ready to join the blockchain party

 

Grocers: Get ready to join the blockchain party

Five people died and more than 200 got sick during a 2018 E. coli outbreak, the largest in more than a decade. The bacteria was traced to contaminated romaine lettuce. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University

In the wake of this year’s large E. coli outbreak, Walmart notified its leafy green suppliers that they must be using blockchain technology to trace their products before the end of 2019.

Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, has be...



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ValueWalk

Vilas Fund Up 55% In Q3; 3Q18 Letter: A Bull Market In Bearish Forecasts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The Vilas Fund, LP letter for the third quarter ended September 30, 2018; titled, “A Bull Market in Bearish Forecasts.”

Ever since the financial crisis, there has been a huge fascination with predictions of the next “big crash” right around the next corner. Whether it is Greece, Italy, Chinese debt, the “overvalued” stock market, the Shiller Ratio, Puerto Rico, underfunded pensions in Illinois and New Jersey, the Fed (both for QE a few years ago and now for removing QE), rising interest rates, Federal budget deficits, peaking profit margins, etc...



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Members' Corner

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

 

This is very good; it's about "firehosing", a type of propaganda, and how it works.

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

A 2016 report described Russian propaganda as:
• high in volume
• rapid, continuous and repetitive
• having no commitment to objective reality
• lacking consistency

...

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Biotech

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

Breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1) is a human tumor suppressor gene, found in all humans. Its protein, also called by the synonym BRCA1, is responsible for repairing DNA. ibreakstock/Shutterstock.com

By Jay Shendure, University of Washington; Greg Findlay, ...



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Mapping The Market

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

Via Jean-Luc:

Famed investor reflecting on his mistakes:

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

One that stands out for me:

Instead of focusing on how value factors in general did in identifying attractive stocks, I rushed to proclaim price-to-sales the winner. That was, until it wasn’t. I guess there’s a reason for the proclamation “The king is dead, long live the king” when a monarchy changes hands. As we continued to update the book, price-to-sales was no longer the “best” single value factor, replaced by others, depending upon the time frames examined. I had also become a lot more sophisticated in my analysis—thanks to criticism of my earlier work—and realized that everything, including factors, moves in and out of favor, depending upon the market environment. I also realized...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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