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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Phil's Favorites

QOTD: Grantham says Oil is Dead

 

QOTD: Grantham says Oil is Dead

Courtesy of 

Jeremy Grantham (GMO) is one of the most admired institutional investors and thinkers in the world, and with good reason. He is also a passionate environmentalist who has put himself at risk of arrest for taking part in various civil disobedience demonstrations and protests over the years. The 79 year old investor gave the keynote presentation at last week’s Morningstar Investment Conference and he chose to make the case for why ESG [environmental, social and governance] inv...



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Zero Hedge

Are You Prepared To Invest In Troubled Times?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Market "fixes" fuel wealth/income inequality which feeds political and social instability.

There are two Grand Narratives about the U.S. economy and asset markets: the mainstream narrative is that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the economy, and so no structural changes (and the sacrifices such changes entail) are needed.

In this narrative, the only problem that needs solving is ...



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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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Digital Currencies

Crypto-Collapse Resumes After Japan's Largest Exchange Halts Account Creation

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

What started off as a hopeful week of broadening user adoption is ending on a sour note as Japan's chief regulator launched a probe of crypto-exchanges, prompting the largest to halt account creation sending the entire crypto space lower...

As CNBC reports, the order...



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Insider Scoop

Booking Holdings Is Playing Catch-Up In Online Travel Growth Areas, Analyst Says In Downgrade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For June 22, 2018 Booking Holdings CEO Has Some Winning Travel Tips For ...

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Chart School

Large Caps Feel the Heat as Semiconductors Struggle

Courtesy of Declan.

Yesterday, Small Caps led the rally as Large Caps lost ground. Today, those same weak Large Caps took another hit and dragged Tech indices with them.  Small Caps also suffered but they have plenty of wiggle room before they hit trouble.

The Dow sell-off didn't stop at its 50-day MA and is now on course to test its 200-day MA. Technicals, aside from Stochastics, are bearish.


Of greater concern was the hit to the Semiconductor Index. The attempt to hold 1,393 support was swiftly ...

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Biotech

Opioids don't have to be addictive - the new versions will treat pain without triggering pleasure

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

 

Opioids don't have to be addictive – the new versions will treat pain without triggering pleasure

shutterstock.

Courtesy of Tao Che, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

The problem with opioids is that they kill pain – and people. In the past three years, more than 125,000 persons died from an opioid overdose – an average of 115 people per day – exceeding the number killed in ...



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ValueWalk

Buffett At His Best

By csinvesting. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Bear with me as I share a bit of my history that helped me create SkyVu and the Battle Bears games. The University of Nebraska gave me my first job after college. I mostly pushed TV carts around, edited videos for professors or the occasional speaker event. One day, Warren Buffet came to campus to speak to the College of Business. I didn’t think much of this speech at the time but I saved it for some reason. 15 years later, as a founder of my own company, I watch and listen to this particular speech every year to remind myself of the fundamentals and values Mr. Buffett looks for. He’s addressing business students at his alma mater, so I think his style here is a bit more ‘close to home’ than in his other speeches. Hopefully many of you find great value in this video like I have. Sorry for the VHS...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

 

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

Courtesy of Kimble Charting

 

The definition of a bull market or bull trends widely vary. One of the more common criteria for bull markets is determined by the asset being above or below its 200 day moving average.

In my humble opinion, each index above remains in a bull trend, as triple support (200-day moving averages, 2-year rising support lines, and February lows) are still in play ...



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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)

 

"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...



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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

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

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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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