Posts Tagged ‘Denials’
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
The avuncular Art Cashin opines on the roller-coaster of unreality that has been the equity markets for the last few days as outcomes become increasingly binary and investors increasingly herded from one direction to another. His sage advice – as if spoken by the most-interesting-person-in-the-world – “Stay nimble”, my friends.
Via Art Cash of UBS,
Rumors Versus Reality With Rumors Resurgent At The Wire
Yesterday, there were rumors about that Chinese authorities were working on a new stimulus package. That cheered Asian markets and allowed European bourses to tiptoe around a deteriorating situation in Spanish banks.
Even before the U.S. markets opened, the semi-official Xinhua news agency of China began pooh-poohing the rumors. The rumormongers would have none of the denials.
A package would be announced after the markets closed (presumably in Europe – circa 11:30).
That backdrop allowed U.S. stocks to open better in a rather sharp, sigh of relief, oversold rebound.
They even shrugged off some lousy consumer confidence numbers at 10:00. Since the confidence data sharply countered Friday’s University of Michigan numbers, traders deemed them likely inconclusive.
The rebound rally held into the European close.
The rumors apparently morphed again. Simon Hobbs on CNBC said his sources suggested some announcement might come after the European close. The sense seemed to be that it would emanate out of Europe – not China.
After the 11:30 European close, U.S. stocks began to fade and rather rapidly at that.
The Euro fell through a trapdoor.
Was it just disappointment at no announcement? It looked a little too sudden and sharp for that.
Attention shifted to the cut in Spain’s rating by Egan-Jones. The timing was certainly coincidental, but did the somewhat small agency have that much clout?
Also contemporaneous with the Euro drop were analyses of an odd switch in a weekly ECB report.
There was a decline of over 25 billion Euros in collateral posted on the most recent LTRO. In another part of the ledger there was an increase of over 34 billion Euros in “other claims” (frequently smoke for emergency loans).
That raised speculation that the ECB may have “called” a loan, as the value of the posted collateral deteriorated. The bank, perhaps, could not find valid replacement collateral and shifted to emergency loan status.
While that seemed rather technical, if true, it raised fears that the banking situation in Spain, and elsewhere could even be worse than we knew.
The Euro-led selloff petered out around 1:30 EDT after cutting the morning gains in half.
As the day wore on, the China stimulus story began to resurface. That led to a bit of a flurry in the final half hour. Also, helping were media reports that election polls in Greece were shifting toward Euro-safe sentiments.
Overnight – EU Proposal Starts Roller-Coaster Ride – Pre-dawn this morning the situation in the Spanish banking community took several sharp turns.
The FT had reported that the ECB had vetoed the Bank of Spain’s plan to recapitalize its banks, particularly Bankia.
The Euro fell to a two year low before the ECB tweeted that there was no veto. European markets stabilized.
Then, the other shoe dropped.
Around 7:00 EDT, the EU commission issued a surprise plan to channel aid directly into European banks rather than through the treasury of their sovereign.
The announcement caught the European markets off-guard and sharp spike rallies erupted, erasing all, or most, of the earlier selloffs.
Then the doubts began to pop up. Would this clear the Merkel wing? Could it be set up within existing treaties?
The doubts stopped the rallies and prices faded but failed to go into freefall. That’s why I keep stressing staying nimble.
Tags: Art Cashin, Asian Markets, Chinese Authorities, Cnbc, Confidence Data, Confidence Numbers, Consumer Confidence, Denials, Egan Jones, European Bourses, Opines, Roller Coaster, S University, Sage Advice, Semi Official, Spanish Banks, Stimulus Package, Trapdoor, Unreality, Xinhua News Agency
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Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Courtesy of Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner
In today’s conomic news, the mainstream media focused on the disappointment surrounding the FOMC Minutes, the massaged and sanitized fairy tale about what the participants said at last month’s FOMC confab. The market was shocked! SHOCKED! that most of the members saw no need for additional QE, unless things got worse. I had concluded that a couple of months ago based on the fact that every time QE speculation arose, not only did stocks rally, but so did energy and other commodity prices. The commodity vigilantes, I thought, would tie the Fed’s hands. That and the fact that the conomic data was coming in relatively perky, at least in terms of the headline data, made it highly unlikely that the Fed would do any more money printing.
But here’s the thing. The minutes are fake. They are fabricated, false, phony, and sterilized garbage, designed for public consumption. To put it bluntly, they’re propaganda. They are what the Fed and Wall Street casino owners want you to think. They are a blatant attempt to manipulate the behavior of market participants through the use of clever turns of phrase. The Fed wants the market to go higher, but it doesn’t want commodities to go with it, so its story line is that the conomy is healthy enough to continue growing without more QE. That gives traders reason to continue buying stocks, and no reason to buy commodities, which everyone “knows” go up when the Fed prints, in spite of Bernanke’s denials. And besides, commodities are up for other reasons, not anything Ben did, according to Ben.
That’s what these “minutes” are about, self justification and market manipulation. We won’t know the real story until February 2018 when the Fed will release the transcripts of this year’s FOMC meetings. Why do they hold them back for at least 5 years? Because the Fed thinks that you can’t handle the truth. The problem is that you can and they just don’t want you to know what it is, because if you did, you’d be able to make informed investment decisions. The decisions the Fed wants you to make are to buy stocks, bay and hold Treasuries, and sell commodities. They tailored the minutes accordingly, so that the headlines would elicit the desired response. They think that they’re Pavlov, and we’re the dogs.
Admittedly, I have not yet read the minutes (I will for this weekend’s Fed Report), but I have read the news headlines. Those headlines are what the Fed-Wall Street-Media-Industrial Complex wants you to think, so you really don’t need to read the minutes. Rest assured that the Fed got the propaganda it wanted. The market reaction it wanted it hasn’t yet gotten, yet, but the Fed is betting that it will, and therein lies the rub. The Fed doesn’t always get what it wants. If traders decide to sell the Dow off 200 points in response to this news, then the next morning, the Fed’s ventriloquist dummy, Jon Hilsenrath, will float another QE3 trial balloon in the Wall Street Urinal.
So we’ll just have to see how traders respond. As for what the Fed really thinks, sorry, that will have to wait 6 years.
Meanwhile, the other datapoint the conomists focused on today was February Factory Orders. This is an item based on a Census Bureau monthly survey of a tiny sampling of US manufacturers that extrapolates that sample into a total dollar estimate of new orders and other metrics. The Bureau reports both the seasonally adjusted result and the actual result, also known as not seasonally adjusted. The only number the pundits and media pay attention to is the seasonally adjusted, fictional number. That’s just wrong, but that’s the way it is. It gives us the opportunity to look at the actual data and know what’s really going on, rather than the smoothed fiction that the Wall Street mouthpieces present on a silver platter as if it’s the grail.
The headline number for February was a 1.3% month to month increase, seasonally smoothed. That was a miss. The conomic consensus was for a gain of 1.5%. But this is a minor item in the conomic firmament–durable goods orders out the week before are more important–and the pundits managed to spin it as bullish anyway. The bullishness is wild and universal, nary a contrarian to be found in the pages of the Murdoch, Bloomberg tout sheets.
The headline number isn’t always wrong or misleading, and as it turns out, the actual, not seasonally adjusted gain in February was impressive, up 4.7% from January and up 10.6% over February 2011, both in real terms adjusted by CPI inflation. The 4.7% monthly gain compared with a decline of 0.7% in February 2011. Over the prior 10 years, monthly changes in February ranged from last year’s -0.7% to a high of +4.9% in February 2004. Any way you slice it this was a good number. Did the warm weather in February have anything to do with that? Certainly, but it’s impossible to say how much. If it pulled demand forward from March and April, we’ll see that in the next month or two.
I thought it would be interesting to overlay the ISM’s not seasonally adjusted New Orders Index on the chart of new factory orders. I am using the factory orders not seasonally adjusted data, but adjusted for inflation in order to see the real change in unit volume over time. The ISMsurvey should lead the Factory Orders. The ISM data is for March. It turns out that the correlation with the between the ISM New Orders Index, and the 12 month rate of change in the Commerce Department’s New Factory Orders data is pretty close. Lately, however, the ISM data suggests greater weakness than has been showing up in the government data. Who’s right? I don’t know, but as with the ISM and the 50 line on its chart, an annual change in factory orders of more than 1 to 2%, tends to correlate with an ongoing uptrend in stocks. It will be time to start worrying when the growth rate closes in on zero. That has correlated with a topping process in stocks.
Manufacturing activity lags stock prices. By the time new factory orders go negative, stocks will have already gone through their first leg down. Consumers and businesses take their cues from the stock market, and the stock market takes its cues from the Fed.
Everybody thinks that Dr. Bernankenstein’s monster alphabet soup experiments, and Henry Paulson’s TARP saved the world from conomic collapse. The fact is that they caused, or at least exacerbated the conomic collapse. Take the manufacturing orders data as an example of how that unfolded.
The manufacturing conomy was doing just fine until Bernanke stopped feeding the Primary Dealers and actually starved them out early in 2008. He did that by paying for his crazy alphabet soup programs with cash from the Fed’s System Open Market Account. In selling and redeeming Treasuries from the SOMA he radically shrank the cash levels in Primary Dealer accounts, rendering them unable to maintain orderly markets. The dealers are, after all, not just market makers in Treasuries. They run all the markets, stocks, bonds, commodities, futures, options, everything. They are the big mahoffs of all the markets, and Ben is their banker and bagman.
So manufacturing was doing just fine in 2007 and 2008 until stocks broke down. Stocks broke because of the combination of the Fed starving out the Primary Dealers in late 2007 and the first half of 2008, followed by Henry Paulson’s bravura panic performance before House and Senate committees, convincing Congress to fund the $700 billion TARP. Bernanke was best supporting actor at those hearings.
Faced with the testimony of the two dynamite strapped suicide extortionists, Congress caved, and the Treasury raised that money in a few short weeks in September and October 2008. That forced the dealers (and others) to absorb $100-200 billion a week of new Treasury supply at a time when the Fed had already cut their balls off. They were in no position to absorb anything. The Fed had taken their manhood and all their cash.
In order to perform their function as Primary Dealers and absorb that part of the new Treasury supply not purchased by others, the dealers had no choice but to liquidate stocks. Because most economic units, both individual consumers and businesses, base their purchase decisions on the stock market, when it cratered that was their signal to consumers and business to be scared, be very scared, and hunker down in fear in their mental bunkers.
Manufacturing orders were still very strong in June 2008. They didn’t collapse until after Bernanke and Paulson triggered the panic. In October 2008, they collapsed on the heels of the Bernanke-Paulson Panic.
The Fed finally figured it out in February 2009, and it started a radical program of pumping hundreds of billions into the accounts of the Primary Dealers with QE1. The stock market and manufacturing orders rebounded almost immediately. When the Fed experimented with withholding funds in mid 2010, stocks plunged and manufacturing activity stalled. Double dip fears exploded and the Fed resumed pumping cash into dealer accounts.
Flash forward to today and the Fed is again on hold, although its MBS replacement purchase program helps to keep the dealers liquid. The effect of that program on dealer accounts is not reflected in the SOMA, but it does send cash to dealer accounts. The effects of the program on stock prices are clear.
The issue now is when will the Fed make its next catastrophic blunder. Just by tapping the brakes on the SOMA, it is creating conditions for another swoon. It is trying to hold back commodity prices while getting the benefit of conomic growth. The problem is that that growth is a second order bubble effect of the rising stock market. If they don’t feed the market, they won’t get their conomic growth. If they do feed the market, commodity prices will explode upward, and that will eventually put a stake in the heart of growth. For now, manufacturing activity is on a growth track. On the surface it appears that the Fed’s propaganda and manipulation is working, but in truth Bernanke has laid the groundwork for the Fed’s next blunder, panic move, and massive dislocation.
Copyright © 2012 The Wall Street Examiner. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reposted with attribution and a prominent link to the source The Wall Street Examiner.
Tags: Bernanke, Blatant Attempt, Buying Stocks, Casino Owners, China, Commodities, Commodity, Commodity Prices, Conomy, Denials, Fairy Tale, Fomc Meetings, Fomc Minutes, Lee Adler, Mainstream Media, Market Manipulation, Market Participants, Money Printing, Public Consumption, Qe, Self Justification, Street Casino
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Friday, September 16th, 2011
In his latest Email update, Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets discusses the in more detail the likelihood of a Eurozone breakup.
Until the label “End Pettis”, what follows is from Pettis and anything in blockquotes (indented) is a reference that Pettis quotes.
Logistics of Denial by Michael Pettis
Slow growth is embedding itself solidly into the US economy and the bond mayhem in Europe continues. The external environment for China is getting worse. This will almost certainly make China’s adjustment – when Beijing finally gets serious about it – all the more difficult.
With still weak domestic consumption growth, and little chance of this changing any time soon, weaker foreign demand for Chinese exports will cause greater reliance than ever on investment growth to generate GDP growth.
Europe’s travails in particular can’t be good for exports. What’s worse, it’s now pretty much official that the euro will fail soon enough. We have this on no less an authority than Angela Merkel. Here is what Thursday’s Financial Times says: Merkel Promises Euro Will Not Fail
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, declared on Wednesday that “the euro will not fail” after the country’s powerful constitutional court rejected a series of challenges to the multibillion-euro rescue packages agreed last year for Greece and other debt-strapped members of the eurozone.
In a passionate restatement of Germany’s determination to defend the common currency, the chancellor welcomed the court’s judgment as “absolutely confirming” her government’s policy of “solidarity with individual responsibility”.
First Rule of Politics
No, I didn’t misread the article. I just have a very different understanding of the logistics of a denial. Last year, for example, I wrote on my blog about ferocious denials by both Spain and Portugal that they would need any official help in funding themselves. But according to one of my favorite British television comedies, Yes, Minister, an official denial means something very different from what is intended.
“The first rule of politics,” Sir Humphrey, the wily civil servant in the show, insists is: “never believe anything until it is officially denied.”
I don’t want to sound too glib or too jokey, but I wonder if there has ever been a forced devaluation that wasn’t preceded by ringing assertions from presidents and central bank governors that under no circumstance would the currency ever devalue.
What is all the more interesting is that I recently discovered that the quote “never believe anything until it is officially denied” doesn’t originate with the writers of the British TV comedy. Apparently it can be traced to at least as far back as Otto von Bismarck, who was born not too far from where Angela Merkel grew up. Never believe anything until it is officially denied, the Iron Chancellor warned us.
An Interesting Proposal
So if Germany’s Iron Lady is now denying that the euro will fail, can its failure be far off? It depends I guess on what we mean by failure. If any important reversal in the structure and membership of the euro is a failure, then it will almost certainly fail, but I suppose there are many ways the euro project can be transformed without quite calling it a failure.
At the end of last month Hans-Olaf Henkel, for example, the former head of the Federation of German Industries, had an interesting OpEd in the Financial Times. In Sceptic’s Solution he says:
Having been an early supporter of the euro, I now consider my engagement to be the biggest professional mistake I ever made. It would be misleading to proclaim there is an easy way out. But it is irresponsible to maintain there is no alternative. There is.
The end result of plan “A” – “defend the euro at all cost” – will be detrimental to all. Rescue deals have led the eurozone on the slippery path to the irresponsibility of a transfer union. If everybody is responsible for everybody’s debts, no one is. Competition between politicians in the eurozone will focus on who gets most at the expense of the others. The result is clear: more debts, higher inflation and a lower standard of living. The eurozone’s competitiveness is bound to fall behind other regions of the world.
As a plan “B” George Soros suggests that a Greek default “need not be disorderly”, or result in its departure from the eurozone. But a Greek default or departure from the eurozone implies risks too high to take. First in Athens, then Lisbon, Madrid and perhaps Rome, people would storm the banks as soon as word got out. A “haircut” would not improve Greece’s competitiveness either. Soon, the Greeks will have to go to the barber again. Anyway, we now talk also about Portugal, Spain, Italy and, I am afraid, soon France.
That is why we need a plan “C”: Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands to leave the eurozone and create a new currency leaving the euro where it is. If planned and executed carefully, it could do the trick: a lower valued euro would improve the competitiveness of the remaining countries and stimulate their growth. In contrast, exports out of the “northern” countries would be affected but they would have lower inflation. Some non-euro countries would probably join this monetary union. Depending on performance, a flexible membership between the two unions should be possible.
I think Henkel is right, although I think the likelihood of Europe’s adopting his Plan C is pretty small. Still, it is interesting to consider why he might be right.
Damned Either Way
The problem is that if Spain leaves the euro and returns to the peseta, it will be caught in a downward currency spiral like the ones suffered by Mexico in 1982 and 1994 and Korea in 1997. In both cases the currency plunged by far more than the amount of its theoretical overvaluation. This happened because a substantial portion of Mexican and Korean debt was denominated in foreign currency. Of course once Spain revives the peseta, it will be in a similar position – with a lot of its debt denominated in euros, which will become a foreign currency.
What does external debt have to do with the extent of the devaluation? Quite a lot, it turns out. Mexico and Korea (and a host of others examples) remind us that when a country is forced to devalue, the amount of the devaluation is not necessarily in line with estimates of the amount of overvaluation.
I would argue that Spain probably suffers from 15-20% overvaluation, but once Spain returns to the peseta the peseta will not devalue by that amount. It will devalue by at least 50%, and probably a lot more. Why? Because of the self-reinforcing relationship between the currency and external debt.
It always works the same way when a country with a lot of external debt devalues its currency. As the peseta devalues, Spain’s external debt will rise in tandem since it is denominated in the appreciating currency. Since Spain is already believed to be overly indebted, as the debt rises relative to domestic assets, Spanish credibility will decline quickly and financial distress costs will rise.
But of course as credibility declines and defaults rise, the peseta will drop even more as investors flee the currency and as domestic borrowers with euro-denominated debt try to hedge the currency risk. This will go on in a self-reinforcing way until the currency has been crushed. In the end, for Spain to leave the euro would probably cause its external debt to more than double – perhaps even triple – as the peseta falls. Of course it will be forced into default within days or weeks.
This, by the way, is not an argument for Spain to stay in the euro. If Spain stays in the euro we will still arrive at default, but much more slowly, and mainly at first through a grinding away of wages and economic growth over many, many years and a gradual building up of debt as Germany refinances Spanish debt at interest rates that exceed GDP growth rates. The default will occur anyway, but only after years of high unemployment.
This is why I think Henkel’s proposal makes sense. Rather than have Spain leave the euro, Germany can leave the euro. The new German currency would automatically appreciate and the euro would depreciate, but without the terrible debt dynamics, the adjustment in the currency value would be much closer to the theoretically correct adjustment. The relative adjustment would probably be in the 20% range rather than in the 50% range.
Of course German banks would still have a problem. Their deposits would be in the form of the new German currency, and a lot of their loans – all those to Spain, for example – would be in the depreciating euro, and so they would take large losses. But at least the losses will be less – and more importantly the process will be more orderly – than if Spain simply leaves the euro and defaults.
One way or the other Germany is going to take a pretty big hit. It is a complete waste of time trying to figure out how to avoid it. It would be far more constructive to resolve the problem as quickly as possible in as orderly a manner as possible, and as any good Minskyite would tell you, that means we have to pay special attention to the balance sheet dynamics. That’s why I think Henkel’s proposal is an interesting one.
Of course the really interesting thing about Henkel’s proposal (at least to me) is to figure out what decision France would make if something like this happened. If France remained within the euro (i.e. “peripheral” Europe in Henkel’s scenario), the possibility of a United States of Europe would be forever dashed, but it would almost certainly be replaced with a two-entity Europe – the United States of Germany and the United States of France, or perhaps, for those who like 19th Century monetary history, the new Zollverein and the new Latin Union.
End Pettis – Start Mish
There is much more in Pettis’ email including a discussion of trade, the irrelevance of China’s trade agreements conducted in the Yuan (a point I emphatically agree with) and competitive currency devaluations by Switzerland.
The post will be up on his blog shortly.
I raised the possibility that Germany would leave the Eurozone some time ago, and I am sure others have as well.
However, it was interesting to see detailed reasons from a former EuroBull (Hans-Olaf Henkel not Pettis), as to why option C makes sense.
Is it Plan B or Plan C?
Ironically, the longer everyone sticks with plan “A: defend the euro at all cost” remain, the more likely Plan C is, because plan A cannot possibly last.
Eventually someone will leave.
Pettis Speculates on what France would do in a breakup. I think the answer is easy enough, or rather we will know the answer soon enough.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy May Be Ousted in Preliminary Voting
In French elections, the top two candidates face a runoff in the national elections. France 24 reports New poll shows far right could squeeze out Sarkozy
Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration National Front (FN), is projected to win enough votes to knock out President Nicolas Sarkozy from the second round of next year’s all important 2012 presidential election, the French daily Le Parisien’s revealed on Thursday.
Marine Le Pen Says “Let the Euro Die”
The results for Le Pen are very interesting because of her stance on the Euro. Via Google Translate, please consider M. Le Pen says “let the euro die”.
We must “let the euro die a natural death,” means of reassuring the markets and revive the economy, said the president of the Front National Le Pen Marine, interviewed this morning on France Info.
Asked about the remedies it proposes to end the economic crisis, she said that we must “first stop bailouts repeat: there was Greece, now there will be Cyprus, Italy, the Spain … ” “There are masses of savings to do,” she said, particularly expenses related to immigration. “The cost of the AME (State medical assistance for undocumented) explodes, there are 20 billion euros of social fraud against which nothing is done,” she added, saying that “of 60 Vitale million cards, 10 million are false, that qualify for benefits unjustified “.
The market clearly says “Time’s Up”, yet politicians cannot agree on one major thing, and to top it off, voters are fed-up with austerity measures, bailouts, and politicians.
Clearly Le Pen is an anti-Euro, anti-immigration candidate and that is just the kind of message that can easily catch fire in this environment.
Elections in Germany or France may seal the direction, unless we see exodus by countries before the election.
Plan B and Plan C?
Do not rule out Plan B and Plan C. By that, I mean Greece leaves, and everyone else initially stays on until an election in Germany or France seals the deal for plan C.
Thus, I am more optimistic for Plan C than is Pettis. However, there will be more pain involved than necessary because Merkel and Sarkozy will stay with plan A until they are booted out of office.
Both will likely be gone soon enough (along with Italy Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou). Spain’s Prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has already indicated he will not seek reelection.
Look for a new set of leaders in Italy, Greece, and Spain, and probably France and Germany. Also look for those leaders to win on platforms far different than the “bail out the bondholders at all costs” platform of Merkel and Sarkozy.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Tags: Angela Merkel, China Beijing, Chinese Exports, Constitutional Court, Consumption Growth, Denials, Domestic Consumption, External Environment, Financial Markets, Financial Times, GDP Growth, Investment Growth, Likelihood, Little Chance, Mayhem, Merkel German Chancellor, Michael Pettis, Restatement, Solidarity, Travails
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