On Monday, 25 June 2012 I penned "No Capital Controls In The EMU? Liar Liar Pants On Fire". Let me excerpt the first paragraph so as to bring those who have not read it up to speed before we jump into current events...

I have outlined the upcoming EU bank runs up to two years in advance (see the many links below). Whenever one expects a bank run, the first things TPTB do is institute capital controls to stem said bank run - which of course makes the bank run that much more necessary to get your capital out - wash, rinse, repeat! Remember, by treaty, no country in the EMU may use capital controls without automatically being removed from the union. Well, do you believe that to be fact that will last? Yeah, I don't either. Simply watch as the money bleeds from the banks and the bumbletrons attempt to staunch the flow using mechanisms that will simply exacerbate the flow. Even more incredible is the fact that even to this date, with the existence of publications such as BoomBustBlog, entire nations as well as their financial advisors, leaders, regulators and politictians STILL DO NOT EVEN COMPREHEND the nature of the modern bank run. You cannot stem the tide with capital controls, you can only exacerbate it. 

Now, As Predicted Last Year, The French and the Greeks Are In A Race For The Biggest Bank Run!

 On Saturday, 23 July 2011 I penned "The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!" wherein I went through both the motive and the mechanism of a European bank run, focusing on Greece and France as impetus.

Okay, I'm writing this on 3/23/2013, referring to the events of yesterday. I apologize to my paying subscribers for being 9 months and a few miles/kilometers off, but as the more intellectually capacitive among you know, this stuff is not an exact science. Now, yesterday's headlines...

Cyprus passes laws for capital controls

Lawmakers in Cyprus passed legislation to impose capital controls on its banks and create a "solidarity fund" to pool state assets, according to media reports late Friday. The measures will help fulfill conditions for Cyprus to get a euro-zone bailout. With a Monday deadline, Cypriot lawmakers still need to vote on measures needed to restructure banks in Cyprus and possibly place levies on deposits.

I appeared on the Max Keiser show in London yesterday, and broke down the Cyprus issue as simply as could be done. In essence, "What is a bank???!!!"

In "The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!" I detailed for my readers and subscribers the mechanics of the modern day bank run, particular as I see (saw) it occurring in Europe.

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You see, the problem with this bank holiday thing is that the real damaging bank run will not be staunced by the conventional bank holidays, et. al. because it is a counterparty run that will cause the damage, not depositors. TPTB in Europe don't have the chops to stem this one, at least not from what I've seen. As for how that institutional bank run thing works, we excerpt "The Fuel Behind Institutional “Runs on the Bank" Burns Through Europe, Lehman-Style":

 

The modern central banking system has proven resilient enough to fortify banks against depositor runs, as was recently exemplified in the recent depositor runs on UK, Irish, Portuguese and Greek banks – most of which received relatively little fanfare. Where the risk truly lies in today’s fiat/fractional reserve banking system is the run on counterparties. Today’s global fractional reserve bank get’s more financing from institutional counterparties than any other source save its short term depositors. In cases of the perception of extreme risk, these counterparties are prone to pull funding are request overcollateralization for said funding. This is what precipitated the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the pulling of liquidity by skittish counterparties, and the excessive capital/collateralization calls by other counterparties. Keep in mind that as some counterparties and/or depositors pull liquidity, covenants are tripped that often demand additional capital/collateral/ liquidity be put up by the remaining counterparties, thus daisy-chaining into a modern day run on the bank!

 

 

Make no mistake - modern day bank runs are now caused by institutions!

 

And Yes!!! The fodder for bank rungs are ALL OVER THE EUROPEAN SPACE!!!!

Those that follow me know that I have been warning on Europe and its banking system years before the sell side and mainstream financial media (reference the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis series). 

A reader has convinced me to consult with him on a specific situation, regarding overseas monies and the (lack of) safety of those funds, which prompted me to dig up the Sovereign Contagion Model that we developed in 2010. Long story short (if it's not already too late), my next extensive series of posts on this topic will likely spark bank runs throughout the periphery and the core of Europe, for much of the assets that depositors think are there are simply not, and I proffer ample proof for all to see. For the banks, it's too late to pull the evidence down from your various web sites, for I already have it safely stored and distributed. Keep in mind, once the fissures form in one section of the already weakeed EU, cracks widen in the other sections... 

Description: foreign claims of PIIGS

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picsay-1363698572Following yesterday's highly analytical rant on Cypriotic bank nonsense, I present an interesting analysis on the value of the gas assets pledged to those who's bank accounts may be clipped by the Cypriotic government/ECB. For those who don't know, the proposal was to compensate those who were subject to the tax/levy on their bank accounts with bonds linked to the output of Cyprus natural gas mines. Of course, the first question anyone should ask is "Why not simply pledge the gas assets directly to the ECB vs stealing from the bank depositors?" I think we can all ascertain the answer to that question. I was tweeted an analyst by wherein he delved into the fundamental value of the exchange. I would like to reproduce a portion of it here. The balance can be found on his site.

Cyprus Bank Deposit Levy and Natural Gas Bonds

Cyprus' president has pledged to cover the value of its imminent savings deposit levy with an equivalent value of natural gas bonds. It's hard to say whether Cypriot savers should take this promise seriously without some analysis of its viability.
Let's use the European bailout sum for Cyprus of US$13B as a proxy for the amount of savings about to be confiscated from Cyprus' resident depositors.  I need a proxy because I have no idea how much the government of Cyprus will actually collect from this levy.  The natural gas revenue needed to back the bonds that would make savers whole would likely come from the Aphrodite field.  Title to this field is unclear; Turkey has made a competing claim for the sovereign right to control drilling.
This is the likely answer to the quetion above. If the ownership and rights to the mine are in question, then it is essentially an encumbered asset. As such, how is it Cyprus's to pledge to anybody? May I add that Turkey actually has a functional military, and Cyprus has???
There is currently no pipeline from Cyprus to either Turkey or Crete which could deliver the gas to market; that would cost US$1B to build and Cyprus has no money.  Building a $10B LNG terminal is ten times as unlikely, because Cyprus is still broke.  The energy supermajor that ends up building it will get the lion's share of the revenue from the gas field as compensation for its costs and will have to deal with the likelihood of being shut out of other projects in Turkey. 
Again, exactly how will this gas asset be monetized? I have not verified the facts and calculations behind this article, but if they ring true, then it appears that Cyprus is pledging the option of future development to a gas asset that it MIGHT own in exchange for actual cash in terms of what is being offered to bank depositors. So, the most valuable asset possible (actual cash denominated in a major currency) is being exchanged for an option on an undeveloped asset whose ownership and right to pledge/transfer is undetermined. Does this sound like a good deal to you? And we haven't even started to glean the actual fundamental value yet?
The lack of drilling and delivery infrastructure means that no Aphrodite gas will go to Europe until 2018 at the earliest.  A lot can happen with the price of natural gas in five years.  The wide availability of shale gas in the U.S. will keep the price down in North America.  Europe's need for gas is met mainly by Russia, and Gazprom can adjust its rates at will to pressure Russia's neighbors. 
And such pressure is guaranteed if Russian citizens are to lose the 2 billion or so euros to the Cyprus bailout levy that is being bandied around.
There is more to Mr. Alfidi's analysis, and I urge you to visit his site to read it. In the meantime, keep this chart from yesterday's post on Cypriotic bank nonsense in mind...

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I'm currently preparing the release of a report that will make the Cyprus affair look like peanuts as this contagion reinfects the core and I produce so much evidence of apparent fraud as to make your nose bleed. Stay tuned, and follow me:

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Reading a Bloomberg article on the topic of ass-backwards EU area government moves this morning caused me to query, "What is the extent of the fear the European (and US) governments have of the financiers?" In Cyprus, we have a case of a government that would actually rape the depositors of a bank rather than the investors who voluntarily, directly and explicitly accepted the risk of bank failure through speculative investment (ex., the bondholders). 

The bank tax was the alternative to imposing losses on investors in a so-called bail-in, a step opposed by the Cypriot government, the European Commission and the ECB, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on ARD television last night.

So, you will bend the mom and pop depositors over, but leave the monies of the institutional guys who should have known better sacrosanct?

“It’s up to them to explain it to the Cypriot people,” Schaeuble said. “Clearly, the taxpayer should not be asked” to rescue banks from insolvency, he said, adding that Cyprus faced a “very difficult time” unless it accepts the tax.

Bullocks! The taxpayer should be hit before the depositor to maintain the confidence in the banking system, but they should all stand behind the bondholders who accepted the investment risk in the first place. Yes, I'm aware that the banking system of Cyprus is about 9 times the size of its real economy, but that's pretty much the case with much, if not all of the EU, as clearly delineated 3 years ago in Ovebanked, Underfunded, and Overly Optimistic: The New Face of Sovereign Europe:

I will attempt to illustrate the "Overbanked" argument and its ramifications for the mid-tier sovereign nations in detail below and over a series of additional posts.

Sovereign Risk Alpha: The Banks Are Bigger Than Many of the Sovereigns

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This is just a sampling of individual banks whose assets dwarf the GDP of the nations in which they're domiciled. To make matters even worse, leverage is rampant in Europe, even after the debacle which we are trying to get through has shown the risks of such an approach. A sudden deleveraging can wreak havoc upon these economies. Keep in mind that on an aggregate basis, these banks are even more of a force to be reckoned with. I have identified Greek banks with adjusted leverage of nearly 90x whose assets are nearly 30% of the Greek GDP, and that is without factoring the inevitable run on the bank that they are probably experiencing. Throw in the hidden NPAs that I cannot discern from my desk in NY, and you have a bank that has problems, levered into a country that has even more problems.

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Of course, this boneheaded move will backfire tremendously because it appears as if the members of the Cyprus government are not aware of the true financing structure of the banking system. DEPOSITORS SHOULD REMAIN SACROSACNT! They are the most important source of funding, not to mention the most liquid (as in potential for capital flight) in the entire banking ecosystem! I reviewed this structure and the inevitability of European bank runs two years ago in The Anatomey of a European Bank Run!

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Using this European bank as a proxy for Bear Stearns in January of 2008, the tall stalk represents the liabilities behind Bear's illiquid level 2 and level 3 assets (including the ill fated mortgage products). Equity is destroyed as the assets leveraged through the use of these liabilities are nearly halved in value, leaving mostly liabilities. The maroon stalk represents the extreme risk displayed in the first chart in this missive, and that is the excessive reliance on very short term liabilities to fund very long term and illiquid assets that have depreciated in price. Wait, there's more!

The green represents the unseen canary in the coal mine, and the reason why Bear Stearns and Lehman ultimately collapsed. As excerpted from "The Fuel Behind Institutional “Runs on the Bank" Burns Through Europe, Lehman-Style":

The modern central banking system has proven resilient enough to fortify banks against depositor runs, as was recently exemplified in the recent depositor runs on UK, Irish, Portuguese and Greek banks – most of which received relatively little fanfare. Where the risk truly lies in today’s fiat/fractional reserve banking system is the run on counterparties. Today’s global fractional reserve bank get’s more financing from institutional counterparties than any other source save its short term depositors.  In cases of the perception of extreme risk, these counterparties are prone to pull funding are request overcollateralization for said funding. This is what precipitated the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the pulling of liquidity by skittish counterparties, and the excessive capital/collateralization calls by other counterparties. Keep in mind that as some counterparties and/or depositors pull liquidity, covenants are tripped that often demand additional capital/collateral/ liquidity be put up by the remaining counterparties, thus daisy-chaining into a modern day run on the bank!

 

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I'm sure many of you may be asking yourselves, "Well, how likely is this counterparty run to happen today? You know, with the full, unbridled printing press power of the ECB, and all..." Well, don't bet the farm on overconfidence.

I'm currently preparing the release of a report that will make the Cyprus affair look like peanuts as this contagion reinfects the core and I produce so much evidence of apparent fraud as to make your nose bleed. Stay tuned, and follow me:

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The following is a guest post by a very bright individual whom I've had the pleasure of building with on several occasions, Mr. Mordechai Grun. This is what he's had to say on the topic of Europe, with ample commentary from me along the way.

_______________________________________________________

Human behavior predications usually follow the ‘least resistance, least painful, and self serving’ path in spite of its being harmful in the long run. This disposition is even more truly said of politicians and bureaucrats. "Will is the origin of all thought." Flowing from such will we have the intellectual analysis and arguments to justify those behaviors. We will therefore look at Europe through this lens and see where it takes us.

The next major crisis in Europe is lurking just beyond the bend.

Reggie’s note: the last crisis has actually never left, so this is not the next one, just a continuation of the same. I called this exactly three years ago, in explicit detail (The Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis – introduces the crisis and identified it as a pan-European problem, not a localized one)

It will take form as either the comeback of Bond vigilantes or as a political calamity, where some peripheral country finally votes for a party that is seriously proposing to forsake the Euro.

Reggie’s Note: The EU Has Rescued Greece From the Bond Vigilantes,,, April Fools!!!

Or… As I Warned Earlier, Latvian Government Collapses Exacerbating Financial Crisis

Some smart politician will certainly test the ECB’s resolve and do away with austerity and call their bluff. The consensus of the population can only be subjected to so much strain before it turns on itself and they vote for radical (read: costly) change. While the case can be made that the government bond-funding crisis has subdued, the economic pain of the general public has not.

Reggie’s note: Financial Contagion vs. Economic Contagion: Does the Market Underestimate the Effects of the Latter?

The likeliest scenario is that both of these crises will play out at the same time, thus creating a Lehman-type crisis.

Faced with this crisis, only two options will present themselves:

  1. Massive sovereign debt defaults, bank runs and bankruptcies as many banks’ liabilities are larger than the GDP of the countries that are guaranteeing them – and a potentially resulting currency crisis

Reggie’s note: Ovebanked, Underfunded, and Overly Optimistic: The New Face of Sovereign Europe

 

Sovereign Risk Alpha: The Banks Are Bigger Than Many of the Sovereigns

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  1. A truly massive QE Program that not only bails out the banks and the existing governments debt and deficit, but also sponsors an enormous stimulus program for anything that can be thought of, e.g. infrastructure, education, green energy, etc.

Following scenario B, the challenge will be this: Why would the Germans and Fins want to debase their currency to send their monies elsewhere? The answer will be a mix of ‘candy and stick’, so to speak. The QE stimulus program will be structured upon some European formula – per capita or otherwise – that sends significant amounts of newly printed money to them too, while, in the alternative, if the Euro disintegrates, Germany will have to recapitalize the Bundasbank and resort to either massive stimuli or quantitative easing so to cheapen their currency and rescue their own economy. Those countries that leave the Euro will, nevertheless, default on any external bondholders, as they are restructured and recapitalized in the new currency, their banks will default as well. Why wouldn’t Germany be gracious and monetarily benevolent with funds they would lose either way? This would blend in with the fact that even the new Mark will be too expensive for their export-driven economy, and they would be pressed to cheapen it. They also won’t have destination countries to export to in Europe, as each country will turn to hyper-protectionism, safeguarding the jobs they have from disappearing in an effort to stabilize their home currency in order to avoid hyper inflation (Argentina, anyone?).

Reggie's Note: A Comparison of Our Greek Bond Restructuring Analysis to that of Argentina - Now, referencing the bond price charts below as well as the spreadsheet data containing sovereign debt restructuring in Argentina, we get... Price of the bond that went under restructuring and was exchanged for the Par bond in 2005

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Price of the bond that went under restructuring and was exchanged for the Discount bond

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This turmoil will, obviously, generate widespread economic malaise as well. As a politician faced with this decision the answer is obvious. I can already picture the smiling politicians announcing their courageous decisions and courses of action, claiming that they have saved the Euro from certain demise while helping the people and creating new projects and job opportunities that will launch Europe into the future. It is possible that they will punish the instigator (Greece, presumably) and cut them out of the money party aka Lehman.

Is this feasible for Europe? I believe the answer is yes, as one significant minutia is overlooked. The Euro is way too high, even for Germany. This will become ever clearer as time clambers on. Europe can survive – even thrive – at 0.65 Euro to the dollar. I recall this precise scenario in Canada during the early 90s. The resulting inflation at the consumer level was much milder than expected, as taxes, services, rents, salaries and many consumer goods and products (including cars) are priced in the local currency. Of course, energy costs would rise. In Europe, though, lowering the high taxes on fuel can mitigate this. On the positive side, manufacturing and tourism in Canada flourished, generating a strong trade surplus (this was prior to the commodity boom). Europe can probably afford 6-8 trillion in QE over a 3-year period without hyperinflation, especially as this will be taking place while many other major currencies are orchestrating their own QE. If, as they do this, the peripherals restructure their own economies and bring down or solve their structural or primary deficits, the Euro may actually increase eventually, as they will have significantly lowered their debt to GDP ratios and positioned themselves on a financially sustainable path.

Reggie's note: This is code language for DEFAULT! The defaults will codify, quantify and solidify the capital destruction that we all know is there in the first place. I don't think the ride will be quite that easy. Greece has defaulted (exactly as I anticipated and clearly called) and is about to default again, and it's still f#@ked. For more on this, reference This Time Is Different As Icarus Blows Up & Burns The Birds Along The Way - Greece Is About To Default AGAIN! ... and then there's the contagion effect! Subscribers, see

All others, reference: 

 

    1. Financial Contagion vs. Economic Contagion: Does the Market Underestimate the Effects of the Latter?
    2. The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious!
    3. Introducing The BoomBustBlog Sovereign Contagion Model: Thus far, it has been right on the money for 5 months straight!
    4. With Europe’s First Real Test of Contagion Quarrantine Failing, BoomBustBloggers Should Doubt the Existence of a Vaccination

 

The sad reality, though, is that they will promise such changes and not deliver on their word.

Reggie's Note: WHAAAT???!!! You mean you can't trust the European oligarchs??? 

This will turn the crisis into only a short- to medium-term solution while eventually creating a fundamental currency crisis that will give way to no solutions.

Can the Euro handle that much QE? I believe the answer is yes. The ECB can forgive all the bonds they either own or collected as collateral for loans. Does anyone believe the principal on these loans will ever be paid down? The only stimulus from such a move will be the miniscule interest being saved.

Reggie's note: Moral hazard be damned, eh? What's to prevent other market participants from pushing to get a similar deal of borrowing money and not paying it back, expecting not to get punished. Massive forgiveness on this scale will fracture the market mechanism and destroy market pricing (as if it's not already wrecked as it is, does anybody really think core European bonds should yield what they do now?)

However, from a public confidence perspective, it would be huge, as it would drastically lower debt to GDP ratios.

Reggie's note: It will also bring about massively more stringent underwriting the next time around, effectively driving up rates anyway - you know, just as rates would have been driven up had the borrowers defaulted. Who in they're right mind would voluntarily make the same mistake twice in so short a period of time. As a reminder from my seminal link Greece Sneezes, The Euro Dies of Pneumonia! Yeah, Sounds Bombastic, Yet True!

Wait until a 2nd Greek default (virtually guaranteed as we supplied user downloadable models to see for yourself, the same model used to forecast the 1st default) mirrors history. Of the 181 yrs as a sovereign nation after gaining independence, Greece been in default 58 of them. Don't believe me! Check your history, or just read more BoomBustBlog - Sophisticated Ignorance Or Just A Very, Very Short Term Memory? Foolish Talk of German Bailouts Once Again...

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It is important to note that Europe will be faced with a stark choice: either deflate assets and wages or deflate the currency. And, since as discussed, the Euro needs a significant reduction anyway, why not milk it and bring it down through QE?  The crisis created by a country like Spain leaving the Euro will harm the Euro by much more than a giant QE would. There exists capacity for Europe to kick this one down a really long road and, with some discipline, actually solve it along the way.

Reggie's note: Possible, yes! Probable, Nah!!!

The challenge will be that, unlike the US, Europe has multiple players and can't turn on a dime. The crisis, when it comes, will be overwhelming, and will require solutions over a weekend or short bank holiday. Can so many politicians and central bankers on opposing sides of the language barrier figure out that their collective interests are far more in harmony than their differences? Prejudice, ego and vindictiveness – combined with an overly sensationalist media and so many involved players – stage the scene for things to easily get out of hand. If history is any guide, the answer is not very encouraging. However, Europe now shares a bureaucracy and central bank as well as a mostly shared corporate interest. So let's hope this time around is a bit different.

Reggie's note: I really liked this piece, and Mordechai is bright fellow. Of course I like it better with my commentary, which sort of... well.. Keeps it real!

In closing...

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Published in BoomBustBlog

On Thursday, 17 November 2011 I penned "When The Duopolistic Owners Of The EU Printing Presses Disagree On The Color Of The Ink!", basically detailing the upcoming rift between the French and German governments, led by the burgoening chasm in their respective economic performances. As excertpted:

The Duopoly that ruled the economics of the EU have divergent needs now, hence divergent interests. Expect this to get worse in the near term. The reasons have been spelled out in Italy’s Woes Spell ‘Nightmare’ for BNP - Just As I Predicted But Everybody Is Missing The Point!!! You see, France, As Most Susceptible To Contagion, Will See Its Banks Suffer because stress in the Italian bond markets will be a direct cause of a French bank run - with the largest of the French banks running the hardest BNP, the Fastest Running Bank In Europe? Banque BNP Exécuter. For those who don't follow me regularly, I warned subscribers on BNP due to the Greco-Italiano risk factor causing a liquidity run born from imminent writedowns. No one from the sell side apparently had a clue. Reference the series:

Well, today, Reuters reports...

Chasm opening between weak French and strong German economies

The schism dividing the euro zone's strong and weak economies deepened to include its core pairing in February as French firms suffered their worst month in four years in stark contrast to prospering Germany.

The gap between the two biggest economies in the euro zone is now at its widest since purchasing manager surveys (PMIs) started in 1998, the latest sounding showed. It dealt a blow to hopes the euro zone might emerge from recession soon, showing the downturn across the region's businesses worsened unexpectedly this month.

 I think we can start to see how this may end...

Yeah, right! "Surprise" , "loss". Interesting terms considering the warning was given a year and a half ago. Those damn non-BoomBustBlog subscribers... So, where goes Italy, so follows France...After Warning Of Italy Woes Nearly Two Years Ago, No One Should Be Surprised As It Implodes Bringing The EU With It - or  Focus on Greece? No! How About Italy? No! It's About Baguettes, Mes Amis! See also, When French bankers gorge on roasting PIIGS - OR - Can You Fool Everybody All Of The Time?

The Catch 22 is that Germany's woes are not that far detached from France's, yet it appears that they do not see this. I reiterate, then query again - Italy’s Woes Spell ‘Nightmare’ for BNP - Just As I Predicted But Everybody Is Missing The Point!!! This is a Pan-European sovereign debt crisis, not a southern or western European sovereign debt crisis. The countries fates are inextricably linked.

And for those who believe what Fed Member Bullshitterard said, at least according to CNBC: European Debt Crisis Unlikely to Impact US: Fed's Bullard, I refer you to my extended, self-answered query, "Is The Entire Global Banking Industry Carrying Naked, Unhedged "Risk Free" Sovereign Debt Yielding 100-200%? Quick Answer: Probably! " I place this stamp on Bullard's comments...

grade_a_bullshit_alert_transgrade_a_bullshit_alert_trans

If you really want to know the truth, simply read my post from yesterday, Squids, Morgans & Counterparty Risk: Blowing Up The World One Tentacle At A Time

Published in BoomBustBlog
The college endowment investment results have rolled in, and if Harvard were to get a grade for the year it would probably receive an "F" as reported by the NY Times:

"Harvard reported a 0.05 percent loss and a drop in its endowment of over $1 billion in the same period, even as a simple Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fund gained about 5.5 percent. Harvard’s endowment decline is more than the entire endowments of roughly 90 percent of all colleges and universities.

Ironically enough, if one were to calculate the ROI of a Harvard undergraduate diploma, the number is remarkably similar at about 0.05%. See the graph below...

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These returns have been calculated by our proprietary College/University ROI Analysis Engine. At the bottom of this post you can find a link to a simplified beta of this engine, which will be freely available to blog subscribers, and will be available via smart phone app and over the web as well.  This app has morphed into an incredibly comprehensive and capable piece of knowledge kit - so much so that it had to be materially simplified just to post a portion of it on the web! 

There are many concepts used in the model that may be new to the Sheeple type. For instance...

Economic Return on Investment (eROI)

Introducing a reality-based method of valuing an education - the "Economic Return on Investment". You see, unlike many  other investments, the education is  a completely hands on, active experience. You cannot simply dump money into a fund and walk away. You must manage it, and  your labor (or how the market actually values your labor) is actually part and parcel of the return on investment .

Thus, it would be highly unrealistic to exclude the economic cash flows stemming from your attempts to pay debt service (assuming debt was used) in calculating  ROI. Since said debt is truly full recourse, its service must be factored in, and as such so should all of the practical variables that affect said servicing. Think of the net return on stock investments.

Click to expand...

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This episode of the Keiser Report was one of the (if not the) most viral episodes ever. What was so interesting and controversial? A topic that damn sure hit home, that's what. Click here for the full episode.

When factoring in reality, many diplomas really don't look so appetizing considering the time, labor, effort, risk and expense in attaining them and fruitful employment related to the diploma afterward. Let's mark some top ivy league (remember, this is the so-called creme de la creme) diplomas to market, as well as the lowly disrespected for-profit online schools, trade schools and city universities. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that I threw in an internship with a tech company for good measure. Let's add this quip in for the sake of argument (Yahoo Finance):

A few reports circulating this week have pointed to some fortunate Facebook software engineering interns who are set to bring home an average monthly salary of $6,225, according to Glassdoor.com, a careers site that provides data on salaries (based on employee generated content). That works out to a yearly salary of $74,700. For comparison, median household income from 2006 to 2010 was nearly $52,000, according to the latest Census data. (The average monthly pay for all Facebook interns, according to the site, is around $5,800.)

Jealous yet? There’s more. A few anonymous Facebook interns posted further details, with one second-year student saying he/she was offered $5,400 a month and a $1,000 housing stipend. Another computer science graduate student said they got $6,800 a month with a $1,000 housing stipend, negotiated up from $6,600. (Some Quora commenters noted intern salaries correspond to the number of years of college you’ve completed.) Facebook software engineers make an average of $111,452 a year, according to Glassdoor.

... So how do interns at the social-networking giant fare compared with their counterparts at other firms? Glassdoor released a report last month listing intern salaries at 20 top-rated companies (rated by current and former interns). Here are some highlights (figures are average monthly salary):

Software engineering intern, Google: $6,463 
Research intern, Microsoft: $6,746
Software development engineer intern, Microsoft: $5,539
Intern, Cisco: $4,017
Software development engineer intern, Amazon: $5,552
Graduate technical intern, Intel: $5,681
Intern, IBM: $3,935

As we know, majoring in computer science is a smart move. Finance and accounting offers lucrative job opportunities as well:

Tax intern, Ernst & Young: $4,136
Advisory intern, PricewaterhouseCoopers: $4,702
Audit intern, Deloitte: $3,822
Business analyst intern, Target: $2,785

Click to enlarge...

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As you can see, a 2yr unpaid internship that yields a nominal salary growing at 3% per annum beats a levered ivy league diploma (salaries were sourced from the respective schools graduate statements and surveys). Debt can be a bitch, as can the time value of money and opportunity costs. For those who may not understand how this works, just think about starting school today with student loans and not breaking even until 2045 - that's right, the year 2045! Debt slaves - one and all!!!

Click to expand!!!

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Of course, the major that you are pursuing has an awful lot to do with the value of the diploma, as does the current business environment and the point in the economic cycle. We will explore that in detail in my next post on this topic.

The YouTube videos that I have made on this topic are also of interest. Check out the comments left for this illustrative video titled "The (Mis)Education Bubble 101".
  • I have been far more successful and far more diversified in my skill set with out a degree. Companies take my physical real world experience of 15 years in the technology sector over a long list of graduates every time.. In the past 10 years, I've been without work for about 2 weeks, and that was due to a longer job transition. I transition jobs about every 3yrs to further broaden my experience in developing areas of technology.. Working without a degree has made me more competitive.

  • 2001lextalionis 10 hours ago

    I think to a certain degree it is relatively easy to access debt for purposes of education.

    Conversely if one is operating under the assumption that I have 90K saved up because I didn't go to school is somewhat flawed. Most folks have little or no savings so the math comparison of school versus stocks/internship is somewhat lacking in my view.

    Comparing debt free internship with zero capital to invest v 200K BA yields a far more interesting decision matrix

  • What about these for-profit online institutions like the Apollo Group? The founders of these companies barely made it past high school, yet are responsible for leeching billions of dollars each year in the form of FAFSA loans (our tax dollars). They specifically target the single mother demographic, and will admit them without even having so much as a valid GED. Have you ever heard of Ashford University? They just lost there accreditation, and over 100,000 of their graduates still owe thousands

  • justjacqueline2004 8 hours ago

    This type of education cost a huge amount of time and even worse,you start out by not knowing what you don't know,particularly in the sciences.

  • Qomowale 12 hours ago

    the current "(mis)education system" is a racket & a joke! ppl, think outside the box & educate urselves as much as possible, 'cuz the system intends 2 enslave all of us. what passes as education is really indoctrination & fiscal slavery based on a wicked interest-driven, fractional pimp game. go Reggie Middleton & Max Keiser! good luck trying 2 wake up the sheeple.

  • mrzack888 12 hours ago

    that's limited. real education like Reggie Middleton described has hands on and has pragmatical real world value.

 Click here to access the early beta version of the BoomBustBlog College/University ROI Analysis Engine. The next post on this topic will go through the model in illustrous detail and present the next iterative version of the beta for all to play with, as well as instructions on how to get the most out of it. It will enable you to value any diploma from any school, complete with ROI, NPV of funds invested, and time to break-even. 
Published in BoomBustBlog

In 2009, Max Keiser warned interviewed the Bundesbank and uncovered the fact that much of (if not most) Germany's gold resided in NYC. Well, now as this information has become mainstream, the Bundesbank has announced that it is repatriating much of their gold to national lands, under a stated "storage plan", aka potential currency war.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Guest post - This is a contribution from the Boom Bust Blog community. While I value the contributors input, I do not endorse or necessarily agree with the opinions, finding, conclusions or data herein. This is supplied to the BoomBustBlog community as an OpEd piece only.

Traditionally, gold (NYSE:GLD) and copper (NYSE: JJC) had an inverse trading relationship.  Like all things in finance over the long term, that made sense due to the efficiency of the market.  Gold is an asset that is bought almost entirely for speculative purposes as it has very little industrial usage.  Copper, by contrast, is deployed almost entirely for building and commercial purposes such as piping, cable, and wiring, among others.  When economic conditions are bearish, gold soars and copper struggles.  When economic conditions are bullish, it is The Red Metal that surges in value.

But as the chart below reveals, the JJC and the GLD have been following in a co-relationship.   The Yellow Metal should be soaring due to global economic weakness and recent economic stimulus measures from central bankers.   Europe is in a recession, Japan is in the 23rd year of its “Lost Decade,” recovery from The Great Recession is anemic in the United States, and economic growth is declining in China, India and other emerging market countries.

To counter that economic environment, global central bankers have been running the printing presses in overdrive with economic stimulus measures.  Fiat currencies have been issued in massive amounts without any corresponding economic growth.  This combination of a low economic growth and high massive quantities of paper money should have the GLD soaring.  As the chart below shows, however, it has been declining since it peaked in early October, shortly after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke initiated Quantitative Easing III.

Gold vs Copper

What has fallen from its high from the same period is the JJC.  The exchange traded fund peaked in late September, after China initiated its $156 billion stimulus program.  As with so many other commodities, China is the world’s largest consumer of copper (about 40%).  Since its stimulus program is concentrated on infrastructure projects, the demand for copper is expected to soar.  As a result, traders piled into The Red Metal after Beijing’s announcement.

Both gold and copper are up again, but for different reasons.  Bullish economic data from China has The Red Metal more in demand.  Naturally, the price rose.  Due to the incredibly irresponsible response by Washington, DC to The Fiscal Cliff, gold jumped in price.  There are now reports of another downgrade ahead for the United States, which makes The Yellow Metal more attractive to traders.  Leading gold broker, Bullionvault.com is also bullish on the long term prospect of gold along with many other analysts such as Cardwell RSI Edge, which expects the run to last way into 2013.

While that explains the short term movements in gold and copper that have mirrored each other, the long term trajectory that is the same moves to the beat of a different drummer.  Due to the flood of liquidity from central bankers in the United States, Europe, Japan and China, the traditional trading patterns for copper and gold have been destroyed.

In the initial rounds of economic stimulus, known as “quantitative easing,” gold and copper moved as before.  After the announcements by Bernanke for Quantitative Easing I and II, gold, copper, oil, and silver would soar as the US Dollar fell.  But the trillions of dollars and other currencies unleashed eventually overwhelmed what the financial markets could deploy to counter the onslaught of paper money by gobbling up commodities.

As a result, the only financial instruments with the depth to absorb all the newly created capital were the government bond markets, particularly those for US Treasuries.  That is why the interest rates are so low for US Government debt even though Washington has failed in economic leadership again, is in danger of being downgraded, and will be adding trillions more to its national debt well into the future with tremendous unfunded liabilities for social programs.

The easy money in trading gold and copper has been made.  Many speculators have lost heavily due to the breakdown in the traditional relationships.  Paradoxically, the future for both gold and copper is bullish.  For The Red Metal, it is positive as China has been registering better economic data, and has over $3 trillion in foreign reserves to engender domestic growth.  The Yellow Metal will surge in the future due to the inability and/or refusal of the world’s central bankers to responsibly deal with the dire economic situations at home.

This article was written by Marcus Holland from FinancialTrading.com.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Here are the most popular articles on BoomBustBlog over the last 364 days as we close out the 2012 year. As those who have been reading my work and following for the last 6 years know, I tend to call out trends early relative to the the pop pundits and sell side analysts. Unfortunately, these days, relatively early means before markets collapse or companies utterly dominate their industries.  Without further adieu... 

The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You...

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Last January, while oil price shocks, Israeli military tensions and beef with Iran dominated the headlines, I turned my focus on the single most overrated economy in the developed world - Germany! While not poised for utter collapse like you know who, many portfolios, bank balance sheets, insurance company actuarial analyses, etc. assumed this country can bailout out its own profligate banks, insolvent peripheral EU countries, and itself as its economy enters recession surrounded by trading partners who also are re-entering a recession (which they truly never left). To say the least, somebody is likely to be proven to be severely mistaken.

 

How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery

This is a lengthy, highly provocative article illustrating in explicit detail my thoughts on how America's inferior education system made the Great Recession not only a foregone conclusion of indoctrinated GroupThink, but prevents a true recovery from recovery due to the abject fear of price clearing. You may need to put your thinking caps on and exercise some patience and restraint with this one. I am going to follow it up with an explicit example of said groupthink by going against the conventional grain (yet again) and pointing out what many in the mainstream consider to be the most likely threat to economic prosperity in 2012 (and no, Iran is not even in the running on this one). I blame indoctrinated GroupThink for the inability of Wall Street to see the excessive coniferous expanse due to tree bark blindness! Until the next post, though...

The Ugly Truth About The Greek Situation That's Too Difficult Broadcast Through Mainstream Media

A clear example of how simple math on a web-based spreadsheet unequivocally demonstrated that Greece HAD TO DEFAULT in 2012, and said default was arithmetically obvious as far back as 2010! 6th grade math, made easy (for everybody outside of the EC!).

 

Trading Physical Gold: Is Gold In A Bubble?

 

gbi-_gold_bullion_international

This is the 4th installment (of 5) of my interview of the CEO of GBI (Gold Bullion International), a small firm located on Wall Street that allows investors (retail & institutional) to actually buy, sell, trade and store physical gold in the investor's own name. The previous installments (listed below) feature some very tough questions. BoomBustBlog interviews are not pushovers or advertisements. You must be able to hold your own.

Bernanke's Lying Through His Teeth and Not A Single Pundit/Analyst/Banker Has Called Him On It!!!

As the Fed Chairman continues to bedazzle them with the Bullsh1t, I point out a multitude of nonsensical statements culminating with the obvious, another concerted bank bailout at the expense of Joe Sixpack. The video (published shortly after the story was penned) tells the story with pictures instead of prose...

Apple's iPad Is Losing Market Share And Profit Margin As Apple Hits All Time High

Oh, this one may not have been the most well-liked, but it was damn sure well viewed. I literally had thousands of comments knocking the analysis until it proved absolutely correct, then all that can be heard was crickets.... Let's not forget the follow-up posts a quarter or so later...

 Right On Time, My Prediction Of Apple Margin Compression 8 Quarters From My CNBC Warning Landed Right On The Money!

Deconstructing The Most Hated Trade Of The Decade, The 375% BoomBustBlog Apple Call!! 

... and going into detail with Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All

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The Final Facebook Forensic IPO Analysis: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Illustrating the farce that was the most anticipated IPO in the history of the US equity markets, the Facebook story was told well in advance on BoomBustBlog, actually over a year in advance. I warned that this company's shares were drastically overpriced while it was still trading as a private company on websites over the Internet. Through all of the froth and broth brought out by the highest paid, high pressure salesmen in the world (sell side bankers), the stock IPO'd at $38, rose to forty something that day, then fell to just over $17, to settle at around $27 or so today. Here is the analysis, released in large part to the public.

Published in BoomBustBlog

While perusing the news today, I came across this most interesting article in Bloomberg, Swaps ‘Armageddon’ Lingers as New Rules Concentrate Risk'. Before we delve into it, I want to review how vehemently I've sounded the alarm on this topic over the last 6 years. Let's start with So, When Does 3+5=4? When You Aggregate A Bunch Of Risky Banks & Then Pretend That You Didn't?, where I've aggregated my warnings into a single article. In a nutshell, 5 banks bear 96% of the global derivatives risk. The argument to defend such ass backwards risk concentration is "but it's mostly hedged, offset and netted out". Right! You know that old trader's saying about liquidity? It's always available, that is until you need it!

Even though I've made this point of netting = nonsense multiple times, I must admit, ZH did a more loquacious job, as follows:

..Wrong. The problem with bilateral netting is that it is based on one massively flawed assumption, namely that in an orderly collapse all derivative contracts will be honored by the issuing bank (in this case the company that has sold the protection, and which the buyer of protection hopes will offset the protection it in turn has sold). The best example of how the flaw behind bilateral netting almost destroyed the system is AIG: the insurance company was hours away from making trillions of derivative contracts worthless if it were to implode, leaving all those who had bought protection from the firm worthless, a contingency only Goldman hedged by buying protection on AIG. And while the argument can further be extended that in bankruptcy a perfectly netted bankrupt entity would make someone else who on claims they have written, this is not true, as the bankrupt estate will pursue 100 cent recovery on its claims even under Chapter 11, while claims the estate had written end up as General Unsecured Claims which as Lehman has demonstrated will collect 20 cents on the dollar if they are lucky.

The point of this detour being that if any of these four banks fails, the repercussions would be disastrous. And no, Frank Dodd's bank "resolution" provision would do absolutely nothing to prevent an epic systemic collapse. 

Hey, there ain't no concentration risk in US banks, and any blogger with two synapses to spark together should know this... From An Independent Look into JP Morgan.

Click graph to enlarge

 image001.pngimage001.pngimage001.pngimage001.png

Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who".

So, the Bloomberg article that got this rant started basically says that the risk is being shifted from the banks to clearing houses, who demand above board, translucent collateral for transactions. This should solve the problem, right? Hardly! You see, the Fed and US banking regulators have made it legal and acceptable for banks to outright lie about the qualit of their collateral and the condition of their finances. It all came to light with my research on Lehman (and Bear Stearns, amonst others). These mistakes are so repetitive of the ones made in the past, I literally do not have to right any new material, let's just re-read what was written several years ago:

Lehman Brothers and Its Regulators Deal the Ultimate Blow to Mark to Market Opponents

Let's get something straight right off the bat. We all know there is a certain level of fraud sleight of hand in the financial industry. I have called many banks insolvent in the past. Some have pooh-poohed these proclamations, while others have looked in wonder, saying "How the hell did he know that?"

The list above is a small, relevant sampling of at least dozens of similar calls. Trust me, dear reader, what some may see as divine premonition is nothing of the sort. It is definitely not a sign of superior ability, insider info, or heavenly intellect. I would love to consider myself a hyper-intellectual, but alas, it just ain't so and I'm not going to lie to you. The truth of the matter is I sniffed these incongruencies out because 2+2 never did equal 46, and it probably never will either. An objective look at each and every one of these situations shows that none of them added up. In each case, there was someone (or a lot of people) trying to get you to believe that 2=2=46.xxx. They justified it with theses that they alleged were too complicated for the average man to understand (and in business, if that is true, then it is probably just too complicated to work in the long run as well). They pronounced bold new eras, stating "This time is different", "There is a new math" (as if there was something wrong with the old math), etc. and so on and associated bullshit.

So, the question remains, why is it that a lowly blogger and small time individual investor with a skeleton staff of analysts can uncover systemic risks, frauds and insolvencies at a level that it appears the SEC hasn't even gleaned as of yet? Two words, "Regulatory Capture". You see, and as I reluctantly admitted, it is not that I am so smart, it is that the regulator's goals are not the same as mine. My efforts are designed to ferret out the truth for enlightenment, profit and gain. Regulators' goals are to serve a myriad constituency that does not necessarily have the individual tax payer at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Before we go on, let me excerpt from a piece that I wrote on the topic at hand so we are all on the same page: How Regulatory Capture Turns Doo Doo Deadly.

You see, the banking industry lobbied the regulators to allow them to lie about the value and quality of their assets and liabilities and just like that, the banking problem was solved. Literally! At least from a equity market pricing and public disinformation campaign point of view...

A picture is worth a thousand words...

fasb_mark_to_market_chart.pngfasb_mark_to_market_chart.pngfasb_mark_to_market_chart.png

So, how does this play into today's big headlines in the alternative, grass roots media? Well, on the front page of the Huffington Post and ZeroHedge, we have a damning expose of Lehman Brothers (we told you this in the first quarter of 2008, though), detailing their use of REPO 105 financing to basically lie about their
liquidity positions and solvency. The most damning and most interesting tidbit lies within a more obscure ZeroHedge article that details findings from the recently released Lehman papers, though:

On September 11, JPMorgan executives met to discuss significant valuation problems with securities that Lehman had posted as collateral over the summer. JPMorgan concluded that the collateral was not worth nearly what Lehman had claimed it was worth, and decided to request an additional $5 billion in cash collateral from Lehman that day. The request was communicated in an executive?level phone call, and Lehman posted $5 billion in cash to JPMorgan by the afternoon of Friday, September 12. Around the same time, JPMorgan learned that a security known as Fenway, which Lehman had posted to JPMorgan at a stated value of $3 billion,was actually asset?backed commercial paper credit?enhanced by Lehman (that is, it was Lehman, rather than a third party, that effectively guaranteed principal and interest payments). JPMorgan concluded that Fenway was worth practically nothing as collateral.

Well, I'm sure many are saying that this couldn't happen in this day and age, post Lehman debacle, right? Well, it happened in 2007 with GGP and I called it -  The Commercial Real Estate Crash Cometh, and I know who is leading the way! As a matter of fact, we all know it happened many times throughout that period. Wait a minute, it's now nearly 2013, and lo and behold.... When A REIT Trading Over $15 A Share Is Shown To Have Nearly All Of Its Properties UNDERWATER!!!

Paid subscribers are welcome to download the corporate level valuation of PEI as well as all of the summary stats of our findings on its various properties. The spreadsheet can be found here - File Icon Results of Properties Analysis, Valuation of PEI with Lenders' Names. In putting a realistic valuation on PEI, we independently valued a sampling of 27 of its properties. We found that many if not most of those properties were actually underwater. Most of those that weren't underwater were mortgaged under a separate credit facility.   

PEI Underwater  Overly Encumbered Properties

What are the chances that the properties, whole loans and MBS being pledged by PEI's creditors are being pledged at par? Back to the future, it's the same old thing all over again. Like those banks, PEI is trading higher with its public equity despite the fact that its private equity values are clearly underwater - all part of the perks of not having to truly mark assets to market prices.  

 From Bloomberg: Swaps ‘Armageddon’ Lingers as New Rules Concentrate Risk

Clearinghouses cut risk by collecting collateral at the start of each transaction, monitoring daily price moves and making traders put up more cash as losses occur. Traders have to deal through clearing members, typically the biggest banks and brokerages. Unlike privately traded derivatives, prices for cleared trades are set every day and publicly disclosed.

And what happens when everybody lies about said prices? Is PEI's debt really looking any better than GGP's debt of 2007?

GGP Leverage Summary 2007

Properties with negative equity and leverage >80% 32
Properties with leverage >80% 44
% of properties with negative equity (based on CFAT after debt service) 72.7%

PEI Summary 2012

PEI Underwater  Overly Encumbered Properties

Both of these companies have debt that have been pledged by banks as collateral. Would you trust either of them? The banks then use the collateral to do other deals leading to more bubbles. What's next up in bubble land? I warned of it in 2009...

Check this out, from "On Morgan Stanley's Latest Quarterly Earnings - More Than Meets the Eye???" Monday, 24 May 2010:

Those who don't subscribe should reference my warnings of the concentration and reliance on FICC revenues (foreign exchange, currencies, and fixed income trading).  Morgan Stanley's exposure to this as well as what I have illustrated in full detail via the  the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis series, has increased materially. As excerpted from "The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???":

The amount of bubbliciousness, overvaluation and risk in the market is outrageous, particularly considering the fact that we haven't even come close to deflating the bubble from earlier this year and last year! Even more alarming is some of the largest banks in the world, and some of the most respected (and disrespected) banks are heavily leveraged into this trade one way or the other. The alleged swap hedges that these guys allegedly have will be put to the test, and put to the test relatively soon. As I have alleged in previous posts (As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... ), you cannot truly hedge multi-billion risks in a closed circle of only 4 counterparties, all of whom are in the same businesses taking the same risks.

Click to expand!

bank_ficc_derivative_trading.pngbank_ficc_derivative_trading.png

So, How are Banks Entangled in the Mother of All Carry Trades?

Trading revenues for U.S Commercial banks have witnessed robust growth since 4Q08 on back of higher (although of late declining) bid-ask spreads and fewer write-downs on investment portfolios. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, commercial banks' reported trading revenues rose to a record $5.2 bn in 2Q09, which is extreme (to say the least) compared to $1.6 bn in 2Q08 and average of $802 mn in past 8 quarters.

bank_trading_revenue.pngbank_trading_revenue.png

High dependency on Forex and interest rate contracts

Continued growth in trading revenues on back of growth in overall derivative contracts, (especially for interest rate and foreign exchange contracts) has raised doubt on the sustainability of revenues over hear at the BoomBustBlog analyst lab. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, notional amount of derivatives contracts of U.S Commercial banks grew at a CAGR of 20.5% to $203 trillion by 2Q-09 from $87.9 trillion in 2004 with interest rate contracts and foreign exchange contracts comprising a substantial 84.5% and 7.5% of total notional value of derivatives, respectively. Interest rate contracts have grown at a CAGR of 20.1% to $171.9 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09 while Forex contracts have grown at a CAGR of 13.4% to $15.2 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09.

In terms of absolute dollar exposure, JP Morgan has the largest exposure towards both Interest rate and Forex contracts with notional value of interest rate contracts at $64.6 trillion and Forex contracts at $6.2 trillion exposing itself to volatile changes in both interest rates and currency movements (non-subscribers should reference An Independent Look into JP Morgan, while subscribers should referenceFile Icon JPM Report (Subscription-only) Final - Professional, and File Icon JPM Forensic Report (Subscription-only) Final- Retail). However, Goldman Sachs with interest rate contracts to total assets at 318.x and Forex contracts to total assets at 11.2x has the largest relative exposure (see Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion 2009-07-13 00:08:57 920.92 Kb,  Goldman Sachs Stress Test ProfessionalGoldman Sachs Stress Test Professional 2009-04-20 10:06:45 4.04 MbGoldman Sachs Stress Test Retail Goldman Sachs Stress Test Retail 2009-04-20 10:08:06 720.25 Kb,). As subscribers can see from the afore-linked analysis, Goldman is trading at an extreme premium from a risk adjusted book value perspective.

bank_forex_exposure.pngbank_forex_exposure.png


Back to the Bloomberg article:

Disaster Scenario

The need for a Fed rescue isn’t out of the question, said Satyajit Das, a former Citicorp and Merrill Lynch & Co. executive who has written books on derivatives. Das sketched a scenario where a large trader fails to make a margin call. This kindles rumors that a bank handling the trader’s transactions -- a clearing member -- is short on cash.

Remaining clients rush to pull their trading accounts and cash, forcing the lender into bankruptcy. Questions begin to swirl about whether the remaining clearing members can absorb billions in losses, spurring more runs.

“Bank customers panic, and they start to withdraw money,” he said. “The amount of money needed starts to become problematic. None of this is quantifiable in advance.” The collateral put up by traders and default fund sizes are calculated using data that might not hold up, he said.

The collateral varies by product and clearinghouse. At CME, the collateral or “margin” for a 10-year interest-rate swap ranges between 2.89 percent and 4.06 percent of the trade’s notional value, according to Morgan Stanley. At LCH, it’s 3.2 percent to 3.41 percent, the bank said in a November note.

How Much?

The number typically is based on “value-at-risk,” and is calculated to cover the losses a trader might suffer with a 99 percent level of confidence. That means the biggest losses might not be fully covered.

It’s a formula like the one JPMorgan used and botched earlier this year in the so-called London Whale episode, when it miscalculated how much risk its chief investment office was taking and lost at least $6.2 billion on credit-default swaps. Clearinghouses may fall into a similar trap in their margin calculations, the University of Houston’s Pirrong wrote in a research paper in May 2011.

“Levels of margin that appear prudent in normal times may become severely insufficient during periods of market stress,” wrote Pirrong, whose paper was commissioned by an industry trade group.


Oh, but wait a minute? Didn't I clearly outline such a scenario in 2010 for French banks overlevered on Greek and Italian Debt (currently trading at a fractiono of par)? See The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!

The problem then is the same as the European problem now, leveraging up to buy assets that have dropped precipitously in value and then lying about it until you cannot lie anymore. You see, the lies work on everybody but your counterparties - who actually want to see cash!

 

image012image012

Using this European bank as a proxy for Bear Stearns in January of 2008, the tall stalk represents the liabilities behind Bear's illiquid level 2 and level 3 assets (including the ill fated mortgage products). Equity is destroyed as the assets leveraged through the use of these liabilities are nearly halved in value, leaving mostly liabilities. The maroon stalk represents the extreme risk displayed in the first chart in this missive, and that is the excessive reliance on very short term liabilities to fund very long term and illiquid assets that have depreciated in price. Wait, there's more!

The green represents the unseen canary in the coal mine, and the reason why Bear Stearns and Lehman ultimately collapsed. As excerpted from "The Fuel Behind Institutional “Runs on the Bank" Burns Through Europe, Lehman-Style":

The modern central banking system has proven resilient enough to fortify banks against depositor runs, as was recently exemplified in the recent depositor runs on UK, Irish, Portuguese and Greek banks – most of which received relatively little fanfare. Where the risk truly lies in today’s fiat/fractional reserve banking system is the run on counterparties. Today’s global fractional reserve bank get’s more financing from institutional counterparties than any other source save its short term depositors.  In cases of the perception of extreme risk, these counterparties are prone to pull funding are request overcollateralization for said funding. This is what precipitated the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the pulling of liquidity by skittish counterparties, and the excessive capital/collateralization calls by other counterparties. Keep in mind that as some counterparties and/or depositors pull liquidity, covenants are tripped that often demand additional capital/collateral/ liquidity be put up by the remaining counterparties, thus daisy-chaining into a modern day run on the bank!

image006image006

I'm sure many of you may be asking yourselves, "Well, how likely is this counterparty run to happen today? You know, with the full, unbridled printing press power of the ECB, and all..." Well, don't bet the farm on overconfidence. The risk of a capital haircut for European banks with exposure to sovereign debt of fiscally challenged nations is inevitable.

You see, the risk is all about velocity and confidence. If the market moves gradually, the clearing house system is ok. If it moves violently and all participants move for cash at the same time against bogus collateral... BOOMMMM!!!!!!!

Back to the Bloomberg article...

Stress Levels

What’s more, clearinghouses can’t use their entire hoard of collateral to extinguish a crisis because it’s not a general emergency fund. The sum represents cash posted by investors to cover their own trades and can’t be used to cover defaults of other people.

Clearinghouses can turn to default funds to cover the collapse of the two largest banks or securities firms with which they do business. They have the power to assess the remaining solvent members for billions more, enough to cover the demise of their third- and fourth-largest members.

But wait a minute, the other members are only solvent because they have hedges against the insolvency of the insolvent members. If those hedges fail, then the so-called solvent members are insolvent too! Or did nobody else think of that?

After all, this circular reasoning worked out very well for Greece, didn't it? See Greece's Circular Reasoning Challenge Moves From BoomBustBlog to the Mainstream...

 

 


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Published in BoomBustBlog