In "With the Euro Disintegrating, You Can Calculate Your Haircuts Here", I explicitly illustrated the likely loss to principal of sovereign debt investors who would be forced to take haircuts "for the cause". While we fully stand behind the calculations and the logic, chances are several sovereigns may attempt to undergo sleight of hand in order to placate investors as best they can. We suspect we will soon be hearing of significant restructuring plans in the Eurozone, starting with Greece. The piece below expands on these thoughts and offers subscribers live spreadsheets that illustrate the potential repercussions. It is recommended that these scenarios be taken into consideration in light of the info offered in the post "Introducing The BoomBustBlog Sovereign Contagion Model: Thus far, it has been right on the money for 5 months straight!" and compared to the haircut analysis as well.
Greek Restructuring Scenarios
There are several precedents of sovereign debt restructuring through maturity extension without taking an explicit haircut on the principal amount, and many analysts are predicting something of a similar order for Greece. This form of restructuring is usually followed as a preemptive step in order to avoid a country from technically defaulting on its debt obligation due to lack of funds available from the market. It primarily aims to ease the liquidity pressures by deferring the immediate funding requirements to later periods and by spreading the debt obligations over a longer period of time. It also helps in moderating the increase in interest expenditure due to refinancing if the rates are expected to remain high in the near-to medium term but decline over the long term.
It has taken a while to get this out, but the core message hasn't changed...
1Q10 Results review
For 1Q10, MS reported significant increase in its net revenues to $9.1 billion from $6.3 billion in 4Q09 and $2.9 billion in 1Q09, primarily driven by trading and principal investments revenues which increased to $4.1 billion versus $1.3 billion and $205 million in 4Q09 and 1Q09, respectively. Trading and principal investment revenues in 1Q10 increased off improvement in debt-related credit spreads and better results in Fixed Income. Revenues from Investment banking and Asset management, distribution and admin fees increased 21.4% and 126.7% (y-on-y) to 1060 million and $1,963 million, respectively. However, both the categories reported a quarter-on-quarter decline in revenues of 36.6% and 0.6%, respectively. Commissions earned for the year increased 63.8% (y-o-y) and 1.1% (q-o-q) to $1.3 billion. Compensation expenses increased to $4.4 billion from $2.0 billion in1Q09 and $3.8 billion in 4Q09, while non-compensation expenses were up 38.4% (y-o-y) mainly off MSSB inclusion and higher business activity. Consequently, net income from continuing operations increased to $2.1 billion, which was further supported by a $382 million tax benefit associated with prior year’s undistributed earnings of certain non-U.S. subsidiaries.
Yesterday I commented on the folly of promising big money to throw at a myriad variety of highly indebted nation without a central authority to enforce the structural change needed to actually cure the problems that created the need for the monies in the first place. See The EU Has Set Up An Oppurtunistic Entry Point for Shorts Instead of Expressly Offering a Solution to the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis! and What We Know About the Pan European Bailout Thus Far. The primary flaw, by far, that I perceive in this most grand of grand bailout schemes is that it is just that - a bailout, not a solution. Methinks the market is about to call the EU on their bluff pretty much along the same lines that I espoused above. For those subscribers who follow my belief that the ECB and EU leaders are making one of the largest policy blunders of modern times, this may be an opportunity to set up a short position that makes the Lehman Brothers' debacle look like a day rally. All subscribers are welcome to download our latest Euro Bank Sovereign Debt Exposure Preview. A more verbose summary will be released for pro and institutional subscribers shortly. Reference the following articles in this early morning edition of Bloomberg:
Anybody who has been following for the last fiscal quarter or so (or has seen my Spanish bank work in 2009) knows that I believe that the EMU as it stood in 2009 would probably be non-existent by the end of 2010. All of the pundits who proclaimed that the European debt crisis was over with the mere declaration that Greece may receive some additional debt either were abjectly lying or truly didn't understand the gravity of the situation. To be honest, there are a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of data points, angles and contingencies to grasp thus it is not necessarily easy. Then again, isn't that what these market professionals get paid for.
Very early in the year, I virtually guaranteed that the Greek banks would fall, or at least have to be rescued (a 2nd time) before they fell. I practically promised it. In the news today...
Lagarde to discuss Greece support with banks: French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde will meet with bank leaders on Wednesday to discuss how its banks could participate in the Greek rescue package. Lagarde told the French parliament the country's banks will reiterate their support for the rescue process on Wednesday but she said tomorrow's meeting could lead to them taking on a more active role, along the lines of what German banks have done. French banks have so far not been asked by the government to participate directly in the Greek rescue package, two sources in France's banking sector said earlier on Tuesday. They have only been asked to maintain their exposure to Greece and have agreed to do this, the sources said. "Nothing beyond this has been requested by the government," one of the sources told Reuters. France has overall the highest exposure to Greek debt, with about $75.2 billion worth of assets in total, according to Bank of International data as at end-2009. Germany's top banks and insurers offered support on Tuesday mainly by keeping open credit lines to banks and by agreeing not to sell Greek bonds for the duration of a wider IMF-led bailout. Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that German financial firms had agreed to buy bonds issued by state controlled bank KfW as a way to help finance the bailout. Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann said it was important to extinguish the fire in Greece and pledged to help the country. Ackermann is helping to coordinate efforts by the private sector to support the Greek rescue package.
I suggest one references my post, How Greece Killed Its Own Banks!.
The Wall Street Compensation issue is being made much more complex than it needs to be. Let's take Goldman for example. - Bloomberg: Self-Evaluations Seen as New Source of Concern After Goldman Sachs Hearing
April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Wall Street employers, long concerned that their staff’s e-mails may be used against them, now have another thing to worry about: the self-evaluations employees fill out.
At a 10-hour congressional hearing yesterday, senators pointed to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees’ self-evaluations, which included boasts about making “extraordinary profits” by betting against the subprime market, as proof the company misled investors into a mortgage-linked investment. [If they made "extraordinary profits", then the transactions shouldn't be considered an economic hedge]
The fact that self-evaluations were used against Goldman employees could keep companies from being open in their own review process, hampering feedback that makes evaluations productive, said Gary Hayes, co-founder of management consulting firm Hayes Brunswick & Partners in New York. [Or they could just be more open with their clients, and wouldn't have to worry about being secretive in their self reviews - duhh!]
“That’s fairly chilling,” Hayes said. “It would make many senior executives very cautious, if not guarded in what they say in evaluations. You’ll hinder the kind of dialogue that’s necessary.” Such evaluations are “a standard part of corporate America,” he said. [Again, why doesn't this guy say "It would make many senior executives very cautious, if not guarded in how they treat their clients"!!!!????? It's as if it is expected that GS will screw their clients, and the hurdle is how to conduct a review without getting busted for it!]
Senators used e-mails and self-evaluations produced by Goldman, which is being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to attack the firm. Goldman denies the charges.
I have warned my readers about following myths and legends versus reality and facts several times in the past, particularly as it applies to Goldman Sachs and what I have coined "Name Brand Investing". Very recent developments from Senator Kaufman of Delaware will be putting the spit-shined patina of Wall Street's most powerful bank to the test. Here is a link to the speech that the esteemed Senator from Delaware (yes, the most corporate friendly state in this country). A few excerpts to liven up your morning...
Mr. President, last Thursday, the bankruptcy examiner for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. released a 2,200 page report about the demise of the firm which included riveting detail on the firm’s accounting practices. That report has put in sharp relief what many of us have expected all along: that fraud and potential criminal conduct were at the heart of the financial crisis.
... Only further investigation will determine whether the individuals involved can be indicted and convicted of criminal wrongdoing.
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?"
- Is this the Breaking of the Bear? It wasn't hard to see Bear Stearns collapsing 3 month before bankruptcy. Why didn't our regulators see what I saw?
- As I see it, 32 commercial banks and thrifts may see the feces hit the fan blades It wasn't hard to see that nearly all of these 32 banks would be facing the threat of insolvency. Why didn't our regulators see what I saw?
- The Commercial Real Estate Crash Cometh, and I know who is leading the way! It wasn't hard to see that commercial real estate was ready to implode and that GGP was about to collapse under its own weight. Why didn't our regulators see what I saw?
- Yeah, Countrywide is pretty bad, but it ain’t the only one at the subprime party… Comparing Countrywide Countrywide and Washington Mutual's collapse were visible AT LEAST a year in advance!
- The Next Shoe to Drop: Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and Counterparty Risk - Beware what lies beneath! 'Nuff said...
- ... and even Lehman Brothers: Is Lehman a Lying Lemming?
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.
The Financial Times has published an Op-Ed piece I penned on bonuses in the banking industry. Enjoy!
A bank employee recently asked me: "As a trader, my bonus is derived directly from my profit and loss, which is accrued over the quarter and kept in a separate account. It does not go into the firm's bottom line and then back out to me. Also, like most traders, I accrue 2% of my gains in a loss provision account in case I have a major write-down in the year. My bonus is 10% of my profit for the year. If I make $50m for the year my bonus is $5m. What does my bonus have to do with the mortgage-backed securities [MBS] trader who is sitting on losses? Did I or did I not show a profit of $40m to the firm's bottom line?"
Main Street is absolutely flabbergasted that bankers do not understand the core issues of this bonus question. Allow me to clearly outline the problem and propose a solution. Assuming this trader works for a prominent US bank that received a bailout, he is not entitled to a $5m bonus if he made $50m for the year. Why not? Because he generated that 10% return from taxpayer capital, not firm capital. For example, Goldman Sachs would have had the drawdown from purgatory had it not been rescued from a $30bn credit default swap deal with AIG.
Let's assume AIG would have negotiated a 40% payout to Goldman Sachs, which is realistic given that litigation with an insolvent company that had many more contingent and direct claims would probably have resulted in a lower net receipt to Goldman. This alone would have resulted in a hole of about $7.8bn for the bank.
Some of the top secret AIG bailout info is out. Guess who's at the heart of it, making money by creating straight trash, selling it to its clients then buying insurance to benefit from its inevitable crash?
I have been warning about Goldman's ability to sell trash to its clients
for some time now.
This is not a short post, for it is packed with a lot of supporting information, analysis and data. If you are looking for quippy paragraph, soundbyte or quick headline to get an overview of,,, well whatever, click here, or better yet, click here. For everyone else who may be looking for deeper investigative analysis and the unbridled TRUTH for a change, please continue on.
First a little background info. Goldman is supremely overvalued in my opinion. It is even more so considering much of its profit is generated solely from the raping of its clients. I say this holding absolutely no ill will towards Goldman. This is strictly factual. Let's walk through the evidence, of profit potential, valuation, and the stuff behind some of the value drivers in their business model, like brokerage and investment banking...
In continuing the rant on the possibility of the US entering a stagflationary environment, as was hinted by Alcoa's quarterly report (see "Is My Warning of the Risks of a Stagflationary Environment Coming to Fore?"), I have decided to graphically illustrate the historically most successful inflation hedges. Click graphic below to enlarge.
For those "gold bugs" who have never ran the numbers, gold offers less inflation protection than your house does. The same goes for WTI crude and probably most other categories of oil.