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  • European Sovereign Interest Rates Tumble As The ECB Accepts Distressed Collateral … Debasement of Currencies World Wide Begins  0 comments
    Financial Market Report for December 21, 2011

    1) …. EU sovereign debt interest rates tumble … But European Stocks, VGK, EWP, EWI, EWG, EWQ, EPI, trade lower on debt monetization caused by use of the ECB’s LTRO lending and US Dollar FX liquidity swaps.
    The definition of Long Term Refinancing Operations, LTRO, is the ECB’s 3 year funding facility whereby the ECB takes in distressed securities and loans out money for three years at the average of the ECB’s benchmark rate currently 1% over the period of the loan. LTRO is Mario Draghi’s cheap credit for banks. For all practical purposes, this refinancing operation, is free money as these securities are non performing and can never be repaid. The funds provided to the banks relieve a collateral shortage that was causing banking system stress and keeps the banks in operation by prevented a run on the banks. The credit liquidity provided, or cash granted if you like, caused sovereign debt interest rates to plummet. Mark Hanna of Market Montage relates that Spanish yields on short term debt plunged this morning. On Tuesday, the Spanish Treasury sold 3.7 billion euros of 3-month paper for 1.735 percent, after an average yield of 5.11 percent in November, at a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.9, up from 2.8. 523. The WSJ reports 523 banks participated in the ECB’s LTRO, receiving €489.19 billion ($640 billion). The ECB’s LTRO eased a liquidity crisis; but it has not resolved a bank solvency crisis, nor the European sovereign debt crisis. Bloomberg reports on European banking insolvency relating Banks from the euro region need to refinance 35 percent more debt next year than they did this year, according to a Bank of England study. Lenders have more than 600 billion euros of debt maturing in 2012, around three quarters of which is unsecured, the study says.

    Global Economic Crisis Blog reports European Central Bank Begins Monetization To Stem Eurozone Debt And Banking Crisis. Mario Draghi, ECB boss, has made available cheap loans too European banks experiencing liquidity problems. In response, more than 500 European banks stampeded to the ECB discount window, and have borrowed nearly 490 billion euros, equivalent to $643 billion USD at current exchange rates. Clearly, the European banks had had desperate need for new capital, while the Eurozone politicos hope the banks will use the newly minted euros to buy European sovereign debt.
    Nouriel Roubini I think described this rather nicely as in essence quantitative easing and stealth debt monetization. Since the global financial and economic crisis was unleashed in 2008, money printing by central banks has been a symptom of the problem, not its solution.

    Ambrose Evans Pritchard writes Euroland Euphoria On Mario Draghi Bank Rescue. Southern Europe's battered debt markets are basking in a glorious pre-Christmas rally as hedge funds and investors celebrate a blast of cheap liquidity from the European Central Bank. Yields on Spain's three-month notes plummeted to 1.74pc on Tuesday from 5.11pc last month, leading euphoric moves across the eurozone periphery. Spanish 10-year yields fell below 5pc for the first time in two months, with credit rallies in Italy, Belgium, and Ireland. The buying spree comes as markets wait for the ECB to turn on the monetary spigot. Funds are betting that an offer of unlimited bank credit for three years, long term repo operations (LTROs) – will transform the underlying dynamic of Europe's debt crisis. It allows the ECB to prop up sovereign states without violating EU treaty law. This subtle form of 'credit-easing' includes a cut in the reserve requirement to free up €100bn in lending power, and looser rules to allow collateral-starved banks to pawn more of their loan books at the Frankfurt lending window. "Draghi's been smart," said Simon Ward, of Henderson Global Investors. "The spread available to banks is going to prove attractive. He has outmanoeuvred the Bundesbank by drawing it in deeper." Yet it is unclear whether liquidity alone can stop investor flight from Club Med. The three-year LTRO is like a 'double-up' Martingale bet. It may save the day but it also concentrates risk further for the Bundesbank and other central banks in the eurozone system, as well as private banks. The ultimate disaster could be even worse if it all goes wrong.

    The Telegraph reports ECB Helps Spanish Borrowing Costs Halve

    Reuters reports Banks Gorge On ECB Loans. Banks gobbled up nearly 490 billion euros in three-year cut-price loans from the European Central Bank on Wednesday, easing immediate fears of a credit crunch but leaving unresolved how much will flow to needy euro zone economies. Following a string of failed attempts by euro zone leaders to thwart market attacks on the bloc's weaker members, hopes of crisis relief before the year-end had been pinned on a massive uptake of the ECB's ultra-long and ultra-cheap loans. The near half a trillion euro take-up of ECB funds exceeded almost all forecasts. A total of 523 banks borrowed with demand way above the 310 billion euros expected by traders polled by Reuters, making it the most the bank has ever pumped into the financial system. "The take-up was massive, much higher than the expected 300 billion euros. Liquidity on the banking system has now increased considerably," said Annalisa Piazza at Newedge Strategy. Analysts said there was little prospect of the cash being hurled at the debt of euro zone weaklings and, while an interbank lending freeze may have been averted, the lack of trust between banks to lend to each other remains unresolved. Optimism that the lunge for funding would ease Europe's two-year old debt crisis quickly faded, sending the euro and stocks lower after an initial jump. Banks have struggled to attract funding mainly because of worries about the underlying health of euro zone countries and their exposure to it, so becoming more reliant on the ECB and pledging more assets against those loans may add to the problem.

    "It's helpful. It's more than a sticking plaster, although it's by no means the solution longer term," said Chris Wheeler, bank analyst at Mediobanca in London. "While this might help to address recent signs of renewed tensions in credit markets and support bank lending, we remain skeptical of the idea that the operation will ease the sovereign debt crisis too," said Jonathan Loynes, Chief European Economist at Capital Economics. Banks will not increase their exposure to sovereign debt because European Bank Authority (EBA) rules discourage it, Italy's banking association (NYSE:ABI) said. "The EBA rules are a deterrent for buying sovereign bonds, so not even the ECB's important liquidity injection can be used to support sovereign debt," ABI director general Giovanni Sabatini told reporters. Italy alone faces about 150 billion euros of debt refinancing between April and March and data on Wednesday showed its economy, the euro zone's third largest , shrank in the third quarter, while the ABI forecast a recession next year.

    "The crisis is far from over. What I am particularly concerned about is the first quarter of 2012, because of financing needs which are very high," one senior euro zone policymaker told Reuters. "The fact that the ECB has now made available the 3 year credit lines plus made the collateral more flexible will help banks a lot." One of the key factors certain to have boosted demand is that banks are now more reliant than ever on central bank funds. The ECB on Monday said, in its semi-annual Financial Stability Review, that this dependency could be difficult to cure. French banks have almost quadrupled their intake of ECB money since June to 150 billion euros, while banks in Italy and Spain are each taking more than 100 billion euros.

    ECB President Mario Draghi had been pressing banks to take the money since announcing the plans earlier this month.The 3-year funds were offered at an interest rate which will be the average of ECB's main interest rate over the next three years. That benchmark rate is, after a rate cut earlier this month, at a record low of 1.0 percent. The ECB was already lending banks 515 billion euros before Wednesday but the new loans will not simply stack on top.

    Zero Hedge relates don’t forget to add €210 billion in net "assets" to the ECB's already record balance sheet of €2.494 trillion, bringing it to a fresh new record of €2.7 trillion, or $3.5 trillion.

    Zero Hedge relates ECB's FX Swap Line With Fed Soars To $85 Billion Total.

    2) … Japan, EWJ, and Japan Small Caps, JSC, traded lower as reports flowed that Japan’s exports broke down, portending a soveign event for this debt ridden country as Japan has a Debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 200%.
    An inquiring mind asks, how is Japan going to service its national debt now that it has a trade deficit? Is Japan a credible sovereign nation and able to sustain its debt sovereignty? Will Japan experience a sovereign event in the near future? Trading Economics reports Japan Records Trade Deficit in October. Japan's trade slipped back into deficit territory in October after recording a surplus the previous month, The Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report on November 21. Japan posted a trade deficit of 274 Million Yen. Exports were down for the first time in 3 months, a 3.7-percent decline from a year earlier, while imports rose 17.9 percent. Delayed shipments of semiconductors and other electronics components led the decline in exports. Adding to the strong yen and supply chain disruptions due to the Thai floods, a slowdown of the global economy is creating a drag on Japanese exports. Higher crude oil prices led the rise in imports, along with an increase in imports of liquefied natural gas for power generation to make up for halted nuclear power plants. Reuters reports BOJ Keeps Policy Steady, Offers Bleaker View On Economy. Slowing exports, worsening business sentiment and soft capital spending are challenging the central bank's view that the world's third-largest economy will recover early next year. In a sign of the growing damage from the global slowdown, Japan's exports fell at their fastest annual pace in six months in November with shipments to Asia declining on weak demand for semiconductor chips and digital cameras.

    3) … Utilities rose to a new high.
    Utilities, XLU, rose to a new high.

    4) … Prospects for global growth fail as Oracle reports poor results.
    Prospects for global growth fell lower today as Software, SWH, North American Software, IGV, Cloud Computing, SKYY, Networking, IGN, traded lower on the fall of Oracle, ORCL, and International Business Machine, IBM, which turned networking stocks CTXS, FTNT, BSFT, TLEO, FFIV, PRO, EMC, TDS, BRCD, as well as design software manufacturers PMTC, ANSS, CDNS lower.

    Bespoke Investment Group reports Shares of Oracle are trading down more than 13% today and close to a 52-week low after last night’s big earnings miss. Believe it or not, today’s decline is the first time the stock has dropped by 10% or more since March 2002. Even during the entire Financial Crisis from 2007-2009, ORCL never once saw a one-day drop of more than 10%.

    Chip manufacturer, MU, and storage device manufacturer, SDNK, turned lower on expectations of global recession.

    Financial derisking out of China Banks, CHIX, China Industrials, CHII, and China Small Caps, HAO, China Mineral, CHIM, which led China,YAO, lower today. Yet overall stock losses were minimal today with Bespoke Investment Group reporting No Fear. The VIX volatility index is down once again today, even as the market trades lower.

    5) … A global debt monetization operation is underway with the introduction of the ECB’s LTRO, and the coordinated global central banks’ US Dollar liquidity swaps … In effect global QE 3 has commenced.
    The ECB’s LTRO and the coordinated global central banks’ US Dollar FX swaps, constitute a global banking policy of competitive currency devaluation.

    German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said in doublespeak that Germany will never allow the ECB to engage in any form of debt monetization. Well it sure looks to me like Angela Merkel and world central bankers are taking a step forward into what is effectively monetization of debt with the ECB LTRO and world wide provision of US Dollar swaps. We are witnessing institutionalized money printing by all the world’s central banks, and especially by the Federal Reserve. These are sending all forms of economic money, like M2 Unadjusted Money, higher. The US has said that it will not limit its money lines. Media reports communicate that LTRO, and the coordinated central bank intervention, is a powerful and courageous step forward in dealing with the European sovereign debt and banking crisis, but a new form of fiat money destruction is underway. The only way to preserve wealth in light of all this institutionalized money printing is to purchase and take possession of gold. We are witnessing political diktat replacing fiat money. The seigniorage of fiat money is failing, and the seigniorage, that is the moneyness, of diktat is rising. The world central bankers are in the process of demolish fiat money; the result will be a massive lurch into political devolution with democracy falling to despotism.

    6) … The ECB’s LTRO and coordinated central banks dollar FX swaps provide credit liquidity but do not address bank insolvency nor sovereign insolvency. Out of sovereign armageddon, that is a credit bust and financial system breakdown, fate will bring forth a Federal Europe, providing a fiscal union, a common treasury and the ECB empowered as a bank.
    The Economist writes This operation is crucial to understanding the ECB's strategy during the crisis. I recently returned from Europe with, I think, a better feel for the different points of view there. Both the ECB and its critics agree on the ultimate solution to the crisis: some form of joint liability for the region's debts coupled with a political compact that enforces fiscal responsibility on member states.

    Cyrille Lenoël writes in December 12, 2011 article The Euro Fiscal Rule Last night, the leaders of Europe agreed on a new fiscal rule to try and save their common currency. The official statement details the rule: "General government budgets shall be balanced or in surplus; this principle shall be deemed respected if, as a rule, the annual structural deficit does not exceed 0.5% of nominal GDP." We have computed the historical structural deficits to find out how tough the 0.5% benchmark is to achieve. As can be seen on the table below, among the fifteen major eurozone countries, only three countries (Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands) have managed to pass this rule succesfully (the green cells) in the last 9 years, and only one (Finland) has managed to pass it continously. Most countries have been far off the rule.

    Is this rule realistic? As the data on the table show, the benchmark of 0.5% structural balance to GDP will be extremelly difficult for European countries to achieve. By setting such an ambitious rule, European governments risk missing their own targets and therefore undermining the credibility of the rule. My opinion is that they should set intermediary less ambitious goals, especially taking into account the fact that growth in other regions of the World is very slow at the moment.

    Will this rule save the Euro? This rule will help close an incentive problem in the Euro mechanism, but it is by no means sufficient to solve the current crisis. In particular, the problems of debt overhang and lack of competitiveness of the weaker countries of the Eurozone also have to be addressed.

    Frankly, The Rule, is too late as the banks and the sovereigns are insolvent. Insolvent banks cannot generate economic growth and insolvent sovereign sovereigns cannot rule.

    In 1974, the 300 elite of the Club of Rome came forth with their Clarion Call for regional global governance as a resolution of the deleveraging, and derisking out of the Milton Friedman Free To Choose floating currency regime. In July of this year investors sold out of stocks when they became aware that a European debt union has formed, and then currency traders sold out of their carry trade investments in August through October after Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy called for a true European economic government and after Herman Van Rompuy made for a plea for a sovereignty union. These leaders, together with world central bankers, are effecting both a Eurozone and world wide economic, banking, monetary and political coup d etat, which will produce a ten toed kingdom of regional economic government, where political diktat replaces fiat money.

    An authoritarian tsunami is coming like a terminator, that can't be bargained with, and can't be reasoned with; it doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear; and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until regional totalitarian collectivism is in place in all of the world’s ten regions. The Banker Regime known as Neoliberalism is rapidly falling to the Beast Regime of Neoauthoritarianism. This monster of statism is rising from the Mediterranean Sea countries of Italy and Greece. It has seven heads, symbolic of its occupation in all seven of mankind’s institutions, and ten horns, symbolic of its rule in all ten world regions. It is growing out of the two iron legs of hegemony, the UK and the US, that have governed the world for the last 150 years. Fate is operating in a way that there will never be any human action, such as Free Enterprise. The Libertarian hope of Freedom is a mirage on the Neoauthoritarian Desert of the Real. And Choice is an epitaph on a tombstone of the bygone era of Neoliberalism.

    Sovereign Armageddon, that is a credit bust and investment collapse, is coming soon. And new sovereigns, will emerge. Even now, Fate is passing the baton of sovereignty from nation states such as Greece and Italy, to sovereign leaders and sovereign bodies, such as the EU ECB IMF Troika.

    Destiny will operate to bring forth a New Europe, where the Sovereign, and his banking partner, the Seignior, will rule over a federal Europe, with fiscal rule and fiscal sovereignty coming through a fiscal union, and the ECB or the Bundesbank empowered a federal bank.

    In a credit devalued and currency depreciated world, only diktat can provide order and security. People will be amazed by this, they will marvel, and place their trust in diktat; they will give their full allegiance to it. If you perceive freedom and choice, then enjoy it while you may. The Zero Hedge report Swiss, Germans Set To Unleash Capital Controls, foretells draconian authoritarian measures are coming.

    Today, banks were relieved of distressed securities, the difference between QE1 and this QE3 is that the former was a transfer into the US Fed of toxic debt, and transfer out of money good US Treasuries which for the most part were placed into excess reserves with the Fed. In Europe, the debt that was transferred to the ECB was a loan. But it is a loan that cannot be and never will be repaid. The assets that were transferred are non performing. So the banks were relieved of junk and that has now be transferred to every man, woman and child in Europe. It is socialisation of losses to the public and privatization of profits to the banks. The debt will not be written off; rather, it will be applied in debt servitude to all who use the Euro. The road to serfdom is being paved via Mario Draghi’s LTRO operation.

    Michael Hudson writes Debt Slavery, Why It Destroyed Rome, Why It Will Destroy Us Unless It’s Stopped. Every economy is planned. This traditionally has been the function of government. Relinquishing this role under the slogan of “free markets” leaves it in the hands of banks. Yet the planning privilege of credit creation and allocation turns out to be even more centralized than that of elected public officials. And to make matters worse, the financial time frame is short-term hit-and-run, ending up as asset stripping. By seeking their own gains, the banks tend to destroy the economy. The surplus ends up being consumed by interest and other financial charges, leaving no revenue for new capital investment or basic social spending.

    This is why relinquishing policy control to a creditor class rarely has gone together with economic growth and rising living standards. The tendency for debts to grow faster than the population’s ability to pay has been a basic constant throughout all recorded history. Debts mount up exponentially, absorbing the surplus and reducing much of the population to the equivalent of debt peonage. To restore economic balance, antiquity’s cry for debt cancellation sought what the Bronze Age Near East achieved by royal fiat: to cancel the overgrowth of debts.

    In more modern times, democracies have urged a strong state to tax rentier income and wealth, and when called for, to write down debts. This is done most readily when the state itself creates money and credit. It is done least easily when banks translate their gains into political power. When banks are permitted to be self-regulating and given veto power over government regulators, the economy is distorted to permit creditors to indulge in the speculative gambles and outright fraud that have marked the past decade. The fall of the Roman Empire demonstrates what happens when creditor demands are unchecked. Under these conditions the alternative to government planning and regulation of the financial sector becomes a road to debt peonage.

    Finance vs. government; oligarchy vs. democracy

    Democracy involves subordinating financial dynamics to serve economic balance and growth – and taxing rentier income or keeping basic monopolies in the public domain. Untaxing or privatizing property income “frees” it to be pledged to the banks, to be capitalized into larger loans. Financed by debt leveraging, asset-price inflation increases rentier wealth while indebting the economy at large. The economy shrinks, falling into negative equity.

    The financial sector has gained sufficient influence to use such emergencies as an opportunity to convince governments that that the economy will collapse they it do not “save the banks.” In practice this means consolidating their control over policy, which they use in ways that further polarize economies. The basic model is what occurred in ancient Rome, moving from democracy to oligarchy. In fact, giving priority to bankers and leaving economic planning to be dictated by the EU, ECB and IMF threatens to strip the nation-state of the power to coin or print money and levy taxes.

    The resulting conflict is pitting financial interests against national self-determination. The idea of an independent central bank being “the hallmark of democracy” is a euphemism for relinquishing the most important policy decision – the ability to create money and credit – to the financial sector. Rather than leaving the policy choice to popular referendums, the rescue of banks organized by the EU and ECB now represents the largest category of rising national debt. The private bank debts taken onto government balance sheets in Ireland and Greece have been turned into taxpayer obligations. The same is true for America’s $13 trillion added since September 2008 (including $5.3 trillion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bad mortgages taken onto the government’s balance sheet, and $2 trillion of Federal Reserve “cash-for-trash” swaps).

    This is being dictated by financial proxies euphemized as technocrats. Designated by creditor lobbyists, their role is to calculate just how much unemployment and depression is needed to squeeze out a surplus to pay creditors for debts now on the books. What makes this calculation self-defeating is the fact that economic shrinkage – debt deflation – makes the debt burden even more unpayable.

    Neither banks nor public authorities (or mainstream academics, for that matter) calculated the economy’s realistic ability to pay – that is, to pay without shrinking the economy. Through their media and think tanks, they have convinced populations that the way to get rich most rapidly is to borrow money to buy real estate, stocks and bonds rising in price – being inflated by bank credit – and to reverse the past century’s progressive taxation of wealth.

    To put matters bluntly, the result has been junk economics. Its aim is to disable public checks and balances, shifting planning power into the hands of high finance on the claim that this is more efficient than public regulation. Government planning and taxation is accused of being “the road to serfdom,” as if “free markets” controlled by bankers given leeway to act recklessly is not planned by special interests in ways that are oligarchic, not democratic. Governments are told to pay bailout debts taken on not to defend countries in military warfare as in times past, but to benefit the wealthiest layer of the population by shifting its losses onto taxpayers.

    Jack Kneafsey quotes Eric Fry of the Daily Reckoning, A “coordinated action” is not a priori a “constructive action.” Lemmings, too, coordinate their actions. And even if they imagine themselves to be flying when they jump from a cliff, their furry little bodies will nevertheless splatter on a boulder below. The metaphor is clear, but I will repeat it anyway: The world’s largest central banks are lemmings, and no investor who wishes to save his own furry, little skin should follow their lead, at least not without some kind of golden parachute .Cheapening credit fixes nothing; it merely enables a broken condition to function for a while longer. “Effectively, the Fed has reduced the cover charge for alcoholics at the bar, but it has not changed the fact that the people at the bar are alcoholics,” says Dan Greenhaus, the chief global strategist for BTIG. “It has not affected the reason why people were demanding dollars, and that is overall nervousness in the euro zone.”

    The ECB and world central bankers are attempting to deal with funding issues and collateral shortages to prevent an evaporation of credit and financial system meltdown. Credit is been made cheap.

    Eric Fry continues, “Central banks are desperate to stop stresses from building in the global banking system,” explains Dan Amoss, editor of the Strategic Short Report. “They are going to ignore the fact that most European banks are insolvent and offer these banks easier and easier access to long-term funding. “Once the central banks start lending to insolvent banks, there can be no orderly exit. When sovereign defaults occur, there will be an acceleration of money-printing to keep the system propped up.” Who knows what’s next? Probably, we can look forward to a new era of clandestine bailouts, backdoor lending facilities with inscrutable acronyms and global monetary game-playing that will look a lot like a massive money laundering operation. The new swap lines that the Fed is providing are both unlimited and open-ended. The Fed’s balance sheet will not limit these lines, “as needed” will. That’s money-printing. In fact, that’s institutionalized money laundering.

    An inquiring mind asks, are the European nations credible sovereign nation states? Despite falling interest rates because of monetary intervention, are they able to sustain their debt sovereignty? Will EU nations and banks experience a sovereign event in the near future? Is sovereign armageddon, that is a credit and financial collapse inevitable?

    Larry Dole quotes JP Morgan’s Michael Cembalest Financial markets would probably like debt monetization by the ECB, as it avoids for now all the unpleasantness of having sovereign debt markets clear at levels based only on private sector demand.

    Jim Willie CB writes Drowning in liquidity, the masters of the American section of the Fascist Business Model have combined a black hole in the form of a colossal sinkhole.

    Anonymous said in EconomicPolicy Journal article Behind The Gold Crash. Gold is going up and down in dollar term based not so much on the demand for gold as the inverse of the demand for the dollar. Liquidity and credit crises create demand for dollars to pay for debts that have come due and can no longer be rolled over. By increasing the value of the dollar, the prices of everything else, including even gold, are pushed down. Granted, since gold is of particular value in a crisis, it will likely see ultimate gains compared to other things of value. But if your debt is denominated in dollars, and it is due now, you need to liquidate the most solid of your liquid assets to pay, such as gold and listed stocks.

    The monetization of debt that occurred today will soon cause a crack up boom in gold.

    7) … US is successfully carrying out a stealth currency against Iran.
    Rick Gladstone in NYT article Plunge In Currency Value Unsettles Iran communicates that the US is involved in a proxy currency war, a stealth currency war, on Iran, through its middle east ally the UAE. Iran's currency, the rial, has been weakening for months and today, the rial, tumbled in value to its lowest level ever against the dollar on Tuesday in panic selling caused in part by the country’s increased economic isolation from international sanctions, an unbridled inflation problem and worries that government officials there are ideologically incapable of devising a workable solution. report in Iran’s state-run news media that the government had decided to suspend trading relations with the United Arab Emirates in retaliation for that country’s support of American sanctions on Iran, denied later by Iran’s vice president apparently contributed to a rush by Iranian merchants and trading companies to sell their rials for other currencies. The United Arab Emirates is a major gateway for Iran’s exports. “This is the most serious financial crisis they’ve faced, with multiple things coming to a head,” said Djavad Saleh Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech and an authority on Iran’s economy. “I have the feeling that really nobody is in charge of economic policy, nobody who can quickly think on their feet.”
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