Dec 05

- The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets (Economic Collapse, Dec 4, 2012):

When financial markets in the United States crash, so does the U.S. economy.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The financial markets crashed, the credit markets froze up, and suddenly the economy went into cardiac arrest.  Well, there are very few things that could cause the financial markets to crash harder or farther than a derivatives panic.  Sadly, most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are.  Unlike stocks and bonds, a derivative is not an investment in anything real.  Rather, a derivative is a legal bet on the future value or performance of something else.  Just like you can go to Las Vegas and bet on who will win the football games this weekend, bankers on Wall Street make trillions of dollars of bets about how interest rates will perform in the future and about what credit instruments are likely to default.  Wall Street has been transformed into a gigantic casino where people are betting on just about anything that you can imagine.  This works fine as long as there are not any wild swings in the economy and risk is managed with strict discipline, but as we have seen, there have been times when derivatives have caused massive problems in recent years.  For example, do you know why the largest insurance company in the world, AIG, crashed back in 2008 and required a government bailout?  It was because of derivatives.  Bad derivatives trades also caused the failure of MF Global, and the 6 billion dollar loss that JPMorgan Chase recently suffered because of derivatives made headlines all over the globe.  But all of those incidents were just warm up acts for the coming derivatives panic that will destroy global financial markets.  The largest casino in the history of the world is going to go “bust” and the economic fallout from the financial crash that will happen as a result will be absolutely horrific.

There is a reason why Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  Nobody really knows the total value of all the derivatives that are floating around out there, but estimates place the notional value of the global derivatives market anywhere from 600 trillion dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.

Keep in mind that global GDP is somewhere around 70 trillion dollars for an entire year.  So we are talking about an amount of money that is absolutely mind blowing.

So who is buying and selling all of these derivatives? Continue reading »

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Nov 29

“This is the greatest bank robbery in world history and the banks are doing the robbing.”
- Gerald Celente



YouTube Added: 26.11.2012 

Description:

Watch the first two ‘Madness’ micro-docs:

Madness 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOshw4kIGR4

Madness 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRvjufH29vE

Another ‘Black Friday’ has come and gone. And it has left us with further evidence of the complete madness of the populace of our nation. America has been dealt a fatal blow by corporate greed, Bankster malfeasance and the insidious nature of collectivism — and it’s all been done to us by design.

The once proud and independent people of the United States have, in large part, been reduced to servants of the State. As Aldous Huxley famously noted, “People can actually be made to LOVE their servitude.”

Featuring Mike Krieger, Rob Kirby, Chris Duane, Gerald Celente, Bill Murphy and many others, ‘Madness 3′ offers one last ‘fair warning’ for those with the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Continue reading »

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Nov 19

- The Powers That Be Don’t Want Sovereign Bonds… They Want Gold (ZeroHedge, Nov 19, 2012):

Last week I outlined the issue of collateral and how it is the most critical issue in the financial system today. For a review of that article, click here now.

If you want further evidence that the financial elites are already preparing for a default from Spain and a collateral crunch, you should consider that the large clearing houses (ICE, CEM and LCH which oversee the trading of the $700+ trillion derivatives market) have ALL begun accepting Gold as collateral.

Gold as Collateral Acceptable for Margin Cover Purposes

From 28 August 2012 unallocated Gold (Loco London) will be accepted by LCH.Clearnet Limited (LCH.Clearnet) as collateral for margin cover purposes.

This addition to acceptable margin collateral will be subject to the following criteria; Continue reading »

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Oct 17

These are interesting times:

- European Banks Need To Sell Up $4.5 TRILLION In Assets In Next 14 Months, IMF Warns


- Derivative Meltdown and Dollar Collapse (Batr, Oct 17, 2012):

The frightening prospects from a derivative meltdown, well known for years, seem to deepen with every measure to prop up a failing international financial system. The essay Greed is Good, but Derivatives are Better, characterizes the gamble game in this fashion:

“The elegance of derivatives is that the rules that defy nature are not involved in intangible swaps. The basic value in the payment from the risk is always dumped on the back of the taxpayer. Ponzi schemes are legal when government croupiers spin loaded balls on their fudged roulette tables.”

Under conventional international trading settlement, the world reserve currency is the Dollar. The loss of confidence in the Federal Reserve System causes a corresponding decline in value in U. S Treasury obligations. Add into this risk equation, derivative instruments that are deadly threats that can well destroy national currencies. One such response to this unchecked danger can be found in a Bloomberg Businessweek perceptive article, A Shortage of Bonds to Back Derivatives Bets, makes a stark forecast.

“Starting next year, new rules will force banks, hedge funds, and other traders to back up more of their bets in the $648 trillion derivatives market by posting collateral. While the rules are designed to prevent another financial meltdown, a shortage of Treasury bonds and other top-rated debt to use as collateral may undermine the effort to make the system safer.”

Continue reading »

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Sep 19


YouTube Added: 17.09.2012

If Nostradamus were alive today, he’d have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente.
– New York Post

When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente.
– CNN Headline News

There’s not a better trend forecaster than Gerald Celente. The man knows what he’s talking about.
- CNBC

Those who take their predictions seriously … consider the Trends Research Institute.
– The Wall Street Journal

A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many university faculties.
– The Economist

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Sep 16


YouTube Added: 15.09.2012

- Janet Tavakoli: Understanding Derivatives and Their Risks (ZeroHEdge, Sep 15, 2012):

Global financial markets are awash in hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives. By some estimates, the total amount exceeds one quadrillion.

Derivatives played a central role in the 2008 credit crisis, as they had a brutal multiplying effect on the magnitude of the carnage. As a bad asset was written down, oftentimes there were derivative contracts written against it that resulted in total losses 10x greater than the initial write-down.

But what exactly are derivatives? How do they work?

Continue reading »

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Sep 15

- US infrastructure on brink of thermodynamic breakdown (PressTV, Sep 14, 2012):

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that the country’s unemployment situation “remains a grave concern” as the hiring process in the job market stays sluggish.

“Fewer than half of the eight million jobs lost in the recession have been restored and at 8.1 percent, the unemployment rate is nearly unchanged since the beginning of the year and is well above normal levels,” Bernanke told reporters on Thursday, AFP reported.

Bernanke also pointed out that the Federal Reserve does not have the means to offset the economic shock from the public spending cuts and tax hikes, scheduled for the end of 2012.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Webster Griffin Tarpley, author and historian from Washington, to further talk over the issue. the following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: The Fed has announced that it will resume its policy of pumping more money into the economy. Will that be enough to stave off the unemployment?

Tarpley: No, it cannot. Right now we have an economic depression in the United States and around the world and the real unemployment in this country is much higher than the Federal Reserve seems to want to admit. It is about 30 million people minimum that are out of work which is significantly more than the government estimates.

The problem with the Federal Reserve is that they see their task as saving failed banks; we have to call them ‘zombie banks’ because they are bankrupt entities that sit there; they absorb government and Federal Reserve resources; they do not provide investment; they do not create jobs; there is no plan and equipment or capital goods investment going on.

Continue reading »

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Sep 11

- $648 Trillion Derivatives Market Faces New Collateral Concentration Risks (ZeroHedge, Sep 11, 2012):

In a sad case of deja vu all over again, the over-reliance on ‘shaky’ collateral and concentration of risk is building once more – this time in the $648 trillion derivatives market. New Clearing House rules (a la Dodd-Frank) mean derivatives counterparties are required to pledge high quality collateral with the clearing houses (or exchanges) in a more formalized manner to cover potential losses. However, the safety bid combined with Central Banks monetization of every sovereign risk asset onto their balance sheet has reduced the amount of quality collateral available; this scarcity of quality collateral creates liquidity problems. The dealers, ever willing to create fee-based business, have created a repo-like program to meet the needs of the desperate derivative counterparties – to enable them to transform lower-quality collateral into high quality collateral – which can then be posted to the clearing house or exchange.This collateral transformation, while meeting a need, runs the risk of concentrating illiquid low quality assets on bank balance sheets – as Bloomberg cites Darrel Duffie: “The dealers look after their own interests, and they won’t necessarily look after the systemic risks that are associated with this.” Regulators are aware of this but as always will be slow to react – until it becomes too big to fix. The CME already accepts corporate bonds as collateral, but the re-collateralization and potential for vicious circle cash calls or forced selling become notably higher as “We just keep piling on lots of operational risk as we convert one form of collateral into another,” said Richie Prager, global head of trading at New York-based BlackRock.

Continue reading »

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Aug 21

- Buffett Joins Team Whitney; Sees Muni Pain Ahead As He Unwinds Half Of His Bullish CDS Exposure Prematurely (ZeroHedge, Aug 20, 2012):

Just under two years ago, Meredith Whitney made a much maligned, if very vocal call, that hundreds of US municipalities will file for bankruptcy. She also put a timestamp on the call, which in retrospect was her downfall, because while she will ultimately proven 100% correct about the actual event, the fact that she was off temporally (making it seem like a trading call instead of a fundamental observation) merely had a dilutive impact of the statement. As a result she was initially taken seriously, causing a big hit to the muni market, only to be largely ignored subsequently even following several prominent California bankruptcies. This is all about to change as none other than Warren Buffett has slashed half of his entire municipal exposure, in what the WSJ has dubbed a “red flag” for the municipal-bond market. Perhaps another way of calling it is the second coming of Meredith Whitney’s muni call, this time however from an institutionalized permabull. Continue reading »

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Aug 15

- Aaaand It’s Gone: This Is Why You Always Demand Physical (ZeroHedge, Aug 14, 2012):

We have said it over and over, we’ll say it again. For all those who for one reason or another would like to boycott the broken markets, yet trade gold in paper form, please understand that all the invested capital is at risk of total loss and can and will be lost, commingled and rehypothecated, not necessarily in that order, with little to zero recourse and the residual claim on liquidating assets pushed to the very end of the queue. Because if Lehman, MF Global, Peregrine, and countless other examples were not enough, here comes Amber Gold: a gold-based investment ponzi scheme out of Poland, in which it is likely needless to say that the gullible investors never had actual possession of the gold. And when they tried, it was gone. All gone.

From the WSJ:

This week’s collapse of a gold-derivatives business that Polish regulators say was a Ponzi scheme has hit tens of thousands of customers, shaken confidence in the effectiveness of the nation’s financial regulation, and is roiling national politics in the European Union’s largest emerging economy.

On Monday, the company, Amber Gold, Sp. z o.o., which sold a gold-indexed investment of its own design and offered higher interest rates than banks, said it was halting operations. It pledged eventually to repay about $24 million it said it owed to roughly 50,000 clients in Poland.

Continue reading »

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Aug 02


YouTube Added: 01.08.2012

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Jul 20

- The Financial Crisis Was Foreseeable … Thousands of Years Ago (ZeroHedge, July 20, 2012):

We’ve known for 4,000 years that debts need to be periodically written down, or the entire economy will collapse. And see this.

We’ve known for 2,500 years that prolonged war bankrupts an economy.

Continue reading »

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Jul 17

- Criminal Inquiry Shifts To JPMorgan’s Mispricing Of Hundreds Of Billions In CDS: Is Dimon The Next Diamond? (ZeroHedge, July 16, 2012):

On the last day of May, when we first learned via Bloomberg that there was even the scantest likelihood that JPM may have been massaging its CDS marks within the (London-based of course) CIO organization – the backbone of hundreds of billions in notional exposure, and thus a huge counterfeited benefit to trader bonuses and corporate earnings – we wrote, The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived – Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps in which we explained precisely how this activity would and did take place, precisely why other traders caught doing the same are on the verge of being thrown in jail, precisely why everyone else does it, and precisely why the biggest CDS self-reporting and client/banker owned-organization (this is where images of Libor should appear), MarkIt, may well be implicated in everything – very much in the same way that the BBA is the heart of Lie-borgate. Because unlike all other allegations of impropriety, most of which rely on Level 2 and Level 3 assets whose valuations are in the eye of the oh so very sophisticated beholder (in this case JPM) who has complex DCFs and speaks confidently when explaining marks to naive, stupid outsiders (in other words baffles with bullshit), when it comes to one of the last places where Mark to Market is still applicable and used: the OTC CDS market, and where daily P&L records are kept, it will take any regulator, enforcer, or criminal investigator precisely 1 minute to find out if there was fraud, or gambling, going on here.

Then lo and behold, none other than JPM admitted minutes before releasing its Q2 earnings that it had been doing precisely what Zero Hedge accused it of doing nearly 2 months earlier (but of course Jamie Dimon had no idea, no idea, what the media accused his firm of doing), and in doing so exposed itself to just as much litigation risk as Barclays in the Lie-borgate scandal, while further throwing a monkey wrench into the CDS market, where all the other banks (who had been doing just the same), will no longer be able to pick off the bid/ask spread in the process crushing CDS trader bonuses, and resulting in billions in foregone imaginary profits.

Most importantly, it opened up the firm to a criminal investigation. Which as Reuters reports, is precisely what has now happened.

From Reuters’ Matt Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan: Continue reading »

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Jul 14

Flashback:

- Blythe Masters: JPMorgan Employee Who Invented Credit Default Swaps is One of the Key Architects of Carbon Derivatives, Which Would Be at the Very CENTER of Cap and Trade


- Define Irony: “The J.P.Morgan Guide To Credit Derivatives” By Blythe Masters (ZeroHedge, July 13, 2012):

As readers enjoy JPM squirm his way through the JPM conference call (webcast live) explaining how it is that he not only was fooled by the CIO traders to the tune of billions, but more importantly to mismark hundreds of billions in CDS over the years, here is some delightful irony: “The J.P.Morgan Guide To Credit Derivatives” By Blythe Masters. Because it is truly ironic that the firm which created CDS will be the one responsible for destroying them.

Investing in Credit Derivatives – Blythe Master

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Jun 27

“The Entire Global Economic System Is In Collapse.”


YouTube Added: 27.06.2012

If Nostradamus were alive today, he’d have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente.
– New York Post

When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente.
– CNN Headline News

There’s not a better trend forecaster than Gerald Celente. The man knows what he’s talking about.
- CNBC

Those who take their predictions seriously … consider the Trends Research Institute.
– The Wall Street Journal

A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many university faculties.
– The Economist

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Jun 16

- The U.S. Economy By The Numbers: 70 Facts That Barack Obama Does Not Want You To See (Economic Collapse, June 7, 2012):

Why is the economy going to collapse?  Have you ever been asked that question?  If so, what did you say?  Sometimes it is difficult to communicate dozens of complicated economic and financial concepts in a package that the average person on the street can easily digest.  It can be very frustrating to know that something is true but not be able to explain it clearly to someone else.  Hopefully many of you out there will find the list below useful.  It is a list of 70 numbers that show why we are headed for a national economic nightmare.  So why does the title of the article single out Barack Obama?  Well, it is because right now he is the biggest cheerleader for the economy.  He is attempting to convince all of us that everything is just fine and that the economy is heading in a positive direction.  Well, the truth is that everything is not fine and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  Certainly others should share in the blame as well.  Congress has been steering the economy in the wrong direction for decades, the “too big to fail” banks have turned Wall Street into a pyramid of risk, leverage and debt, and the Federal Reserve has more power over the financial system than anyone else does.  Our economy has been in decline for quite a while now, and soon we are going to smash directly into an economic brick wall.  Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are in denial about this.  A lot of people out there doubt that an economic collapse is coming.  Well, if you know someone that believes that the U.S. economy is going to be “just fine”, just show them the list below.

The following are 70 facts that Barack Obama does not want you to see…. Continue reading »

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Jun 16

- When The Derivatives Market Crashes (And It Will) U.S. Taxpayers Will Be On The Hook (Economic Collapse, May 29, 2012):

Warren Buffett once said that derivatives are “financial weapons of mass destruction”, and that statement is more true today than it ever has been before.  Recently, JP Morgan made national headlines when it announced that it was going to take a 2 billion dollar loss from derivatives trades gone bad.  Well, it turns out that JP Morgan did not tell us the whole truth.  As you will see later in this article, most analysts are estimating that the losses will eventually be far larger than 2 billion dollars.  But no matter how bad things get for JP Morgan, it will not be allowed to fail.  JP Morgan is the largest bank in the United States, so it is essentially the “granddaddy” of the too big to fail banks.  If JP Morgan gets to the point where it is about to collapse, the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will rush in to save it.  Because of this “security blanket”, banks such as JP Morgan feel free to take outrageous risks.  Today, JP Morgan has more exposure to derivatives than anyone else in the world.  If they win, they win big.  If they lose, U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook.  Not only that, but thanks to Dodd-Frank, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for bailing out the major derivatives clearinghouses if there is ever a major derivatives crisis.  So when the derivatives market crashes (and it will) you and I will be left holding a gigantic bill. Continue reading »

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Jun 11

- Spanish CDS Storms Above 600bps (ZeroHedge, June 11, 2012):

Spanish 5Y CDS broke back above 600bps (just shy of their record 603bps level) and 35bps wider of their intrday low spread from 5 hours ago. Spanish 10Y yields are over 50bps wider/higher than their intraday lows just after the open in Europe. Italy also just broke 550bps. EURUSD is almost unch now.

Spain 5Y CDS > 600bps

Italy 5Y CDS > 550bps

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Jun 06

See also:

- Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: Washington’s Hypocrisies – ‘The US Government Is The Second Worst Human Rights Abuser On The Planet And The Sole Enabler Of The Worst–Israel’

- Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: Recovery Or Collapse? Bet On Collapse! – ‘In The End, The Financial Crisis Could Destroy Western Civilization’

- Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: Disinformation On Every Front

An article about Dr. Paul Craig Roberts:

- Mindless Masses (Veterans Today)


Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

paul-craig-roberts
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

- Collapse At Hand (Paul Craig Roberts, June 5, 2012):

Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and Quantitative Easing, the question has been before us:  How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits?  Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued.

In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position.  It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.

The question is: when is sooner or later?  The purpose of this article is to examine that question. Continue reading »

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May 31

- The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived – Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps (ZeroHedge, May 30, 2012):

As anyone who has ever traded CDS (or any other OTC, non-exchange traded product) knows, when you have a short risk position, unless compliance tells you to and they rarely do as they have no idea what CDS is most of the time, you always mark the EOD price at the offer, and vice versa, on long risk positions, you always use the bid. That way the P&L always looks better. And for portfolios in which the DV01 is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or much, much more if your name was Bruno Iksil), marking at either side of an illiquid market can result in tens if not hundreds of millions of unrealistic profits booked in advance, simply to make one’s book look better, mostly for year end bonus purposes. Apparently JPM’s soon to be fired Bruno Iksil was no stranger to this: as Bloomberg reports, JPM’s CIO unit “was valuing some of its trades at  prices that differed from those of its investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter. The discrepancy between prices used by the chief investment office and JPMorgan’s credit-swaps dealer, the biggest in the U.S., may have obscured by hundreds of millions of dollars the magnitude of the loss before it was disclosed May 10, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter.I’ve never run into anything like that,” said Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s Brad Hintz in New York. “That’s why you have a centralized accounting group that’s comparing marks” between different parts of the bank “to make sure you don’t have any outliers,” said the former chief financial officer of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.” Continue reading »

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May 12

- How Did JPMorgan Lose Billions In One Trade? London ‘Whale’ Explained (International Business Times, May 11, 2012):

The now-notorious JP Morgan Chase and Company trading activity the bank says will cost it upwards of $3 billion has yet to be detailed, but analyzing earlier reports of unusual activity by a JP Morgan unit the past few weeks helps bring the sequence of events that led to the huge loss into focus.

It all seemed to start in early April. Hedge fund players in the opaque market for synthetic credit-default swap instruments (CDS) complained to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News that a trader at JP Morgan’s U.K. office was distorting the market with his massive bets.

Continue reading »

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Apr 17

- Spain Goes Irish On Regions (ZeroHedge, April 16, 2012):

Slowly but surely, the Spanish authorities are gradually socializing the rest of the world to the dismal truth that we have been so vociferously arguing – that their debt levels (or more specifically their debt/GDP ratios) are significantly higher (explicitly) than their current official data suggest. Today’s news, via the WSJ, that the Spanish government may take over some regions’ finances, in an attempt to shore up investor confidence (just as Ireland did with its banks and we know how well that worked out?) is yet another step closer to the ‘realization’  that all that is “contingent” is actually “explicitly guaranteed.” As we noted here, this leaves Spain’s Debt/GDP nearer 135% than its ‘official’ 68.5%. The WSJ notes comments from a top government official that “there will soon be new tools to control regional spending” and that they may take over at least one of the country’s cash-strapped regions this year. As we broke down extensively here, this is no surprise as yet another group of political elite find the truth harder to deal with than the blinkered optimism they face the media with every day and yet as PM Rajoy notes “Nobody can expect that deep-seated problems be solved in just a few weeks”, the irony of the euphoria felt around the world at the optical rally in Spanish spreads for the first few months of the year is not lost as Spain heads back into the abyss ahead of pending auctions and what appears to be more ponzified guarantees of regional finances (as long as they promise to pay it back and have ‘a plan’). The simple truth is, as acknowledged by Rajoy, Spain has lost the trust of financial markets.

It seems that CDS markets have been ahead of the reality in Spain’s true credit situation as it is perhaps a little easier to manipulate a few bonds than an entire sovereign CDS market. The velocity of the most recent move suggests some short-term action by the politicians/ECB soon enough though their failed attempt today suggests the wholesale exit of real money is a hole too big for even the ECB to comfortably fill – and furthermore, as we have noted, every bond the ECB buys via SMP increases the default risk (or more clearly reduces recoveries) on existing bondholders and thus making a situation worse…

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Apr 09

- Spain: The Ultimate Doomsday Presentation (ZeroHedge, April 7, 2012):

Since we have grown tired of variations on the theme of “The Pain in ….” (having been guilty of encouraging it ourselves), we will spare readers this triteness, and instead summarize the attached must read slidedeck from Carmel Asset Management as the ultimate Spanish doomsday presentation. Naive and/or idealistic Spanish readers are advised to resume sticking their heads in the sand, and to stay as far away as possible from the attached 54 pages, which prove without any doubt why not only was Greece the appetizer (have your UK law:non-UK Law divergence trade on yet?) but why things in Europe are about to get far, far worse, as the Hurricane shifts to its next preferred location, somewhere above and just south of the Pyrenees.

In summary, here are Carmel’s five reasons why Spain’s problems are worse than the market anticipates: Continue reading »

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Apr 08

See also:

- JPMorgan’s Blythe Masters On The Blogosphere, Silver Manipulation, Gold-Axed Clients And Doing The ‘Wrong’ Thing (VIDEO)

- JPMorgan Illegally Let Lehman Brothers Count Customers’ Funds As Its Own

- TBTF Get TBTFer: Top 5 Banks Hold 95.7%, Or $221 Trillion, Of Outstanding Derivatives


- JPMorgan Trader Accused Of “Breaking” CDS Index Market With Massive Prop Position (ZeroHedge, April 5, 2012):

Earlier today we listened with bemused fascination as Blythe Masters explained to CNBC how JPMorgan’s trading business is “about assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks and ensuring access to capital so they can make the kind of large long-term investments that are needed in the long run to expand the supply of commodities.” You know – provide liquidity. Like the High Freaks. We were even ready to believe it, especially when Blythe conveniently added that JPM has a “matched book” meaning no net prop exposure, since the opposite would indicate breach of the Volcker Rule. …And then we read this: “A JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader of derivatives linked to the financial health of corporations has amassed positions so large that he’s driving price moves in the multi-trillion dollar market, according to traders outside the firm.” Say what? A JPMorgan trader has a prop (not flow, not client, not non-discretionary) position so big it is moving the entire market? And we are talking hundreds of billions of CDS notional. But… that would mean everything Blythe said is one big lie… It would also mean that JPMorgan is blatantly and without any regard for legislation, ignoring the Volcker rule, which arrived in the aftermath of Merrill Lynch doing precisely this with various CDO and credit indexes, and “moving the market” only to blow itself up and cost taxpayers billions when the bets all LTCMed. But wait, it gets better: “In some cases, [the trader] is believed to have “broken” the index — Wall Street lingo for the market dysfunction that occurs when a price gap opens up between the index and its underlying constituents.” So JPMorgan is now privately accused of “breaking” the CDS Index market, courtesy of its second to none economy of scale and fear no reprisal for any and all actions, and in the process causing untold losses to, you guessed it, its clients, but when it comes to allegations of massive manipulation in the precious metals market, why Blythe will tell you it is all about “assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks.” Which client would that be – Lehman, or MFGlobal? Perhaps it is time for a follow up interview, Ms Masters to clarify some of these outstanding points?

From Bloomberg:

The trader is London-based Bruno Iksil, according to five counterparts at hedge funds and rival banks who requested anonymity because they’re not authorized to discuss the transactions. He specializes in credit-derivative indexes, an off-exchange market that during the past decade has overtaken corporate bonds to become the biggest forum for investors betting on the likelihood of company defaults.

Investors complain that Iksil’s trades may be distorting prices, affecting bondholders who use the instruments to hedge hundreds of billions of dollars of fixed-income holdings. Analysts and economists also use the indexes to help gauge interest rates that companies must pay for new credit.

Though Iksil reveals little to other traders about his own positions, they say they’ve taken the opposite side of transactions and that his orders are the biggest they’ve encountered. Two hedge-fund traders said they have seen unusually large price swings when they were told by dealers that Iksil was in the market.

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Mar 26

What could possibly go wrong?


- TBTF Get TBTFer: Top 5 Banks Hold 95.7%, Or $221 Trillion, Of Outstanding Derivatives (ZeroHedge, Mar 26, 2012):

Every quarter the Office of the Currency Comptroller releases its report on Bank Derivative Activities, and every quarter we find that the Too Big To Fail get Too Bigger To Fail. To wit: in Q4 2011, of the total $230.8 trillion in US outstanding derivatives, the Top 5 banks (JPM, BofA, Morgan Stanley, Goldman and HSBC) accounted for 95.7% of all Derivatives. In some respects this is good news: in Q2, the Top 5 banks held 95.9% of the $250 trillion in derivatives. Unfortunately it is also bad news, because $220 trillion is more than enough for the world to collapse in a daisy chained failure of bilateral netting (which not even all the central banks in the world can offset). What is the worst news, is that the just released report indicates that in addition to everything else, we have now hit peak delusion, as banks now report to the OCC that a record high 92.2% of gross credit exposure is “bilaterally netted.” While we won’t spend much time on this issue now, it is safe to say that bilateral netting is the biggest lie in modern finance (read How US Banks Are Lying About Their European Exposure; Or How Bilateral Netting Ends With A Bang, Not A Whimper for an explanation of this fraud which was exposed completely in the AIG collapse). And just to put this in global perspective, according to the BIS in the first half of 2011, global derivative gross exposure increased by $107 trillion to a record $707 trillion. It will be quite interesting to get the full year report to see if this acceleration in gross exposure has increased. Because if it has, we will now know that in 2011 European banks were forced up to load up on several hundred trillion in mostly interest rate swap exposure. Which can only mean one thing: when and if central banks lose control of government bond curves, an rates start moving wider again, the global margin call will be unprecedented. Until then we can just delude ourselves that central planners have everything under control, have everything under control, have everything under control.

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Mar 10

- The Eight Hundred Pound Greek Gorilla Enters The Room (ZeroHedge, Mar 10, 2012):

“After an increase of only 3% in the second half of 2010, total notional amounts outstanding of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives rose by 18% in the first half of 2011, reaching $708 trillion by the end of June 2011. Notional amounts outstanding of credit default swaps (CDS) grew by 8%, while outstanding equity-linked contracts went up by 21%.”

-The Bank for International Settlements, Nov. 2011

The Rub

We all have been staring at the Greek sovereign debt and then the Greek CDS contracts. It was 1/13/10 when I first predicted that Greece would default and what a long and winding road it has been; similar to some hallucinogenic experience manufactured by Timothy Leary. Sometime soon, given what has taken place, I expect the ratings agencies to place Greece in “Default” and with their banks following. The markets are “Ho-Humming” and the conversations revolves around “Net” CDS exposure and the write-downs that have already taken place at the European banks. Please recall AIG and what happened with Lehman and what do we find this morning; KA Finanz, the Austrian bad bank, faces $1.32 billion in losses due to their exposure to the Greek CDS contracts according to a Bloomberg article. So now we will wait and see who else is on the hook, who may be seriously impaired, because the Gross number of about $79 billion for Greek CDS is about to enter center stage.

It Gets Far Worse

I hold up my hand, “One moment please” as I introduce you to the 800 pound Greek Gorilla that is about to enter the room. Allow me to now present to you the “OTHER” Greek debt that is outstanding and will have to be accounted for as the country defaults. Detailed below are some of the “OTHER” sovereign obligations of the Greek government which have now been submitted to the ISDA and I list some of them below. You will note that there are bank bonds, Hellenic Railway bonds, Urban Transportation bonds et al that are guaranteed by Greece. You will also note that there are bonds tied to Inflation, Floating Rate Notes, Asset-Backed securities and a whole mélange of other structured products with a Greek sovereign guarantee. What we all thought was fact is now clearly fiction and default will now bring “Acceleration” one could reasonably bet in all kinds of these securitizations and in all kinds of currencies.  This could come from the ratings agencies placing Greece in “Default” or it could come from the CDS contracts being triggered depending upon each indenture and you will also note that a great many of these off balance sheet securitizations are governed by English Law and not Greek Law. You may also wish to consider the fallout to the banking system as the lead managers of all of these deals could find themselves behind the eight ball as various clauses trigger and as the holders of these securitizations line up at the judicial bench [ZH note: there is a reason why Allen & Overy is getting paid $1500 an hour to indemnify ISDA with a plethora of exculpation clauses - they know what is coming] The ISDN numbers are on all of these securities and the lead managers may be found on Bloomberg or other sources as well as the holders of the debt.  The curtain just lifted and the show is about to get way too interesting!

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Mar 10

- Moody’s: Greek sovereign credit rating remains at C (Reuters, Mar 9, 2012):

March 9 – Moody’s Investors Service says that it considers Greece to have defaulted per Moody’s default definitions further to the conclusion of an exchange of EUR177 billion of Greece’s debt that is governed by Greek law for bonds issued by the Greek government, GDP-linked securities, European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) notes. Foreign-law bonds are eligible for the same offer, and Moody’s expects a similar debt exchange to proceed with these bondholders, as well as the holders of state-owned enterprise debt that has been guaranteed by the state, in the coming weeks. The respective securities will enter our default statistics at the tender expiration date, which is was Thursday 8 March for the Greek law bonds and is currently expected to be 23 March for foreign law bonds. Greece’s government bond rating remains unchanged at C, the lowest rating on Moody’s rating scale.

Moody’s understands that 85.8% of debtholders holding Greek-law bonds issued by the sovereign have agreed to the exchange, with the vast majority of remaining bondholders likely to be drawn in following the exercise of Collective Action Clauses that will be inserted pursuant to a recent Act by the Greek parliament. The terms of the exchange entail a discount – a loss to creditors – of at least 70% on the net present value of existing debt. According to Moody’s definitions, this exchange represents a `distressed exchange’, and therefore a debt default. This is because (i) the exchange amounts to a diminished financial obligation relative to the original obligation, and (ii) the exchange has the effect of allowing Greece to avoid payment default in the future.

- Greece averts immediate default, markets sceptical (Reuters, Mar 9, 2012):

Greece averted the immediate threat of an uncontrolled default on Friday, winning strong acceptance from its private creditors for a bond swap deal which will eat into its mountainous public debt and clear the way for a new bailout.

With euro zone ministers set to approve the 130 billion euro (109 billion pounds) rescue, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared the Greek problem had been settled – just as Germany said that any impression the crisis was over “would be a big mistake.”

Markets sharply marked down the value of new Greek bonds to be issued to the creditors, reflecting the risk of paralysis after elections expected this spring and doubts about whether Athens can bring its debt to a more manageable level by 2020.

Sarkozy, who is trailing his socialist challenger for the presidency before France’s own elections in April and May, pronounced the Greek deal a major success.

“Today the problem is solved,” he said in the southern French city of Nice. “A page in the financial crisis is turning.”

Euro zone finance ministers held a teleconference call and were expected to declare Athens had met the tough terms of the bailout, its second since 2010, and to authorise the release of funds which the country needs to meet heavy debt repayments later this month and avoid bankruptcy.

On the streets of Athens, some Greeks denounced the deal as a sham that would impose more crippling austerity on a people already enduring pay and pension cuts and soaring unemployment.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was also in a more sombre mood than Sarkozy, issuing a warning to Athens which has a record of failing to meet its promises of reform and austerity made to international lenders.

“Greece has today got a clear opportunity to recover. But the precondition is that Greece uses this opportunity,” he told a news conference. “It would be a big mistake to give the impression that the crisis has been resolved. They have an opportunity to solve it and they must use it.”

Under the biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history, Greece’s private creditors will swap their old bonds for new ones with a much lower face value, lower interest rates and longer maturities, meaning they will lose about 74 percent on the value of their investments.

“A VERY GOOD DAY”

Data published on Friday underlined the depth of Greece’s problems. It showed the economy shrank 7.5 percent in 2011, marking the fourth successive year of recession.

That was worse even than 1974, when Greece’s military dictatorship collapsed following a confrontation with Turkey over Cyprus and as a leap in oil prices hit economies around the world. That year the Greek economy shrank 6.4 percent.

Nevertheless, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos hailed the bond swap, which the European Union and IMF had demanded in return for the new bailout, as marking a long-awaited success for all Greeks enduring a painful recession.

“I hope everyone will realise, sooner or later, that this is the only way to keep the country on its feet and give it the second historic chance that it needs,” Venizelos, who led often ill-tempered negotiations with the EU and IMF, told parliament.

He said the bond deal had cut its debt by 105 billion euros.

- Greece Has Defaulted: Here Is Where We Stand (ZeroHedge, Mar 9, 2012):

After reading this, everyone should have a fairly good grasp of what happened not only today, but ever since the great (and quite endless) European financial crisis took center stage, and what to look forward to next…

From Chindit13

In a nutshell—okay, a coconut shell—this seems to be where we are:

1)  Greece was able to write off 100 billion euros worth of debt in exchange for a 130 billion rescue package of new debt, of which Greece itself will receive 19%, or about 25 billion, so that it can continue to operate as an ongoing concern.  Somehow Greece is in a better position than before, with more debt and less sovereignty and still—by virtue of sharing a common currency—trying to compete toe-to-toe with the likes of Germany and the Netherlands, kind of like being the Yemeni National Basketball team in an Olympic bracket that includes the US, Spain and Germany.  At least a “within the euro” default prevented bank runs in Portugal, Spain, Italy et al.

2)  As a result of the bond haircuts, Greece has many pension plans that can no longer even pretend to be viable, at least according to the original contracted scheme, but pensionholders still working can take heart in the fact that their current wages will be cut, too.

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Mar 08

- Did Greek Bond And CDS Traders Just Ring The Bell? (ZeroHedge, Mar 8, 2012)

- Greek Reports Peg PSI Participation At “Over 75%”(ZeroHedge, Mar 8, 2012)

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Mar 03

- ‘How Did You Not Notice 24-Year-Olds Were Being Paid $2 Million A Year Who Clearly Didn’t Know Anything?’ (ZeroHedge, Mar 2, 2012):

Michael Lewis’ scathing, aphoristic, uber-sarcastic style need no introduction. As such we will leave this brief clip from Slate, in which The Big Short author is asked how to avoid a new financial crisis, without much commentary (the answer is that under the current status quo system it is impossible to guarantee no more financial collapses, even if Glass-Steagall were to be unwound, but that is the topic for another story), suffice to point out the punchline: “future generations will wonder, “How did you not notice 24-year-olds were being paid $2 million a year who clearly didn’t know anything?” That pretty much sums it up right there.

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Feb 28

- ECB puts Greek banks on emergency aid after downgrade (Reuters, Feb. 28, 2012):

Greece’s central bank is likely to step in to smooth funding for the country’s banks after an earlier-than-expected downgrade of the nation’s credit rating prevented them from borrowing against Greek government bonds.

- S&P Declares Greece in Default (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2012):

Greece became the first euro-zone member officially to be rated in default, 13 years after the single European currency was adopted to strengthen the European Union.

Standard & Poor’s cut Greece’s long-term credit rating to selective default from double-C. The move was expected, as S&P said this month that it would consider Greece in default if it added “collective-action” clauses to its sovereign debt, effectively forcing all bondholders to accept a bond-swap offering. …

- The Greek Default Begins (Sky News, Feb. 28, 2012):

The talking is over; it is finally happening. For the first time since World War Two, a developed nation is going into default.

That’s the significance of the events of the past 24 hours, with Greece’s debt being classified as in “selective default” and the European Central Bank banning it from its cash window. Months of planning by both banks and policymakers have gone into ensuring that Greece’s negotiated default will be a smooth painless process. We are about to find out whether that planning pays off.

Now, we shouldn’t be surprised by Standard & Poor’s decision to cut the rating on Greece’s sovereign debt from CC to SD (which stands for “selective default”). The ratings agencies had always said that, given private investors are about to lose just over half the value of their debt (through a complex bond swap), this downgrade would be a natural consequence.

Nor should we be shocked that the ECB says it will no longer accept Greek debt as collateral: in fact, the only surprise is that it’s taken this long – on the basis of the ECB’s previous policy, the bonds should have become ineligible when were first downgraded from investment status two years ago.

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