Roughly two years ago, I penned a piece called How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! It outlined the end result of Greece attempting to hide sparse demand for its debt by forcing its banks to binge on it using excessive leverage. Of course, once you eat too much garbage, you start to stink, and eventually... Well, let's look at it from a visual perspective:

image001

 Greece and the ECB kicked the can down the road for two years, but as fate would have it... Reality rears its ugly head, as exemplified in today's MSM headline from CNBC: Record Losses at Greek Banks Show Pain of Bond Swap

Greece's top banks posted historic losses for 2011 on Friday, hit by a bond swap last month that blew holes in their balance sheets and nearly wiped out their capital base.

Together, National, Alpha, Eurobank and Piraeus, posted an aggregate loss of 28.2 billion euros ($37.3 billion), about 10 times their current market worth or 13 percent of the country's GDP .

The banks treated losses from last month's bond swap to cut the country's debts — part of a rescue package for Greece negotiated with the European Union and International Monetary Fund — as if they took place last year.

Inflicting real losses of about 74 percent on bondholders, Greece's debt swap proved a near fatal financial torpedo for lenders, crippling the sector's capital base.

From the big four banks, only Alpha spelled out clearly where this left its Core Tier 1 capital ratio. The other three reported where capital ratios would land after their use of standby funds provided by a capital backstop, the Hellenic financial Stability Fund (HFSF).

Alpha's core capital ratio (Tier 1) fell to 3 percent. Eurobank [EFG-FF  0.61    0.004 (+0.66%)   ], the country's second biggest, did not disclose the figure but said the hit left it with total equity of 875 million euros.

National Bank [NAG-FF  1.73    -0.02  (-1.14%)   ], the country's biggest lender with operations in Turkey, said its Core Tier 1 ratio would reach 6.3 percent, taking into account the use of a 6.9 billion euros standby facility provided by the HFSF fund.

Piraeus gave no Tier 1 figure but said tapping up to 5 billion euros of HFSF funds would boost its total capital adequacy ratio to 9.7 percent.

Greek bank shares have shed 74 percent in the last 12 months, underperforming the Greek stock market which is down 50 percent.

...Battered by a shrinking deposit base, rising loan impairments and unable to access wholesale funding markets, banks will need to fill the resulting capital shortfall and meet capital adequacy targets set by the central bank.

They face a core Tier 1 target of 9 percent by end-September.

... With the economy mired in recession...

I think its fair to say "depression' at this point. The destruction of the banking system is what pushed the US over the edge in the early 1900s, and it had a lot more going for it than Greece does.

... and unemployment at a record 21.8 percent, asset quality deteriorated, meaning banks' non-performing loans rose further — by 130 basis points to 12.9 percent of Alpha's loan book. Eurobank's bad debt provisions rose 4.7 percent last year.

Relevant BoomBustBlog research:

File IconGreece Public Finances Projections

File IconBanks exposed to Central and Eastern Europe

File IconGreek Banking Fundamental Tear Sheet

Those who follow me know that I have warned of this ad nauseum, through a variety of venues and media, focusing particularly on the destructive damage the bank collapses will bring, again...

image008

This will be exacerbated by a re-default of the Greek debt that was designed to bail out the defaulted Greek debt. Why will this happen? Greece has severe, rigid structural problems that simply cannot (and will not) be solved by throwing indebted liquidity at it. As a matter of fact, the additional debt simply exacerbates the problem - significantly! This was detailed in the post Beware The Overly Optimistic Greek Speculators As Icarus Comes Crashing Down To Earth!

Two years ago in "Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe", Prodi Says - I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! I compared the then Grecian situation to that of Damocles. Well, things have gotten much worse since then and I believe I was one of the most bearish (and accurate) at that time. Now, Greece resembles Icarus tumbling down from the skies, drenched in Hubris. Subscribers can download my full thoughts on Greece's sustainability post bailout here - debt restructuring_maturity extension blog - March 2012. Professional and institutional subscribers should feel free to email me in order to receive a copy of the Greek restructuring model used to create these charts and come to these conclusions.

Despite extensive, self-defeating, harsh and punitive austerity measures that have combined with a lack of true economic stimulus, Greece has (to date) failed to achieve Primary Balance. For the non-economists in the audience, primary balance is the elimination of a primary deficit, yet the absence of a primary surplus, ex. the midpoint between deficit and surplus before taking into consideration interest payments.

Greece_Primary_balance

The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have.

Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default!

Greece_Primary_deficit_copy

This situation will simply get worse, considerably worse. I demonstrated in the post The Ugly Truth About The Greek Situation That'sToo Difficult Broadcast Through Mainstream Media that anyone who purchased the last set of bailout bonds from Greece will simply lose their money as well (that's right, just like those who purchased the previous set) since Greece is still running deep in structural problems and can't afford the interest nor the principal on its borrowing. It's really that simple. 

Unlike as portrayed in the media, Greece is not a standout profligate child, but simply a microcosm of what is to come to a good portion of Europe. Just scan today's headlines for evidence of such.... German Manufacturing Shrinks Fastest Since 2009

Of course it did. Germany is a net export nation whose trading partners are dancing between hard landings, serial recessions, and outright depression! Exactly how does one expect this song to be sung? Let me count the ways for you, as Germany is currently the undeserved linchpin to what's left of EU fiscal integrity. Reference The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You...

I believe Germany poses the biggest threat to global harmony for 2012. Here's why...

... That's right, a 10% loss in bunds translates into a near 50% loss in tangible equity to this insurer, which would realistically be 60% plus as the rest of the EU portfolio will compress in solidarity. Combine this with the fact that insurers operating results are facing historically unprecedented stress (see You Can Rest Assured That The Insurance Industry Is In For Guaranteed Losses!) and it's not hard to imagine marginal insurers seeing equity totally wiped out. The same situation is evident in banks and pension funds as well as real estate entities dependent on financing in the near to medium term - basically, the entire FIRE sector in both European and US markets (that's right, don't believe those who say the US banks have decoupled from Europe).

Read the entire article, The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You..., to get the full picture.

Then there's my warnings on the foolishness of believing the Dutch economy will walk through this unscathed. The MSM headlines are awash with Dutch gossip: 

Alas, the problem is that there is significant weakness driving fears throughout the Dutch government and those that can count in Dutch finance, as clearly described over a year ago. Reference We're At Step 2 Of The Global Real Estate Compression:

I have actually discussed the Dutch market in depth at the ING conference...

Keynote presentation

Yes, "The Real Estate Recession/Depression is Here, Eurocalypse Style". We have already identified a Dutch real estate short candidate - subscribers (click here to subscribe), please download Northern Europe CRE short candidate #1. This company is suffering from a variety of maladies that, on an individual basis, may not seem that bad but once aggregated put it on the same path that GGP was on. The difference? This is after the so-called economic recovery, in the conservative EU state of the Netherlands, and right before the massive rate storm that will bethe Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis that I have warned about since 2009. The result, many properties that will either be difficult or impossible to refinance or roll over. Again, subscribers, reference Dutch REIT Debt Analysis, Blog Subscriber Edition. This is a succinct illustration of how this company will not be able to rollover much of its debt, and the absolute lack of recognition of such by the markets. Of interest is the fact that the number 3 short candidate on our short list is over 50% owned by this company  (which came in as #!). With friends such as that, who needs enemies!

Q&A and discussion, part 1

Q&A and discussion, part 2

Then there's the obvious that many refuse to admit - Spain's Economy Shrank in First Quarter: Central Bank. I went through this in detail last week in the post The Spain Pain Will Not Wane: Continuing the Contagion Saga.
This is not about doom and gloom, it is simple math. Very simpe math, and it will engulf much of Europe. Again, simply scan today's headlines...
There is significant, and I do mean significant opportunity for those strategic and patient macro-fundamental investors who can sit back and wait. I plan on leading a charge for distressed Euopean assets to be divulged by these banks and their sovereign domiciles and am looking for like minded individuals, reference The EurAsian Global Distressed Asset Acquisition Initiative. I will post more on this initiative for Professional/Institutional subscribers, hopefully later on today or tomorrow.

As usual, I can be reached via the following (or directly via email), and urge all who rely on the perennially wrong sell side to subscribe to BoomBustBlog:

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Published in BoomBustBlog

Reggie Middleton at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

Reggie Middleton at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

The petrodollar rich nation of Abu Dhabi, outside of having an extremely rich and Arabic culture, is in the possession of the unique opportunity to capitalize on the plight of the EU and affected nations of the coming Eurocalypse. Fresh back from my fact finding trip through the UAE, I noticed the MSM had the headline Abu Dhabi Royals Involved in RBS Talks. In short, RBS, the 83% British taxpayer owned debacle of a bank is again in search of capital, but this time shrouded in the haze of the government selling off a portion of its stake at a significant loss. 

RBS was heavily levered in rapidly depreciating toxic assets as a result of its ABN Amro purchase, and its executives obviously failed to subscribe to BoomBustBlog, for they took a royal (pun fully intended) Greek bathing on their Greek bond investments. Remember, I warned of an explicit Greek default two years ago and like simple arithmetic dictated, defaults came:

As a matter of fact, I warn those who do not subscribe to the BoomBust, this song is not yet over... Beware The Overly Optimistic Greek Speculators As Icarus Comes Crashing Down To Earth!

 

Greece_Primary_balance 

That being said, cash rich nations such as the UAE see gold in them thar hills. Personally, I doubt if the hills are made of gold, but there is definitely some gold buried within, even if it is at $1,700 per ounce. I would instruct my clients to go on an asset buying binge from the banks, developers and asset management funds versus attempting to buy the funds directly, or better yet use structured assets to gain exposure to said troubled assets. Many banks, like RBS, will get hit more than once from borrowers such as Greece. As queried many times on this blog, "What do you think, pray tell, happens when the liquidity starved, capital deprived, over leveraged banks fail to roll over all of that underwater EU mortgage debt?"

Slide21

Investors seeking safety in Germany, the UK and France may truly be in for a rude awakening!

Slide22

Reggie Middleton Featured in Property EU, one of Europe's leading real estate publications

Those who wish to download the full article in PDF format can do so here: Reggie Middleton on Stagflation, Sovereign Debt and the Potential for bank Failure at the ING ACADEMY-v2.

Go to 14:35 in the following video for one such idea...

Spitting the truth regarding Greek bailouts on CNBC (I'm the second guest)...

It's not just CRE and RE assets that are available via fire sale, as clearly outlined two years ago in our subscriber (click here to subscribe) report File Icon Greece Public Finances Projections see pages 5 and 6 following...

thumb_Greece_public_finances_projections1_Page_05

thumb_Greece_public_finances_projections1_Page_06

The MSM chimed in on this concept two years later... Greece Makes Asset Sales Look Bad, but Are They?

And though all of these countries have felt the heat from the markets, Greece has become almost synonymous with the deep crisis at the heart of the euro zone, which has hollowed out its appeal to investors.

"It is not clear Greece has the luxury of doing anything in an optimal way; they are basically burning the furniture just to get by," Bill Megginson, Professor of Finance at the University of Oklahoma, told Reuters.

"But other countries, especially where the crisis seems to have abated a bit, like Italy and Spain, they could and they probably will." Greece came up with plans for asset sales to convince its lenders it was serious about reforming its uncompetitive economy and also to raise funds to pay down its debt mountain.

But the EU and IMF, which pushed Greece for bolder and more detailed plans as to how it would deliver on its promises, have become increasingly frustrated with the country's repeated failure to meet targets.

Despite a reluctance to sell assets in such poor market conditions, Greece - which aims to raise 19 billion euros ($25 billion) from privatizations by 2015 - has begun ramping up its efforts, including inviting bids for state-owned natural gas company DEPA and the management rights to its Olympic broadcasting complex.

It plans to put stakes in betting monopoly OPAP and refiner Hellenic Petroleumup for sale by May, Greece's chief privatization official said.

But its tight timeframe and ambitious targets, already scaled back from 50 billion euros, suggest it will struggle to meet its price expectations.

Funded by like minded strategic capital sources, there are a plethora of delicious assets for the picking across the EU and UK. Now may be a tad bit premature to jump, but it is a good time to start priming the pump. All who are interested in ideas such as these should feel free to contact me.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Two years ago in "Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe", Prodi Says - I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! I compared the then Grecian situation to that of Damocles. Well, things have gotten much worse since then and I believe I was one of the most bearish (and accurate) at that time. Now, Greece resembles Icarus tumbing down from the skies, drenched in Hubris. Subscribers can download my full thoughts on Greece's sustainability post bailout here - debt restructuring_maturity extension blog - March 2012. Professional and institutional subscribers should feel free to email me in order to receive a copy of the Greek restructuring model used to create these charts and come to these conclusions.

Despite extensive, self-defeating, harsh and punitive austerity measures that have combined with a lack of true economic stimulus, Greece has (to date) failed to achieve Primary Balance. For the non-economists in the audience, primary balance is the elimination of a primary deficit, yet the absence of a primary surplus, ex. the midpoint between deficit and surplus before taking into consideration interest payments.

Greece_Primary_balance

The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have.

Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default!

Greece_Primary_deficit_copy

The best analogy I’ve heard for the Grecian situation is the highly indebted family that has binged on credit cards creating huge interest and debt service payments. They then lose the earning power of one of the parents at the same time that a spike in medical bills and household repairs (ex. Murphy’s law) dig deeper into family finances. The family is then forced to continue spending via credit cards to meet these unforeseen expenses.

In short, the main reason for Greece requiring additional funding is its primary deficit but the main reason why this latest (as well as the two rounds before this latest) round of bailout funding won’t work is Greece’s primary deficit.

  • Even with the elimination of interest payments Greece will spiral downward.
  • Even with the near total absolution of its debt, as in a 90% haircut of the most recent bonds issued (which were swapped for bonds of which investors took an effective 74% haircut), Greece will spiral downward.
  • That is the likely reason why these newest bonds back by EU/IMF bailout economic capital are already trading 70 points below par and rated CCC.
  • These bonds are almost definitely slated for a 90%+ haircut by 2016.

With the expectation that austerity measures are not going to drastically reduce Greece’s expenditure in the coming fiscal quarters, and the revenue has no visible source of acceleration either, the assumption built into our modeling is that Greece will continue to experience primary and (as a result) fiscal deficit.

Long story, short - anyone who has purchased this latest round of bonds from Greece should expect a very, very nasty haircut before 2016, and likely sooner rather than later. 

Next up I will review our CRE, banking and insurance picks to see how such a re-default will affect them.

I'm in the Dubai/Abu Dhabi area and will meet any readers/subscribers who are local and willling to discuss opportunities.

 

Published in BoomBustBlog

In this followup to Greece Is Trying To Convince Portugal To Make F.I.R.E. Hot I think we should get straight to the point - Anyone who doesn't believe that Portugal is clearly set up to for a bond route, and that it is seriously considering a default is either lying to themselves, believe human nature has changed, and/or really hasn't bothered to review the math. Here's proof of a Portuguese default presented with logic, numbers and pretty colorful graphs. The full spreadsheet behind all of the calculations, scenarios, bond holdings and calculations can be viewed online here (click this link) by professional level subscribers. Click here to subscribe or upgrade.

For one, we are on up to the 3rd Greek Bailout (Portugal has only received one hence it could be getting envious:-)). Portugal has had extreme austerity measures inflicted upon it. So extreme that it has materially and significantly depressed the economy. Portugal's GDP growth contracted even further by 1.3% q/q in Q4. Its HICP Moderated to 3.4% y/y in January. Very high unemployment (currently at 14% and rising), weakening wages, and a total dearth of credit to businesses and households (do you really think bond-busted banks are lending to and within Portugal like the good 'ole days) will lead to a downward spiraling self-fulfilling prophecy that is the antithesis of what appears to be driving all of those rosy estimates behind reports that Portugal won't default. I do mean rosy, see Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse! for examples. Let it be known that instead of growing the economy out of the doldrums, Portugal's austerity measures will push it down the drain.
It's gotten so bad that even the rating agencies are on board the truth train (Rating Agencies vs Reggie Middleton, Part 3). After Moody's downgraded Portugal, all three major agencies have it at junk, of course a year later than said information would have been useful. The massive liquidity injections by the ECB have prevent the market from imploding, but has also failed to rectify the problem, rather they simply feed the appetite of an addicted pig in the form of banks and sovereigns that rely on cheap/free money without the requisite market disciplines of risk wieghting and respect for the cost of capital.

Due to total reliance on funny munny from the ECB, required due to the lack of external financing avialable from the markets (unless Portugal defaults/restructures and starts from scratch, which is inevitable anyway) the Portuguese machine will still be in arrears accumulation mode - a mode which is essentially unsustainable.

Despite what I see as practically unassailable facts, the MSM is still steadfastly and unrealistically bullish, as per Bloomberg, Portugal Bond Rout Overstates Greek Likeness. Well, the Portugal Bond Yield is at 13% Despite Greek Deal - that's right, the 3rd Greek deal and one that include 74% haircut!!! Portugal will default/restructure and there's a very, very strong chance that right behind them will be Spain and then Greece again. That's right, Greece, again! 

Who was right about the Greek default, running against the consensus two years ago? See 2010 posts - Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe”, Prodi Says – I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! and then A Comparison of Our Greek Bond Restructuring Analysis to that of Argentina. In The Anatomy of a Portugal DefaultA GraphicalStep by Step Guide ... I walked through the financial tangle that is Portugal about two years ago, as excerpted.

This is the carnage that would occur in the OPTIMISTIC if the same restructuring were to be applied to Portugal today.

Yes, it will be nasty. That 35% decline in cash flows will be levered at least 10x, for that is how much of the investors in these bonds purchased them. A 35% drop is nasty enough, 35% x 10 starts to hurt the piggy bank! As a matter of fact, no matter which way you look at it, Portugal is destined to default/restructure. Its just a matter of time, and that time will probably not extend past 2013. Here are a plethora of scenarios to choose from...

This is Portugal's path as of today.

Even if we add in EU/IMF emergency funding, the inevitability of restructuring is not altered. As a matter of fact, the scenario gets worse because the debt is piled on.

Well, I took said model and updated it with recent historical GDP results as well as projections which incorporated the most recent developments. Do you think things look better or worse?

This is what Portugal's situation looks like today...

image012

The Portuguese bond yield has spiked since the Greek deal. Methinks Mr. Credit market (who is much wiser than Mr. Eqiuity market, probably due to the increased difficulty in manipulating Mr. Credit's demeanor) seems to agree with Reggie...

image011
These are the Portuguese bonds used in the calculations. Professional subscribers can access the full model and all of the stuff that went into it via the link at the bottom of this article - Introducing the Not So Stylish Portuguese Haircut Analysis.
Issuer Issue date Maturity Amt Out(M) Interest Due(M) Years to maturity Coupon rate
Portugal Treasury Bill 07/17/09 7/23/2010 4.50 0.00 -1.64 0.000%
Portugal Treasury Bill 09/18/09 9/17/2010 2.75 0.00 -1.49 0.000%
Portugal Treasury Bill 11/20/09 11/19/2010 3.10 0.00 -1.31 0.000%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 12/16/05 12/16/2010 0.51 0.01 -1.24 2.690%
Portugal Treasury Bill 01/22/10 1/21/2011 2.05 0.00 -1.14 0.000%
Portugal Treasury Bill 02/19/10 2/18/2011 2.35 0.00 -1.06 0.000%
Portugal Treasury Bill 03/19/10 3/18/2011 2.03 0.00 -0.99 0.000%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 11/16/05 4/15/2011 4.67 0.15 -0.91 3.200%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 03/13/01 6/15/2011 4.96 0.26 -0.74 5.150%
CP - Comboios de Portugal EPE 02/26/02 2/26/2012 0.25 0.00 -0.04 0.990%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 02/13/02 6/15/2012 7.64 0.38 0.26 5.000%
Portugal Government International Bond 08/28/09 8/28/2012 0.41 0.00 0.46 2.400%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 07/08/09 7/8/2013 0.80 0.03 1.32 3.500%
Polo III-CP Finance Ltd 07/29/03 7/29/2013 0.10 0.00 1.38 4.500%
Ana-Aeroportos de Portugal SA 08/28/09 8/28/2013 0.10 0.00 1.46 4.050%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 05/22/98 9/23/2013 7.16 0.39 1.53 5.450%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 10/29/03 6/16/2014 6.00 0.26 2.26 4.375%
Polo Securities II Ltd 06/26/02 6/26/2014 0.31 0.00 2.29 2.880%
ANAM - Aeroportos da Madeira SA 07/29/04 7/29/2014 0.05 0.00 2.38 5.340%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 10/15/04 10/15/2014 0.50 0.02 2.59 4.191%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 06/03/09 10/15/2014 5.32 0.19 2.59 3.600%
Portugal Government International Bond 11/17/09 11/17/2014 0.08 0.00 2.68 3.064%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 12/18/07 12/18/2014 1.02 0.03 2.77 3.250%
Refer-Rede Ferroviaria Nacional SA 03/16/05 3/16/2015 0.60 0.02 3.01 4.000%
Portugal Government International Bond 03/25/10 3/25/2015 1.02 0.04 3.03 3.500%
Polo III-CP Finance Ltd 07/29/03 7/29/2015 0.30 0.01 3.38 4.700%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 07/13/05 10/15/2015 7.64 0.26 3.59 3.350%
Portugal Government International Bond 10/24/86 5/20/2016 0.18 0.02 4.19 9.000%
Portugal Government International Bond 05/20/86 5/20/2016 0.18 0.02 4.19 9.000%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 07/17/06 10/15/2016 5.00 0.21 4.60 4.200%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 05/03/07 10/16/2017 6.08 0.26 5.60 4.350%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 03/04/08 6/15/2018 6.27 0.28 6.26 4.450%
Refer-Rede Ferroviaria Nacional SA 02/18/09 2/18/2019 0.50 0.03 6.94 5.875%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 03/03/09 6/14/2019 6.86 0.33 7.26 4.750%
CP - Comboios de Portugal EPE 10/16/09 10/16/2019 0.50 0.02 7.60 4.170%
Portugal Government AID Bond 03/08/90 2/25/2020 0.01 0.00 7.96 1.520%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 02/17/10 6/15/2020 5.26 0.25 8.26 4.800%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 09/22/05 9/22/2020 0.50 0.02 8.54 3.567%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 12/28/05 12/28/2020 0.15 0.00 8.80 2.423%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 02/23/05 4/15/2021 7.08 0.27 9.10 3.850%
Refer-Rede Ferroviaria Nacional SA 12/13/06 12/13/2021 0.50 0.02 9.76 4.250%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 06/10/08 10/25/2023 6.53 0.32 11.63 4.950%
Refer-Rede Ferroviaria Nacional SA 10/16/09 10/16/2024 0.50 0.02 12.60 4.675%
Refer-Rede Ferroviaria Nacional SA 11/16/06 11/16/2026 0.60 0.02 14.69 4.047%
Parpublica - Participacoes Publicas SGPS 11/16/06 11/16/2026 0.25 0.01 14.69 4.200%
CP - Comboios de Portugal EPE 03/05/10 2/5/2030 0.20 0.01 17.91 5.700%
Portugal Obrigacoes do Tesouro OT 03/22/06 4/15/2037 6.97 0.29 25.11 4.100%
Governo Portugues Consolidado 01/01/40 1/29/2049 0.00 0.00 36.91 3.987%
Governo Portugues Consolidado 02/01/42 2/28/2049 0.01 0.00 36.99 2.997%
Governo Portugues Consolidado 03/15/43 3/29/2049 0.00 0.00 37.07 2.764%
Governo Portugues Consolidado 12/01/41 12/29/2049 0.00 0.00 37.82 3.520%
Published in BoomBustBlog

Greece_T_4_0Greece will burn economically because of financially engineered, grifted ways and it most definitely will not be the only country in the EZ to do so. I have made this unequivocally clear since February of 2010, over two years ago - reference the Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis.

So who is responsible for such a potentially cataclysmic event and what can be done about it? Well, amazingly, I'll answer it all in one post by combining a little reporting with some hardcore, truly objective, independent financial analysis. Ahhh, I love this new media blogging thingy! From Bloomberg:

Goldman Secret Greece Loan Reveals Two Sinners

Greece’s secret loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) was a costly mistake from the start.

You know, one sentence into this Bloomberg piece it already smacks of realism simply by indicating it was a mistake for an unsophisticated party to do business with Goldman. It's a damn shame that such a statement can be so believable on its face without even an ounce of justification provided yet. It goes to show you exactly how many feel, deep down, Goldman actually manages to outperform. It takes money from the foolish, as opposed to earning it by being the so called best of the best. It is the best, but the best had marketing and grifting - not necessarily engineering the best solution for its clients. You see, most of the time the best solution for your clients are antithetical to both your bonus pool and margin expansion.

On the day the 2001 deal was struck, the government owed the bank about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it borrowed, said Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over the country’s debt-management agency in 2005. By then, the price of the transaction, a derivative that disguised the loan and that Goldman Sachs persuaded Greece not to test with competitors, had almost doubled to 5.1 billion euros, he said.

I hate to say it, but if you're foolish enough to listen to the most profitable bank tell you not to say thing to anybody else about said deal, then you may deserve what's coming to you. If there are any sovereigns or any other entities reading this and you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest you simply contact me. For those who aren't familiar with me and my ability to sniff things such as these out, I urge you to ask the question, Who is Reggie Middleton? I'll independently review the deal for you and give you the T-R-U-T-H! You know, its been a while since I've seen that word in articles such as these. Another damn shame. There should be plenty of opportunity for me to discuss this, for Greece is definitely not the only European entity to be diagnosed with a chronic case of Goldman's financially engineered derivative product indigestion, reference Smoking Swap Guns Are Beginning to Litter EuroLand, Sovereign Debt Buyer Beware!  So, I'll be looking forward to hearing from, and visiting you France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium...

Papanicolaou and his predecessor, Christoforos Sardelis, revealing details for the first time of a contract that helped Greece mask its growing sovereign debt to meet European Union requirements, said the country didn’t understand what it was buying and was ill-equipped to judge the risks or costs.

“The Goldman Sachs deal is a very sexy story between two sinners,” Sardelis, who oversaw the swap as head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency from 1999 through 2004, said in an interview.

Righhhhht!!! Two sinners... How about an orgy in an economic brothel where financial syphilis was being passed around by the pimp who told all of the excited teenage boys who were about to get their cherry popped that they didn't need condoms, those little rubber things were for wimps. BTW, those pimply faced teenage boys who were convinced to get down without their intellectual/economic prophylactics had a much more diverse selection of accents than this story may lead one to believe - as excerpted from Smoking Swap Guns...

france_telecomm_transaction.png

Moreover, one of the key reasons why such manipulations continued is the apparent ignorance of the EU's Eurostat, which knew enough about these deals to tighten the rules governing their accounting-albeit only after they had served their purpose - the Ponzi! When Italy's then-Prime Minister Romano Prodi miraculously achieved a four-percentage-point improvement in Italy's budget deficit in time to usher the country into the common currency, Italy's use of accounting gimmicks was widely discussed, and then promptly ignored. As at that time, everyone was only too eager to look the other way in the drive to get the single currency up and running.

It wasn't until 2008-a decade after the deals became popular-that Eurostat was able to revise its rules to push countries to include swaps in their debt and deficit calculations. Still, till date too little is known about countries' continued exposure to the deals that are already out there.

Overall, though there is less evidence to support that there are more such swap deals that happened during the late 90's till early part of this decade, the data below showing a sharp decline in interest payments as a percentage of GDP particularly for Belgium (apart from Greece and Italy), hints that there are considerably more of these deals to be discovered. The questions is, will they be discovered before or after the respective sovereign issues record debt to the suckers sovereign fixed income investors.

euro_interest_payments__too_good_to_be_ture.pnge

Notice the extremely supercalifragilisticexpealidocious reductions Belgium, Greece and Italy have made in their interest payments from 1993 to 2000 in this graphic made pre-2000. If one didn't know better, one would have thought theses countries actually used magic to make such reductions. Italy practically cut their debt service (projected, of course) in half. It really makes one wonder. I'm just saying...

BoomBustBlog subscribers (click here to subscribe) are welcome to download our contagion models which have been quite accurate thus far in mapping out where this has, and quite likely will lead us.

In Contagion Should Be The MSM Word Du Jour, Not Bailouts and Definitely Not Greece! I included sample output from the Model detailing the various paths of contagion that can be taken given default by "XYZ" country..

thumb_Sovereign_Contagion_Model_-_Pro__Institutional_demonstration_of_Greek_default

And back to the Bloomberg article...

Goldman Sachs’s instant gain on the transaction illustrates the dangers to clients who engage in complex, tailored trades that lack comparable market prices and whose fees aren’t disclosed. Harvard University, Alabama’s Jefferson County and the German city of Pforzheim all have found themselves on the losing end of the one-of-a-kind private deals typically pitched to them by securities firms as means to improve their finances.

Goldman Sachs DNA

“Like the municipalities, Greece is just another example of a poorly governed client that got taken apart,” Satyajit Das, a risk consultant and author of “Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk,” said in a phone interview. “These trades are structured not to be unwound, and Goldman is ruthless about ensuring that its interests aren't compromised -- it’s part of the DNA of that organization.”

Nawwww!!!  It can't be! Say it "Ain't True!" For those who haven't seen this VPRO special on how Goldman Sachs looted European countries years ago, it is literally a must see. The mayor of a small Italian village speaks candidly and openly to the audience. All it really takes is to hear it from the horse's mouth. If that's not good enough, you can always hear my 15 minute contribution, or that of Simon Johnson, or even Matt Taibbi. Yes, it's all here, complete with English translations where necessary.

A gain of 600 million euros represents about 12 percent of the $6.35 billion in revenue Goldman Sachs reported for trading and principal investments in 2001, a business segment that includes the bank’s fixed-income, currencies and commodities division, which arranged the trade and posted record sales that year. The unit, then run by Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, now the New York-based bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, also went on to post record quarterly revenue the following year.

So Greece helped "grease' the FICC bonus pool under Lord Lloyd, eventually catapulting him up to the CEO position. Hmmm... Of course, you don't get something for nothing. Methinks Goldman et. al. may have a couple of bones stuffed up into thier closet as well. Speaking of FICC, reference this excerpt from So, When Does 3+5=4? When You Aggregate A Bunch Of Risky Banks & Then Pretend That You Didn't?...

Banks exposure to interest rate and foreign exchange contracts

With volatility in currency markets exploding to astounding levels (with average EUR-USD volatility of 16.5% over the past year (September 2008-09) compared to 8.9%  over the previous year), commercial and investment banks trading revenues are expected to remain highly unpredictable. This, coupled with huge Forex and Interest rate derivative exposure for major commercial banks, could trigger a wave of losses in the event of significant market disruptions - or a race to the exit door of this speculative carry trade. Additionally most of these Forex and Interest rate contracts are over-the-contract (OTC) contracts with 96.2% of total derivative contracts being traded as OTC. This means no central clearing, no standardization in contracts, the potential for extreme opacity in pricing, diversity in valuation as well as a dearth of liquidity when it is most needed - at the time when everyone is looking to exit. Goldman Sachs has the largest OTC traded contracts with 98.5% of its derivative contracts traded over the counter. With the 5 largest banks representing 97% of the total banking industry notional amount of derivatives and most of these contracts being traded off exchange, the effectiveness of derivatives as a hedging instrument raises serious questions since most of these banks are counterparty to one another in one very small, very tight circle (see the free article, "As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... ").

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_and_currency_volatility.png

The table below compares interest rate contracts and foreign exchange contracts for JPM, GS, Citi, BAC and WFC.

JP Morgan has the largest exposure in terms of notional value with $64,604 trillion of notional value of interest rate contracts and $6,977 trillion of notional value of foreign exchange contracts. In terms of actual risk exposure measured by gross derivative exposure before netting of counterparties, JP Morgan with $1,798 bn of gross derivative receivable, or 21.7x of tangible equity, has the largest gross derivative risk exposure followed by Bank of America ($1,760 bn, or 18.1x). Bank of America with $1,393 bn of gross derivatives relating to interest rate has the highest exposure towards interest rate sensitivity while JP Morgan with $154 bn of Foreign exchange contracts has the highest exposure from currency volatility. We have explored this in forensic detail for subscribers, and have offered a free preview for visitors to the blog: (JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis SubscriptionJPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription 2009-09-18 00:56:22 488.64 Kb), which is free to download, and File Icon JPM Report (Subscription-only) Final - Professional, orFile Icon JPM Forensic Report (Subscription-only) Final- Retail as well as a free blog article on BAC off balance sheet exposure If a Bubble Bubble Bursts Off Balance Sheet, Will Anyone Be There to Hear It?: Pt 3 - BAC).

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_jpm.png

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

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_bac_and_gs.pngbank_ficc_otc_exposure_bac_and_gs.png

Subscribers, see WFC Research Note Sep 2009 WFC Research Note Sep 2009 2009-09-30 13:01:30 281.29 Kb, ~ WFC Off Balance Sheet Exposure WFC Off Balance Sheet Exposure 2009-10-19 04:25:53 258.77 Kb ~ WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Retail WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Retail 2009-05-27 01:55:50 554.15 Kb ~ WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro 2009-05-27 01:56:54 853.53 Kb ~ Wells Fargo ABS Inventory Wells Fargo ABS Inventory 2008-08-30 06:40:27 798.22 Kb

Of course, this article is about Goldman right? In addition, exposure doesn't necessarily mean that the  shit will it the fan, right? After all, it's different this time!!!

The interest rate storm is coming, that is unless Europe can maintain historically low rates as several countries default. Then again, they never default, right...

Don't believe me, let's look at history...

Again, click the little pics to make big pics...

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So, as I was saying...

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Goldman is much more highly leveraged into the derivatives trade than ANY and ALL of its peers as to actually be difficult to chart. That stalk representing Goldman's risk relative to EVERY OTHER banks is damn near phallic in stature!

Click those little pictures to make BIG pictures....

GS__Banks_Derivatives_exposure_temp_work_Page_3

As opined earlier through the links "The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???"and As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... , this is not a new phenomenon. Quite to the contrary, it has been a constant trend through the bubble, and amazingly enough even through the crash as banks have actually ratcheted up risk and assets in a blind race to become TBTF (to big to fail), under the auspices of the regulatory capture (see Lehman Dies While Getting Away With Murder: Introducing Regulatory Capture). So, what is the logical conclusion? More phallic looking charts of blatant, unbridled, and from a realistic perspective, unhedged RISK starring none other than Goldman Sachs...

 image006

And to think, many thought that JPM exposure vs World GDP chart was provocative. I query thee, exactly how will GS put a real workable hedge, a counterparty risk mitigating prophylactic if you will, over that big green stalk that is representative of Total Credit Exposure to Risk Based Capital? Short answer, Goldman may very well be to big for a counterparty condom. If that's truly the case, all of you pretty, brand name Goldman counterparties out there (and yes, there are a lot of y'all - GS really gets around), expect to get burned at the culmination of that French banking party I've been talking about for the last few quarters. Oh yeah, that perpetually printing clinic also known as the Federal Reserve just might be running a little low on that cheap liquidity antibiotic... Just giving y'all a heads up ahead of time...

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... I'd like to announce to the release of a blockbuster document describing the true nature of Goldman Sachs, a description that you will find no where else. It's chocked full of many interesting tidbits, and for those who found "The French Government Creates A Bank Run? Here I Prove A Run On A French Bank Is Justified And Likely" to be an iteresting read, you're gonna just love this! Subscribers can access the document here:

Okay, now back to that Bloomberg article...

‘Extremely Profitable’

The Goldman Sachs transaction swapped debt issued by Greece in dollars and yen for euros using an historical exchange rate, a mechanism that implied a reduction in debt, Sardelis said. It also used an off-market interest-rate swap to repay the loan. Those swaps allow counterparties to exchange two forms of interest payment, such as fixed or floating rates, referenced to a notional amount of debt.

The trading costs on the swap rose because the deal had a notional value of more than 15 billion euros, more than the amount of the loan itself, said a former Greek official with knowledge of the transaction who asked not to be identified because the pricing was private. The size and complexity of the deal meant that Goldman Sachs charged proportionately higher trading fees than for deals of a more standard size and structure, he said.

“It looks like an extremely profitable transaction for Goldman,” said Saul Haydon Rowe, a partner in Devon Capital LLP, a London-based firm that advises global investors on derivatives disputes.

Disappearing Debt

Goldman Sachs declined to comment about how much it made on the swaps. Fiona Laffan, a spokeswoman for the firm in London, said the agreements were executed in accordance with guidelines provided by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency.

Oh yeah, Eurostat! That bastion of Eurofellas who really, really know what they're talking about - as evidenced from Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse!

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Revisions-R-US!

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and the EU on goverment balance??? Way, way, way off.

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“Greece actually executed the swap transactions to reduce its debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio because all member states were required by the Maastricht Treaty to show an improvement in their public finances,” Laffan said in an e- mail. “The swaps were one of several techniques that many European governments used to meet the terms of the treaty.”

As excerpted from Smoking Swap Guns Are Beginning to Litter EuroLand, Sovereign Debt Buyer Beware!

The Greeks (again)...

According to people familiar with the matter interviewed by China Securities Journal, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. did as many as 12 swaps for Greece from 1998 to 2001, while Credit Suisse was also involved with Athens, crafting a currency swap for Greece in the same time frame.

Under its "off-market" swap in 2001, Goldman agreed to convert yen and dollars into euros at an artificially favorable rate in the future. This helped Greece to use that "low favorable rate" when it recorded its debt in the European accounts-pushing down the country's reported debt load.

Moreover, in exchange for the good deal on rates, Greece had to pay Goldman (the amount wasn't revealed). And since the payment would count against Greece's deficit, Goldman and Greece came up with another twist: Goldman effectively loaned Greece the money for the payment, and Greece repaid that loan over time. And the two sides structured the loan as another kind of swap. So, the deal didn't add to Greece's debt under EU rules. Consequently, Greece's total debt as a percentage of GDP fell from 105.3% to 103.7%, and its 2001 deficit was reduced by a tenth of a percentage point in GDP terms, according to people close to Goldman.

Another action that smacks of Hellenic manipulation, at least to the staff of BoomBustBlog: for years it apparently and simply omitted large portions of its military-equipment spending from its deficit calculations. Though, European regulators eventually prevailed on Greece to count everything and as a result, in 2004, there was a massive revision of Greek deficit figures from 2000 (a budget deficit of 2.0% of GDP in 2000 to beyond the 3% deficit limit in 2004), by then Greece had already gained entrance to the euro. As in my trying to prepare for the coming sovereign debt crisis, timing is everything, isn't it???

File Icon Greece Public Finances Projections

File Icon Greek Banking Fundamental Tear Sheet

Cross-currency swaps are contracts borrowers use to convert foreign currency debt into a domestic-currency obligation using the market exchange rate. As first reported in 2003, Goldman Sachs used a fictitious, historical exchange rate in the swaps to make about 2 percent of Greece’s debt disappear from its national accounts. To repay the 2.8 billion euros it borrowed from the bank, Greece entered into a separate swap contract tied to interest-rate swings.

Falling bond yields caused that bet to sour, and tweaks to the deal failed to prevent the debt from almost doubling in size by the time the swap was restructured in August 2005.

Greece, which last month secured a second, 130 billion-euro bailout, is sitting on debt equal to about 160 percent of its GDP as of last year...

‘Teaser Rate’

The derivative Loudiadis offered Sardelis in 2001 was also complex. Designed to provide a cheap way to repay 2.8 billion euros, the swap had a “teaser rate,” or a three-year grace period, after which Greece would have 15 years to repay Goldman Sachs, Sardelis said. All in, the deal appeared cheap to officials at the time, he said.

“We calculated that this had an extra cost above our normal funding cost on the yield curve of 15 basis points,” Sardelis said....

‘Very Bad Bet’

Sardelis said he realized three months after the deal was signed that it was more complex than he appreciated. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., bond yields plunged as stock markets sold off worldwide. That caused a mark-to-market loss on the swap for Greece because of the formula used by Goldman Sachs to compute Greece’s repayments over time.

“If you calculated that when we did it, it looked very nice because the yield curve had a certain shape,” Sardelis said. “But after Sept. 11, we realized this would be the wrong formula. So after we discussed it with Goldman Sachs, we decided to change to a simpler formula.”

The revised deal proposed by the bank and executed in 2002, was to base repayments on what was then a new kind of derivative -- an inflation swap linked to the euro-area harmonized index of consumer prices. An inflation swap is a financial bet that pays off according to the degree to which a consumer-price index exceeds or falls short of a pre-specified level at maturity.

That didn’t work out well for Greece either. Bond yields fell, pushing the government’s losses to 5.1 billion euros, according to an analysis commissioned by Papanicolaou. It was “a very bad bet,” he said in an interview.

“This is even more reprehensible,” Papanicolaou said of the revised deal. “Goldman asked them to make a change that actually made things even worse because they went into an inflation swap.”

And what the hell were they expecting? Didn't they realize that it was Goldman that was on the other side of the swap? Do you expect a wolf to turn down a pound of meat if he is asked if he wants it?

Confidentiality Requirement

Greece was handicapped, in part, by the terms Goldman Sachs imposed, he said.

“Sardelis couldn’t actually do what every debt manager should do when offered something, which is go to the market to check the price,” said Papanicolaou, who retired in 2010. “He didn’t do that because he was told by Goldman that if he did that, the deal is off.”

Sardelis declined to comment about the analysis, as did Petros Christodoulou, director general of the debt-management agency since February 2010.

It isn’t unusual for dealers to impose confidentiality requirements on clients in complex transactions to prevent traders from using the information to front-run or trade against the bank arranging and hedging the deal, said a former official who analyzed the swap and asked not to be named because the details are private.

Personally, I dont care if it isn't unusual to impose confidentiality on complex deals. If you don't understand the deal, seek qualified, impartial assistance. If you're counterparty doesn't like that, then ever so politely tell them to f@ck off - PERIOD! If you enter into a deal that you don't understand, don't be surprised from that itchy/burning/stretched feeling you're bound to feel in your anus a few months into the deal.

‘Large Number’

Goldman Sachs’s initial 600 million-euro gross profit “sounds like a large number, but you have to take into account what the bank will be setting aside as a credit reserve, the cost to Goldman to fund the loan and the cost of hedging the currency component,” said Peter Shapiro, managing director of Swap Financial Group LLC in South Orange, New Jersey, an independent swaps adviser. “It’s hard to tell what the profit margin would have been.”

Hmmmm... Methinks I could tell that it would have been a lot higher than a plain vanilla loan's profit margin at prevailing rates, no?

The report Papanicolaou commissioned after taking over the agency showed the repayment formula meant that Greece would have to pay Goldman Sachs 400 million euros a year, he said. The coupon and the mark-to-market swings on the swap prompted George Alogoskoufis, then finance minister, to decide to restructure the deal again to limit losses, Papanicolaou said.

Loudiadis and a team of Goldman Sachs advisers returned to Athens in August 2005, according to former Greek officials. The agreement they reached to transfer the swap to National Bank of Greece SA and extend the maturity to 2037 from 2019, gave the Greeks what they wanted, Papanicolaou said.

Oh yeah! That ever so solvent bastion of Greco-intellectual economic capability that I warned about two years ago, see How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and the File Icon Greek Banking Fundamental Tear Sheet.

‘Squeeze Taxpayers’

The 5.1 billion-euro mark-to-market value of the swap was “locked in,” Papanicolaou said. It was that politically motivated decision to restructure and fix the increased market value that did as much damage as the original swap, said Sardelis, now a board member of Ethniki General Insurance Co., a subsidiary of National Bank of Greece.

“You can’t have prudent debt management if you change all the assumptions all the time,” he said.

Gustavo Piga, a professor of economics at University of Rome Tor Vergata and author of “Derivatives and Public Debt Management,” sees a different lesson.

“In secret deals, intermediaries have the upper hand and use it to squeeze taxpayers,” Piga said in an interview. “The bargaining power is in investment banks’ hands.”

Professor Gustavo Piga is the esteemed fellow who offered the nuggets of wisdom in the VPRO video above.

The nitty gritty on Goldman Sachs that you just won't get anywhere else...

If you haven't already, please do review the first four parts of this series, and if so skip past this break and into the nitty gritty--->

 I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part 1 & IntroductionI'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part 1 & Introduction  

I'm Hunting Big Game Today: The Squid On A Spear Tip

Summary: This is the first in a series of articles to be released this weekend concerning Goldman Sachs, the Squid! In this introduction (for those who do not regularly follow me) I demonstrate how the market, the sell side, and most investors are missing one of the biggest bastions of risk in the US investment banking industry. I will also...

 Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?  

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Welcome to part two of my series on Hunting the Squid, the overvaluation and under-appreciation of the risks that is Goldman Sachs. Since this highly analytical, but poignant diatribe covers a lot of material, it's imperative that those who have not done so review part 1 of this series, I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part...

Reggie Middleton Serves Up Fried Calamari From Raw Squid: Goldman Sachs and Market Perception of Real Risks!Reggie Middleton Serves Up Fried Calamari From Raw Squid: Goldman Sachs and Market Perception of Real Risks!

Hunting the Squid Part 3: Reggie Middleton Serves Up Fried Calamari From Raw Squid

For those who don't subscribe to BoomBustblog, or haven't read I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part 1 & Introduction and Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?, not only have you missed out on some unique artwork, you've potentially missed out on 300%...
 Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!  

Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With Goldman Sachs? Plenty!

Yes, this more of the hardest hitting investment banking research available focusing on Goldman Sachs (the Squid), but before you go on, be sure you have read parts 1.2. and 3:  I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On A Spear Tip, Part 1 & Introduction Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To...

Hunting the Squid, Part 5: Sometimes Your Local Superhero Doesn't Look Like What They Show You In The Movies 

What Was That I Heard About Squids Raising Capital Because They Can't Trade?

Reggie Middleton vs the Squid That Can't Trade!

A Few Quick Comments On Goldman's Q4 2011 ... - BoomBustBlog

Reggie Middleton on Realism and being Offensively Honest

The many ways to reach Reggie Middleton:

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Or simply email me.

Published in BoomBustBlog

I think I will recap this week in BoomBustBlog postings early since a comment from the British sell side bank Barclay's literally irked the shit out of me. First the comment, then the recap. In my post yesterday, "Does Anyone See This Emergency As An Emergency, Or Is A Half Trillion Euro Pay Day Loan Bullish?", I inquire as to whether the Barclay's strategist weed is actually stronger than ours.

... headline from Bloomberg: Euro-Area Banks Tap ECB for Record Amount of Three-Year Cash

Euro-area banks tapped the European Central Bank for a record amount of three-year cash in an operation that may boost bond and equity markets.

The Frankfurt-based ECB said today it will lend 800 financial institutions 529.5 billion euros ($712.2 billion) for 1,092 days. Economists predicted an allotment of 470 billion euros, according to the median of 28 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. In the ECB’s first three-year operation in December, 523 banks borrowed 489 billion euros.

So, basically, nearly twice as many banks are in trouble now as compared to just three months ago. This is bullish, right???!!!

“The astonishing number this time is the number of banks participating, which signals that a lot more small banks looked for the money and it is likely they will pass it on to the economy,” said Laurent Fransolet, head of fixed income strategy Barclays Capital in London, who estimates about 300 billion euros of the total is new lending. “So the impact may be bigger than with the first one.”

I'm not familiar with the quality and/or strength of the shit they smoke over there in London, but from the looks of things it appears to be potent enough. Let's take this bloke's comment to heart, "it is likely they will pass it on to the economy,” . Okay, now where do I begin? Exactly how much of first LTRO made it into the actual economy versus being hoarded by the banks?

Now, to answer that question, let's jump to a post earlier in the week introducing my interview regarding Greece on RT's Capital Account, Why Greece Bailout Games Will Cause The Rest of the EU to Break Out the Grease…

... If you didn't have a job, you wouldn't be able to pay back your loans. Then again, one way to solve this problem is simply not to give anybody a loan, eh?

Greece_Bank_Lending_To_Households

Alas, we don't have to worry about that since the money spigots are just so turned on to the Greek corporate sector you don't have to worry about a scarcity of jobs. With all of that capital sloshing around the system, Grecian companies are bound to start going on a hiring binge ANY MINUTE NOW!

 Greece_Bank_Lending_to_Corporates

Now, look very carefully at the last two charts, take a big toke, and re-read what that Barclays Bloke had the nerve to speak in a major business rag... 

 ...it is likely they will pass it on to the economy,” said Laurent Fransolet, head of fixed income strategy Barclays Capital in London, who estimates about 300 billion euros of the total is new lending. “So the impact may be bigger than with the first one.”

Damn.... Okay, maybe we are taking this guy out of context. After all, he also said, "The astonishing number this time is the number of banks participating, which signals that a lot more small banks looked for the money". Hmmm, let's take a look at some of the smaller banks, wait a minute... Aren't the Greek banks relatively small???

Then there's the issue of the run on the banks. With all that is going on, I made very clear that multiple runs are imminent, hence the need for 100 bp, junk collateral funding from the ECB. The Barclay's bloke says differently in that the money will not go to cushion runs, but will go to the greater [sic real] economy. Yeah... Pass the blunt! As excerpted from the following reports...

file iconBNP Exposures - Professional Subscriber Download Version

 


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I have explored European bank runs in depth, see The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!

 

Note: These charts are derived from the subscriber download posted yesterday, Exposure Producing Bank Risk (788.3 kB 2011-07-21 11:00:20).

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

Overnight and on demand funding is at a 72% deficit to liquid assets that can be used to fund said liabilities. This means anything or anyone who can spook these funding sources can literally collapse this bank overnight. In the case of Bear Stearns, it was over the weekend.

In reviewing my post on this topic in January predicting the fall of Bear - "Is this the Breaking of the Bear?", it is actually scary how prescient it actually was...

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Book Value, Schmook Value – How Marking to Market Will Break the Bear’s Back

Okay, I’ll admit it. I watch CNBC. Now that I am out of the confessional, I can say that when I do watch it I hear a lot of perma-bulls stating that this and that stock is cheap because it is trading at or below its book value. They then go on to quote the historical significance of this event, yada, yada, yada. This is then picked up by a bunch of other individual investors, media pundits and other “professionals,” and it appears that rampant buying ensues. I don’t know how much of it is momentum trading versus actual investors really believing they are buying on the fundamentals, but the buying pressure is certainly there. They then lose their money as the stock they thought was cheap, actually gets a lot cheaper, bringing their investment down the crapper with it. What happened in this scenario? These investors bought accounting numbers instead of true economic book value. Anything outside of simple widget manufacturers are bound to have some twists and turns to ascertain actual book value, actual marketable book value that is. This is what the investor is interested in, the ECONOMIC market value of book, not what the accounting ledger says. After all, you are paying economic dollars to buy this book value in the market, so you want to be able to ascertain marketable book value, I hope it sounds simplistic, because the premise behind it is quite simple – How much is this stuff really worth?. The implementation may be a different matter, though. I set out to ascertain the true book value of Bear Stearns, and the following is the path that I took...

I urge all to review that post of January 2008 and realize that negative equity is negative equity, and no matter how you want to label it, account for it, or delay and pray, broke is broke! This lesson should not be lost on the Europeans, but unfortunately, it is!

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 So, is this just theory, or do I have a point? Well, I had a point when I applied the theory to Bear Steans in 1/08, three months before they collapsed. It also seemed to work as I warned about the collapse of the Greek banks in 2010, see How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and the subscription-only File Icon Greek Banking Fundamental Tear Sheet. Was I right regarding large equity drawdowns causing masiive bank runs? Well in "So, Can Europe Nationalize All Of Its Troubled Banks? Place Your Bets Here" I quoted an article from ZH:

 Greek Bank Deposit Outflows Soar In January, Third Largest Ever

According to just released data from the Bank of Greece, January saw Greeks doing what they do best (in addition to striking of course): pulling their money from local banks, after a near record €5.3 billion, or the third highest on record, was withdrawn from the local banking system. As a result, total bank cash has now dropped to just €169 billion, down from €174 billion in December, and the lowest since 2006. This is an 18% decline from a year ago, or €37 billion less than the €206 billion last January, and is a whopping 30% lower than the all time deposit highs from 2007, as nearly €70 billion in cash has quietly either left the country or been parked deep in the local mattress bank.

So, what is the net effect on real estate as thousands of underwater mortgages come up for rollover on depreciating real property?

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So are there any concrete examples of all of this Reggie style pontification? If course there is. Do you see that chart above where the tiny country of the Netherlands is one of the largest per capita contributors to these bailouts? Well, you don't think all of the expenditure (to be) is free do you? Here are some screenshots of a prominent Dutch property company, on its way down the tubes - subscribers reference (click here to subscribe):

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 My next posts on this topic will delve into US REITS, global (but EU based) insurers and banks who have the exposure to make ideal shorts considering "The astonishing number this time is the number of banks participating, which signals that a lot more small banks looked for the money and it is likely they will pass it on to the economy,” said Laurent Fransolet, head of fixed income strategy Barclays Capital in London, who estimates about 300 billion euros of the total is new lending. “So the impact may be bigger than with the first one.”

Stay tuned!

Published in BoomBustBlog

In the headlines today: S&P Places EFSF's Long-Term AAA Ratings on Creditwatch Negative, May Lower Ratings by One or Two Notches

Is this truly a surprise? Does anyone truly believe this heavily financially engineered FrankenFinance monster actually deserves a AAA rating? Yes, I do mean Frankenstein assets. I implore you to delve in further - "Welcome to the World of Dr. FrankenFinance!" and .

As a matter of fact, it actually appears that those few members of S&P that do read my blog have actually found some influence in the company. If you remember, last week I challenged the rating agencies with this taunting post -Where Are The Ratings Agencies Before UK & German Banks Go Boom? How About Those Euro REITs? Agencies Anybody? Now, it's not as if the agencies have went so far as to actually take heed to my warning, but those who follow me know that I have been leading my subscribers through an explicit path of "contagion to come" for two years now. Who is the major conduit of said contagion? Well, the very same nation who is the 50% of the bilateral lynchpin of the EFSF. See:

  1. When The Duopolistic Owners Of The EU Printing Presses Disagree On The Color Of The Ink!
  2. France, As Most Susceptible To Contagion, Will See Its Banks Suffer

  3. Focus on Greece? No! How About Italy? No! It's About Baguettes, Mes Amis! See also, When French bankers gorge on roasting PIIGS - OR - Can You Fool Everybody All Of The Time?

Of course, if France is 50% of the fire power behind the EFSF, and Reggie keeps banging the rating agencies about Frances impending fall from true economic AAA grace (as if it ever deserved such in the first place), then by default if one goes the other must follow. As a matter of fact, I even warned that the smaller, supposedly more staid countries are truly at risk - Are The Ultra Conservative Dutch Immune To Pan-European Pandemic Contagion? Are You Safe During An Earthquake Because You Keep Your Shoes Tied Snugly? And as if by magic, Bloomberg reports: S&P Puts 15 Euro Nations on Watch for Downgrade Amid Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Standard & Poor’s said Germany and France may be stripped of their AAA credit ratings as the debt crisis prompts 15 euro nations to be put on review for possible downgrade.

The euro area’s six AAA rated countries are among the nations to be placed on a negative outlook, and their credit ratings may be cut depending on the result of a summit of European Union leaders on Dec. 9, S&P said today in a statement. The euro reversed its gains and U.S. Treasuries rose earlier today after the Financial Times reported that the credit-ranking firm planned to reduce six AAA outlooks.

“Systemic stress in the eurozone has risen in recent weeks and reached such a level that a review of all eurozone sovereign ratings is warranted,” S&P said in a statement.

Back in April of 2011, I told a curious audience of several hundred bankers and institutional investors in Amsterdam exactly how this will turn out. Thus far, I'v been right on point, as has the predictions dating as far back as 2009 in the Pan-European sovereign debt crisis series.

Reggie Middleton as the Keynote Speaker at the ING Real Estate Valuation Seminar in Amsterdam

Reggie Middleton as the Keynote Speaker at the ING Real Estate Valuation Seminar in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's VPRO Backlight and Reggie Middleton on brutal honesty, destructive derivatives and the "overbanked" status of many European sovereign nations

Amsterdam's VPRO Backlight and Reggie Middleton on brutal honesty, destructive derivatives and the "overbanked" status of many European sovereign nations

S&P Puts 15 Euro Nations on Watch for Downgrade Amid Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Published in BoomBustBlog

I was going to walk my blog subscribers and readers through my recent thoughts and related developments in the insurance and real estate industries, but I think I will postpone that until tomorrow for two companies that I have picked apart in considerably more detail than the average buyside investor and sell side analyst were featured in Bloomberg this morning. The questions asked forced one to query whether more than an editor or two are full time BoomBustBlog subscribers. Yes, boys and girls... Like it, love it, leave it or hate it... It's now time to get back to business. We are once again...

Reggie_Middleton_hunting_the_Squid_Known_As_Goldman_Sachs_GS

and attempting to gain a green card for our entrance into the "Economic Republic of JP Morgan..."

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Bloomberg reports (and Reggie clarifies): JPMorgan Joins Goldman Keeping Italy Debt Risk in Dark

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), among the world’s biggest traders of credit derivatives, disclosed to shareholders that they have sold protection on more than $5 trillion of debt globally.

BoomBustBlog annotation...

As excerpted from An Independent Look into JP Morgan:

When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who". Now, I am not saying JPM is about to collapse, since it is one of the anointed ones chosen by the government and guaranteed not to fail - unlike Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and it is (after all) investment grade rated. Who would you put your faith in, the big ratings agencies or your favorite blogger? Then again, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a chicken??? I'll leave the rest up for my readers to decide.

And as excerpted from Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Goldman has the most shortable share price of all the big banks at around $100 and is quite liquid; it is more susceptible to mo-mo traders than it is to it's own book value, it is highly levered into the European debt/banking mess, and last but not least, Goldman is the derivatives risk concentration leader of the world - bar none!

And now back to our regularly scheduled Bloomberg article on World Dominating Squids Wielding GDP busting Morgan Explosives with indeterminate fuses...

Just don’t ask them how much of that was issued by Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, known as the GIIPS.

As concerns mount that those countries may not be creditworthy, investors are being kept in the dark about how much risk U.S. banks face from a default. Firms including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan don’t provide a full picture of potential losses and gains in such a scenario, giving only net numbers or excluding some derivatives altogether.

“If you don’t have to, generally people don’t see the advantage to doing it,” said Richard Lindsey, a former director of market regulation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who worked at Bear Stearns Cos. from 1999 through 2006. “On the other hand, if there were a run on Goldman Sachs tomorrow because the rumor was that they had exposure to Greece, you’d see them produce those numbers.”

A run on the SQUID??? God Forbid! After all, they are doing God's work! In Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?" I included a graphic that illustrated Goldman's raw credit exposure...

So, what is the logical conclusion? More phallic looking charts of blatant, unbridled, and from a realistic perspective, unhedged RISK starring none other than Goldman Sachs...

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Mr. Middleton discusses JP Morgan and concentrated bank risk.

A case in point: Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF), the New York-based securities firm, disclosed every long and short position it held on European debt earlier this month after its shares plunged more than 20 percent. Jefferies also said it wasn't relying on credit-default swaps, contracts that promise to pay the buyer if the underlying debt defaults, as a hedge on European holdings.

One would hope not, because ISDA and the EU leaders want to invalidate those bilateral, privately negotiated contracts, basically making them worth just a little less than the hard drive they were saved to... As excerpted from Is The Entire Global Banking Industry Carrying Naked, Unhedged "Risk Free" Sovereign Debt Yielding 100-200%? Quick Answer: Probably!

What's even more interesting is the fact that derivatives concentration and counterparty risk is rampant in the US, while credit risk in Europe is literally blowing up. What if CDS really are a faux hedge as I and other astute (read objective) observers have come to realize? ReferenceThe Banks Have Volunteered (at Gunpoint)…

... let's peruse an email I received from one of my many astute BoomBustBloggers.

I'm a lawyer (and investor). There is no analysis by anyone on the Internet about whether the announcement last night would in fact trigger CDS payout. Rather, everyone seems to be accepting the claim by ISDA that the decision would not trigger it. Because I can't find any legal analysis worth reading on the Internet I decided to do my own research. In about 5 minutes I found a case in the 2nd Circuit (USA) that explained to me what's going on with those contracts. First of all, they are unregulated private contracts between private parties. In order to know whether a trigger occurred you have to read each individual contract. As a result, what the ISDA says about whether a trigger occurred as to private contracts that are out there is totally meaningless.

There is merit to this assertion since the ISDA contract is simply a non-binding template, often marked up to accommodate financial engineering widgets designed to increase profit margin and decrease transparency to clients and counterparties. By the time all of the widgets are installed on some of these highly customized deals, the original ISDA template is a non-issue.

What seems to be the issue is whether there is considered to be "economic coercion" going on if one of the events to trigger is "restructuring." 

Whaaattt!!! Coercion? What Coercion???!!! robbery_gun_1robbery_gun_1

 Furthermore, you have to not look at voluntariness in a vacuum but compare the (Greek) bond with the substitute being offered by EU to determine if economic coercion or true voluntariness exists. For example, if the EU will give priority in payment to the substitute it is offering and not the original bond, that is the proper analysis in determining economic coercion/voluntariness etc. My analysis here is based upon a very brief reading of the case and I would need time to analysis fully. Also I'm not a financial professional I don't understand all the implications of what the EU announced. The reason I'm contacting you is because I believe that in the coming days/weeks we will hear of entities that are buyers of the CDS protection giving notice of a credit event to their counterparties to seek to collect on the CDS contract. If payouts aren't made lawsuits will be filed. 

You had better believe it. I really don't know why everybody is glazing over this very obvious fact! Imagine if you bought protection on a bond you acquired at par and you are offered 50% of it back (NPV) to be considered whole while the CDS writer laughs at and says thanks for the premiums... You'd probably break your fingers dialing your lawyer - out of both the swap payments, the CDS payout, and 50% of your investment that you thought (but really should have known better) was protected!

I don't know what a US Court will decide as to whether a trigger has occurred but there is a 2nd circuit case (the one I mentioned above) that is the best I've found to give an inkling about this... I'm telling you all this, because if I am right and there are claims that CDS was triggered and CDS in fact gets triggered... [it should be made] public so people start analyzing whether CDS was in fact triggered instead of blindly accepting the drivel out of Europe that no trigger will occur. That claim is obviously all about perception management not necessarily truth.

‘Funded’ Exposure

By contrast, Goldman Sachs discloses only what it calls “funded” exposure to GIIPS debt -- $4.16 billion before hedges and $2.46 billion after, as of Sept. 30. Those amounts exclude commitments or contingent payments, such as credit-default swaps, said Lucas van Praag, a spokesman for the bank.

Goldman Sachs includes CDS in its market-risk calculations, of which value-at-risk is one measure, and it hedges the swaps and holds collateral against the hedges, primarily cash and U.S. Treasuries, van Praag said. The firm doesn’t break out its estimate of the market risk related to the five countries.

JPMorgan said in its third-quarter SEC filing that more than 98 percent of the credit-default swaps the New York-based bank has written on GIIPS debt is balanced by CDS contracts purchased on the same bonds. The bank said its net exposure was no more than $1.5 billion, with a portion coming from debt and equity securities. The company didn’t disclose gross numbers or how much of the $1.5 billion came from swaps, leaving investors wondering whether the notional value of CDS sold could be as high as $150 billion or as low as zero.

Yeah, but if the EU and ISDA are correct that a 60% devaluation/haircut in Greek debt does not constitute a credit event, then JPM and GS are essentially undhedged, RIGHT!!!!????

Here's the question du jour - Can Goldmans Sachs Derivative Exposure, realistically unhedged, cause the biggest run on the bank in Financial History?

As excerpted from Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

The notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks have increased at a CAGR of 22% since 2005, which naturally begs the question “Has the value or the economic quantity of the underlying increased at a similar pace, and if not does this indicate that everyone on the street has doubled and tripled up their ‘bets’ on the SAME HORSE?”

Think about what happens if (or more aptly put, "when") that horse loses! Would there be anybody around to pay up?

Sequentially, the derivatives have increased every quarter since Q1-05 except for Q4-07, Q3-08 (Lehman crisis) and Q4-10 while on a YoY basis the growth has been positive throughout recorded history.  In Q2-2011, the notional value of derivative contracts increased 2% sequentially to $249 trillion. The notional value of derivatives was 12% higher than a year ago. The notional amount of a derivative contract is a reference amount from which contractual payments will be derived, but it is generally not an amount at risk. However, the changes in notional volumes can provide insight into potential revenue, and operational issues and potentially the contagion risk that banks and financial institutions poses to the wider economy – particularly in the form of counterparty risk delta. The top four banks with the most derivatives activity hold 94% of all derivatives, while the largest 25 banks account for nearly 100% of all contracts.  Overall, the US banks derivative exposure is $249 trillion and is more than four folds of World’s GDP at $58 trillion.

In absolute terms, JPM leads this list with total notional value of derivative contracts at $78 trillion, or 1.3x times the Wolds GDP. However, in relative terms, Goldman Sachs leads the list with total value of notional derivatives at 537 times is total assets compared with 44x for JPM, 46x for Citi and 23x for US Banks (average).

So, what does this mean? Well, it should be assumed that Goldman is well hedged for its exposure, at least on academic basis. The problem is its academic. AIG has taught as that bilateral netting is tantamount to bullshit at this level without government bailout intervention. If there is any entity at risk of counterparty default or who is at the behest of a government bailout if the proverbial feces hits the fan blades… Ladies and gentlemen, that entity would be known as Goldman Sachs.

As excerpted from Goldmans Sachs Derivative Exposure: The Squid in the Coal Mine?, pages 2 and 3...

GS__Banks_Derivatives_exposure_temp_work_Page_2GS__Banks_Derivatives_exposure_temp_work_Page_2

Goldman is much more highly leveraged into the derivatives trade than ANY and ALL of its peers as to actually be difficult to chart. That stalk representing Goldman's risk relative to EVERY OTHER banks is damn near phallic in stature!

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As opined earlier through the links "The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???"and As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... , this is not a new phenomenon. Quite to the contrary, it has been a constant trend through the bubble, and amazingly enough even through the crash as banks have actually ratcheted up risk and assets in a blind race to become TBTF (to big to fail), under the auspices of the regulatory capture (see Lehman Dies While Getting Away With Murder: Introducing Regulatory Capture). So, what is the logical conclusion? More phallic looking charts of blatant, unbridled, and from a realistic perspective, unhedged RISK starring none other than Goldman Sachs...

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And to think, many thought that JPM exposure vs World GDP chart was provocative. I query thee, exactly how will GS put a real workable hedge, a counterparty risk mitigating prophylactic if you will, over that big green stalk that is representative of Total Credit Exposure to Risk Based Capital? Short answer, Goldman may very well be to big for a counterparty condom. If that's truly the case, all of you pretty, brand name Goldman counterparties out there (and yes, there are a lot of y'all - GS really gets around), expect to get burned at the culmination of that French banking party I've been talking about for the last few quarters. Oh yeah, that perpetually printing clinic also known as the Federal Reserve just might be running a little low on that cheap liquidity antibiotic... Just giving y'all a heads up ahead of time...

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Do you remember France? That country that no on is really paying attention to, but whose exposure and risk is so systemic that it can literally and unilaterally blow up the entire European continent? I post again, for effect...

In a further worrying sign, French borrowing costs rose, lifting the premium it pays over Germany to a fresh euro-era record of 135bp. Investors are increasingly worried that France could lose its triple A rating, which in turn would threaten the status of the European financial stability facility, the eurozone’s rescue fund.

Counterparty Clarity

“Their position is you don’t need to know the risks, which is why they’re giving you net numbers,” said Nomi Prins, a managing director at New York-based Goldman Sachs until she left in 2002 to become a writer. “Net is only as good as the counterparties on each side of the net -- that’s why it’s misleading in a fluid, dynamic market.”

This is so true... So true. Lest we forget, Lehman and Bear Stearns were hedged!

Investors should want to know how much defaulted debt the banks could be forced to repay because of credit derivatives and how much they’d be in line to receive from other counterparties, Prins said. In addition, they should seek to find out who those counterparties are, she said.

Hey, just ask your local BoomBustBlog subscriber!

JPMorgan sought to allay concerns that its counterparties are unreliable by saying in the filing that it buys protection only from firms outside the five countries that are “either investment-grade or well-supported by collateral arrangements.” The bank doesn’t identify the counterparties.

Spare me the bullshit. Please click the link "Is The Entire Global Banking Industry Carrying Naked, Unhedged "Risk Free" Sovereign Debt Yielding 100-200%? Quick Answer: Probably!" and read..

The top four banks with the most derivatives activity hold 94% of all derivatives, while the largest 25 banks account for nearly 100% of all contracts.  Overall, the US banks derivative exposure is $249 trillion and is more than four folds of World’s GDP at $58 trillion.

If there are only 4 banks carrying 94% of the risk, then there is roughly a 6% chance that JPM bought protection from a bank outside of a cartel that is guaranteed to collapse if anyone its members fall. To make matters even worse, even if we win with only 6% odds, contagion will drag those other 25 banks along for the ride. Basically, that means that there is rougly a 100% chance that that JPM statement is...

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Bungee Cords

If the value of Italian bonds drops, as it did last week, a U.S. firm that sold a credit-default swap on that debt to a French bank would have to provide more collateral. The same U.S. company might be collecting collateral from a British bank because it bought a swap from that firm.

As long as all three banks can make good on their promises, the trade doesn’t have much risk. It could all unravel if the British firm runs into trouble because it’s waiting for a payment from an Italian company that defaults. The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 demonstrated some of the ripple effects that one failure can have in the market.

“We learned from Lehman that all of these firms are tied together with bungee cords -- you can’t just lift one out without it affecting everyone else in the group,” said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York who previously worked at Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. More disclosure “may push the stock prices down when it becomes clear how big the bungee cords are. But it certainly would be a welcome addition for an analyst.”

BoomBustBlog subscribers covered this scenario months ago.

Italy has a funding issue that nobody was able to foresee, right? Wrong! After Warning Of Italy Woes Nearly Two Years Ago, No One Should Be Surprised As It Implodes Bringing The EU With It

France is heavily levered into Italy and Franco-Italiano fortunes are closely linked, right? Italy’s Woes Spell ‘Nightmare’ for BNP - Just As I Predicted But Everybody Is Missing The Point!!!

American banks (like Goldman) are on the hook for protecting the damn near doomed French banks right?  French Banks Can Set Off Contagion That Will Make Central Bankers Long For The Good 'Ole Lehman Collapse Days!

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But in the end of one, or two, three big banks go down, it's basically a giant pan-global clusterfuck, no?

"The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???"and As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... 

Guarantees provided by U.S. lenders on government, bank and corporate debt in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain rose by $80.7 billion to $518 billion in the first half of 2011, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

‘Longs and Shorts’

“We either have netting agreements, or they foot, or they cancel each other out, or they’re longs and shorts on the same instrument,” he said, answering a question about how the firm manages so many contracts in a crisis. “The only way you can run a business like that is to have these systems work so they can aggregate stuff, so you can run the business on a macro basis, and also so you can get the details quickly if you need them. And that’s all systems and technology.”

Lindsey, the former SEC official who’s now president of New York-based Callcott Group LLC, which consults on markets and market operations, said few firms have systems that can portray their real-time exposure to trading partners.

“That’s very difficult for any firm to have a good handle on all of that -- you know large positions and you know what certain positions are, but to be able to say I’ve adequately aggregated all of my long exposure and all of my short exposure to a specific counterparty may be very difficult,” Lindsey said. “I don’t know of a firm where it’s not pulled together by a phone call, where somebody says, ‘OK, we need to know our exposure to X,’ and a lot of people stop their day jobs and try to find an answer.”

‘Needlessly Cause Reaction’

Lindsey said banks may be wary of disclosures that could confuse investors. Figures such as gross notional exposure -- the total amount of debt insured by credit derivatives -- give investors an exaggerated sense of the risk and could “needlessly cause reaction,” he said.

Other methods, such as stress-testing, scenario analysis or so-called value-at-risk estimates, rely on models that may underestimate risk because historical data on sovereign defaults show them to be unlikely.

“If you’re looking at your exposure to a defaulting sovereign, there’s a relatively low frequency rate,” Lindsey said. “So it really depends on what they’ve done internally to back up their ideas of what their assessment of the probability of default is.”

"...Give investors an exaggerated sense of the risk and could “needlessly cause reaction...

"...historical data on sovereign defaults show them to be unlikely..."

"...If you’re looking at your exposure to a defaulting sovereign, there’s a relatively low frequency rate"

BUULLLLSHIIITTT!!!

 bullshit-bag

I know these Goldilocks guys may not mean any harm, but do they know what happened to the Bull that Shitted too much?dead_bull_run


I query, How Long Does It Take For Losing Money To Result In Lost Money? The Effects Of Rampant Bond Selling on Devalued Sovereign Debt

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But including losses on Spanish, Italian, Irish and Portuguese capital losses realized upon disposition, and the ongoing losses on Greek debt, what then????

You see, the truly under appreciate problem here is that the private banks rampant selling is driving down the prices of already highly distressed and rapidly devaluing bonds. Reference Bloomberg's European Banks Selling Sovereign Bond Holdings Threatens to Worsen Crisis.

Those trillions in swaps are "guaranteed" to get called on!

More from Reggie Middleton...

The Street's Most Intellectually Aggressive Analysis: We've Found What Bank of America Hid In Your Bank Account!

This Bank Is Much Worse Than the Rest and the (Guaranteed?) Bust Will Probably Be Funded Right Out Of Your Bank Account!

French Banks Can Set Off Contagion That Will Make Central Bankers Long For The Good 'Ole Lehman Collapse Days!

What Was That I Heard About Squids Raising Capital Because They Can't Trade?

ZeroHedge Is Good In Uncovering BS, But I Will Not Be Outdone In Busting BS Bank Reporting - I Simply Refuse, Right BNP?

BNP, the Fastest Running Bank In Europe? Banque BNP Exécuter

 
Published in BoomBustBlog

I am working on an interesting project closely connected to the issue that European (and now American) banks are facing. The firs of several reports should be available to paid subscribers in about a week. In the meantime, let's make a few observations that may or may not have been lost on market participants.

Paid subscribers should reference the quarterly results of the bank that was illustrated in our most recent forensic report - Haircuts, Derivative Risks and Valuation. Yes, BoomBustBlog has hit the skin off the ball once again. I will be available in the private forums to discuss this, as well as provide links for those who have not seen the news yet.

Summary: For years I have warned of the impending European collapse. Now, as it is happening, we still have banks getting away with nonsensical 60% writedowns on essentially worthless debt. Loss Given Default > 100+% - You ain't seen the worst of it, not by a long shot!

From the BNP Paribas earnings press release:

Rather than implementing the agreement reached on 21 July, EU authorities formulated a new Greek assistance package on 27 October. As a result of this plan, whose implementation is still shrouded by uncertainty, BNP Paribas set aside a provision for 60% of the full amount of all Greek sovereign debt it holds, which equates to further provision of 2,094 million euros for the banking book and of 47 million euros for the insurance portfolio. Furthermore, the effect of the additional impairment of Greek bonds on associated companies was negative to the tune of 116 million euros.

The Group's revenues, which totalled 10,032 million euros, were down 7.6% compared to the third quarter 2010. They grew in Retail Banking (+2.2% at constant scope and exchange rates with 100% of the domestic networks' private banking businesses, excluding PEL/CEL effects), and Investment Solutions (+2.5%) but fell 39.8% at Corporate and Investment Banking due to very challenging market conditions and losses on sales of sovereign bond debt (-362 million euros). Corporate Centre revenues were affected by two exceptional items related to the valuing of long-term assets and liabilities at market price (+786 million euros in own debt revaluation and -299 million euros in additional impairment on the equity investment in AXA).

This seems to be glossed over, but the equity impairments and revaluation of liabilities are a big deal, particularly in entities that are bond rich (well, now poor).

... With the additional provision set aside for Greek government bonds, the cost of risk was 3,010 million euros.

Excluding this effect, it continued its downward trend (-28.9%) in all the business units, coming in at 869 million euros, or 50 basis points of outstanding customer loans compared to 72 basis points in the third quarter 2010.

This is nonsense. They are speaking as if the devaluation is a one time event, when in reality it is the beginning of a long string of events. You lose credibility when you play your audience for fools...

The Group reported 541 million euros in net profits (attributable to equity holders) (-71.6% compared to the third quarter 2010). Excluding the Greek debt provision, net profits were 1,952 million euros, up 2.4% compared to the same period a year earlier.

For the first nine months of the year, the Group's revenues totalled 32,698 million euros, a limited decline compared to the first nine months of 2010 (-2.6%). Thanks to CIB's flexible costs, and despite the effect of the bank levies, operating expenses edged down 1.0% (-1.7% excluding the bank levies). Gross operating income was down 4.8% at 13,260 million euros and net income (attributable to equity holders) down 16.0% at 5,285 million euros. Excluding the impact of the provision set aside in connection with the Greek assistance programme, the cost of risk was down 28.5% during the period and net income (attributable to equity holders) totalled 7,034 million euros, up +11.8% compared to the first nine months of 2010.


Click to expand...

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But including losses on Spanish, Italian, Irish and Portuguese capital losses realized upon disposition, and the ongoing losses on Greek debt, what then????

You see, the truly under appreciate problem here is that the private banks rampant selling is driving down the prices of already highly distressed and rapidly devaluing bonds. Reference Bloomberg's European Banks Selling Sovereign Bond Holdings Threatens to Worsen Crisis.

In the news now, exactly as I anticipated European Stocks Drop as Italian Bond Yields Jump as well as:

No surprises here:Wednesday, 03 August 2011 - France, As Most Susceptble To Contagion, Will See Its Banks Suffer

These events are quite relevant for I warned several times over that the true risks are in Italy's funding fragility, its size, and its direct ties into France who, if caught the contagion, would invalidate any Pan-European rescue scheme. That is why "The French Banks Are The First To Accept a Voluntary Greek Restructuring". Well, here we are! Another point that is oft overlooked is that while all of the these private holders are dumping European bonds en mass, who is buying them. Well, I addressed this last year and early this year as well.. Over A Year After Being Dismissed As Sensationalist For Questioning the ECB's Continued Solvency After Sovereign Debt Buying Binge, Guess What! Keep in mind that Italy has already accepted IMF supervision over its finances, which means that it has in essence already given up its sovereign financial independence. We all know what the next step is, don't we? The IMF injects funds under strict austerity and calls the shots, just like it does with (other?) third world nations. There are ramifications here that are simply lost on most, but I will help most find it! Please continue reading...

The ECB as well as many local banks and pension schemes are being forced to buy these bonds to maintain a facade of a bid in a near bidless market (at least bidless from the perspective of avoiding total price collapse), but what does that portend for the entities doing the buying if the sellers are losing so much money and the yields are still flying through the roof? Well I addressed that in early 2010, reference  How Greece Killed Its Own Banks!.

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Yes, it's ugly, and it gets even uglier! Nouriel Roubini Tweets this morning "Italian yields at Ponzi levels: having to borrow more just to finance the interest on debt leading to vicious unsustainable debt dynamics." I respect this man's opinion, but he is just scraping the surface. Look back to last year when I really started bringing up the case of defaults, liquidations and recoveries in the iconic piece How the US Has Perfected the Use of Economic Imperialism. Warning, this is going to piss off many an oligarch! As excerpted...

How many of those Greek, Portuguese, Irish and Spanish bondholders have factored the near guaranteed "additional" haircut (/scalping) they will receive having to stand behind the IMF in the event of a (probably guaranteed) default or restructuring? Do you think the investors of European banks (that includes central banks) that are holding/and currently still buying a boat load of these bonds have factored this into their valuations?

The IMF, like many other international institutions, asserts that it has a "preferred creditor status", and this has been a practiced convention in the past. Thus, IMF has de facto seniority rights over private creditors despite the fact that there is no legal or treaty-based foundation to support this claim and this seniority of rights for IMF will continue under the recent EU rescue plan announced as well as it has not been noted otherwise implicitly nor explicitly. This is the reason why Sarkozy said it is a said day when the EU has to accept a bailout from the IMF (aka, the US). The EU now, and truly, contains a significant parcel of debtor nations.

To add fuel to this global macro tabloidal fire, the Euro members’ loan will be pari passu with existing sovereign debt i.e. it will not be considered senior. Although there is no written, hard evidence to support this claim, it is our view that otherwise there will be no incentive for investors to hold the debt of troubled countries like Greece, which will ultimately defeat the whole purpose of the rescue package. Moreover, there are indications that support this idea. As per Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager, “We are not talking about a special preference for the eurogroup loans, that’s not possible because then you would have the situation that already-existing rights of creditors at the moment would be harmed.” (reference http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-16/netherlands-excludes-senior-status-for-greek-aid-update1-.html). Of course, if more investors did their homework and ran the numbers, that same disincentive can be said to exist with the IMF's super senior preference given the event of a default and recoverable collateral after the IMF has fed at the trough.

The above-referenced article is a must read and an eye-opener to all of those who think that those 60% haircuts that BNP et. al. are taking are anything near sufficient. And on that note, what haircut is sufficient to mark Greek debt to market for these big banks and funds? Stay tuned boys and girls, I answered this question last year...

And in the End, What Does It All Mean?

LGD 100+: What's the Possibility of Certain European Banks Having a Loss Given Default Approaching 100%?

Take note that this update will include several American banks and the risks they face from writing nearly all of the richly priced CDS purchased by said European banks. This is an interesting and complicated story because all of those IMF/EU bailouts, besides adding more debt to already debt laden countries, have considerably subordinated the claims of the stakeholders involved. The following was written over a year ago, and has proven to be quite prescient:

The year 2013, with a IMF-proclaimed debt ratio of a tad under 150%, is the time when Greece will have to refinance the debt to pay the IMF. However, since the current debt raised by Greece is at fairly high rates, new debt will only be available at much higher rates (as markets should price-in the risk of high debt rollover) unless there is some saving grace of a drastic plunge in world wide interest rates and a concomitant plunge in the risk profile of Greece. At a 150% debt ratio, historically low artificially suppressed global interest rates that have nowhere to go but higher and prospective junk ratings from the US rating agencies, we don’ t see this happening. Thus, the cost of borrowing for in 2013 is likely to be much higher in the market than the nearly five percent for the existing debt. Greece will either be unable to fund itself in the markets at all, and will have to convince the Euro Members and the IMF to extend the three-year lending facility just announced (reference What We Know About the Pan European Bailout Thus Far) or, it will get the debt refinanced at very high rates. In both cases the total debt as a percentage of GDP will continue to rise, and this is not a sustainable scenario over the longer-term. In addition, if it accept the EU/IMF package and there is an event of default or restructuring, the IMF will force a haircut upon the private and public debtors beyond what would have normally been the case. This essentially devalues the debt upon the involvement of the IMF, a scenario that we believe many sovereign bondholders (particularly Greek, Spanish and Irish) may not have taken into consideration. This also leaves the possibility of a significant need for many banks to revalue their sovereign debt – particularly Greek sovereign debt – holdings.

As illustrated above, there is a higher probability for a Greek sovereign debt restructuring in 2013, which will definitely not hurt IMF (since it has a preferred right) but the Euro Members and other investors who will be holding the Greek debt.

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LGD: Loss Given Default... ~100%???

We're talking damn near complete wipeouts boys and girls. There are practicaly no entities holding this debt at par that are leveraged under 30x. The starting point in case of default for Greece is between roughly 48% to 52% of par. You've seen the math on BoomBustBlog many a time - Over A Year After Being Dismissed As Sensationalist For Questioning the ECB's Continued Solvency After Sovereign Debt Buying Binge, Guess What!

I will have some more goodies along these lines that still HAVE NOT been broached by either the pop media or the sell side for BoomBustBlog subscribers very soon.

Tools for tracking the ever elusive path of contagion for BoomBustBlog subscribers:

 Additional posts on the topic of Bank Runs

  1. The Mechanics Behind Setting Up A Potential European Bank Run Trade and European Bank Run Trading Supplement
  2. What Happens When That Juggler Gets Clumsy?
  3. Let's Walk The Path Of A Potential Pan-European Bank Run, Then Construct Trades To Profit From Such
  4. Greece Is Fulfilling Our Predictions Of Default Precisely As Predicted This Time Last Year
  5. The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!
  6. The Fuel Behind Institutional “Runs on the Bank” Burns Through Europe, Lehman-Style!
  7. Multiple Botched and Mismanaged Stress Test Have Created The Makings Of A Pan-European Bank Run
  8. Observations Of French Markets From A Trader's Perspective
  9. On Your Mark, Get Set, (Bank) Run! The D…

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That guy(s) Tyler Durden over at ZeroHedge (obviously not speaking about yours truly) is pretty sharp. He busted Morgan Stanley with the old hide the sausage game. See Exposing The Latest Eurodebt Exposure Scam Courtesy Of Morgan Stanley: Gratuitous Level 1 To Level 2 Position Transfers:

For the latest gimmick to mask PIIGS sovereign debt exposure (where we already know that the traditional fallback of "gross being irrelevant and only net being important" crashed and burned today after Jefferies offloaded precisely half of its gross exposure, while raising net, thereby confirming that gross exposure is indeed a risk), we turn yet again to Morgan Stanley. As a reminder, despite our note that the company's gross exposure (which is now a major risk factor, thank you Rich Handler for proving our "bilateral netting is flawed" thesis) to French banks alone is $39 billion, Morgan Stanley downplayed this by saying that only $2.1 billion is the actual net funded exposure to Peripherals Eurozone countries. We'll see if Jack Gorman will have to revisit his defense after today's Jefferies action. Well as it turns out, we now have gimmick number two, one which will surely delight the bearish investors out there looking to find a bank doing all it can to mask not only its gross but net exposure (and wondering why it has to resort to such shenanigans). Presenting the Level 1 to Level 2 switcheroo, courtesy of, who else, Morgan Stanley.

From the just released 10-Q:

"Financial instruments owned—Other sovereign government obligations.    During the quarter ended September 30, 2011, the Company reclassified approximately $1.8 billion of other sovereign government obligations assets and approximately $2.1 billion of other sovereign government obligations liabilities from Level 1 to Level 2. These reclassifications primarily related to European peripheral government bonds as transactions in these securities did not occur with sufficient frequency and volume to constitute an active."

Uhm, are you serious? Transactions in all PIIGS securities were sufficiently active in both frequency and volume. We are delighted to present Morgan Stanley with a CUSIP list of all PIIGS bonds together with price and volume data if they so desire to confirm to them that their excuse is about to get tested substantially by the market as one not of prudent accounting (we jest: Level 2 assets are merely a legal way to get par marks for a security that is realistically trading at 35 cents on the dollar in the case of Greece and 87 in the case of Italy), but one of yet another attempt at blatant obfuscation.

I must admit, that this type investigative reporting takes very sharp minds, very witty reporting and a thirst for finding the truth. It probably can only be accomplished by tall handsome brothers with that sharp sense of humor... Know what I mean??? From the Bank Run Liquidity Candidate Forensic Opinion (A full forensic note for professional and institutional subscribers) released in August:

Click to enlarge...

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You see, this game is getting rampant, and it not just french banks and Morgan Stanley, is it Mr. Goldman of Sachs, aka the SQUIDDD!!!

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Published in BoomBustBlog