Thursday, February 4, 2010

Your Bazooka Bluff has Been Called

Another long week at work filled with some drama that I could have done without. Looking forward to Superbowl weekend! Go Saints!

Remember, tomorrow is Friday night so get your requests in.

Note of Thanks
Last night I asked for help regarding revenue number for Whirlpool (WHR) for the past 9 years so I could work on an idea I was rolling around. Stagflationary Mark pointed me towards a great source for collective information on the S&P and that would have worked. An Anon reader was so kind as to pull up the WHR revenue numbers on his handy Bloomberg Terminal for me and provide a great chart for the years 1992-2009 and with estimates for 2010 and 2011 to boot! Thanks Anon! I will be reviewing that this weekend. I wish Anon all the best, especially as it pertains to things of chance, like say, the lottery or scratch tickets! (inside joke).

Side Dishes
I will not pretend that the big story was not the market panic/puke today but there were some other morsels that may go unnoticed that I thought were worth a look:

-Market Ticker notices that Cisco Systems (CSCO) has gone the route of zero percent financing to boost sales. This smacks of desperation and it reminded me of the height of the tech bubble when CSCO would lend money to customers to buy their products! Not quite the same, but a trend worth watching.

-No longer a banking executive with national security protections, Ken Lewis is going to court. It will be interesting to see if old Kenny boy tries to take Bernanke and Paulson down with him, and he is sure to have an armada of attorneys focused on doing just that. One can dream.

-In the most overwhelming vote ever held at Economic Disconnect, 87% of respondents think the triad of trouble (Bernanke, Geithner, Paulson) are liars. My vote was for mogwai's that ate after midnight, but that was the only vote it got!

Your Bazooka Bluff has Been Called
"I'm Daring You Billy"
Dick Brewer to Billy the Kid in "Young Guns"

On Tuesday I noted that Philippines failed to sell all of their bonds for the second time this year. Sovereign debt issues are a focus of mine for many reasons and today it seemed it was a focus for just about everyone.

In my mind there were two possible things at work today, one was the same old trick we have seen and the other would be a new chapter in the debt crisis.

From the department of the "same old story" the sell off today could be the never fail trick played by the FED and their friends to dump the stock market right before a major bond sale. Keeping in mind that indirect bids for the 21-day auction this week registered at ZERO (that's 0.0) the bulky sale next week of debt (around $150 Billion total) may have been a bit nerve inducing. Nothing like a major market route to get yields down and participation up, especially when US debt is so much better than any other debt in the world. Safe haven status rules indeed. If this was the motive then I would expect a quick reversal later next week and the good times to roll again.

If however this was something else, then we have an important inflection point facing nations all over the world.

So let me back up a minute. Remember a little time ago when Dubai was facing a serious debt issue? Markets swooned a bit and the credit markets were nervous. They were of course rescued by Abu Dhabi (though it became somewhat muddled) and all was well once again. What is important is that an explicit guarantee was demanded by the market and one was provided.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Who could forget Hank Paulson's claim that all he needed was a "bazooka" in regards to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
"If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it, you probably won't have to use it"
Of course in reality the market rolled up in a fully loaded APC with reactive armor and called the bluff. Paulson's bazooka was limp and a full and explicit backing of FNM/FRE debt soon followed. Now they even has unlimited backstops!

And thus the current situation should be easy to recognize.

CDS protection costs for Greece, Portugal, and Spain were blowing up today. For some time now the Euro leaders have tried to maintain a "no bailout policy" in regards to Greece specifically, in my mind to try and keep themselves out of having to do the same for Spain which is a much bigger problem than Greece.

Well that game is now up. The players behind the money want a plan for an explicit backstop for Greece and some plan for Spain as well. The CDS costs will force the hand of the Eurozone here. In this day and age of government intervention in everything and anything this was inevitable. Why risk money on a wink and a smile when you can get a government guarantee on the whole thing up front? Why indeed. Anyone remember all those fire side chats about moral hazard I tried to have all the time? Maybe now you can see why.

The Euro currency is not going to break up. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. I expect some kind of announcement either tomorrow or over the weekend in regards to the Greece issue that will also lay out the path forward for the next in line countries. Printing press Euro style coming up! I can recall all those weekend announcements for the latest greatest US banking bailouts during the height of the crisis, this will be no different.

In response to a dialogue I was having with the EconomPic author in this thread I noted the following:
why unlikely?
Short version; bluff of Euro has been called. Explicit backing of problem debt (Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc) is now demanded by the markets. How can they not answer and what does that mean for the currency?
To which he responded (quickly too, which I do appreciate the time taken, I know how busy we all are):
not necessarily unlikely that we'll see a correction in markets and/or economic downturn, but i think unlikely of a crisis of the system (where counterparties don't trust one another, bank runs occur, and the global economy shuts down).

it will be interesting to see how this plays out. i can see two opposing stories play out if the spain, greece, portugal get bailed out.

1) the euro gets crushed
2) the euro rallies as the uncertainty is reduced

I always get a bit lost where a government guarantee is taken as gospel without regard to the method of making good. I guess in the end you can sell off parts of your country (to whom?) or take away from private citizens to make good, but that carries it's own risks and not in a financial sense!

Still I think Jake will be right on number 2; the Euro will rally (not much) on the perceived reduced risk.

Now I have been seeing many running a victory lap in regards to the US dollar after all this. Enjoy the jog gentlemen. We have our own eurozone here called bankrupt states and California makes Greece look like, well, Greece. There are many others. Mish has extensive coverage of state and city issues and I would refer you there. Indeed the US dollar may be "King Crap of Turd Mountain" but that is not something you want to brag about at parties.

What About Gold and Silver?
Gold and Silver were crushed today and we even had the obligatory Clusterstock "Gold Sucks" post to top it off!

Now one would think on a terrible day for the markets gold would be a big winner. Instead it outpaced the indices to the downside. Silver was especially blown away. Gold and silver are hedges against fear, confusion, printing presses, uncertainty, inflation, deflation, cancer, H1N1 are they not? Well the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

The metals were destroyed last March just like the markets, but stopped falling before the markets did, recovered faster, then were overtaken to the upside. Gold has been directly correlated to the indices at times and other times it has been off on its own. Gold has been walking hand in hand with the dollar at times and other times they have run away from each other. What does it all mean?

I have no idea.

What I do know is that the US will be faced with a double dip in housing that will prompt Quantitative Easing 2.0 for the mortgage market. Bankrupt US states will require another round of cash buckets to be handed out. Unemployment will require extension (forever?) of extended benefits. The Eurozone will have to confront a mass of angry union workers hell bent on getting their promised payouts. And much more.

I have always desired a large scale discussion on just what money is. The events of today only fast forwarded that talk. Today gold and silver got dusted. Tomorrow maybe paper money will encounter a similar problem.

Have a good night.


getyourselfconnected said...

Wow, that was a long post! I liked this one!

Dave in Denver said...

LOL. No man, no discussion on what money is. We have a very interesting game approaching in Miami this Sunday.

Colts laying 5 points. Funny cuz when I saw that spread earlier, I thought that's exactly what it should be. I think the Colts cover but not by much.

Dave in Denver said...

one interesting point. the relative gold calculation, which is gold/200dma of gold, is 1.04. Getting very close to the buy area for this metric.

When that metric is below 1, gold is a screaming buy. When it is in the 1.2 are or higher, it is a screaming sell. Been a very accurate metric for at least the 8 years I've been doing this sector.

getyourselfconnected said...

are you kidding?

Saints +5!? Good luck with that. Saints win outright. Too big on offense and too aggressive on defense.

Who is going to cover M. Colston? Id they rotate that way say bye bye to Meachem/Shochey etc. Colts have poor run defense, Saints #2 in league.

sonicninjakitty said...

Wow--just sit me next to the chocolate river with an everlasting gobstopper and two oompa-loompa servants and I will be happy.

What is money? I guess money (currency) is not the same as wealth (value). How can you predict what's going to happen in these currency markets? There are too many outside influences. Gold and silver are still good, though--nice buying opportunity today.

Just remember--it's not the fluctuations, it's the long range line you should be looking at (I know, I know--you people like to do fast trades--but that's just not right!!!).

That's my 2 cents worth--and it's not FIAT money, either!!!

getyourselfconnected said...

what are you talking about? I hardly ever do fast trades! I am a macro investor and the shortest trade I have ever had was I think 2 months long. I do understand that many readers are market "playas" and I respect that.

On the 2 cents thing:
the tresury spends 1.8 cents to make penny and 10 cents to make a nickel and loses about 100 million dollards a year doing it. They are now considering new materials for coins! Paper or plastic?

getyourselfconnected said...

Best headline of tomight:
"It Continues: Nikkei Down Nearly 3% Blame Greece for this too"

watchtower said...

How about something a little bit off the beaten path for Friday Night Entertainment?

Damien Rice's 'The Blowers Daughter' from the chick flick 'Closer'.

getyourselfconnected said...

Watchtower 2 things,

1.) The blowers daughter? This is a family blog!!!!!!!! LOL

2.) no car video ideas?

Dave in Denver said...

Here ya go. From a Bill Baker essay posted on LeMet:

Gold is a commodity that is least like all the others used in trade, but it possesses characteristics that have made it the ideal selection as a vessel for wealth for thousands of years: Scarcity, yet existing in large enough quantities for use in exchange. Cumulative production that far exceeds annual mine output. Durability. Easily identifiable. Homogeneity. Divisibility. These characteristics are lacking in electronic and paper money, and these failings have produced inequity, impoverishment, and waste of public resources on a scale that no amount of regulation could harness, regardless whether one speaks of the twenty first century or the nineteenth

watchtower said...

"The blowers daughter? This is a family blog!!!!!!!! LOL"

So I see your wife didn't make you watch this movie : )

Here is one of my favorite 'You Tube' car vids, short and sweet:

Torque rules!

Anonymous said...

Friday Nite Music Request: Men at Work. Land Down Under.

Anonymous said...

Great post and you truly are wise for your years. No other blog cuts to the essence of the situation as this one.

As for what's happening.... it's the continuation of the meltdown.
We have a dysfunctional economic /financial system that is in it's last throes. Add to that a corrupt goverment (hardly new, the same thing brought down the Romans).

Now of course the meltdown could happen suddenly, but chances are it will play out in fits and starts.

Eventually (days or years I can't say) folks will realize that paper has become trash. Gold will be the natural segue. Gold's dip now is an excellent buying opportunity. The market manipulation from Big Boyz shorting paper gold is on it's last legs.

But go ahead you'all ...believe in the status quo. The Human Mind seems to excel in delusion.

Jeff said...


Your cheering for the Aint's??

You are supposed to support the AFC! :)

I think it's going to be a great game. I don't like the
Colts but I will cheer for the conference.

Besides the Saints remind me of a bunch of thugs. Lots of cheap shots on Favre last week.

I think gold holds 1000. Curious to see if DOW 10,000 holds.



Alessandro Machi said...

Nothing wrong with zero percent interest.

sedentary state said...

>the sell off today could be the never fail trick played by the FED and their friends to dump the stock market right before a major bond sale.

I haden't seen this thought before. I guess we'll have some anecdotal evidence if next week the winds of optimism suddenly blow abundantly across the land and all seems fine again.

GawainsGhost said...

I agree with Anon, this is merely a continuation of a dysfunctional economic/financial sytem. For that I blame the Baby Boomers. They're the ones who screwed everything up in their relentless pursuit of me-me-meism.

To my mind, everything in life can be compared to football. There are boundaries, rules and referees. These are what allow men to use the game for the pursuit of personal excellence. The problem today is, the boundaries have been discarded, the rules have changed, and not for the better, and the referees have been rendered impotent. Typical Boomer post-modern, moral relativist BS.

It's every man for himself! There is no concept of team. And that is a recipe for disaster.

As far as money goes, you know where I stand, GYC, as I expained some time last year. Technically, "money" is a medium of exchange. It may be currency, precious metals, land, commodities, or what have you. But the real Money is making money, in whatever currency is involved. You have income, expenses and savings. Minimize expenses, maximize savings, invest capital in assets. By definition, an asset generates income, a liability generates expenses. Accumulating debt is not the road to prosperity, regardless of what the Keynesian clowns say.

For Friday Night entertainment, I'd like to recommend something completely different but apropos to the current situation. David Bowie, Diamond Dogs.

"In the year of the scavenger, the season of the bitch
Sashay on the boardwalk, scurry to the ditch
Just another future song, lonely little kitsch
(There's gonna be sorrow) try and wake up tomorrow

(Will they come?)
I'll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she's come, been and gone

Come out of the garden, baby
You'll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs"

watchtower said...


If the Damien Rice folk singing dude is crossing the line then how about Bruce Springsteen's 'Racing In The Street'

getyourselfconnected said...

After a long week at work I am going to need a fun post.

I have loved the Saints since high school and I have no conference loyalty. After checking the ESPN/Yahoo picks I guess I am the only one picking the Saints! Tony Dungy said it would not even be a close game.

S. Gompers said...

"Donde esta’ Glompers?"

I was raising hell in the snowstorm with the 4x4 last night. I love snow.

I left this over at Sonics, but I wanted to make sure you got it, it is a fascinating story…

“They say that we are opposing national bank currency; it is true. If you will read what Thomas Benton said, you will find he said that, in searching history, he could find but one parallel to Andrew Jackson; that was Cicero, who destroyed the conspiracy of Catiline and saved Rome. Benton said that Cicero only did for Rome what Jackson did for us when he destroyed the bank conspiracy and saved America. We say in our platform that we believe that the right to coin and issue money is a function of government. We believe it. We believe that it is a part of sovereignty, and can no more with safety be delegated to private individuals than we could afford to delegate to private individuals the power to make penal statutes or levy taxes. Mr. Jefferson, who was once regarded as good Democratic authority, seems to have differed in opinion from the gentleman who has addressed us on the part of the minority. Those who are opposed to this proposition tell us that the issue of paper money is a function of the bank, and that the government ought to go out of the banking business. I stand with Jefferson rather than with them, and tell them, as he did that the issue of money is a function of government, and that the banks ought to go out of the governing business.”

William Jennings Bryan, Cross of Gold speach 1896

Anonymous said...


can anyone tell me which is the best counter strike guide ? :)...i found this one :

What do you about harshly it ?

Thanx in advance

Sorry for my bad english :s