Monday, December 5, 2011

SPY Gives Back Gains After S&P Warns AAA Rated Euro Nations (Charts)

This put cold water on the rally today, which was fueled by Italy's austerity measures and Merkel/Sarkozy's budget plan for the EU today.

S&P ratings warning to top euro nations -- FT
"The US ratings agency is poised to announce later on Monday that it is putting Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Luxembourg on “creditwatch negative”, meaning there is a one-in-two chance of a downgrade within 90 days." (AAA rated)

Let's see if SPY can make another lower high. It pierced through the recent uptrend, but we'll see how equities react to the ECB's decision on rates on December 8 and the EU summit meeting on December 8-9 (Thursday-Friday). The Fed meets next Tuesday on December 13. Also, this probably isn't good for the employment number: Postal plan: Slower delivery, 28,000 jobs lost (CNN Money).


SPY intraday move after S&P warning - FreeStockCharts.com

SPY (S&P ETF) since September 2011 - FreeStockCharts.com

Links: Italian Yields Fall on Austerity, Euribor Rates Rise

Here are a few links before the U.S. market opens. European equities and U.S. index futures are up and Italian bond yields are down on Italian austerity measures. Oil is rising with "risk on" and the drama in Iran.

*Added: The End of Growth in the United States (Gregor.us).

Merkel Heads to Paris as EU Leaders Seek Debt Strategy (Bloomberg)

Italy PM Monti unveils sweeping austerity package (Reuters)

Monti Seeks Support for 30 Billion-Euro Austerity Package to Trim Italy Debt -delay retirement, tax on first homes... (Bloomberg, Video)

Italian Bond Yields Fall After Austerity Package (WSJ)

Euribor rates tick up on debt crisis tensions (Reuters) *banks' overnight deposits with the ECB hits new 2011 high

Commerzbank to Boost Capital (WSJ)

Q&A Euro crisis: everything you need to know (Telegraph)

Fed may give loans to IMF to help euro zone: paper (Reuters)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Watch the World's Fastest Flying Human Espen Fadnes at 250 km/h

Wingsuit proximity flying is the coolest sport I have ever seen. Espen Fadnes, the world's fastest flying human, was interviewed at the Goovinn Blog: http://www.goovinnblogg.se/2011/11/release-of-the-film-sense-of-flying/. I found this video originally at CBS News. Here's the description from Vimeo, watch it after the jump.
"What´s it like flying down a mountain at 250 km/h? Espen Fadnes - The World’s Fastest Flying Human Being 2010 - teamed up with Project Managers Goovinn to communicate the experience of flying. ”SENSE OF FLYING” came out of the collaboration."

Nomura's Bob Janjuah: S&P Moves 35% Lower, 90 EPS x 9 P/E = 810 (Video, SPX Chart)

S&P 500 Weekly Chart, w/ MACD (stockcharts.com)
Bob Janjuah, the co-head of cross-asset allocation strategy at Nomura International Plc, believes the S&P 500 moves 35% lower from here [9 P/E x 90 EPS = 810].  He was interviewed on BloombergTV on 12/2/2011, watch the interview below. To your right is a weekly chart of the S&P 500 going back to 2004 with trend lines. The MACD looks interesting. In addition, Janjuah believes...

*Overall equity markets will lose 20-25%;

*Greece could see a hard default in Q1 2012, which is not priced in the market;

*The risk of more countries defaulting is high, mentions Portugal;

*This will force ECB to be lender of last resort;

*U.S. sees no recession but growth below trend in 2012, between 1-1.25%;

*"China is not an unstoppable locomotive of global growth";

*Markets could see "much higher levels of volatility";

*Fiscal drag expected in Q1-Q2; sees no extensions for payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits;

*Banking sector risks taking down governments;

*Likes non-financial large-cap corporates with strong balance sheets and the potential for special dividends and stock buybacks (due to ex-growth).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Disastrous Friendly Fire Event in Pakistan Could Grind the U.S. Afghan Campaign to a Halt - Guest Post

Guest post by John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com

NATO recently literally shot itself in the foot, imperiling the resupply of International Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan by shooting up two Pakistani border posts in a "hot pursuit' raid.

Given that roughly 100 fuel tanker trucks along with 200 other trucks loaded with NATO supplies cross into Afghanistan each day from Pakistan, Pakistan's closure of the border has ominous long-term consequences for the logistical resupply of ISAF forces, even as Pentagon officials downplay the issue and scramble for alternative resupply routes.

Pakistan, long angry about ISAF/NATO cross border raids, has apparently reached the end of its tether. Following the 26 November NATO aerial assault on two border posts in Mohmand Agency in Pakistan's turbulent NorthWest Frontier Province, Islamabad promptly sealed its border with Afghanistan to NATO supplies after the allied strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

VIX Futures In Contango, Upside Protection Purchased (Call Spreads) - Charts

S&P 500 vs. VIX (stockcharts.com)
Index futures are up 1.3% this morning. The BLS releases U.S. employment data at 8:30 (EST). The S&P is testing the 200 day moving average resistance level and the VIX is at 200DMA support (or just above it). Yesterday, on the Option Monster Volatility Sonar Report, Jamie Tyrrell, of Group One Trading, reported that the VIX futures curve is in contango (front month prices < back month, see chart below) and customers bought VIX December call spreads, or upside volatility protection, to hedge against negative market catalysts. He said on 11/30 a customer bought 55,000 December 45-60 call spreads for $0.32, and on 12/1 a customer bought 10,000 December 32.5-42.5 call spreads for $0.95. VIX Cash and the December VIX Future closed at 27.41 and 27.90. The VIX, or Volatility Index, is calculated using S&P 500 options prices. I added the Optionmonster video after the jump.

During the week, coordinated actions by central banks to lower the cost of Dollar liquidity, and China's move to lower its Reserve Requirement Ratio (RRR), put a nice bid under asset markets. We'll see how the markets react to the employment report. Monitor ECB (European Central Bank), Federal Reserve and Congressional news closely this month. Here are articles to read:

*Merkel urges euro fiscal union to tackle debt crisis (BBC)
*ECB opens door to action, Sarkozy seeks (Reuters)
*European Central Bank head hints at more action if euro countries curb spending (Washington Post
*Central Bank Chief Hints at Stepping Up Euro Support (NY Times
*Fed Officials See No New Move (WSJ)
*Barclays' Maki: Extend Payroll Tax Cuts or Expect QE3 (Newsday)
*House GOP Bill Renews Jobless Benefit (Time)

David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, and Komal Sri-Kumar, chief global strategist at TCW, think more shoes could drop in the months ahead before the Eurozone sovereign debt and banking crisis gets resolved. Will sovereign debt haircuts, bank recaps and nationalizations be the catalysts for a nice capitulation event? Watch them discuss the Eurozone crisis on Bloomberg TV at Business Insider.

Here's a chart of the VIX futures curve using CBOE quotes. Click the charts for a larger view.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

China to Embrace Fracking In an Effort to Ramp up Energy Production - Guest Post

Guest post by John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com

China to Embrace Fracking In an Effort to Ramp up Energy Production

China is leaving no shale deposit unturned in its effort to develop indigenous energy resources.

On 24 November China's Ministry of Land and Resources geological exploration department head Peng Qiming said during a press conference that China's combined oil and natural gas output, 280 million tons in 2010, is projected to rise to 360 million tons of oil equivalent by 2015, a 23 percent increase in four years and will rise to 450 million tons by 2030, a 62 percent increase over 2010 production, impressive rises in production by any yardstick.

And Beijing authorities in their drive are embracing a controversial natural gas production technique that is coming under increasing government scrutiny in both the United States and Britain - hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking." China has started drilling to meet an ambitious annual production target of 80 billion cubic meters by 2020 by which time the government is seeking to meet a target of generating 10 percent of its energy needs from natural gas and 15 percent from renewable sources and launched a national shale gas research center in August 2010.

Central Banks Coordinate to Lower Cost of Dollar Liquidity, S&P Spikes 4.3%

Source: Flickr (Ken_Mayer)
Coordinated moves by central banks to ease liquidity concerns in the financial system caused the S&P to rise 4.33% to 1246.96 yesterday. For more information read the Fed's release and this Reuters article: "Q+A: Why everyone cares about dollar liquidity swaps". Banks are directly exposed to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and I'm sure the bank credit rating downgrades recently had something to do with this coordinated move. Read this Reuters article: "S&P downgrades hit bank funding, counterparty cost". Bank of America (BAC) almost breached $5 on Tuesday before it was downgraded by S&P after the close. It smells a little bit like 2008, no? Below is the Federal Reserve's press release, which includes links to the other central bank releases and an FAQ on foreign currency liquidity swaps.

"Release Date: November 30, 2011

For release at 8:00 a.m. EST

The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the Swiss National Bank are today announcing coordinated actions to enhance their capacity to provide liquidity support to the global financial system. The purpose of these actions is to ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

S&P Downgrades BofA, Chris Whalen's Views ($BAC Closed At 5.08)

Yesterday, Standard & Poor's, using its new ratings criteria, downgraded 15 big banks including BAC, C, JPM, WFC, MS, GS and BK. BAC closed at $5.08 before the announcement. U.S. index futures are currently down overnight (Emini S&P -0.86%), so we'll see if BAC trades in the $4s tomorrow.


Image: FreeStockCharts.com

From S&P's research update:
"Following a review of Bank of America Corp. (BofA) under Standard & Poor's revised bank criteria (released on Nov. 9, 2011), we have lowered our issuer credit rating (ICR) on BofA to 'A-/A-2' from 'A/A-1'. We also have lowered our long-term ICR on its operating subsidiary Bank of America N.A. to 'A' from 'A+'. The short-term rating on the operating subsidiary remains 'A-1'."

"The negative outlook reflects our view that there are significant earnings headwinds and potentially material legal uncertainties, specifically within BofA's mortgage business, and our negative outlook on the U.S. sovereign."

On CNBC's Fast Money yesterday, Chris Whalen, Managing Director at Institutional Risk Analytics, said BofA should have the "courts appoint an equitable receiver" (read his 11/28 comment at IRA) and then break-up into five or six banks. He said he'd rather buy BAC's bonds than the stock, and his favorite big bank is U.S. Bancorp (USB). Watch the video after the jump.
"The question is what are the parents' cash needs? Does anybody want to put more capital into the parent company? No. No sane person would do that. See, I think, ultimately, that a lot of investors in our community who have big claims pending against this company -- we put out a comment yesterday that says we need an equitable receiver, we don't need bankruptcy, because the investors get stuffed, and there won't be any third-party claims. We need a receiver to sort this out, just the way we had with Stanford Group. No Bankruptcy. But we need to get this organized, get these claims dealt with, and then this company is fine. I would break it up. You could sell five, six banks out of Bank of America. They're the biggest IPOs in history." (via CNBC transcript)

In addition, this is the line in BAC's most recent 10Q (ending 9/30/2011) that everyone is talking about. Does it still apply?
"In addition, if at September 30, 2011, the ratings agencies had downgraded their long-term senior debt ratings for the Corporation by one incremental notch, the amount of additional collateral and termination payments contractually required by such derivative contracts and other trading agreements would have been up to approximately $5.1 billion comprised of $3.4 billion for BANA and $1.7 billion for Merrill Lynch. If the agencies had downgraded their long-term senior debt ratings for the Corporation by a second incremental notch, approximately $1.5 billion comprised of approximately $1.0 billion for BANA and $500 million for Merrill Lynch, in additional collateral and termination payments would have been required."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Google Reins in Spending on Renewable Energy Technology - Guest Post

image: techdreams.org
Guest post by James Burgess of OilPrice.com

Google Reins in Spending on Renewable Energy Technology

Back in July Larry Page became Google's new chief executive and immediately began a campaign to reign in Google's projects and focus their resources. This was due to the stiff competition they were facing in mobile computing and social networking from Apple and Facebook, and also investor sentiment towards increasing expenditure on non-core businesses.

One of the latest casualties of this "spring cleaning" was the big green initiative, RE<C (Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal), which was an ambitious idea to make renewable energy cost competitive with coal-fired power plants. The plan was to build cheaper and more efficient heliostats, mirrors that reflect the sun's rays onto water-filled boilers in order to create steam and generate electricity in turbines.

Prechter: "The Trend Is Exhausted", Witnessed Historic Reversal In Credit Supply In 2008 (Video)

Image: Elliott Wave video
Article syndicated by Elliott Wave International

Prechter: "The Trend Is Exhausted"
Robert Prechter explains what's the real problem with today's market
November 28, 2011

By Elliott Wave International

What is the real problem with today's market? Watch this excerpt from Robert Prechter's special, video issue of the August 2011 Elliott Wave Theorist. Prechter shows you how the buildup of dollar-denominated debt has brought us to what he calls a critical market juncture.

Get even more information about current market trends and how to prepare for what's ahead with our new 14-page investing report. See details below.

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 28, 2011 - Chart

Light Crude Oil Spot Price (StockCharts.com)
Note with chart: Light crude oil (WTI) hit a high of $100.74 today but closed around the low at 97.60. It is still above the 200 day moving average (95.65).

Guest post by OilPrice.com

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 28, 2011

January Crude Oil closed lower for the second consecutive week but losses could have been worse if not for a strong comeback on Friday. The primary reason for the weakness throughout the week was concern that the European debt crisis would trigger the start of a global recession. As bearish conditions spread throughout the Euro Region, traders pressured the Euro, driving up the U.S. Dollar and lowering demand for the dollar-based crude oil market.

The soft crude oil market firmed up on Friday on the news that violence had erupted in Saudi Arabia. With unrest already taking place in Egypt and Yemen, the news that it had spread to Saudi Arabia led to speculation that an escalation of events may destabilize the country. Egypt and Yemen are small players in the oil game while Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest crude oil exporter. Increased violence in this country would drive oil prices sharply higher on the fear that supply would be reduced.

Fitch Keeps U.S. Credit Rating at AAA, Outlook Revised to Negative

Image: SolvencyIIWire
Fitch Ratings warned they would revise their outlook on U.S. debt to negative if the Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach an agreement. Today it happened. From the Fitch release.
"The affirmation of the U.S. 'AAA' sovereign rating reflects still strong economic and credit fundamentals. U.S. sovereign liabilities, both the dollar and Treasury securities, remain the global benchmark and accordingly the U.S. credit profile benefits from unparalleled financing flexibility and enhanced debt tolerance, even relative to other large 'AAA'-rated sovereigns. The U.S. dollar's status as the pre-eminent global reserve currency and depth of the U.S. Treasury market render financing risks minimal and underpin a low cost of fiscal funding."

"The Negative Outlook reflects Fitch's declining confidence that timely fiscal measures necessary to place U.S. public finances on a sustainable path and secure the U.S. 'AAA' sovereign rating will be forthcoming following failure of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSCDR) to agree at least USD1.2 trillion of measures to cut the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years as mandated under the Budget Control Act passed in August (BCA 2011)."

Links: IMF/Italy, EFSF, Moody's on Eurozone, Ackman vs. Icahn, Fed Loans to Banks

Articles today are on Europe, Eurozone sovereign ratings, Fed loans to banks between 2007-2008, Ackman vs. Icahn beef and China property curbs. I'm seeing some 'risk-on' action this morning: E-mini S&P future +2.51% at 1,182; EUR/USD +0.51% at 1.33531; Gold spot +0.51% at 1,714.79; and oil is spiking right now +3.03% at 99.72.

IMF denies in Italy aid talks - Reuters

Euro bailout fund leveraging rules ready (EFSF): documents - Reuters

IMF Italy Loan Report 'Wide of the Mark,' BBH's Chandler Says - SF Gate

IMF readying '€600 bn rescue plan' for Italy - AFP (see above)

The eurozone really has only days to avoid collapse Wolfgang Münchau - Financial Times

Germany, France examine radical push for eurozone integration - Reuters

S&P and IMF Warn Japan About Debt, JGB CDSs Rise (Charts)

Last week, JGB 5 and 10-year CDSs broke above the 10/21 highs and now look like they could test the 10/4 highs (and beyond?). What do you think, check out the charts. On Friday 11/25, JGB 5Y CDS closed at 135 basis points and JGB 10Y CDS closed at 161 bps (Bloomberg.com data). It is the cost to insure $10 million of Japanese government bonds (100 basis points = 1% per year). And on 11/25, the Japanese 10-year government bond yield completed its "biggest weekly gain since January". Watch Japanese credit data and news. Last week the IMF warned Japan about its debt load and borrowing costs, S&P warned that Japan "may be" close to a downgrade, and yesterday Bank of Japan's Shirakwa warned about the economy. Moody's downgraded Japan's credit rating to Aa3 from Aa2 in August.

JGB 5-Year CDS at Bloomberg.com

JGB 10-year CDS at Bloomberg.com

Strategist David Rosenberg On Corporate Bonds, Treasuries, More MF Globals (Video)

David Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist at Gluskin Sheff, was interviewed by Consuelo Mack WealthTrack on 11/11/2011. His view, which is nothing new, is that the U.S. is in "in the throes of a modern day depression much like Japan". Why does he think this? We've experienced a ten year period of no employment growth; the stock market hasn't appreciated in 12 years; the yield on the 3-month Treasury Bill is at one basis point (0.01%, actually closed at 0.02% on Friday); we're experiencing a "secular contraction of credit, especially in the household sector" (in the U.S. and Europe); and "deleveraging cycles can last 7-10 years".

Source: StockCharts.com
On employment and the economy, Rosenberg said they both could "start contracting in the opening months of next year". On investment opportunities, Rosenberg believes "there is a possibility Treasury yields could go lower, maybe they go to 1.5% from 2%" (10-year note yield), but believes North American corporate bonds with "decent spreads", "quality balance sheets", and risk "mispriced for the economic outlook", present an attractive investment opportunity. Oh, and he thinks MF Global might be the Bear Stearns of 2011 (more to come). And the ECB's balance sheet and euro bonds ("hitched to Germany's credit rating") will decide the fate of the Eurozone. Watch the full interview below courtesy of WealthTrack.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rare Steve Jobs Interviews on NeXT Computers (1986, 1990)

Watch this rare interview with Steve Jobs in 1990 on the future of computing (hat tip Finance Trends). He was at NeXT Computer at this time after getting fired from Apple in 1985. Apple bought NeXT in 1996. During the interview Jobs discusses the transitions between spreadsheets, desktop publishing and interpersonal computing (human-to-human communication). Watch the 50 minute interview after the jump via PBS NOVA. UPDATE: I embedded another Steve Jobs interview in a 1986 documentary titled "Entrepreneurs" by John Nathan, where Jobs talks about NeXT..

Friday, November 25, 2011

Groupon Sold Off Another 15%; Put Options, Implied Volatility Spike As GRPN Trades Below IPO Price

GRPN from IPO (FreeStockCharts.com)
Groupon is now trading below its $20 IPO price after closing at $16.88 yesterday (11/23), down 15.50% . On 11/22 it closed at 20.07, down 14.75% (previous post: Groupon Lost 14.8% Yesterday, Social Media Stocks Destroyed In November). I think GRPN's options put a spell on the stock when they arrived at the CBOE on 11/14/2011. The December GRPN 22-25 puts sold off initially when GRPN traded between 23-26.9, but then rose 102%-191% when GRPN broke down and hit a low of $16.71 yesterday (chart of Dec 23 put below). GRPN's implied volatility spiked to 123% from 80% initially (ivolatility chart below).

Groupon only offered 5.5% (35 million) of its total outstanding shares, so there is a tight float. A week before the options started trading, all of the "available" shares were used to short the stock (borrow-and-sell). I also read that due to the tiny float, brokers initially charged "an annual rate of 90 percent to 100 percent last week to borrow Groupon's stock." Then, according to Crain's Chicago Business, "the premium to borrow such shares fell from more than 90% to about 30% early this week, opening the door for short sales." It was interesting to see how it all panned out, especially after reading multiple blog posts recently on the best ways to own or short the stock. You can see that $23-$23.30 was the line in the sand and then the IPO price. Watch that steep descending channel (downtrend) and overhead resistance level (looks like $18) to see when the trend changes. By the way, Morningstar analyst Rick Summer believes Groupon is worth $8 per share. He was featured on Fox Business on 11/6, watch the video below.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Intense Euro Linkfest, Charts (Banks, Economy, Bond Yields, EUR/USD) - 11/23/2011

So much is going on in Europe right now that it's hard to keep track. Here's a linkfest on the fly with a few charts (EUR/USD, 10-year German Bund yield). The 10-year German Bund yield is at 2.06%, up 7.56%, and EUR/USD is at 1.34027, down 0.46%. It was below 1.34 earlier this morning. Read the articles below and also see Eurozone PMI charts.

EUR/USD (FreeStockCharts.com)

HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI Falls to 48, Output Index Falls to 46.7 (Most Since March 2009)

*see more charts on the release
Stocks in Asia are lower after weak (preliminary) Chinese manufacturing data was released. The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) fell to 48 in November from 51 in October, and the Flash China Manufacturing Output Index fell to 46.7 in November from 51.4 in October. Under 50 = contraction. The release said both indicators were at 32-month lows, and it opened with the headline "Chinese manufacturers report sharpest fall in output since March 2009". This is the preliminary November PMI release. The final data is published on December 1. As you can see from the PMI and Production charts, the trend is down and both are below the 2010 lows.

More from the press release at Markit Economics.
Source: MarkitEconomics.com
"Commenting on the Flash China Manufacturing PMI survey, Hongbin Qu, Chief Economist, China & Co Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC said: “The dipping headline manufacturing PMI implies that IP growth is likely to slow further to 11-12% y-o-y in the coming months, as domestic demand cools and external demand is set to weaken despite the still resilient new export orders. That said, as inflation is likely to decelerate at a faster than expected pace, it will leave more room for Beijing to step up selective easing measures, which should gradually filter through to keep China on track for a soft-landing.”"

See PMI releases for Germany, France and the Eurozone as well.

Groupon Lost 14.8% Yesterday, Social Media Stocks Destroyed In November (GRPN, LNKD, P, OPEN, Z)

Groupon (GRPN) closed at $20.07 yesterday, down 14.89% and near its IPO price of $20. When GRPN started trading on 11/4/2011, it initially popped to about $30 and then lost about a third of its value. Since 11/4, Groupon (GRPN) is down 23%, Pandora (P) is down 22.14%, LinkedIn (LNKD) is down 16.61%. Google only lost 2.71%, OpenTable lost 18.74% and Zillow got destroyed, down 29.39%. The S&P lost 5.2%, QQQ lost 5.67% and PNQI, the PowerShares Nasdaq Internet Portfolio, lost 8.38%. So, these recent IPOs/social internet companies (less Google, because of Google+?) did worse than the market and internet index on the second wave down. I found out there's a Global Social Media ETF (SOCL) run by GlobelXFunds. According to Morningstar, "SOCL holds 26 social networking, file sharing, and web-based media companies from all around the globe." I would have added Angie's List to the chart but I couldn't due to a limit.





Courtesy StockCharts.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spanish 3-Month and 6-Month Bill Yields Spike at Auction, Both Over 5% (Chart)

Spain 3M T-bill Auction (Bloomberg)
At an auction today, the average yield on the Spanish 3-month T-bill spiked to 5.11%, up 122% from 2.29% at the previous auction on 10/25/2011. And the average yield on the Spanish 6-month T-bill spiked to 5.227%, up 58% from 3.30% at the previous auction. Click the links for quotes and charts at Bloomberg.com. Spain is getting squeezed.

Spanish Yield Curve Inverts Most Since 1994 - Zero Hedge
Spain pays more than Greece to borrow - FT
EURO GOVT-Spain bill yields soar, pressuring periphery - Reuters
Spanish yields spike as crisis exits blocked - Reuters
Spain's Borrowing Costs Skyrocket - WSJ
Spanish Government Bonds Decline After Bill Auctions; Belgian Debt Slides - Bloomberg
Germany Sees No ‘Bazooka’ in Crisis as Spain Yields Surge - BusinessWeek
Spain pays 5.1% for three month money - FT Alphaville
Spain Requests Data Providers Change Reference Bond Price - WSJ(?)

Moody's Warns France, CDS Hits New High, Fitch Warns U.S. 'Super Committee'

Credit rating agencies released updates on France and the United States recently. Fitch said, if the U.S. 'Super Committee' fails to reach an agreement on deficit reduction measures, it would "most likely" result in a "revision of the rating outlook to Negative."
"Fitch Ratings-London/New York-21 November 2011: In Fitch's August 16 statement, when it affirmed the US 'AAA' sovereign ratings with a Stable Outlook, the agency commented that it would update its US economic and fiscal projections in light of the work of the 'Super Committee'. Fitch also commented that failure by the Super Committee to reach agreement would likely result in a negative rating action -- most likely a revision of the rating Outlook to Negative, which would indicate a greater than 50% chance of a downgrade over a two-year horizon. Less likely would be a one-notch downgrade.

The announcement today that the Super Committee was unable to reach agreement on at least USD1.2 trillion of deficit-reduction measures underscores the challenge of securing the political consensus on how to reduce the federal budget deficit and place US public finances on a sustainable path over the medium-term. Fitch now expects to conclude its review of the US sovereign rating by the end of November." (Source: Fitch)

However, since no agreement would still force $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, both Moody's and S&P said it wouldn't affect the U.S.'s credit rating. But if the deficit reduction plan happens to change, that could be the catalyst for more downgrades (read more at Bloomberg). Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, believes "2012 is shaping up to be a very, very tough year. And in large part it's because the Super Committee decided to punt" (Fox Business). More on this in another post. The "payroll tax holiday" expires at the end of the year and emergency unemployment insurance expires on 1/3/2012.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interesting MF Global Commercials, Trustee Says $1.2 Billion Missing

I found interesting MF Global commercials on Youtube. They had creative ad agencies. First, some news updates: MF Global Revelations Keep Getting Worse -pdf (by Janet Tavakoli of Tavakoli Structured Finance via jca)MF Global trustee says $1.2B or more missing (AP); Insight: Farm belt rage over MF Global could chill markets (Reuters).

Russia Ups Ante with Caspian Neighbors by Moving Offshore - Guest Post

Source: kvitlauk (Flickr)
Guest post by John C. K Daly of OilPrice.com

Russia Ups Ante with Caspian Neighbors by Moving Offshore

On 16 November in Astrakhan Lukoil president, Vagit Alekperov told journalists that his company will spend over $16 billion over the next decade to develop the country's Caspian offshore Korchagin and Filanovskii oil and natural gas fields in the Caspian, at the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Astrakhan Region.

An equitable division of the Caspian's offshore resources have bedeviled the region since the December 1991 implosion of the USSR, putting the Soviet Union's previous cozy arrangements with the Shah's Iran "into the dustbin of history," to quote Leon Trotsky.

Before the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet Union and Iran effectively divided the inland sea amongst themselves, according to the terms of the 1940 Soviet-Iranian treaty, which replaced the 1921 Treaty of Friendship between the two countries, which awarded each signatory an "exclusive right of fishing in its coastal waters up to a limit of 10 nautical miles." The treaty further declared that the "parties hold the Caspian to belong to Iran and to the Soviet Union."

Since 1991 three new nations have arisen in the Caspian basin to contest this bilateral arrangement - Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. For the past two decades the five nations have wrangled about how to divide the Caspian offshore waters, and little has been achieved.

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 21, 2011 - Guest Post

Light Crude Oil (StockCharts.com)
Guest post by Oilprice.com (I added a chart of light crude oil (WTI) with simple technical analysis. It bounced off the 200dma today)

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 21, 2011

January Crude Oil futures succumbed to selling pressure last week, reaching a high at $103.37 and forming a closing price reversal top. Once confirmed, this pattern often leads to a minimum 50% correction of the most recent rally. Although a sell-off is likely, it doesn't mean the trend has changed to down. What this pattern may be doing is giving long traders a reason to take profits before a correction takes place. Aggressive counter-trend traders may be interested in the short-side.

Based on the main range from the May top at $115.22 to the October bottom at $75.36, crude oil exceeded a major retracement zone at $95.29 to $99.99. Selling pressure, however, was strong enough to push the market back inside of this zone, re-establishing its importance as a potential resistance zone. In addition, downtrending Gann angle resistance and uptrending Gann angle support formed a cluster of prices with the retracement zone to identify a possible topping area.

This week the retracement zone stays intact, but one Gann angle drops down to $100.72 and the other moves up to $103.36. Since the contract closed under both of these angles, it begins the week in a weak position. In addition, taking out $96.70 will confirm the weekly top and a trade through $95.29 will put the market on the bearish side of the retracement zone.

Going forward, the short-term range is $75.36 to $103.37. This range formed a retracement zone at $89.37 to $86.06. Uptrending Gann angle support from the recent bottom moves up to $89.36. This creates a support cluster and possible downside target at $89.37 to $89.36. If the closing price reversal is confirmed then traders should look for a possible break into this support cluster over the near-term.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

E-Mini S&P Testing 50DMA, Deficit Reduction Committee Tries To Strike Deal (Video, Charts)

Here is overnight chart action for the December E-Mini S&P 500 Future and December E-mini Nasdaq Future. ES is testing the 50 day moving average and NQ is below the 50 and 200 again after failing to break above the 2011 high. NQ also pierced through the 2007 high again (support). The U.S. deficit reduction "super committee" failed to strike a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget. They vote on Wednesday. Keep an eye on the credit ratings agencies to see what they think of this (BusinessWeek: U.S. Bond Risk Rises as Lawmakers Fail to Agree on Budget Cuts). Watch the NEDN video below for more information. Also, keep an eye on European government bond yields.

E-mini S&P 500 December 2011 Future (optionsxpress)

E-mini Nasdaq December 2011 Future (optionsxpress)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Links: China Property, MF Global Lawsuits, U.S. Deficit Reduction Committee, ECB, Iran Oil, Clearwire

Quick links...

U.S. deficit reduction committee updates (11/20/2011): No deal in sight on U.S. budget cuts ($1.2 trillion) (Globe and Mail), Debt-reduction panel spirals toward failure (Reuters), U.S. Debt Supercommittee Said Ready to Announce Failure (SF Chronicle), Deficit Effort Nears Collapse (WSJ), The Super Bad Committee's Quest to Weaken the Economy (PragCap), US 'super committee' on spending cuts admits its heading for failure (Telegraph)

via MF Global on Youtube
MF Global Customer Counsel Koutoulas: JPM Stalling on First Lien Request, CME Likely to 'Make Investors Whole' (the Commodity Customer Coalition is comprised of 7000+ MF Global customers with missing money and a gang of experienced lawyers) - Benzinga Radio Interview

JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Sued for Alleged MF Global Misstatements (as well as "Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., RBS Securities Inc. and Jefferies & Co.") - BusinessWeek

"Iran's oil minister says oil could be used as a political tool, if necessary." - Al Jazeera English

China Property Prices Record First Fall Since Cooling Campaign - WSJ (sub/summary)

China House Inflation Hits Year Low, Prices Fall - CNBC

China Said to Warn Banks on Risks Tied to Local Government, Property Loans - Bloomberg

China says will "strengthen" yuan's trading flexibility - Reuters

Yes, it’s legal for the European Central Bank to save Europe (Lisbon Treaty says the ECB can buy sovereign debt on the secondary market, but not directly from governments) - Washington Post

ECB Lending To IMF Proposal Gaining Traction - Sources - WSJ (sub/summary)

ECB as "the blue guitar" - Bathos on Econ and Trading

General Maritime - Not What The Banks Needed - Zero Hedge

Mattress Firm Holding Corp. Closes Up 15.8% Post-IPO - WSJ (sub/summary)

Clearwire’s Debt Threat May Be ‘Ploy’ to Win Sprint Agreement - BusinessWeek

Clearwire Down 28% As Firm Mulls 'Skipping' Interest Payment - Zero Hedge

Bill Miller's exit marks fresh start for Value Trust fund (Legg Mason) - Baltimore Sun

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spanish 10-Year Note Yield Makes New High, Then ECB Pushes It Down (11/17/2011)

10y Spanish-German Yield Spread
gives back all gains (Bloomberg)
Yesterday, the Spanish 10-year note yield and the 10-year Spanish-German yield spread broke out to new highs, but both reversed sharply when, according to FT and Guardian, the ECB intervened and bought Spanish bonds (which lowered the yield). The Spanish 10-year yield hit a high of 6.78%, but closed at 6.48%; and the 10-year Spanish-German yield spread hit a high of 4.99, but closed at 4.59, or unchanged after the huge intraday spike (see the chart). Sovereign debt in every euro zone country is getting attacked, but most recently in Greece, Italy, France, Belgium and now Spain. The ECB (European Central Bank) keeps buying up distressed Italian and Spanish bonds as yields keep pushing higher. Read the articles below for more information. It's hard to tell what will happen next with the ECB manipulating european sovereign debt markets, and possibly the IMF, EU and sovereign wealth funds getting involved via the leveraged EFSF plan (European Financial Stability Facility). Update (11/17/2011): Or the ECB could lend money to the IMF to bailout "even the biggest euro zone sovereigns". FYI: The Lisbon Treaty says the ECB can't buy debt directly from governments, but can on the secondary market (WashingtonPost). it is illegal for the ECB to monetizeillegal for the ECB to It's obvious though that if government bond yields keep rising, these distressed leveraged governments that can't print money, and with large amounts of debt maturing next year, will either see huge interventions or debt restructurings. Read this article by Satyajit Das at Naked Capitalism on how the leveraged EFSF and a special purpose vehicle are supposed to save Europe: Satyajit Das – Europe’s Plan To End the Debt Crisis – Putting The “Con” in “Confidence” Part 1. And as you've noticed, the balance sheets of banks, broker/dealers and funds holding European sovereign debt are directly affected. That's why people are hoping a European fiscal union gets formed so it can issue T-bonds and have a tax base.

Getting a little Spanish bond yield perspective (FT Alphaville)
Spanish bond yields near critical level (FT)
Spain's prime minister pleads for help from EU and ECB as yields climb (Guardian)
Stocks Retreat While Italy Bonds Gain on ECB Buys; Euro Rises (SF Gate)
ECB buying drives down Italian yields (and Spanish yields) (FT)

Videos of Protests in Greece and Italy Today (11/17/2011)

If you think the Occupy Wall Street protests are getting bad, Russia Today has wild footage of today's protests in Greece and Italy on new austerity measures and government drama (videos below). Also read: Reforms spark riots in Italy, Greece (ABC Melbourne). Watch live footage of the Occupy Wall Street protests here. If it's possible to chart out this cycle of social volatility, which Elliott wave pattern are we in, 3 of 5?

Live Video of Occupy Wall Street at NYSE, Why Don't They Start Their Own Wall Street?

11/17/2011: Below are two Occupy Wall Street feeds to watch. I see no teargas or flash bombs yet after they failed to delay the opening bell. The OWS movement should start their own Wall Street and have foot soldiers promote online social bank startups all over the country. Get bankrolled by Michael Moore and Russell Simmons et al.

Distressed Link Arbitrage (11/16/2011)

Distressed linkfest for 11/16/2011. Follow me on Twitter and Google+

Video: Europe Has as Little as Weeks to Avoid Default, Citigroup's Willem Buiter Says: Tom Keene - Bloomberg

"Buiter on Europe's crisis: (transcript at Business Insider)

"Time is running out fast. I think we have maybe a few months -- it could be weeks, it could be days -- before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it. So they have to act now."

"The only two guns in town, one is only theoretical, and that is increasing the size of the EFSF to 3 trillion. It should happen but it can't for political reasons. The other one, the only remaining share is the ECB. They may have to hold their noses while they do it, and if they don't do it, it's the end of the euro zone."

Greek Bondholders Said to Meet at Deutsche Bank Tomorrow For Swaps Talks - Bloomberg

John Paulson Said to Cut Risk in Main Funds Amid Europe Crisis (cut net exposure to 30%) - BusinessWeek

Fitch: U.S. Banks Face Europe Contagion Risk - Bloomberg

Record Plunge In Jefferies Bonds Implies Chance Of Default Is 65% By 2019 - Zero Hedge

Moody's Downgrades 10 German Lenders - WSJ

Is Germany Working On A Eurobond? - Pragmatic Capitalism (at BI)

UniCredit Bombshell Shouldn’t Be the Last One: Jonathan Weil - Bloomberg

Citigroup may cut 3,000 or more jobs to cut costs - WSJ

Detroit Faces $45 Million Gap, Takeover by Michigan, Mayor Dave Bing Says - Bloomberg

With video: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing calls for 10% police, fire salary cut, tax hike for corporations in Detroit - Detroit Free Press

California Revenue May Fall $3.7 Billion Short of Estimates, Analyst Says - Bloomberg

Sir Mervyn King: Britain on the brink of second credit crunch, Bank of England Governor warns - Telegraph

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10-Year French-German Spread +11% at 1.83, Belgium-German Spread +9.28% at 3.07, Italian CDS...

European credit markets and derivatives are volatile this morning. The Italian CDS rate is going viral on Twitter after hitting 600 basis points, a new high. Also, Italy's 10-year yield is back over 7% (Reuters). In other news, the 10-year French-German yield spread spiked 11% to 1.83. Last week on Bloomberg TV, Chris Wood of CLSA said "there is still the risk of a euro quake" and specifically said to monitor the French-German spread. Watch the interview. I also see that the 10-year Belgium-German yield spread is at 3.07, up 9.28% (h/t BI). Some boo-ya type action. Which highly leveraged bank or brokerage is the next MF Global sitting on European sovereign debt losses? FYI: There are sovereign yield spread futures for Germany-France and Germany-Italy at CME. Below are intraday charts of the spreads via Bloomberg.com and links to articles. Unicredit (UCG) is down 6.46% at 0.72 after reporting a huge loss, job cuts and a planned capital raise (WSJ).

10-year French-German Yield Spread (Source: Bloomberg.com)

10-year Belgium-German Yield Spread (Source: Bloomberg.com)


More reading:
Euro Weakens as Spanish Yields Climb at Auction; European Stocks Decline [Bloomberg]
European Stocks Drop as Monti Faces Resistance [Bloomberg]
Corporate Bond Risk Rises in Europe, Credit-Default Swaps Show [Bloomberg]
France, Spain Default Risk Rises to Records [Bloomberg yesterday]

David Rosenberg on Whether the U.S. Faces a Japanese-Style Lost Decade (Munk Debate Video)

Watch last night's Munk Debate on whether the U.S. faces a Japanese-style lost decade of high unemployment, slow growth and deflation. David Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist at Gluskin Sheff, and Paul Krugman, Economist and Economics Professor at Princeton, believe this is the case. They debated with Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, and Lawrence Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary.

David Rosenberg during the first segment (not from official transcript)
David Rosenberg at Munk Debate
"Despite the fact that we have had 3 years of unprecedented and radical stimulus in the economy. I mean, as you've already heard we've had policy rates in the U.S. at zero. Zero percent policy rates for three years... We have had the Fed take it's balance sheet into the stratosphere. Which was once an $800 billion stable balance sheet is now $2.5 trillion. And we've had at the same time three years of government deficits in the U.S at the Federal level of over 10% of GDP. I mean, FDR never ran the deficit above 6% of GDP. For one year in the New Deal we've had three years of unprecedented fiscal stimulus. And yet what did we get out of it?... Real GDP growth of barely more than 2% at an average annual rate. Historically, what is normal in the context of a post World War II post recession recovery nine quarters in where we are today, and the answer is 5.5%."
"Our policy makers are bumping against the severe headwinds otherwise known as the debt deleveraging cycle. And also the fact that we still have a depression in housing four years after the initial detonation. But we have a consumer debt deleveraging in the United States of unprecedented proportions. We had what was a forty year secular credit expansion that went absolutely parabolic in 2002 because we had a government that believed that as an antidote to a bursted dot-come bubble we can actually save the system by engineering a financial and housing bubble. And so, that is the basic problem that we have on our hands, is, the largest component of the global economy called the U.S. household sector, 70% of GDP, is trying desperately to get out of debt..."
"So, so far the household sector has paid down or walked away from, delevered, roughly $1 trillion. And if we're talking about the concept of mean reversion, and mean reversion is very important in this business, and we're talking about taking debt/asset and debt/income ratios back to pre-bubble norms, which I believe is going to happen, you're talking about another $3 trillion of deleveraging."
How long do deleveraging cycles last?: "Working through these asset and credit cycles take seven years. So we've finished two, and I'm going to be optimistic, only 5 more to go" (he said that data was from McKinsey research)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gerald Celente Explains How He Got Burned By MF Global (Video)

Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute, explains how he got burned by MF Global on Russia Today. He owned December gold futures.

Natural Gas Analysis for the Week of November 14, 2011 - Guest Post

Natural Gas Spot Price (StockCharts.com)
Submitted by OilPrice.com (I included a chart of natural gas spot)

Natural Gas Analysis for the Week of November 14, 2011

Written by FX Empire

Natural gas futures continued to fall on the weekly chart. Last week the January contract took out three week’s worth of bottoms to set another contract low. The break in the market was so severe that it allowed prices to catch up with a pair of steep downtrending Gann angles at 4.469 and 4.317 this week.

A decline back under these angles will put the market in an extremely weak position and indicate that the market is likely to continue to fall at a rate of about .08 per week. A break of this magnitude indicates growing pessimism triggered by an overabundance of supply and weak demand.

In addition to continual increases in supply, mild weather conditions are also wreaking havoc on the market. The approaching winter season should lead to increased demand but mild conditions are making this a moot point. With the short-term forecast calling for average-to-above average temperatures, demand is expected to remain below normal. This can only mean lower prices to follow.

With traditional fundamentals pointing toward lower prices and the number of new short positions growing, traders should start to watch for a short-covering rally triggered by oversold conditions. With analysts continuing to use words such as “pessimism”, “supply glut” and “oversupply” as prices reach severe lows; counter-trend traders have to begin to wonder if this market is getting close to turning around because of oversold sentiment.

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 14, 2011 - Guest Post

Light Crude Oil (via StockCharts.com)
Submitted by OilPrice.com (I included a chart of spot oil)

Crude Oil Analysis for the Week of November 14, 2011

Written by FX Empire

January Crude Oil finished sharply higher for the week, settling well above a key 50% support at $95.29, but below 61.8% resistance at $99.99. Additional Gann angle support is at $99.36 this week. The next important upside target is a downtrending Gann angle at $101.23.

The $99.36 to $99.99 combination should act as a pivot zone, controlling the market’s short-term direction. Since the steep Gann angle moves up at a rate of $4.00 per week. This market is going to have to close above $103.36 on a weekly basis in order for it to maintain its torrid upward pace.

Bullish traders will want to see the market continue to hold $99.36 this week. Since last week’s close was at $98.99, the market will have some catching up to do early in the trading session. A failure to regain the steep uptrending angle will be another sign that buyers are lightening up their positions and that sentiment may be shifting to the downside.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not. This market is being driven by momentum at this time. A slowdown in momentum will show up on the charts and will be the first indication that an overdue correction is about to begin. Traders have to watch for this momentum shift because the market is vulnerable to a correction of its rally. The first downside target is a 50% price level at $87.28.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

CLSA's Chris Wood: Risk of "Euro Quake" During Crisis, Watch French-German Yield Spread

Source: Bloomberg.com
On 11/8/2011 (BloombergTV), CLSA Asia Pacific's chief equity strategist Chris Wood (author of the GREED and fear report) shared his views on the euro-zone crisis and what to expect going forward with the markets. Wood believes "we are in the process of reaching an end game in the euro-zone", which will end with the formation of a fiscal union forced by market pressure.

"The trend so far in this whole crisis is when the pressure gets really on, Germany agrees to more incremental moves towards fiscal union. Ultimately, I'm expecting that to be the end game. I'm expecting sooner or later the ECB to put up the white flag and engage in unsterilized monetization purchases of euro zone government debt. However, the quid pro quo for Germany will be an insistence that real fiscal safeguards are put in, European treasury set up, power to raise taxes, issue euro bonds. I believe this is the end game and the only issue is how long it takes."

In the meantime, Wood believes "there's still the risk of a euro quake that forces Europeans over this hump", which could hit risk assets (weaker stocks, commodities and euro) and force China, India and the ECB to ease and Federal Reserve to start QE3 (when dollar rises). To monitor this risk, Wood said to watch not only Italian government bond yields and its 5, 10-year yield spreads to German bunds, but also the French-German bund yield spread, which recently hit a new euro-era high. I transcribed more of what he said.

10-year French-German Spread (Bloomberg.com)
"Whether it's Italy going wrong or in due course France, that day is arriving. And the longer they take to resolve the issue the more it will cost and the more stress there will be in the interim. Clearly if the Italians get some austerity, if you get a new technocratic government, that might buy you 2-3 months of relative peace. But, I think that's the best case. Apart from looking at Italy, people also should be aware that the French bond yield over the German bund is now at euro-era highs. So I think that's as much an important variable to monitor..."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Groupon (GRPN) Options Arrive On Monday At CBOE

FYI, Groupon (GRPN) options arrive on Monday 11/14/2011.
"CBOE AND C2 TO LIST OPTIONS ON GROUPON, INC. (GRPN) ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14

CHICAGO, November 11, 2011 – The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and C2 Options Exchange (C2) today announced they will list options on Groupon, Inc. (GRPN) beginning Monday, November 14.

Citadel Securities, LLC will serve as the Designated Primary Market Maker (DPM) for GRPN options at CBOE. C2 does not use a DPM system.

The contract specifications for GRPN options are as follows:
Initial strike prices: 15 to 35, in $1 increments
Position limit: 200,000 contracts
Expiration cycle: January, with initial months of December, January, April and July

For more information on new listings, visit the Trading Tools section of the CBOE website at: http://www.cboe.com/NewListings."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Links: MF Global Drama, Italian Debt Crisis, Jefferson County Bankruptcy, Fannie Mae Aid

MF Global drama

Chicago's Harris Bank plays role in MF Global mess (Reuters)

MF Global Assets Have Left The Building: How, When, Where by Francine McKenna (Forbes)

MF Dumped European Debt at Loss Before Bankruptcy (WSJ)

MF Global's Customer Assets - STOLEN - And Nothing You Hold In This System Is Safe (Jesse's Café Américain)

Two MF Global Clients Spill About Their Frozen Accounts -- "It Was Like Being In The Twilight Zone." (Business Insider)

Wolfman Wednesday- Elvis (MF funds) have left the building (OptionMonster TV)

Chris Whalen on MF Global, Repo-to-Maturity and Large Bank OBS exposures (Zero Hedge)


Italian sovereign debt crisis and European news

Italy Bond Attack Breaches Euro Defenses (Bloomberg)

Crisis in Italy spurs fears of euro zone break-up (Reuters)

Italy’s Senate Speeds Austerity Vote (Bloomberg)

BlackRock Responds To Zero Hedge Query On Its Italian Debt Exposure (Zero Hedge)

France Extends Short-Selling Ban on Banking Shares (CNBC)

Italy 2s10s Inverts For First Time Since August 1994 As French and Spanish Spreads Widen To Records (Zero Hedge)

ECB's Stark warns EU govts against seeking ECB help (Reuters), needs fiscal union (Bloomberg)

Euro zone has no plans to rescue Italy: officials (Reuters)

Soros: European governments have the bazooka (7:56) (Reuters Video)

Lagarde Sees Risk of 'Lost Decade' for Global Economy (Bloomberg Video)

EU sees euro zone growth slowing sharply, recession risk (Reuters)

Italy CDS vs bonds: CDS win! (FT Alphaville)

Moody's assigns Aaa rating to EFSF's new 10-year benchmark bond (for Ireland) (Moody's)

Volatility Sonar Report - 35ish to 45ish November 9, 2011 (OptionMonster TV)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post - U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

Oklahoma Seismicity via USGS.gov
Guest post by John Daly of OilPrice.com

U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.

Why?

In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as "fracking." While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking's capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies - that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

Italian 10-Year Note Yield Spikes to 7.41%! Italy-German Spread is At 5.67 +14%, EUR/USD Smacked Down

EUR/USD (courtesy FreeStockCharts.com)
Italy's 10-year Note Yield rose 64 basis points to 7.41%, which is a new record high. It's been rising since it broke out in June-July and hasn't stopped. According to WSJ, Italy has $200 billion of their $2.63 trillion debt load maturing next year with a Debt/GDP ratio of 120%. Italian bonds are also selling off because LCH Clearnet SA, a clearing house, raised its margin rate on Italian bonds (read more at FT Alphaville). In addition, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered to resign yesterday, so there is political drama as well (Bloomberg). As you can see, the Euro-zone crisis is in full effect, and everything is riding on the EU bailout plan (leveraged EFSF) to contain it.

An hour ago Ran Squawk reported that Italian CDS hit a record high at 536bps. See the CDS trend here, but it's delayed a day. The 10-year Italian-German Bond Yield Spread rose 14% to 5.67; EUR/USD is down 1.19% at 1.36615; and the December E-Mini S&P future is down 2% (via ino.com). Check out the charts below of Italian activity and the Euro/Dollar. It's getting interesting. Listen to what CLSA's Chris Wood said yesterday on Bloomberg. He thinks we're "reaching an end game in the Eurozone, but the only issue is how long it takes" (for fiscal union). He then said, "we still have the risk of a euro quake to force the Europeans over this hump." He also talked about the Fed, I will watch it again later. Zero Hedge has a post out titled: Barclays Says Italy Is Finished: "Mathematically Beyond Point Of No Return"", which says the ECB will need to print euros.