Some brief comments on 3 issues the markets have lately been paying attention to: Steepening credit curves, Sovereign CDS and Banks stress tests
Please, click here to read this letter in .pdf format: may-4-2009
Finally, Friday came with the data on the ISM Index, which was at 40.1 vs. expected of 38.4. On an absolute basis, main street still looks awful, but everyone makes the case that the so called “second derivative” is signaling there is light at the end of the tunnel. As I have been repeating since March 18th, the positive news relies on the Treasuries, GSE debt and securities purchases by the Fed. On Friday, the sell-off in Treasuries continued. The yield on the 30-yr Tsy is now above 4%. And yield, agency and credit curves have steepened considerably during last week. The news on Chrysler and the delay in the release of the stress tests results have left stocks on a wait-and-see mode. The S&P500 at 877.52pts is up a bit over 1% in the week. The inflationist policy in April has pushed a lot of short-covering in the credit space. The CDX IG12 ended at 163/165bps. But High Grade, High Yield, Loans, Convertibles and Mortgages have all tightened significantly too.
Some brief comments on 3 issues the markets have lately been paying attention to:
- Steepened credit curves: Most analysis on this is either descriptive or focused on the specific fundamentals. This is short sighted. The steepening is the natural outcome of the inflationist process. It could also be called re-leverage. The different degrees of steepening and liquidity points we see are another proof of the non-neutrality of inflation, which is also impacting correlation in structured credit. Think of this: Without central banks, the only inverted curves you would ever see would be at the single-name level. But we do have central banks…
- Sovereign CDS: The recent tightening in this space is purely technical. Like any other spread, the sovereign spread should compensate for expected losses: spread = prob. of default x loss given default. In the case of developed sovereigns, the probability of default would be that of systemic collapse, after which huge inflation surges, resulting in a considerable currency debasement (=loss given default or loss given systemic collapse). Now, this probability has not yet fully disappeared, while the currency debasement is just starting. Thus, from a fundamental perspective, sovereign spreads should be widening. And they are, but this is only taking place in the bond market (i.e. Treasuries), where yields keep climbing.
- Banks stress tests: The US Govt. wants well capitalized banks. This is all idiocy. In our leveraged world, it is a mistake to think that the banks’ capital’s task is to allow the redemption of funds, when clients have lost confidence in their banks. The confidence that banks and the loans they have issued enjoy is indivisible. No risk management policy or capital requirements adopted on the banks’ initiative or forced upon them can remedy this. Given the ongoing inflationist policy, regurgitating this issue only brings unnecessary political risk to the table = If the Fed will keep bidding on assets and print our way out of this, they should shut up and just do it! Asking for more capital or more lending or even targeting an inflation rate is hypocrisy and it only adds expensive noise (volatility) to a trend!
This week is heavy in Treasury supply: $35bn 3-yr auction (Tues), $22 bn 10-yr (Wed), and $14 bn 30-yr (Thur). With Transmission spreads (LIBOR, LIBOR-OIS and Comm. Paper) collapsing, what could bring a reversal (lower lows in stocks, wider wides in credit)? POLITICS! Behaviour like the one shown in the chart above, between 10:30am and 2pm, when govt. debt and stocks enter or exit for the same doors AND the outlet valve of foreign exchange acts as a thermometer, MUST BE AVOIDED. (What happened on Friday between 10:30am and 2pm, AND AFTER?)
- Tags Agency,Banks stress tests,capital,cds,CDX,Chrysler,Commercial Paper,Convertibles,correlation,credit curve,currency debasement,expected losses,GSE,High Grade,High Yield,IG12,inflation,ISM Index,LIBOR,LIBOR-OIS,liquidity,Loans,loss given default,Mortgages,second derivative,sovereign,steepen,Treasuries,yield