Italian Banks Collapse, Short Sales Banned As Loan Loss Fears Mount

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Italian bank stocks are crashing (with BMPS down 40% year-to-date) as Reuters reports that investors are growing increasingly nervous about how the sector will cope with lower interest rates and a 200 billion euro ($218 billion) pile of loans that are unlikely to be repaid. The broad banking sector is down 4% with stocks suspended, and in light of this bloodbath, Italian regulators have decided in their wisdom, to ban short-selling of some bank stocks (which has driven hedgers into the CDS market, spking BMPS credit risk). Continue reading

China ‘Stealth’ Devaluation Continues – Yuan Plunges For 6th Day, Default Risk Soars, Fosun Bonds Crash

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USDCNY broke above 6.4500 for the first time since the August devaluation, extending its post-IMF plunge to 6 days. This is the largest and longest streak of weakness since March 2014 as China seems to have taken the SDR-inclusion as blessing to devalue its currency drip by drip. Default risk is once again stomping higher as CDS surge from 94bps to 112bps (2-month highs). The biggest news in China tonight is the disappearance of Fosun International’s Chairman, China’s 17th richest man (and the collapse in the company’s bonds, since stocks are suspended). Continue reading

Things Are Unraveling At An Accelerating Rate

Does anyone else have the feeling that things are not just unraveling, but that the unraveling is gathering speed?

Though quantifying this perception is more interpretative than statistical, I think we can look at the ongoing debt crisis in Greece as an example of this acceleration of events.

The Greek debt crisis began in 2011 and reached a peak in 2012. The crisis was quelled by new Eurozone/IMF loans to Greece, and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi’s famous “whatever it takes speech” in late July, 2012. Continue reading

Russia faces ‘perfect storm’ as reserves vanish and derivatives flash default warnings

BNP Paribas says Russia no longer has enough reserves to cover external debt and enters this crisis ‘twice as levered’ as it was before the Lehman crash

Central bank data show that a blitz of currency intervention depleted reserves by $26bn in the two weeks to December 26, the fastest pace of erosion since the crisis in Ukraine erupted early last year.

Credit defaults swaps (CDS) measuring bankruptcy risk for Russia spiked violently on Tuesday, surging by 100 basis points to 630, before falling back slightly.

Markit says this implies a 32pc expectation of a sovereign default over the next five years, the highest since Western sanctions and crumbling oil prices combined to cripple the Russian economy.

Continue reading

On Poland and Detroit. Not For the Faint of Heart.

Back to finance.  Poland did exactly what I and a few others have been warning about for years with regards to private retirement accounts and pensions.  Poland confiscated 50% of all private pension funds last week.  PRIVATE pensions.

As Warren Pollock and I have been screaming, one of the largest chunks of collateral left in the system is private retirement money, both in the form of 401(k)s and IRAs and in private pension accounts.  In the U.S., the latest data for 2012 shows that there are now $10.5 Trillion in private 401k and IRA holdings, with another $9 Trillion in pensions and annuities.

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The regime has been fairly open about its plans to “nationalize”, read CONFISCATE, this collateral and implement a system of “mandatory retirement savings accounts”, which will be just another confiscatory redistribution into the hands of the oligarchs and their cronies.  This what Poland just did.  This is what MF Global was in its essence.  This is what Cyprus was, except the Cypriot confiscation was done to demand deposit accounts instead of retirement accounts, which is now termed a “bail-in” – but it is all of the same stripe, namely the utter destruction of the notion of private property and the redistribution of all wealth into the hands of the oligarchs.   In Poland, the private pension paradigm has now also been destroyed because no one will want to put money into a private pension after this knowing that it can and will be stolen by the government at any time with zero redress. Continue reading

Credit Default Swaps Remain a Secret Weapon of Economic Warfare

Kevin Freeman points out exactly what is flying over most people’s heads, and what has most likely happened to JP Morgan Chase:

The strategy involved credit default swaps , a kind of derivative that was at the center of the 2008 financial crisis. The swaps were originally used to hedge the bank’s exposure to other investments it owns and included contracts tied to North American investment grade and junk corporate bonds, as well as bonds in Europe and Asia. JPMorgan helped invent the market for such swaps, known as “synthetic” positions because they trade risk without trading the actual bonds. But two things made these particular positions untenable and costly for JPMorgan, according to traders in the market and derivatives experts.

First, as bond markets shifted and forced JPMorgan to realign its hedges, the bank layered swap on top of swap, complicating the structure and increasing the risk that its hedges would fail to offset losses from one swap with gains from another. Second, the sheer size of JP Morgan’s swap position became more than the thinly traded market could easily manage. The lack of liquidity meant the exit door was too small for JPMorgan to fit through quickly once the trades started to deteriorate. Making matters worse, because JPMorgan was so dominant in this market it became clear to hedge funds and other trading entities that it was isolated and at risk—providing opportunities for those who could successfully trade against the bank’s position. The complexity of the trades made it difficult for the bank to stay on top of the risks as its position worsened.

Stop and contemplate this for a moment. No one knows Credit Default Swaps better than JP Morgan Chase. They invented the instruments after all. And, they have long been considered “best in breed” on Wall Street in this regard. Nobody does it better. Yet, this quote is so very significant: “it became clear to hedge funds and other trading entities that it was isolated and at risk—providing opportunities for those who could successfully trade against the bank’s position.” The article went on to say: “But hedge funds and other institutions in the market smelled weakness and dozens took advantage of the bank, according to traders. Reports by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg in early April about the bank’s giant positions only made awareness of JP Morgan’s problem and its isolation greater.”

Now, we know that there are players in the world who desired to see JP Morgan Chase brought down. That is motive. Remember a year ago? We wrote a post titled The Invisible Gorilla that had quotes from Stephen Lerner of SEIU and George Soros regarding the need to tear down and remake the financial system. Quotes attributed to Lerner:

“S. Lerner: It seems to me that we’re in a moment where we need to figure out in a much more, through direct action, much more concrete way how we really are trying to disrupt and create uncertainty for capital, for how corporations operate. . . .

And I think the only way we can do that is to think much more creatively, and the key thing I …is we have to say what does the other side fear most? They fear disruption, they fear uncertainty. Every article about Europe says a riot in Greece, the markets went down. The folks that control this country care about one thing: how the stock market does; how the bond market does; and what their bonus is. So I think we weed out a very simple strategy: how do we bring down the stock market, how do we bring down their bonuses, how do we interfere with their ability to, to be rich. And if we don’t do, and that means you have to politically isolate them, economically isolate them and disrupt them. So, it’s not all theory, I’ll do a pitch.

 So, a bunch of us around the country are thinking about who would be a really good company to hate? We decided that would be JP Morgan Chase. …. And so we’re going to roll out over the next couple of months what will hopefully be an exciting campaign about JP Morgan Chase that is really about challenge the power of Wall Street. And so what we’re looking at is in the first week of May, we get enough people together – we’re starting now – to really have a week of action in New York with the goal of … I don’t want to go into any details because I don’t know which police agents are in the room, but the goal would be that we would roll out in New York the first week in May…”

Regarding George Soros:

Two years ago, George Soros said he wanted to reorganize the entire global economic system. In two short weeks, he is going to start – and no one seems to have noticed. On April 8, a group he’s funded with $50 million is holding a major economic conference and Soros’s goal for such an event is to “establish new international rules” and “reform the currency system.” It’s all according to a plan laid out in a Nov. 4, 2009, Soros op-ed calling for “a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.

Soros wrote an Op-Ed in March 2009 that explained how Credit Default Swaps were used as Bear Raid instruments to bring down the big banks in 2008.

Full article: Credit Default Swaps Remain a Secret Weapon of Economic Warfare (Global Economic Warfare)