Monday, September 20, 2010

Quotes Albert Edwards, Bill Buckler, Alan Greenspan,William Buiter, Mr Mantega ( Brazil’s Finance Minister ), Ben Davies & Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Cannot believe that i´m quoting Greenspan without making the usual jokes about his "wisdom"......... ;-)

Fast unheimlich das man mal ohne Häme Greenspan zitieren kann...... ;-)

Albert Edwards via ZH
Central bankers, by pursuing policies that allowed the middle classes to borrow against rising asset prices, kept them consuming despite the stagnation of their incomes and hence disguised the effect of government policies that allowed the rich to acquire virtually all of the gains in GDP growth.

And in the process of “robbing” the middle classes and now still attempting to keep asset prices artificially high, they are also robbing our children of the ability to buy a house at an affordable price. Yet central bankers still see QE as key to maintaining the illusion of prosperity and stoking consumer spending
Bill Buckler via ZH
"Ninety-seven percent of all existing Treasury debt has been created since August 15, 1971! Ninety-three percent of it has been created since Mr Volcker “saved” the paper Dollar in late 1979! Please note that the gain in Treasuries and the loss in the US Dollar almost exactly cancel out.

Please note also that even the biggest gain in these paper markets fades into insignificance against Gold’s rise."And here is the answer all the "gold bugs" have been waiting for: "The paper money “price” of Gold will last as long as the attempt to make paper money “work” lasts. In the end, Gold will no longer have a “price” because it has reverted to its role as MONEY. Whenever and wherever that happens, that nation can return to the production of wealth - rather than “money”."
Alan Greenspan via The Reformed Broker
Mr. Greenspan replied that he’d thought a lot about gold prices over the years and decided the supply and demand explanations treating gold like other commodities “simply don’t pan out,” as Mr. Malpass characterized Mr. Greenspan. “He’d concluded that gold is simply different,” Mr. Malpass wrote. At one point Mr. Greenspan spoke of how, during World War II, the Allies going into North Africa found gold was insisted on in the payment of bribes. Said the former Fed chairman: “If all currencies are moving up or down together, the question is: relative to what? Gold is the canary in the coal mine. It signals problems with respect to currency markets. Central banks should pay attention to it.”
William Buiter via FT Alphaville
…even the fiscally best-positioned G7 countries, Germany and Canada, face major fiscal challenges. Germany would not be able to join the Euro Area today if it were not a member already, because it fails to meet the deficit criterion (no more than 3% of GDP) and the debt criterion (no more than 60% of GDP) – in the case of the public debt to GDP ratio, by a significant and growing margin. Indeed, the aggregate Euro Area fails both criteria by wide margins, and of the 16 individual member states, only Luxembourg and Finland qualify on both criteria…
With QE 2.0 now finally on the table & spreading "competitive devaluations" ( timing wasn´t bad... see Update)around the globe i think you should give the Ludwig von Mises reference via John Hussman a second look....

Da ja nun auch endlich offiziell QE 2.0 angekündigt worden ist und weltweit ein finaler Abwertungswettlauf ( Timing hätte schlechter sein können...siehe Update )in Sachen Währungen um sich greift ( und dabei rasant an Fahrt gewinnt ) kann es nicht schaden noch einmal einen Blick auf das Ludwig von Mises Zitat via John Hussman zu werfen....


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph
States accounting for two-thirds of the global economy are either holding down their exchange rates by direct intervention or steering currencies lower in an attempt to shift problems on to somebody else, each with their own plausible justification. Nothing like this has been seen since the 1930s.
Brazil’s finance minister Mr Mantega via FT Alphaville
Mr Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, declared earlier this month that the Brazilian real was caught up in ‘a silent war’ in currency markets, as nations compete to speed up their economic recoveries by putting their exporters at an advantage…
Ben Davies Ft Alphaville
Within a single week 25 nations have deliberately slashed the values of their currencies. Nothing quite comparable with this has ever happened before in the history of the world. This world monetary earthquake will carry many lessons.
Got GOLD ? ;-)

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Junk Bond Covenants Less Strigend Than Their Previous Junk Deals.....

Let´s be generous and call this kind of datapoint "frothy"...... ;-) Make sure you take a closer look at the stunning example provided in the update at the end of the post........

Höflich formuliert dürften Daten wie diese als "überschäument" durchgehen.... ;-) Verweise in diesem Zusammenhang ausdrücklich auf das Beispile das ich am Ende des Postings im Update verewigt habe.....

Bond Markets Get Riskier WSJ
One of the worrisome developments is occurring in the junk-bond market, where companies are taking advantage of strong demand to sell bonds that have fewer protections for investors than similar bonds sold by the companies in years past.

Some have watered down covenants, which are supposed to protect investors if a company is sold and prevent companies from loading on too much other debt or paying out their cash, which would cause a drop in value of the bonds or make it less likely the bonds they hold would get paid off.

Fifty-seven percent of junk-bond issuers had less-stringent covenants than their previous junk deals, according to an analysis for The Wall Street Journal by Covenant Review which analyzed 58 junk bonds issued in 2010 by companies that previously had issued debt. Just one deal had stronger covenants for investors. Some 41% of the deals had the same covenants.

"It reflects a weakening in covenant protections even below those existing at the peak of the market, in 2006 and 2007," Alexander Dill said in a May report from Moody's.
Junk bond prices hit pre-crisis levels FT

Strong investor demand for junk bonds has pushed the average price on such corporate debt to its highest level since June 2007, when companies could borrow with ease at the height of the credit boom.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch index used by many investors to track the junk bond market – bonds sold by companies with credit ratings below investment grade – rose last week above 100 for the first time since the start of the credit crunch.

Dealogic, the data provider, said junk bonds sold to US investors so far in 2010 reached $168bn (€129bn) last week. This is more than was marketed in the whole of 2009, when the $164bn total set a record.

Mr Fridson said the average spread was 625 basis points over US Treasuries, still far above the level of June 2007, when spreads reached lows of close to 250bp.
In general i agree with the following statement and especially the headline "desperately seeking income" .... But signs of some kind of "serious excess" are clearly growing on a daily basis.....

Trotz allem kann man zumindest den Run in Sachen Unternehmesanleihen mehr als nachvollziehen.... Denke besonders die Überschrift "Einkommen verzweifelt gesucht" trifft den Nagel auf den Kopf..... Die Warnhinweise für eine gewisse "Sorglosigkeit" wachsen tagtäglich.....

Desperately seeking income FT Alphaville
...because corporate credit represents an attractive middle ground between equities and government bonds for income hungry investors

One can, of course, question the wisdom of piling into junk but given the paucity of alternatives it is understandable.

Things could really be getting "interesting" if the composition shifts away from the "refinancing" aka "extend & pretend" part..... I´m also sceptical that the markets have finally realised that this is "Not Your Father´s Recovery" & the deleveraging cycle is still in the first inning ( see Clevelend Fed "One Measure Of Corporate Leverage Recently Reached A New Historical High" ) .....

Denke das spätetstens wenn eine Verschiebung weg vom Refinanzierungs bzw "Extend & Pretend" Segment zu beobachten ist, die ganze Angelegenheit recht schnell mehr als "ungemütlich" zu werden droht....Bin mir zudem ziemlich sicher das der Markt noch immer nicht realisiert hat das die bisherige Erholung historisch gesehen nicht gerade "eindrucksvoll ausgefallen ist und das entgegen der täglichen Meldungen slebst bei den Firmen die "Entschuldungsphase" noch nicht wirklich aus dem Startblock gekommen ist ( siehe Clevelend Fed "One Measure Of Corporate Leverage Recently Reached A New Historical High" )....

Junk windfall Moody´s via FT Alphaville

Wouldn´t surprise me if the topic I Want My Buyback Back.... will be again on the agenda within 12-24 months....

Würde mich nicht wundern wenn das Thema I Want My Buyback Back.... binnen absehbarer Zeit erneut zu zweifelhaften Ruhm kommen wird.....


NYT DealBook

THIS summer, executives from the New York-based private equity firm SK Capital traveled to Houston to celebrate the first anniversary of their acquisition of a nylon manufacturing business. Soon they will have a bigger reason to uncork the Champagne.

The nylon manufacturer has announced plans to issue about $1 billion in debt, of which $922 million will be used to pay a dividend to SK. For SK, which paid $50 million in cash for the business, that is an astonishing almost 18-fold return in a little more than a year.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Better Late Than Never.... AngloGold Ashanti De-Hedging Edition.....

At least we now know why GOLD has spiked yesterday to a new high...... Stunning that John Paulson as the largest shareholder with a 12.1 percent stake and one of the biggest GOLD investors out there didn´t pressure the management to eliminate the hedges way earlier..... Maybe management should have (re)read the Special Gold Report "In Gold We Trust" - Erste Group (!) ....;-) Looking at the chart & as a contrarian i think it´s safe to say that at least one tiny factor driving GOLD will have almost no effect from 2011 on.....On the other hand i don´t know anybody investing in GOLD because of "de-hedging"....

Damit hätten wir auch den Grund warum GOLD ausgerechnet gestern einen gewaltigen Satz gemacht hat.....Das ausgerechnet John Paulson als einer der weltweit größten Goldinvestoren mit 12,1% größter Einzelaktionör ist, und nicht massiv auf das Managment eingewirkt hat bereits in den vergangenen Jahren die zum Teil lächerlichen Hedgingpositionen wesentlich schneller zu eliminieren, würde mir als Investor in einem der Paulson Fonds mehr als übel aufstossen....... CEO & CFO hätten beizeiten mal wieder einen Blick in den Special Gold Report "In Gold We Trust" - Erste Group (!) werfen sollen... ;-) Mit Blick auf den nächsten Chart dürfte ziemlich klar werden das ab 2011 ein wenn auch winziger Treiber für den Goldpreis wegfallen dürfte....Auf der anderen Seite ist mir kein einziger GOLDinvestor bekannt der ausgerechnet wegen des Themas "De-Hedging" bullish gewesen ist.... ;-)

H/T FT Alphaville

Anglogold Ld
During 2009, AngloGold Ashanti continued to execute its strategy to reduce its outstanding gold hedging position, which resulted in its decision to acceleratethe settlement of certain outstanding gold hedging positions. These accelerated settlements, together with the normal scheduled deliveries and maturities of other gold derivatives positions during 2009 and the first half of 2010, reduced the total committed ounces from 5.99 million ounces as at 31 December 2008 to 3.22 million ounces as at 30 June 2010 and to 2.72 million ounces as at 14 September 2010.

AngloGold Ashanti estimates that its current residual hedging position would likely result in it realising an effective discount to the gold spot price of approximately 6-11% until 2014 and an effective discount of less than 1% in 2015 if the hedge book were not restructured, assuming an annual production of 5.0 million ounces and a spot price of between US$950 and US$1,450 per ounce.

AngloGold Ashanti intends to effectively eliminate all its remaining gold hedging position by early 2011

Due to the low committed prices under its current hedge contracts (at an average price of less than US$450 per ounce) relative to the current market price, the elimination of AngloGold Ashanti's hedging arrangements will require a significant capital commitment.

As at 30 June 2010, the negative marked-to-market value of all hedge transactions making up AngloGold Ashanti's hedge position was approximately US$2.41 billion.
Special Gold Report "In Gold We Trust" - Erste Group Topic De-hedging

At the end of 2009 the hedged position of gold miners amounted to almost 8mn ounces (i.e.close to 250 tonnes). Barrick Gold reduced its hedge book dramatically. The Canadian market leader has cut its hedged positions by 5.3mn ounces (165 tonnes). In order to fund this strategy, the company increased its capital by USD 4bn and also issued USD 1bn worth of bonds. Barrick’s hedged positions had seen a high of more than 20mn ounces.

AngloGold and Ashanti account for the majority (i.e. close to 45%) of the existing positions.

We expect dehedging demand to gradually decrease and believe that in the long run the gold industry may shift towards hedging again so as to ensure that major projects can be planned with a certain level of accuracy.

Judging from the daily headlines on this topic i think down the road even this horrible timing will be viewed much more favourably.....

Wenn man allerdings die tagtäglichen Meldungen zu diesem Thema betrachtet, bestehen gute Chancen das selbst dieses üble Timing zukünftig "wohlwollend" in der Betrachtung wegkommen wird.....

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Interesting Irish National Debt Stats......

Stunning....If you want to put a positive spin on it one can argue that there is a lot of room for improvement for the Irish to boost their share.... Of course only if the ECB is willing to slow down their ongoing buying "frenzy" ;-) For more charts click here

Positiv formuliert bleibt da für die Irischen Mitbürger, Banken und Versicherungen noch viel Luft nach oben.....Natürlich nur für den Fall das sich die EZB in den nächsten Jahren mit Ihren Käufen zurückhält....;-) Für mehr Charts in Sachen Irland und Staatsverschuldung bitte hier klicken....

Irish government debt needs you Barclays Capital’s Laurent Fransolet via FT Alphaville

In common with a number of other countries, one of the problems Ireland has faced is the limited domestic investor base for its debt. There is only limited data on who owns the Irish debt. On the domestic side, the Irish central bank has detailed data on holders… Only 15% of the debt is held domestically (the lowest proportion in the euro area), and domestic buyers have not stepped up their purchases recently, in contrast to a number of other euro area countries (eg, Spain, Portugal).

…Irish domestic banks own just €8.5bn of the debt, compared with balance sheets of about €700bn

Similarly, insurance companies and pension funds hold just €3-4bn of Irish government bonds, compared with total fixed income assets of €66bn. These low domestic holdings probably reflect the fact that for a long time, Irish debt was scarce and low yielding, and thus shunned by domestic investors. We think it also shows that in a way, there is potential for more domestic buying, even if these changes in investment policies can take time.

To have an idea of who owns this external debt, we utilise a number of sources. First, we take into account the ECB Securities Markets Programme buying (SMP): in total, about €61bn of Greek, Irish and Portuguese securities have been bought by the ECB. We believe the majority was Greek debt, with the rest slightly skewed in favour of Irish debt (say 15bn to 20bn).

Overall, we assume 30% of the ECB SMP buying has been in Irish debt (€18bn – the SMP likely makes the ECB the biggest single debt holder of Ireland, Portugal and Greece).

Read the last paragraph twice & ( even if i have to repeat myself over and over again ) the Joke Of The Day From ECB´s Smaghi "€ More Stable Than Deutsche Mark" is getting even more "funny".... ;-)

Lasst den letzten Absatz in aller Ruhe nocheinmal Revue passieren und (ich wiederhole mich da gerne) der Witz des Tages von Smaghi das der "€ stabiler als die DM ist" nur noch witziger... ;-)
Importantly… Ireland built up a lot of cash deposits in 2008, which it could run down more than €10bn if market access remains limited/too expensive. With monthly cash deficits of about €1.5bn, limited bills redemptions (€2.75bn in Q1 11) and no bond redemption until November 2011 (€4.4bn), Ireland is not under severe pressure to issue large amounts for meeting cash needs. As such, the NTMA confirmed on 9 September that Ireland was fully funded until next June, which is our assessment as well, if Ireland decided to run down its cash balances entirely (although we suspect it will want to keep some cash buffer to hand).
Put the € 18 billion ECB number since March 2010 into perspective with the monthly cash deficit of only € 1.5 billion.... All this in the name of "tightening the unrealistic high spreads vs BUNDS"...... Spin at its best....UPDATE: Irish banks' ECB loans rise to 95.1 bln euros

Die ganze Sache wird dadurch nicht weniger witzig wenn man die geschätzten 18 Mrd € die die EZB seit März 2010 aufgekauft hat ins Verhätltnis zu dem monatlichen Cash Defizit von 1,5 Mrd € setzt..... Und all das läuft noch immer unter dem Motto "die unrealistischen hohen Renditeaufschläge vs den BUNDS mit dem Marktbild der EU / Politiker / EZB in Einklang zu bringen "..... Mir würden da haufenweise treffendere Begriffe einfallen.... UPDATE: Irish banks' ECB loans rise to 95.1 bln euros

Got GOLD ? ;-)

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Monday, September 06, 2010

How Not To Restore Confidence "Stress Test Edition"......

The main goal from "stress testing" the banks was to provide at least some confidence....There is now a good chance that this "PR Stunt" could backfire faster than even i predicted .....I´m not surprised that the rules for transparency were not "rigoros".... No wonder Only 35% Of Survey Participants Expect The Stess Test To Be Credible.... ...

Wenn man bedenkt das die einzige Aufgabe des Stress Test gewesen ist zumindest ein Mindestmaß an Vertrauen wiederherzustellen muß man so langsam befürchten das selbst dieses Mindestziel in Rekordzeit verfehlt wird..... Ich persönlich wundere mich nicht das die "Transparenzanforderungen" in Sachen Stress Test nicht "brutalst möglich" angesetzt worden sind......Kein Wunder das bereits bei Durchführung lediglich 35% der Befragten dem Stress Test "Glaubwürdigkeit" zugestanden haben....


Europe's Bank Stress Tests Minimized Debt Risk WSJ

Europe's recent "stress tests" of the strength of major banks understated some lenders' holdings of potentially risky government debt, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.

As part of the tests, 91 of Europe's largest banks were required to reveal how much government debt from European countries they held on their balance sheets. Regulators said the figures showed banks' total holdings of that debt as of March 31.

An examination of the banks' disclosures indicates that some banks didn't provide as comprehensive a picture of their government-debt holdings as regulators claimed.

Some banks excluded certain bonds, and many reduced the sums to account for "short" positions they held—facts that neither regulators nor most banks disclosed when the test results were published in late July.

Because of the limited nature of most banks' disclosures, it is impossible to gauge the number of banks that excluded portions of their sovereign portfolios from their disclosures, or the overall effect of that practice.

But the exposure to government debt of at least some banks, such as Barclays PLC and Crédit Agricole SA, was reduced by a significant amount, according to industry officials and financial filings made by the banks. Adding to the haziness, the stress tests' reported sovereign-debt levels differed, sometimes widely, from other international tallies and from some banks' own financial statements.

The stress tests' upbeat results—only seven banks flunked, and were deemed short of just €3.5 billion ($4.51 billion) of capital—initially soothed markets. But fears have flared up again as heavily indebted countries like Ireland and Greece continue to struggle. Among other warning signs, the costs of insuring many bank and government bonds against default in countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy have jumped above their pre-stress-test levels.

The banks based their stress-test disclosures on a template provided by CEBS. The template asked for banks to disclose their "gross" and "net" exposures to sovereign risk in each E.U. country. Most banks' disclosures didn't define "gross" and "net" beyond saying that the latter were "net of collateral held and hedges."

But some banks' figures didn't represent their total holdings. Barclays, for example, excluded some government bonds it was holding for trading purposes. The rationale, according to Barclays officials, was that the bonds were directly related to transactions the big U.K. bank was performing for corporate or government clients, and that the holdings vary widely from day to day. Barclays didn't disclose that it wasn't listing its full holdings.

Excluding the bonds reduced Barclays' portfolio of Italian sovereign debt—which the bank said was £787 million ($1.22 billion)—by about £4.7 billion, Barclays officials said. The bank's holdings of Spanish government bonds, listed at £4.4 billion, shrank by about £1.6 billion.

The Barclays officials said they believe other big European banks also excluded significant slices of their trading portfolios from stress-test disclosures.

In its midyear results last month, Barclays reported its sovereign-bond portfolios based on a broader definition than the stress tests used. As a result, Barclays' reported holdings of debt issued by the Italian, Spanish and Irish governments swelled.

BIS data from March 31 indicates that French banks were holding about €20 billion of Greek sovereign debt and €35 billion of Spanish sovereign debt. In the stress tests, four French banks, which represent nearly 80% of the assets in France's banking system, reported holding a total of €11.6 billion of Greek government debt and €6.6 billion of Spanish debt.

Keep in mind that the even the most adverse scenario of the Stress Test didn´t include any hair cut on sovereign debt....Too bad that only 6 weeks later the market is already pricing in a restructuring of Greek Debt ( Greek Debt Crisis – Apocalypse Later )

Man sollte villeicht nocheinmal gesondert darauf hinweisen das selbst im schlimmsten anzunehmen Fall der "Strees Test" keinerlei Abschlag bei Staatsanleihen vorsieht....Dumm nur, das bereits 6 Woche nach Durchführung der Markt bereits zum Teil massive Abschläge eingepreist hat ( siehe Greek Debt Crisis – Apocalypse Later )

EU Rehn: Other 14 EMU Members To Cover Slovakia Greece Loans

The other 14 Eurozone countries will cover Slovakia's share of the E110 billion loan package to Greece after the country refused to participate, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn said on Tuesday.

Slovakia originally agreed to participate in the E110 billion aid package for debt-laden Greece, but a new Slovak government decided to withdraw that commitment
Domino #2, Ireland, Set To Topple? ZH

The Irish-Bund spread is going nuts on reports that the ECB is bidding up sovereign debt once again, together with a WSJ report that the Stress Test was, as everyone with half a brain knew all too well, a blatant lie, and sovereign debt was misrepresented. Earlier, a report in the FT Deutschland suggested that the bailout of Anglo Irish alone, (not to mention AIB and Irish Nationwide) would be sufficient to threaten the country's solvency. Things domestically are no better, after a poll in the Sunday Independent found that 74% of respondents believed the country would default, and preceded earlier news that Irish consumer confidence plunged from 66.2 to 61.4.

Mmm, European yield stew FT Alphaville

Those bond markets and Irish debt Superb Video

Greek Deals Hidden From EU Probed as 400% Yield Gap Shows Doubt Bloomberg
Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Four months after the 110 billion- euro ($140 billion) bailout for Greece, the nation still hasn’t disclosed the full details of secret financial transactions it used to conceal debt.

“We have not seen the real documents,” Walter Radermacher, head of the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat, said in a Sept. 2 interview in his Luxembourg office. Eurostat first requested the contracts in February.
Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds Michael Lewis / Vanity Fair
As Wall Street hangs on the question “Will Greece default?,” the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks.

CEBS says the stress tests were JUST FINE FT Alphaville

Surprise, surprise....

Welch Überraschung....

Got GOLD ? ;-)

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Bank Run "Kabul Edition"......

Should be no surprise that the name KARZAI is popping up again..... Some folks have learned quite a lot from us ( US & Europe ) when it comes to the play the "Bailout / Moral Hazard Game"...If this wouldn´t be so depressing one could almost "congratulate" the "fraudsters" for recognizing that this bank is definitely TBTF.... :-(

Das hier erneut der Name KARZAI auftaucht dürfte wohl nur noch die Bundesregierung überraschen..... ;-) Bei dem seit Jahren anhaltendem "Anschauungsunterricht" ( besondern in den USA & Europe ) wenig verwunderlich das praktisch weltweit das Thema "Bailout / Moral Hazard" ständig kopiert und wie in diesem Fall besonders "brilliant" gespielt wird...:-( Selten das eine an sich so kleine Bank ohne Zweifel der Kategorie "Too Big To Fail" zuzuordnen ist....

Afghans Move to Bail Out Kabul Bank WSJ
KABUL—Afghanistan's government inched closer to bailing out the country's largest bank, setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to keep Kabul Bank solvent, officials said.

The move Sunday came as depositors continued to pull their money from the lender, mobbing branches in Kabul and other parts of the country. In the capital, police and soldiers were ordered to guard Kabul Bank branches and razor wire was strung outside the main branch to keep crowds in check.

Averting the failure of Afghanistan's largest bank, an institution with ties to President Hamid Karzai's administration, has become a priority for U.S. and Afghan officials concerned by the political and economic crisis that could result.

There were conflicting accounts of how much money the Afghan government was preparing to divert to Kabul Bank from its roughly $4.8 billion in foreign-exchange reserves. A central-bank official said the bailout would likely be in the $200 million range; a finance ministry official put the figure "closer to double that."

The central-bank official said several options were being discussed to recover the funds that are likely to be pumped into Kabul Bank. One option is forcing major shareholders who bought their stakes with loans from the bank to either repay what they borrowed or hand over their shares.

Another option is confiscating properties or businesses bought or built by bank insiders with loans from the lender.

Major shareholders include brothers of President Karzai and First Vice President Muhammad Fahim, U.S. and Afghan officials say. The "politics are delicate," the central-bank official said.

Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said the Afghan government Saturday transferred $100 million dollars to Kabul Bank to cover salaries for about 250,000 soldiers, police and teachers, who are paid through accounts at the lender.

Kabul Bank's woes became public late Tuesday, when word leaked that Afghanistan's central bank had forced out the lender's chairman and chief executive—its two biggest shareholders—amid allegations that they made hundreds of millions of dollars in sometimes-clandestine loans to themselves and Afghan government insiders.

U.S. and Afghan officials also say the bank used one of Afghanistan's traditional hawala money-transfer outfits to move hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country in an apparent attempt to avoid detection, though it isn't clear what the money was then used for.

On Wednesday and Thursday, depositors withdrew almost $180 million, more than a third of the $500 million the bank had on hand before the crisis.

It isn't clear if Kabul Bank's assets—mostly loans and property—are easily recoverable.
When bankers are more dangerous than warlords Felix Salmon
Speaking Wednesday from his villa in Dubai, which was paid for by Kabul Bank, Mahmoud Karzai, the president’s brother, said cash withdrawals from the bank were a “little bit more than usual” but did not threaten to cause a meltdown. A full-scale run on Kabul Bank, he added, “would be a major disaster.”

Yes, the president’s brother is a part owner of the bank, and he’s living in Dubai, in a villa paid for by the bank — which, incidentally, handles the payroll for Afghan soldiers and schoolteachers — and really, what could possibly go wrong?
Bill Black: “Control Fraud” Crushes Kabul NC
Kabul Bank has been revealed to be a “control fraud.” Control frauds occur when those that control a seemingly legitimate entity use it as a “weapon” to defraud. Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime – combined. Control frauds can also cause immense damage to a nation because they are run by financial elites that curry favor from political elites. The result is that they are often able to loot “their” banks for years with impunity

The CIA tells us that Afghanistan raised roughly $1 billion in revenues last year and expended $3.3 billion. The shortfall, of course, was funded by us (the West, principally the U.S.). Indeed, that understates the case because Afghanistan raised the $1 billion in revenues primarily through customs duties and the U.S. and other Western nations indirectly or directly funded most of those customs duties.

We know certain facts. Afghanistan has no deposit insurance system. Its government has no financial responsibility for bailing out Kabul Bank’s depositors. Nevertheless, Afghanistan’s government has announced it will bail out the depositors. The funds to bail out the depositors will come – indirectly, but surely – largely from the United States Treasury
Karzai Family Political Ties Shielded Bank in Afghanistan NYT

In early 2009, as President Hamid Karzai scanned the landscape for potential partners to run in his re-election bid, he was approached from an unusual corner: a bank.

After the deal, Kabul Bank poured millions into Mr. Karzai’s re-election campaign, Afghan officials said. Mahmoud Karzai and Haseen Fahim, drawing on Kabul Bank’s resources, were able to enrich their families aided by tens of millions of dollars in loans.

“The brothers orchestrated the political deal to serve their business interests,” said a prominent Afghan businessman in Kabul who, like virtually everyone interviewed for this article, spoke only on condition of anonymity. “Fahim became vice president, and the bank financed Karzai’s re-election.

“In Kabul, politics is all about money,” he said. “It’s the same thing.”
FT Alphaville
Afghanistan’s central bank has stepped in to take control of the troubled Kabulbank, its governor said on Tuesday, after suspected irregularities raised concerns over the country’s top private financial institution.

Central Bank Governor Abdul Qadir Fitrat told Reuters investigations had also been started into the dealings of the bank’s top two directors and shareholders, who were told to resign, and a brother of Afghanistan’s First Vice President, Mohammad Qasim Fahim.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Greek Debt Crisis – Apocalypse Later

Almost "shocking" to see a rationale market response.... ;-)

Fast "unheimlich" mal eine rationale Marktreaktion zu sehen... ;-)

Greek Debt Crisis – Apocalypse Later CFR

The difference between Greek and German government bond yields can be used to estimate the market’s view of the likelihood of a Greek default. The chart above shows these probabilities over different time frames on three different dates. On April 30th, no European plan was yet in place to address the ballooning Greek debt, and default was considered a real possibility in the short term. On May 11th, just after the European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM) was announced, markets sharply cut their view on the odds of default across all time horizons. However, the market’s analysis of the ESM has become much more nuanced since then. On September 1st, the market’s view of the probability of default within two years was lower than before the ESM was announced, but higher over longer time frames.

Greece will happily borrow from the ESM to avoid having to close its primary deficit (that is, excluding interest payments) too rapidly. Yet if Greece is successful in eliminating its primary deficit, its temptation to default will actually grow, as it can wipe out huge amounts of accumulated debt without any longer needing the financial markets to fund current expenditures. If faced with the choice between paying Greek debts and letting Greece default, its northern neighbors may, once their banks are on more solid footing, find it more attractive simply to let Greece default. This is the story line that the markets are now pricing into government bond spreads

Greece Default Risk Is ‘Substantial,’ Pimco’s Bosomworth Says

“Greece is insolvent,” Bosomworth, Munich-based head of portfolio management at Pimco, which oversees the world’s largest bond fund, said in a telephone interview today. “I see it as being quite a substantial risk that Greece eventually defaults or restructures.”

In a best-case scenario, Greece’s government debt will swell to 150 percent of gross domestic product, Bosomworth said.

“Debt servicing as a share of government revenue will increase substantially, particularly if current yield levels do not decline,” Bosomworth said.
Greece Sees €4 Billion (2%) In Deposit Outflows In July ZH

Outflow troubles continue for the time bomb in Europe's periphery, Greece, whose second default is approaching. The central bank has just reported that in July household and business deposits declined from €216.5 billion to €212.3 billion: so much for the ECB's presence inspiring confidence. So €4 billion a month in deposits taken out, and applying a fractional reserve multiplier, means Greek banks lost another €40 billion in monetary supply in July alone. Deflation + Austerity = Kaboom.
National Bank of Greece Greek debt warning FT Alphaville

The most denied cash call of recent times has finally happened. Late on Tuesday night National Bank of Greece announced a €2.8bn ‘Comprehensive Capital Strengthening Plan

NBG says the equity issue and disposal will ‘create an additional, sizeable capital buffer to face the macro-economic situation in Greece in the short-to-medium term’.

But what does that mean? Could it be that NBG is raising the money to cover a Greek government bond haircut? Very possibly.

If you recall the early stages of the financial crisis there was one glaring trend from the various bank CEO’s and CFO’s – they just couldn’t wait to get on TV with their slogan:

“We are well capitalized.”

Of course, that turned out to be a lie as it’s now clear that most banks in the USA were woefully undercapitalized. Today, Greece’s finance minister is out with similar comments:

“Restructuring is not going to happen. There are much broader implications for the eurozone should Greece have to restructure its debt. People fail to see the costs to both Greece and the eurozone of a restructuring: the cost to its citizens, the cost to its access to markets. If Greece restructures, why on earth would people invest in other peripheral economies? It would be a fundamental break to the unity of the eurozone.”

In other words, “we are well capitalized”.

As i have said from the beginning, the entire bailout stunt wasn´t to help the Greek..... Combine this with the latest "Unlimited & Extended" action from the EU, ECB & the Joke Of The Day From ECB´s Smaghi "€ More Stable Than Deutsche Mark" is getting even more "funny".... ;-) Judging from recent IMF attempts to desperately broaden their "safety net" it´s almost certain that Greece won´t be alone......In this context headlines like IMF Sees G7 Net Debt At 200% Of GDP By 2030; 441% By 2050 should further boost confidence...."Pray & Delay" seems to be the top priority around the globe... The long term bull case for GOLD isn´t getting weaker on a daily basis....

Wie bereits seit Anfang der Krise gesagt ging es weniger um das Wohlergehen der betroffenen Griechen..... Wenn man zudem noch die letzten unlimitierten und zeitlich unbegrenzten weiteren Rettungsmaßnahmen der EU & ECB mitberücksichtigt wird der Witz des Tages von Smaghi das der "€ stabiler als die DM ist" nur noch witziger... ;-) Die neuesten Verrenkungen des IMF um das "Sicherheitsnetz" fast um jeden Preis zu erweitern können nur dahingehed gedeutet werden das wir in naher Zukunft etliche "Griechenländer" sehen werden...In diesem Zusammenhang sollte nachfolgende Meldung IMF Sees G7 Net Debt At 200% Of GDP By 2030; 441% By 2050 eine Erklärung geben warum sich die langfristigen Perspektive für GOLD tagtäglich trotz stark gestiegenem Kurs nicht gerade verschlechtern....

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