The Repo Market Incident May Be The Tip Of The Iceberg

(Daniel Lacalle) The Federal Reserve has injected $278 billion into the securities repurchase market for the first time. Numerous justifications have been provided to explain why this has happened and, more importantly, why it lasted for various days. The first explanation was quite simplistic: an unexpected tax payment. This made no sense. If there is ample liquidity and investors are happy to take financing positions at negative rates all over the world, the abrupt rise in repo rates would simply vanish in a few hours.

Let us start with definitions. The repo market is where borrowers seeking cash offer lenders collateral in the form of safe securities.  Repo rates are the interest rate paid to borrow cash in exchange for Treasuries for 24 hours.

Sudden bursts in the repo lending market are not unusual. What is unusual is that it takes days to normalize and even more unusual to see that the Federal Reserve needs to inject hundreds of billions in a few days to offset the unstoppable rise in short-term rates.

Because liquidity is ample, thirst for yield is enormous and financial players are financially more solvent than years ago, right? Wrong.

What the Repo Market Crisis shows us is that liquidity is substantially lower than what the Federal Reserve believes, that fear of contagion and rising risk are evident in the weakest link of the financial repression machine (the overnight market) and, more importantly, that liquidity providers probably have significantly more leverage than many expected.

In summary, the ongoing -and likely to return- burst in the repo market is telling us that risk and debt accumulation are much higher than estimated. Central banks believed they could create a Tsunami of liquidity and manage the waves. However, like those children’s toys where you press one block and another one rises, the repo market is showing us a symptom of debt saturation and massive risk accumulation.

When did hedge funds and other liquidity providers stop accepting Treasuries for short-term operations? It is easy money! You get a  safe asset, provide cash to borrowers, and take a few points above and beyond the market rate. Easy money.  Are we not living in a  world of thirst for yield and massive liquidity willing to lend at almost any rate?

Well, it would be easy money… Unless all the chain in the exchange process is manipulated and rates too low for those operators to accept even more risk.

In essence, what the repo issue is telling us is that the Fed cannot make magic. The central planners believed the Fed could create just the right inflation, manage the curve while remaining behind it, provide enough liquidity but not too much while nudging investors to longer-term securities. Basically,  the repo crisis -because it is a crisis- is telling us that liquidity providers are aware that the price of money, the assets used as collateral and the borrowers’ ability to repay are all artificially manipulated. That the safe asset is not as safe into a recession or global slowdown, that the price of money set by the Fed is incoherent with the reality of the risk and inflation in the economy, and that the liquidity providers cannot accept any more expensive “safe” assets even at higher rates because the rates are not close to enough, the asset is not even close to be safe and the debt and risk accumulated in other positions in their portfolio is too high and rising.

The repo market turmoil could have been justified if it had lasted one day.  However, it has taken a disguised quantitative easing purchase program to mildly contain it.

This is a symptom of a larger problem that is starting to manifest in apparently unconnected events, like the failed auctions of negative-yielding eurozone bonds or the bankruptcy of companies that barely needed the equivalent of one day of repo market injection to finance the working capital of another year.

This is a symptom of debt saturation and massive risk accumulation.  The evidence of the possibility of a major global slowdown, even a synchronized recession,  is showing that what financial institutions and investors have hoarded in recent years,  high-risk, low-return assets, is more dangerous than many of us believed.

It is very likely that the Fed injections become a norm, not an anomaly, and the Fed’s balance sheet is already rising. Like we have mentioned in China so many times, these injections are a symptom of a much more dangerous problem in the economy. The destruction of the credit mechanism through constant manipulation of rates and liquidity has created a much larger bubble than any of us can imagine. Like we have seen in China, it is part of the zombification of the economy and the proof that unconventional monetary measures have created much larger imbalances than the central planners expected.

The repo crisis tells us one thing. The collateral damages of excess liquidity include the destruction of the credit transmission mechanism, disguising the real assessment of risk and, more importantly, leads to a synchronized excess in debt that will not be solved by lower rates and more liquidity injections.

Many want to tell us that this episode is temporary. It has happened in the most advanced, diversified and competitive financial market. Now imagine if it happens in the Eurozone, for example.  This is, like the inverted yield curve and the massive rise in negative-yielding bonds, the tip of a truly scary iceberg.

Source: by Daniel Lacalle

Dollar Shortage Returns As Repo Usage Rises To Highest In A Week

This was the third consecutive increase in repo op usage, the highest in a week and the second highest since the start of the month.

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As Hong Kong ATMs Run Out Of Cash, Central Bank Steps In To Prevent “Panic Among The Public”

As the violence in Hong Kong escalates with every passing week, culminating on Friday with what was effectively the passage of martial law when the local government banned the wearing of masks at public assemblies, a colonial-era law that is meant to give the authorities a green light to finally crack down on protesters at will, one aspect of Hong Kong life seemed to be surprisingly stable: no, not the local economy, as HK retail sales just suffered their biggest drop on record as the continuing violent protests halt most if not all commerce:

We are talking about the local banks, which have been remarkably resilient in the face of the continued mass protests and the ever rising threat of violent Chinese retaliation which could destroy Hong Kong’s status as the financial capital of the Pacific Rim in a heart beat, and crush the local banking system. In short: despite the perfect conditions for a bank run, the locals continued to behave as if they had not a care in the world.

Only that is now changing, because one day after a junior JPMorgan banker was beaten in broad daylight by the protest mob, a SCMP report confirms that the social upheaval has finally spilled over into the financial world: according to the HK publication, the local central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, was forced to issue a statement warning against a “malicious attempt to cause panic among the public” after rumors were spread online about the possibility of the government using emergency powers to impose foreign-exchange controls.

And while the de facto central bank stressed that the banking system remained robust and well positioned to withstand any market volatility, some of the statistics it provided gave a rather troubling impression: the monetary authority said that not only were more than 10% of 3,300 ATMs damaged and could not function, but that banks were negotiating with logistics firms to refill cash machines as 5% of them had run out of money, adding that banknote delivery was affected by the closure of shopping malls and MTR stations.

Will this be enough to prevent a bank run on the remaining ATMs? The answer will largely depend on what happens in the next 24-48 hours in Hong Kong, although the signs are grim.

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Bank Crisis Hits India: “Bank Stops Functioning, People Crying Outside Bank Branches”

The Punjab Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC), in India, has been caught cooking the books and misreporting non-preforming loans (NPL) of Mumbai-based real estate developer Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL). As Reuters reports, PMC hid the bad loans with 21,000 fictitious accounts, which has spooked depositors, investors and government officials,

Reuters learned about the massive fraud through a complaint filed with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police earlier this week, alleges that PMC concealed $616 million in NPLs.

BloombergQuint said PMC’s loan book had a 73% exposure to HDIL’s failed real estate dealings.

“The actual financial position of the bank was camouflaged, & the bank deceptively reflected a rosy picture of its financial parameters,” said the complaint, noting that the fictitious loan accounts were not entered into the bank’s core banking system – a factor key in the perpetration of a $2 billion fraud at Punjab National Bank that was uncovered in 2018, said Reuters. 

The complaint says PMC’s Chairman Waryam Singh and its Managing Director Joy Thomas were at the center point of the fraud. It also names HDIL’s former senior executives Sarang Wadhwan and Rakesh Wadhwa, who were the recipients of the real estate loans.

As recession fears intensify in India, the PMC banking crisis has ignited the debate among government officials that the banking sector could be headed for turmoil.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took over PMC last week and has prevented the bank from new loan creation, while nearly 900,000 depositors have been informed that deep capital controls are being placed on their accounts for six months

Dozens of videos have been uploaded to social media this week, detailing how depositors are being locked out of their accounts, some fear the worst, as the bank has likely failed. 

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“Darkening Outlook For Trade” – Global Air Cargo Rates Continue To Plummet, Hit 4-Year Low

As global trade volumes continue to fall, air cargo rates are hitting their lowest levels in four years, reported The Journal of Commerce (JOC).

Peter Stallion, an analyst at Freight Investor Services (FIS), told JOC that air cargo rates out of Asia in Aug. and Sept. have generally been a good indication of what to expect in 4Q. He said rates in Asia haven’t been this low since 2015, and that could mean the global economy is likely to slow through the year.

WorldACD, a firm focused on advising air cargo companies, said in the first eight months of 2019, from January to August, global air cargo demand fell 5% YoY. For the same period, demand for Asian carriers sank by 6%.

WorldACD said chargeable weight declined 7% for the first eight months on a YoY basis, which sparked worldwide revenue declines for global air cargo firms of at least 16%. More specifically, air cargo originating in Europe plummeted 15.3% and was down 11.6% for cargo originating in Asia-Pacific.

Andrew Herdman, director-general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), said cargo demand from Asia fell 6.4% in Aug. YoY as macroeconomic headwinds continued to gain momentum into late summer, now fall.

Herdman said, in the first eight months, air cargo demand in Asia dropped 5.9% YoY — thanks to collapsing business confidence amid trade war escalations.

“Consumer goods markets continued to expand, but demand for intermediate goods fell further, contributing to the decline in air shipments,” Herdman said.

Edoardo Podesta, Dachser Far East’s managing director of air and sea logistics Asia-Pacific, told JOC that peak season expectations for the holidays are likely to disappoint.

“Even those who usually try to drum up the peak expectations to push up rates are openly admitting that it will likely be weak,” he said.

“We have a rather pessimistic approach and believe that there will be no more than two to three weeks of peak in November and that even that will not be too strong. It is difficult right now to predict what will happen before [Chinese New Year]. Again, we believe it will not be strong.”

The air cargo slump is happening as global trade volumes are declining around the world.

Earlier this week, The World Trade Organization (WTO) published its latest forecast that said trade growth would only expand by 1.2% in 2019, down from 2.6% it predicted in April.

The WTO warned: “The darkening outlook for trade is discouraging but not unexpected.”

The slowdown in air cargo is also seen in global shipping rates. The most serious of them all is the Freightos global 40′ shipping container rate, now plunging to new lows on the year, signaling that the probability of a rebound in the global economy this year is diminishing.

Global trade is in a destructive cycle, expected to move lower through the year, as the threat of a worldwide trade recession soars for 2020.

Source: ZeroHedge

Global Debt & Liquidity Crisis Update: NY Fed Announces Extension Of Overnight Repos Until Nov 4, Will Offer 8 More Term Repos

The Fed’s “temporary” liquidity injections are starting to look rather permanent…

Anyone who expected that the easing of the quarter-end funding squeeze in the repo market would mean the Fed would gradually fade its interventions in the repo market, was disappointed on Friday afternoon when the NY Fed announced it would extend the duration of overnight repo operations (with a total size of $75BN) for at least another month, while also offering no less than eight 2-week term repo operations until November 4, 2019, which confirms that the funding unlocked via term repo is no longer merely a part of the quarter-end arsenal but an integral part of the Fed’s overall “temporary” open market operations… which are starting to look quite permanent.

This is the statement published today by the NY Fed:

In accordance with the most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) directive, the Open Market Trading Desk (the Desk) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will conduct a series of overnight and term repurchase agreement (repo) operations to help maintain the federal funds rate within the target range.

Effective the week of October 7, the Desk will offer term repos through the end of October as indicated in the schedule below. The Desk will continue to offer daily overnight repos for an aggregate amount of at least $75 billion each through Monday, November 4, 2019.

Securities eligible as collateral include Treasury, agency debt, and agency mortgage-backed securities. Awarded amounts may be less than the amount offered, depending on the total quantity of eligible propositions submitted. Additional details about the operations will be released each afternoon for the following day’s operation(s) on the Repurchase Agreement Operational Details web page. The operation schedule and parameters are subject to change if market conditions warrant or should the FOMC alter its guidance to the Desk.  

What this means is that until such time as the Fed launches Permanent Open Market Operations – either at the November or December FOMC meeting, which according to JPMorgan will be roughly $37BN per month, or approximately the same size as QE1…

… the NY Fed will continue to inject liquidity via the now standard TOMOs: overnight and term repos. At that point, watch as the Fed’s balance sheet, which rose by $185BN in the past month, continues rising indefinitely as QE4 is quietly launched to no fanfare.

And remember: whatever you do, don’t call it QE4!

Trader Gregory Mannarino breaks it down… 

Source: ZeroHedge

How Pricey Urban Meccas Become Crime-Ridden Ghost Towns

As the exodus gathers momentum, all the reasons people clung so rabidly to urban meccas decay.

The lifestyle you ordered is not just out of stock, the supplier closed down.

(Charles Huge Smith) If there is any trend that’s viewed as permanent, it’s the enduring attraction of coastal urban meccas: despite the insane rents and housing costs, that’s where the jobs, the opportunities and the desirable urban culture are.

Nice, but like many other things the status quo considers permanent, this could reverse very quickly, and all those pricey urban meccas could become crime-ridden ghost towns. How could such a reversal occur?

1. Those in the top 10% who can leave reach an inflection point and decide to leave. The top 1% who live in enclaves filled with politicians, celebrities and the uber-wealthy see no reason to leave, as the police make sure no human feces land on their doorstep.

It’s everyone who lives outside these protected enclaves, in neighborhoods exposed to exasperating (and increasingly dangerous) decay who will reach a point where the “urban lifestyle” is no longer worth the sacrifices and costs.

It might be needles and human feces on the sidewalk, it might be petty crime such as your mail being stolen for the umpteenth time, it might be soul-crushing commutes that finally do crush your soul, or in Berkeley, California, it might be getting a $300 ticket for not bringing your bicycle to a complete stop at every empty intersection on a city bikeway. (I’ve personally witnessed motorcycle officers nailing dozens of bicyclists with these $300 tickets.)

It might be something that shreds the flimsy facade of safety and security complacent urban dwellers have taken for granted, something that acts as the last grain of sand on the growing pile of reasons to get the heck out that triggers the decision.

Not everyone can move, but many in the top tier can, and will. Living in a decaying situation is not a necessity for these lucky few, it’s an option.

2. Those who have to leave when they lose their job. A funny thing happens in all economies, even those with central banks: credit-cycle / business-cycle recessions are inevitable, regardless of how many times financial pundits say, “the Fed has our back” and “don’t fight the Fed.”

As I’ve noted here numerous times, a great many small businesses in these pricey urban meccas are one tiny step from closing: one more rent increase, one more bad month, one more regulatory burden, one more health issue and they’re gone. They will move to greener pastures for the same reason as everyone else–they can’t afford to live in urban meccas.

Once enough of the top 10% leave (by choice or because they can no longer afford it), the food/beverage service industry implodes. Wait staff and bartending have been a major source of jobs in these urban meccas, and when hundreds of struggling establishments fold due to a 10% decline in their sales, thousands of these employees will lose their jobs and the prospects of getting hired elsewhere decline with every new closure.

The vast majority of these service employees are renters, paying sky-high rents that unemployment can’t cover. They will hang on for a few months and then cash in their chips and move to more affordable climes.

3. Once the stock market returns to historic norms, the gargantuan capital gains that supported local tax revenues and spending dry up. WeWork is the canary in the coal mine; from a $50 billion IPO to insolvency in six weeks.

Once tax revenues plummet (no more IPOs, hundreds of restaurants closing, etc.), cities and counties will have to trim their work forces to maintain their ballooning pension payments for retirees. This will leave fewer police and social workers available to deal with everyone with little motivation (or option) to leave: thieves, those getting public services and the homeless.

4. Housing prices and rents are sticky: sellers and landlords won’t believe the good times have ended, and so they will keep home prices and rents at nosebleed valuations even as vacancies soar and the market is flooded with listings.

Neighborhoods that had fewer than 100 homes for sale will suddenly have 500 and then 1,000, as sellers realize the boom has ended and they want out–but only at top-of-the-bubble prices.

Ironically, this stubborn attachment to boom-era prices for homes and rents accelerates the exodus. As incomes decline, costs remain sky-high, so the only option left is to move away, the sooner the better.

By the time sellers grudgingly reduce prices, it’s too late: the market has soured. The Kubler-Ross dynamic is in full display, as sellers go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance: they grudgingly drop the price of the $1.2 million bungalow or flat to $1.15 million, then after much anger and anguish, to $1.1 million, but the market has imploded while they processed a reversal they didn’t think possible: now sales have dried up, and prices are sub-$800,000 while they ponder dropping their asking price to $995,000.

Vacant apartments pile up, as the number of laid-off and downsized employees who can still afford high rents collapses. (Recall that tens of thousands of recent arrivals in urban meccas rely heavily on tips for their income, and as service and gig-economy business dries up, so do their tips.)

5. As the exodus gathers momentum, all the reasons people clung so rabidly to urban meccas decay: venues and cafes close, street life fades, job opportunities dry up, and yet prices for everything remain high: transport, rent, taxes, employees, etc.

Friends move away, favorite places close suddenly, streets that were safe now seem foreboding, and all the friction, crime, grime and dysfunction that was once tolerable becomes intolerable.

6. In response to deteriorating city and county finances, local government jacks up fees, tickets, permits and taxes, accelerating the exodus. How many $300 tickets, fees and penalties does it take to break the resolve to stick it out?

7. Those on the cusp cave in and abandon the mecca. Once those who had the option to leave have left, and those who can no longer afford to stay leave, the decay causes those on the cusp of bailing out to abandon ship.

Renters move out in the middle of the night, homeowners who have watched their equity vanish as prices went into free fall jingle-mail the keys to the house to the lender and small businesses that had clung on, hoping for a turn-around close their doors.

8. Each of these dynamics reinforce the others. Soaring taxes, decaying services, declining business, rising insecurity and stubbornly high costs all feed on each other.

And that’s how pricey urban meccas turn into ghost towns inhabited by those who can’t leave and those living on public services, i.e. those too poor to support the enormously costly infrastructure of public spending in the urban mecca.

Source: by Charles Hugh Smith | ZeroHedge

Pod People – The Future Of Housing In America’s ‘Sharing’ Economy

Urban millennials are shelling out half their income to inhabit pods in decaying mega cities.

For the low-low price of $1400/month, you can live in Venice Beach at a PodShare

Away from the glossy PR, it doesn’t look so great…

No privacy, no pets, no family.

Cheek by jowel with other pod-dwellers on prison-style bunk beds.

Forced to live like ants in colonies because none of them can afford to buy a home anymore.

As Paul Joseph Watson explains in his inimitable way, millennials are “living the dream!

*  *  *

Of course, images of ‘pod people’ sparked a large response from the twitterati as the scenes reminded them of horrors from the past…

 

Although it beats this…

Source: ZeroHedge