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Sweden, Austria Start Bailing Out Energy Companies Triggering Europe’s “Minsky Moment”

Sweden, Austria Start Bailing Out Energy Companies Triggering Europe’s “Minsky Moment”

Last weekend, Credit Suisse repo guru published what may have been the most insightful snippet of the entire European energy crisis (to date) when he extended the infamous “Minsky Moment” framework to Europe, and specifically Germany, which he said “can’t cover its payments without Russian gas and the government is asking citizens to conserve energy to leave more for industry.” He then elaborated that “Minsky moments are triggered by excessive financial leverage, and in the context of supply chains, leverage means excessive operating leverage: in Germany, $2 trillion of value added depends on $20 billion of gas from Russia… …that’s 100-times leverage – much more than Lehman’s.” (Zoltan’s entire note is a must read for everyone with a passing interest in what comes next).

But while Germany still pretends it can somehow avoid a devastating crisis this winter besides bailing out Uniper, one of the country’s biggest utilities (after all, admission would make Trump’s 2018 warning accurate and prescient, and everyone knows that according to Western intellectual snobs Trump can’t possibly ever be correct), other European nations are succumbing to what Zoltan dubbed a “supply-chain Minsky moment.”

On Wednesday it was Austria, which announced it would bail out the country’s main energy supplier with a two-billion-euro ($2 billion) loan, the AFP reported. Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the loan to Wien Energie was an “extraordinary rescue measure” to ensure its two million customers – mainly Vienna households – continue to receive electricity. It will run until next April.

Wien Energie asked for a bailout this weekend after suffering financial trouble amid soaring energy prices and speculation the company mismanaged their funds. Nehammer said Wien Energie, which is owned by Vienna, would have to answer questions as to how they got into trouble.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments” almost certainly await, warns Nomura’s Charlie McElligott in his latest note as he reflects on a massive week ahead for markets.

With Powell testimony and bunches of Fed speakers, along with US economic releases headlined by the market’s most important datapoint in the CPI release Wednesday, in addition to PPI, Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment over the course of the week, plus two Duration-heavy auctions ($36B of 10Y and $22B 30Y, on top of tomorrow’s $52B 3Y),… and finally, US corporate earnings season kickoff (highlighted by JPM, C and WFC this upcoming Friday), it is no wonder that investors are degrossing still…

While the long-end of the curve is reversing modestly – after some more ugliness overnight – STIRs continue to grind hawkishly higher with March now consolidating around a 90% chance of a rate-hike

McElligott raises some worries of a rapid ‘reversal’ risk in bonds – via “market tantrum” forcing the Fed to yet-again “Bend the Knee” – as market positioning in bonds is extreme to say the least.

Looking at the QIS CTA Trend model to get a sense of the “bearish momentum” and asymmetry within Fixed-Income positioning, we currently see the net exposure across G10 Bonds is back to 10 year historical “extreme Short” at just 2.2%ile overall exposure since 2011; further, the aggregate $notional position across the agg G10 Bond positions is now greater that -2 SD rank (i.e. very “net Short”) dating all the way back to 2002.

Similarly, the Nomura MD notes that eventually, the more this selloff in legacy long / crowded hyper Growth Tech extends, there is ultimately a mounting risk of a sharp counter-trend rally in beaten-down Nasdaq, particularly considering the extremely magnitude of the Dealer “short Gamma” profile in QQQ ($Gamma -$476mm, 3.4%ile since 2013…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We are headed for a geopolitical Minsky Moment

King John is forced to sign the Magna Carta, Runnymede UK, 1215AD

Could This be a Blow-Off Top for Tyranny?

King John’s military failure at the Battle of Bouvines triggered the barons’ revolt, but the roots of their discontent lay much deeper. King John ruled England in a ruthless manner at a time when the instruments of government and the practices of the courts were becoming consolidated. Eventually the barons could no longer abide the unpredictable ruling style of their kings. Their discontent came to a head during John’s reign.

— Magna Carta, Muse and Mentor

There was a lot of defeatism evident in the comments on my recent series of posts, Why the West can’t ban BitcoinHow we know Bitcoin is a force for good and No-Coiners don’t get that it’s not up to the government.  The overall timbre being that governments are all-powerful and that they will simply ban or outlaw emergent phenomenon that doesn’t suit their purposes.

For awhile this was also my concern. When I wrote Domestic Terror is a Government Without Constraints it was motivated from a place of angst and hopelessness. However as we’ve all been watching events unfold, my mindset around this has been shifting. I have been coming across instance after instance of historical accounts on how seemingly unassailable and despotic regimes were swept away in mere moments of time, when it was least expected, when they seemed to be at the height of their power and poised to consolidate it even more.

It is in these inflection points where nobody is aware of their existence, a grain of sand shifts somewhere and suddenly a geopolitical Minsky Moment ensues. Then it’s all over:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Markets Next “Minsky Moment”

Technically Speaking: The Markets Next “Minsky Moment”

In this past weekend’s newsletter, I discussed the issue of the markets next “Minsky Moment.” Today, I want to expand on that analysis to discuss how the Fed’s drive to create “stability” eventually creates “instability.”

In 2007, I was at a conference where Paul McCulley, who was with PIMCO at the time, discussed the idea of a “Minsky Moment.”  At that time, this idea fell on “deaf ears” as markets were surging higher amidst a real estate boom. However, it wasn’t too long before the 2008 “Financial Crisis” brought the “Minsky Moment” thesis to the forefront.

So, what exactly is a “Minsky Moment?”

Economist Hyman Minsky argued that the economic cycle is driven more by surges in the banking system and credit supply. Such is different from the traditionally more critical relationship between companies and workers in the labor market. Since the Financial Crisis, the surge in debt across all sectors of the economy is unprecedented.

Markets Minsky Moment, Technically Speaking: The Markets Next “Minsky Moment”

Importantly, much of the Treasury debt is being monetized, and leveraged, by the Fed to, in theory, create “economic stability.” Given the high correlation between the financial markets and the Federal Reserve interventions, there is credence to Minsky’s theory. With an R-Square of nearly 80%, the Fed is clearly impacting financial markets.

Markets Minsky Moment, Technically Speaking: The Markets Next “Minsky Moment”

Those interventions, either direct or psychologicalsupport the speculative excesses in the markets currently.

Markets Minsky Moment, Technically Speaking: The Markets Next “Minsky Moment”

Bullish Speculation Is Evident

Minsky’s specifically noted that during periods of bullish speculation, if they last long enough, the excesses generated by reckless, speculative activity will eventually lead to a crisis. Of course, the longer the speculation occurs, the more severe the problem will be.

Currently, we see clear evidence of “bullish speculation” from:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Coronageddon: Can a “Minsky Moment” be Avoided?

Coronageddon: Can a “Minsky Moment” be Avoided?

There’s a chance that the coronavirus will be contained in the United States and that fewer people will be infected than in China or Iran. But there’s also a possibility that the highly-contagious virus will spread and that there will be sporadic outbreaks across the country. If this latter scenario takes place, then the ructions in the stock market will intensify making it impossible to form a bottom or spark a relief rally. If stocks can’t find a bottom, then pressure will build on the weak players, who purchased securities with borrowed cash, to sell their good assets along with the bad in order to repay their debts. These massive selloffs can quickly turn into firesales where it’s nearly impossible to find a buyer regardless of price. This is what the financial media calls “panic selling”, a vicious, self-reinforcing downward spiral in which stock prices collapse in a frantic, disorderly selloff. The phenomenon has also been described by Pimco’s Paul McCulley as a “Minsky Moment”. Here’s a definition from Investopedia:

“Minsky Moment crises generally occur because investors, engaging in excessively aggressive speculation, take on additional credit risk during prosperous times, or bull markets. The longer a bull market lasts, the more investors borrow to try and capitalize on market moves. Minsky Moment defines the tipping point when speculative activity reaches an extreme that is unsustainable, leading to rapid price deflation and unpreventable market collapse. What follows, as hypothesized by Hyman Minsky, is a prolonged period of instability.” (Investopedia)

So, how close are we to a Minsky Moment?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The White Swans of 2020

roubini137_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_xi putin

The White Swans of 2020

Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.

NEW YORK – In my 2010 book, Crisis Economics, I defined financial crises not as the “black swan” events that Nassim Nicholas Talebdescribed in his eponymous bestseller, but as “white swans.” According to Taleb, black swans are events that emerge unpredictably, like a tornado, from a fat-tailed statistical distribution. But I argued that financial crises, at least, are more like hurricanes: they are the predictable result of built-up economic and financial vulnerabilities and policy mistakes.

There are times when we should expect the system to reach a tipping point – the “Minsky Moment” – when a boom and a bubble turn into a crash and a bust. Such events are not about the “unknown unknowns,” but rather the “known unknowns.”

Beyond the usual economic and policy risks that most financial analysts worry about, a number of potentially seismic white swans are visible on the horizon this year. Any of them could trigger severe economic, financial, political, and geopolitical disturbances unlike anything since the 2008 crisis.

For starters, the United States is locked in an escalating strategic rivalry with at least four implicitly aligned revisionist powers: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. These countries all have an interest in challenging the US-led global order, and 2020 could be a critical year for them, owing to the US presidential election and the potential change in US global policies that could follow.

Under President Donald Trump, the US is trying to contain or even trigger regime change in these  four countries through economic sanctions and other means.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

MacroView: The Next “Minsky Moment” Is Inevitable

MacroView: The Next “Minsky Moment” Is Inevitable

In 2007, I was at a conference where Paul McCulley, who was with PIMCO at the time, was discussing the idea of a “Minsky Moment.”  At that time, this idea fell on “deaf ears” as the markets, and economy, were in full swing.

However, it wasn’t too long before the 2008 “Financial Crisis” brought the “Minsky Moment” thesis to the forefront. What was revealed, of course, was the dangers of profligacy which resulted in the triggering of a wave of margin calls, a massive selloff in assets to cover debts, and higher default rates.

So, what exactly is a “Minskey Moment?”

Economist Hyman Minsky argued that the economic cycle is driven more by surges in the banking system, and in the supply of credit than by the relationship which is traditionally thought more important, between companies and workers in the labor market.

In other words, during periods of bullish speculation, if they last long enough, the excesses generated by reckless, speculative, activity will eventually lead to a crisis. Of course, the longer the speculation occurs, the more severe the crisis will be.

Hyman Minsky argued there is an inherent instability in financial markets. He postulated that an abnormally long bullish economic growth cycle would spur an asymmetric rise in market speculation which would eventually result in market instability and collapse. “Minsky Moment” crisis follows a prolonged period of bullish speculation which is also associated with high amounts of debt taken on by both retail and institutional investors.

One way to look at “leverage,” as it relates to the financial markets, is through “margin debt,” and in particular, the level of “free cash” investors have to deploy. In periods of “high speculation,” investors are likely to be levered (borrow money) to invest, which leaves them with “negative” cash balances.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Guggenheim’s Minerd Warns Of A Nearing ‘Minsky Moment’ That Could “Reset” Asset Prices

Guggenheim’s Minerd Warns Of A Nearing ‘Minsky Moment’ That Could “Reset” Asset Prices

Guggenheim Partners’ Scott Minerd warned in a new market outlook titled “From the Desk of the Global CIO: Risk and Reward of Successful ‘Mid-Cycle’ Rate Cuts” that recent 75bps rate cuts by the Jerome Powell–run Federal Reserve had created a similar environment today to 1998 when central banks created a “liquidity-driven rally that caused the Nasdaq index to double within a year before the bubble finally burst.”

The 1998-scenario has already been playing out through 2019, as shown in the chart below, with global central banks plowing liquidity into financial markets. 

Minerd suggests that a Minsky moment could be nearing as a period of financial distortions will eventually be unwound in a very violent fashion.  

Minerd wasn’t entirely clear how long the Fed’s bubble-blowing could last but said today’s environment will eventually “lead to a significant widening of credits.” 

Minerd said he’d already taken pre-emptive action to “preserve capital” for the inevitable correction in risk assets: “Thus, while the Fed has prolonged the expansion, the reality is that it is also the start of silly season in risk assets. By heeding the lessons of the past we continue to position defensively so that we can preserve capital and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when asset prices inevitably reset.”

He said cracks have already started to surface in the corporate debt markets. In particular, the spread between the high-yield debt and government debt, indicate tighter spreads have pushed investors extremely far out on the risk curve at a time where they need to be more defensive.

He said the best strategy to navigate markets today is “capital preservation in a market where the risk/reward trade-off looks unattractive in many credit sectors.” 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mark Carney Says Climate Change Will Bring Economic Disaster. Will the Powerful Listen?

Mark Carney Says Climate Change Will Bring Economic Disaster. Will the Powerful Listen?

Global bank heads say urgent action needed to prevent a ‘Minsky moment’ collapse in asset prices.

extinction-rebellion.jpg
Politicians and corporate heads might not listen to warnings from Extinction Rebellion protesters. Will they heed Mark Carney and other central bankers? Photo by Takver, Creative Commons licensed.

They may find themselves feeling just a little shaky, however, after a recent open letter written by Canadian Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, with Banque de France governor François Velleroy de Falhau and Frank Elderson, chair of the Network for Greening the Financial Services (NGFS)

These guys are not shaggy Extinction Rebellion protesters being busted in London. And teenage activist Greta Thunberg would likely ask why they took so long to admit what’s been obvious since long before she was born in 2003.

But Carney and his colleagues advise the masters of the universe; they are the consiglieri of the world’s corporate capos, and when they murmur a warning in the capos’ collective ear, wise capos heed them. 

Their open letter announced the first report of the Network for Greening the Financial Services, a group that includes central bankers from around the world. That report tells the capos that “climate-related risks are a source of financial risk.” (Greta Thunberg and billions of other girls would roll their eyes.)

The report continues with equally obvious warnings: climate change will affect the economy on all levels from households to government; it’s highly certain; it’s irreversible; and it depends on short-term actions (right now, this minute) by “governments, central banks and supervisors, financial market participants, firms and households.”

Back to 1960

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shocktober’s Not Over – McElligott Sees More “Rolling Minsky Moments” As “Pseudo-Stability” Unravels

Just before last week’s interest-rate driven market selloff entered its most acute phase, we cited CTA positioning data from Nomura showing that systematic funds had not yet begun the painful process of deleveraging as certain “triggers” had not yet been met. But shortly after this commentary from Nomura’s cross-asset strategist Charlie McElligott had been distributed to Nomura’s clients, the selling pressure intensified, busting through trigger levels in a way that only exacerbated what became the most intense selloff in SPX since February (and the biggest for NDX since Brexit).

With markets creeping higher again after Wednesday’s furious selloff, McElligott chimed in with an update to Nomura’s positioning models that incorporated this latest break. As of Wednesday’s close, McElligott acknowledged that the Nomura Quant Strategies CTA model was indicating that these systematic sellers had reduced down to “43% Long” from “100% Max Long” 1 week ago, resulting in an estimated $88BN in one day selling on the one day move from “97% Long”, the positioning at the start of Wednesday’s session, all the way down to “43% Long.”

Leverage

With his audience clamoring for more guidance about what, exactly, triggered the market wreck of this past week, McElligott made a brief appearance Thursday afternoon on the MacroVoices podcast, where he got “philosophical” during an interview with Erik Townsend and Patrick Ceresna, arguing that this week’s equities driven selloff actually had a deeper “macro origin.”

Again, if I’m really stepping back and talking almost more philosophically, it’s the bigger picture here is that a higher real interest rate environment is resetting term premiums. And, with that, the cost of leverage, cross-asset correlations, asset price valuation – all of these constructs built into the post-crisis quantitative easing era are now ripe to tip over.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Will Be The Mother Of All Minsky Moments”

We have all had the fun as kids of going to the beach and playing in the sand. Remember taking your plastic bucket and making sandpiles? Slowly pouring the sand into ever bigger piles, until one side of the pile starts to collapse?

In his very important book Ubiquity, Why Catastrophes Happen, Mark Buchamane wrote about an experiment with sand that three physicists named Per Bak, Chao Tang, and Kurt Wiesenfeld conducted in 1987.

In their lab at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, they started building sandpiles, piling up one grain of sand at a time. It’s a slow process, so they wrote a computer program to do it. Not as much fun but a whole lot faster.

During this experiment, they learned some interesting things that can help us understand how all sorts of calamities, including market crashes, unfold.

Critical State

What is the typical size of an avalanche? After a huge number of tests with millions of grains of sand, they found out there is no typical number:

Some involved a single grain; others, ten, a hundred, or a thousand. Still others were pile-wide cataclysms involving millions that brought nearly the whole mountain down. At any time, literally anything, it seemed, might be just about to occur.

The pile was completely chaotic in its unpredictability.

Now, let’s read this next paragraph. It is important, as it creates a mental image that helps us understand the organization of the financial markets and the world economy. (emphasis mine)

To find out why [such unpredictability] should show up in their sandpile game, Bak and colleagues next played a trick with their computer. Imagine peering down on the pile from above and coloring it in according to its steepness.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China’s “AIG” Moment Arrives: Beijing Bails Out “Systemically Important” Anbang, Chairman Removed

In November of last year, we set forth the four candidates that would trigger China’s downfall and expose the Potemkin village economy as nothing but a facade…

It might be Anbang – the acquisitive insurance behemoth – see “Anbang Just Became A ‘Systemic Risk’: Revenues Crash As Its Chairman Is “Detained”

It might be China Evergrande – the developer of “ghost” properties and described by J Capital’s, Anne Stevenson-Yang as “the biggest pyramid scheme the world has yet seen” – see “Stevenson-Yang Warns ‘China Is About To Hit A Wall”.

It might be HNA. The highly-leveraged Chinese conglomerate, which has been on an overseas acquisition binge, is paying more for a 363-day dollar loan than serial defaulter, Argentina, paid on a 100-year loan earlier this year.

Or It might be Dalian Wanda, which established itself building and operating commercial property, luxury hotels, culture and tourism, and department stores. While the company has its roots in property and infrastructure, it recently begun to push in a bold new direction: investing in all six of Hollywood’s major studios.

And now we know

A day after banning VIX, it appears China has finally reached its “Minsky Moment,” or in the case of echoing America’s demise, its “AIG Moment.”

According to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission website, China regulators to take control of Anbang Insurance from Feb. 23, 2018 to Feb. 22, 2019.

Additionally, former Chairman Wu Xiaohui (who, as a reminder, is married to Deng Xiaoping’s granddaughter, and was in talks with Jared Kushner for stake in 666 Fifth Ave) will be removed and prosecuted for alleged economic crime.

China’s insurance regulator said Anbang violated insurance rules in fund use, according to the statement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

PBOC’s Zhou Warns Of “Sudden, Complex, Hidden, Contagious, Hazardous” Risks In Global Markets

PBOC’s Zhou Warns Of “Sudden, Complex, Hidden, Contagious, Hazardous” Risks In Global Markets

Just two weeks after warning of the potential for an imminent ‘Minsky Moment’, Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan has penned a lengthy article on The PBOC’s website that warns ominously of latent risks accumulating, including some that are “hidden, complex, sudden, contagious and hazardous,” even as the overall health of the financial system appears good.

The imminence of China’s Minksy Moment is something we have discussed numerous times this year.

The three credit bubbles shown in the chart above are connected. Canada and Australia export raw materials to China and have been part of China’s excessive housing and infrastructure expansion over the last two decades. In turn, these countries have been significant recipients of capital inflows from Chinese real estate speculators that have contributed to Canadian and Australian housing bubbles. In all three countries, domestic credit-to-GDP expansion financed by banks has created asset bubbles in self-reinforcing but unsustainable fashion.

And then at the latest Communist Party Congress meeting in Beijing, the governor of the PBoC (People’s Bank of China) said the following;

“If we are too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which could lead to a sharp correction, what we call a ‘Minsky moment’. That’s what we should particularly defend against.”

Yet, stock markets shrugged off his warning… while the Chinese yield curve has now been inverted for 10 straight days – the longest period of inversion ever…

Which appears to be why he wrote his most recent and most ominous warning yet… (as Bloomberg reports)

The nation should toughen regulation and let markets serve the real economy better, according to Zhou.

The government should also open up financial markets by relaxing capital controls and reducing restrictions on non-Chinese financial institutions that want to operate on the mainland, he wrote.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“What Happens When The Market Can No Longer Pretend”: Charting Today’s Minsky Moments Dynamics

“What Happens When The Market Can No Longer Pretend”: Charting Today’s Minsky Moments Dynamics

Back in July, Deutsche Bank’s derivative strategist Aleksandar Kocic believed he had found the moment the market broke, which he defined as a terminal dislocation between market and economic policy uncertainty: as he wrote 4 months ago, it was some time in 2012 that markets “lost their capacity to deal with uncertainty.”

It was also some time in 2012 that traders and market participants realized central banks have not only taken over the market, but have no intention of ever leaving as the alternative is a crash that wipes out 8 years of artificial “wealth effect” creation and puts the very concept of fractional reserve and central banking in jeopardy.

This intention was confirmed last week when as Kocic again wrote overnight, it became clear – once again – that Central Banks’ main agenda “is management of the risk of policy unwind” which has two different aspects, especially for those who still believe there is such as a thing as a “market.” Kocic explains:

  • On one hand, it is reassuring that Central Banks are cognizant of severity of the risk and are showing appropriate flexibility in adjusting their reaction functions to incorporate these realities.
  • On the other hand, this is less good because it does not allow the market to reposition and, thus, normalize. By soliciting feedback from the markets, Central Banks are further encouraging bad behavior making things potentially worse by postponing the resolution further into the future.

This is also the “nightmare scenario” envisioned by Eric Peters: a world in which central banks inject more and more liquidity and “stimulus”, and yet inflation does not rise, resulting in greater and greater financial inflation, i.e., asset bubbles, and a Fed chair who is confused about the “mystery” of inflation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China’s Minsky Moment

CHINA’S MINSKY MOMENT

Sometimes you have to love the naivety of the markets. At this week’s Communist Party Congress meeting in Beijing, the governor of the PBoC (People’s Bank of China) said the following;

“If we are too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which could lead to a sharp correction, what we call a ‘Minsky moment’. That’s what we should particularly defend against.”

Yet instead of focusing on this dire warning, markets are busy trying to discount the chance of a Powell Fed or a Republican tax cut. Although both of these developments would be important, China is the tail that wags the dog. Full stop. Figure out China, and all the other financial market forecasts become that much easier.


Aren’t Central Bank warnings cheap?

Some might argue this “Minsky moment” warning is nothing more than a Central Bank whistling in the wind. Didn’t Greenspan caution about a similar concern with his “irrational exuberance” speech? And didn’t that end up being a complete non-event?

Yet I would argue that China is not the same as other countries. Although there are market elements to their economy, to a large degree, China is still a command economy. If Chinese leadership wants a particular outcome, they can just demand it, and it will happen.

So when the head of the PBoC warns about a “Minsky moment”, it’s probably not a good idea to load up on financial assets. For the longest time, China exported goods and imported developed nation debt and other financial assets. They had already started down the road of re-balancing their economy away from this export driven model, but this recent development confirms that the old playbook should be thrown out the window. The global financial system is changing, and China is leading the way.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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