Wednesday, November 30, 2011

European banks are the safest in the world

IBB © fintag

News comments:
Credit Rating Agencies or CRAs should be called CYAs.

They were shown wanting during the subprime debacle and in response are starting to downgrade countries and banks because of credit crunch 2.0 which is looming large.

Take a look at the rankings of the safest banks in the world. This list is from October 2011 so slightly out of date but not to worry because the CRAs are like snails so in light of the recent changes, the list hasn't moved. (gfmag)

The US has no banks in the top 10. This is odd because as has recently been published by Bloomberg, the Fed bent over backwards to bail out its crown jewels post Lehman and given Bernanke is still about it is highly probable the same would happen again. As much as the world hates Goldman Sachs, it will never be allowed to fail.

And yet the top 10 is littered with banks from Germany, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain. The oddball is Switzerland.

Now we know Switzerland is a dying country. It is losing assets because of toothpastegate and is bending over backwards to hand over tax info. Your money is not safe in Switzerland. (telegraph)

All the other countries in the top 10 are in the Eurozone.

And yet what is the biggest threat to world growth? The collapse of the Eurozone which is going to happen in the next 4 weeks. So why are the safest banks in the world from Europe?

It is very clear that the safest banks are not from Europe. The safest banks can be found in Australia, Norway, Singapore and Canada. I would even suggest the USA.

What an odd world we live in.

Today's shorts:
UK goes on strike (reuters)

S&P do their bit (marketwatch)

Today's longs:
Euro saved again (bloomberg)

Chinese banks > USA banks (bloomberg)

Good news to be reported sometime next year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Euro moral panic

Euro © fintag

News comments:
It wasn't that long ago when there was no Euro and the world was fine.

Those who are screaming the world will end and we shall all starve and die at the hands of anarchists are very irresponsible.

Those who run Europe are from Belgium, Poland, Italy and France. They come from weak countries who are riding on the tails of a strong Germany. It is in their interests to spread gloom and doom.

Of course Germany cannot prop all these weaklings and despite its guilt from the past and its integration is best motives, Germany is going to go its own way. Saving East Germany was a huge task and it is unlikely it will do the same for the Euro.

Like most of you, I am sick and tired of all this and just want it to go away. CIC and the IMF aren't going to help the Euro so it must be allowed to collapse. Forget orderly, just squeeze the spot.

How this will be achieved is anyone's guess. The parasitic Euro countries aren't going to leave - they have to be pushed. My guess is Germany will announce a Euro A and a Euro B (as previously predicted). Sometime next week. When France is downgraded.

Today's shorts:
Bankers stole USD13bn for their bonus pools from the Fed (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Germany told to save Poland (FT)

This time next year the Euro will be forgotten.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is your bank safe?

Hoare's bank © fintag

News comments:
Banks that are too big to fail.

Not a phrase you hear very much these days because nobody has the money to bail them out. Tier 1 capital cushions banks from collapse but risk free capital (sovereign debt mostly), which often makes up a lot of this, is hard to come by these days.

Trawling through the pillar 3 disclosure of tiny UK private bank C Hoare & Co, I note its deposits are going through the roof. Its total regulatory capital is a whopping 18% (with tier 1 at a huge 15% compared to the fantasy ratios of most others). This bank has survived the ravages of the markets for over 350 years and is as risk averse as they get. So much so it has only recently allowed you to open up offshore bank accounts there.

Where are we going with this? A friend of mine who cashed out a couple of years ago has just received a large bullet payment (Ed: You mean you?) and wants to deposit this somewhere. Doing research he has learned most of the banks are suffering from nasty deposit runs. Like Northern Rock a few years ago.

Banks that are Spanish or Italian or French are struggling. Banks that are heavily exposed to Euro banks are also suffering. UK banks are starting to pull away from lending to Euro banks just in case they go pop when the Euro collapses later this year are not moving fast enough. Credit crunch 2.0 is truly here.

A rich man's problem.

So C Hoare & Co it is then. Of course you have to be introduced to the bank. Time for some lunches then.

Today's shorts:
Hungry and Portugal banks are now junk (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Sweden to run the ECB (bloomberg)

Bank of England to open up a branch network.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Germany is doomed

66666 © fintag

News comments:
Germany (along with China) has enjoyed a low exchange rate and boosted its exporting coffers.

Both countries have artificial currency rates. China makes up the numbers and has enjoyed a boom at the expense of American and European jobs. Germany enticed low grade countries into the Euro who pulled down its value.

German sentiment is changing from "Let us save the Euro" to "How do we escape the Euro but not end up with a massive appreciation in our currency and so kill off our exports"

Imagine paying twice as much for a Merc? Or a German sausage? The Chinese won't be happy with that. And nor will the Germans.

Another case of market distortion. Just let capitalism work. Boom and bust. Bye bye Euro.

Today's shorts:
German yields > UK yields april fool joke (telegraph)

Today's longs:
Germany is happy as larry (bloomberg)

UK growth is up (Ed: Surely some mistake?) (bloomberg)

USA to extend thanksgiving day to last until 2015.

Osborne should cut red tape, tax and his umbilical cord

Laughter curve © fintag

News comments:
As you all know the markets are going after France.

Us Brits maybe smug but our turn is next. And rightly so. With a bloated NHS that offers free boob jobs to people from Bangladesh on vacation and a public sector that makes India look like silicon valley, our debt is just going to keep on rising. The answer is more cuts.

Cuts in red tape.

Cuts in tax.

With a tax rule book that most accountants do not understand, we hear Laffer was right. High taxes means less tax revenue. It has been reported the 50% income tax rate is going to cost the UK a few hospitals. GBP1 billion. (telegraph)

We also see that 1% of the high tax payers deliver a staggering 25% of the tax revenue. So alienate them and that GBP1 billion will rise even more.

Osborne, the UK's man with the ATM pin number, is a boy trying to do an adults job. All the promises from a Green Bank to helping SME's have been postponed. He needs to cut VAT, move the 50% band to those earning a million a year, put in a flat tax and only allow the NHS to be used by people who go to the gym and have lived in the UK for at least 10 years. Something like that.

Today's shorts:
Debt swigging Japan blames Europe for its alcoholism (bloomberg)

Pissed off Irish demand haircuts (telegraph)

Today's longs:
Microsoft to buy Flickr (reuters)

Belgium to become an annexe of France. Oops, it already is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Europe now double dipping

DD © fintag

News comments:
Just to add to the technocrats woes, Europe is now starting to double dip.

The last time industrial production fell was in the fall of 2008. Oops, now its falling again.

So I have some Euros in my wallet. Everyday they become worth less than my GBP which is a joke in itself. So I am investing in Norwegian Krona (Krone). It is time I abandoned my green card aspirations and went to Norway for it seems to be the only sensible European country left.

Today's shorts:
European Industrial Production falls 6 odd percent (eurostat)

Today's longs:
Norway. My new love (Norway Tourist Board)

UK to start a new Europe. New members to include Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy ...

Dexia will bring down the Euro

Toxia © fintag

News comments:
I have a lot of money riding on the end of the Euro.

Watching the French and the Belgians baulk at the toxic asset that is Dexia will, despite political spin assurances, be the catalyst for the end of the Euro. Although a few countries have got themselves into a debt mess, it is possible for the Euro to continue whilst Greece et al hang on for dear life before being frozen out. It is only when France tumbles will the Euro dream come to an end. France lives off EU subsidies and with an election coming up next year, Sarkozy needs to keep the AAA and the Euro to give him any chance of another term.

Along comes Dexia. It has the same number of staff as Thomas Cook but that is where the comparison ends. Dexia is like a lily floating on top of a cess pool. This bad bank of toxic mess is being absorbed by the French and Belgians (having sold off at bargain basement prices the best bits). This opaque pool of cess includes lots of sovereign debt and other worthless bonds to the tune of EUR90bn. That is a lot for the French tax payer to underwrite given Belgium is a bust country and cannot do so.

Watching the 10 yr OATS BTAN move up to the resistance levels we say earlier this year is the only thing to watch these days.


Today's shorts:
Dexia is toast (ftalphaville)

Germany's little problem: nobody wants its debt (reuters)

Why I want to emigrate to ...Norway (marketwatch)

Today's longs:
Dexia is fine (businessweek)

Simon Cowell to host a new programme called the F Factor where countries compete to secure a funding line.

Thomas Cook is like Greece

Thomas Cook © fintag

News comments:
Following the plunge in Thomas Cook yesterday, it looked like these penny stocks would be worth snapping up. People always go on vacation and Thomas Cook is a big brand name with over 170 years of goodwill.

Further analysis reveals it is being run like Greece. Or a debt loving real estate fund. I mean who actually walks into a shop (1300 to choose from) and then gets someone to surf the web on their behalf to buy a holiday? Most of us are lazy but surely not that lazy. Well they employ 30,000 people so there must be a demand. Further analysis shows they operate holidays (all those lovely fixed costs) and airplanes so it looks like a case of over development.

The debts though are staggering. Nearly 1 billion GBP. And they wanted a bail out of GBP 100 million. LTV = 1 billion / 100 million.

Would be cheaper to beef up the website and employ a call centre with Skype.

Today's shorts:
USA criticises something it wish it had (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
eBay, Amazon etc take on Thomas Cook (bloomberg)

EU officials to increase their vacations to boost the flagging leisure industry.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Corrupt America makes Asia look saintly

AIG © fintag

News comments:
The SEC is getting 7 tip-offs a day for malfeasance or some other market abuse crime.

Since Enron went bust, its been mostly American blowups that have given regulators ammunition to push more and more red tape onto the financial sector.

From Bear Stearns, AIG, Refco, Worldcom, Qwest, Tyco, Lehman, Madoff to MF Global, these all American disasters have destroyed the lives of thousands and there will surely be more blowups in the future.

But this is good. Capitalism is risky and people get hurt but that is life. I stubbed my toe yesterday on a door and I have to just get on with life. I was stupid. I learned my lesson. Shoes must be worn at all times.

Today's shorts:
IMF the new world super power (reuters)

Today's longs:
SEC wakes up and pay outs (bloomberg)

Hedge Funds get their act together (hedgeweek)


The UK's biggest threat revealed

Bank of England © fintag

News comments:
The Bank of England's Systemic Risk Survey has come out.

This reveals what the UK fears the most. The most alarming statistic is over 54% expect there to be a high impact event in the short term. Could this be the assignation of Simon Cowell? Or perhaps Lady Gaga being the next president of the USA? Or maybe 2012 will really be the end of the world?

No, it's Sovereign risk.

How dull is that? Joint first is a double dip recession followed by funding risk. For those in Tents, the threat of the Occupy protests is bottom in the survey.

Today's shorts:
UK to be hit by sky satellite (bank of england)

Who will be the first CRA to crumble? (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
cash (Cash)

Lloyds Bank ill CEO seen back in the UK shopping in New Bond Street.

Monday, November 21, 2011

German imperialism


If you haven't seen this, you should ...

Debt is the new opium

Middle finger © economist

News comments:
Debt is the root of all evil.

In days gone by, debt was used as a short term stop gap when there was a timing delay between receipts and payments. It was also used to help pay for investment programmes that would provide employment and wealth to a country.

Debt to pay debt is not the way forward as we have seen with Greece, Spain et al (well done for booting out the socialists who just love debt ...and for those who are fighting against capitalism, look at China who has grown so big and strong by abandoning socialism).

The UK government has seen a correlation between house wealth and perceived happiness and growth. So it wants to underwrite mortgages for first time buyers. (cityam)

OK. The problem is there are too many people in the UK and not enough land to house them all. Possible solutions are:

1. Cull the people (war? plague? free beer?)
2. Ban childbirth for 5 years
3. 1 room for 2 people
4. Make it very expensive for single people to live alone
5. Invade another country (like Australia) and export the uneconomic people
6. Free condoms and the banning of the Roman Catholic church
7. Encourage homosexuality
8. Ban children from going outside until they are 18
9. Subsidise bunk beds
10. Turn Hyde Park into a huge tent city
11. 3% year tax on properties which have pink wallpaper

Note how debt wasn't mentioned once?

More debt means more market distortions means inequality means more mess.

But that is dull.

What isn't dull is the rise of fascism in Europe because of these "more debt, more greed, more grab and take and not give back" policies. (economist)

People power is all the rage (Egypt, Occupy, Greece, etc) and the people need to be pacified. Opium, Coke, bling, X Factor all help but debt doesn't. It is a quick hit and then like cancer you spend years in pain being cured.

Solution. No more debt.

Today's shorts:
Spain. Honeymoon almost over (bloomberg)

Coke and BigMac help boost diabetes drugs in China (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Obama fails to understand why debt is a bad thing (reuters)

EU to ban cash and replace with debt.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy UBS: Time to feel sorry for this once truly useless investment bank

Useless Bank of Switzerland © fintag

News comments:
I am starting to feel rather sorry for the Useless Bank of Switzerland.

Over the past 5 years it has been rogue traded, madoff'd, toothpasted and subprimed. Following its recent move back to Wealth Management and its stated mission of abandoning prop trading (not that it ever knew how to do this properly) we learn the Tent People have occupied an old building owned by UBS near silicon roundabout.

As Europe abandons democracy for technocracy, we have the wonderful irony of banks who foreclose having their empty buildings taken over. We doubt these are genuinely homeless people but what a turn up. The people have had enough.

Perusing my Resume last week I have airbrushed any mention of having ever worked or stepped inside an Investment Bank. From Goldman Sachs to Goldman & Company (they are a firm of accountants). From Morgan Stanley to the Morgan Motor Company or was that Stanley Black and Decker?

Here is a map of the "Occupy" sites in the City of London ... (google)

Today's shorts:
UBS to cut even more workers (so why do we still see them hiring on efinancialcareers?) (cityam)

UBS still hiring (efinancialcareers)

Today's longs:
Occupy UBS (guardian)

Inside #BankofIdeas #occupyUBS on Twitpic

Goldman Sachs to be occupied by people who failed to reach interview 34.

Spain, Santander, Real Estate, Worthless

Spain pain © fintag

News comments:
Spain. Ireland with better weather.

Take this quote from a Bloomberg story:

“If there were to be a proper mark to market of real estate assets, every Spanish domestic bank would need additional capital,” Daragh Quinn, Nomura Holdings Inc. in Madrid.

Of course this doesn't include Santander...

Today's shorts:
Fintag rant in 2010 - Where did all the toxic assets go? (fintag)

Spain pain (washingtonpost)

Today's longs:

Santander to replace its red hot dog shit logo following protests.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More QE to pump up the bankers bonus pools

Bankers' brothel © fintag

News comments:
All this QE. Ever wonder what happens to it?

Well the Fed and Bank of England just love their banks and when they are feeling a bit under the weather, Bernie and Mervyn like nothing more than handing them free cash. What we mean here is they get some nice clean unencumbered cash to replace their worthless assets. More balance sheet means what they would have written off can be taken out and put in the bonus pool.

It is happening again in the UK. Right in front of our eyes.

Now I am as capitalistic as the next right minded individual and this interfering and distortion just cannot go on any more. Whilst the media get distracted by the high debt levels in Europe, the bankers get to enjoy more crispy printed currency.

Perhaps I should buy a tent after all ...

Today's shorts:
King the fool (ft)

Sir King the fool's fool (telegraph)

Today's longs:
Fitch to downgrade Europe to Junk (bloomberg)

Tents (amazon)

USA to abandon the middle classes: Poor and rich only.

Monday, November 14, 2011

America turns the corner

Mitt Romney © fintag

News comments:
Us Brits love an underdog and it looks like the USA is going to come out on top.

We have had a habit of spotting the losers for a number of years (Bear Stearns, Greece, Obama) but sometimes out of the blue you get smacked (AIG, Madoff, MF Global).

Picking a winner is much more difficult. Over the next 5 years, the world tussle will be the USA, Chindia and Germanoluxberg. The land of the Euro is being beaten up and rightly so. It is shocking watching underdog countries punch above their weight before being found out in spectacular style. Germany is Europe and it has enjoyed the fruits of uncompetitive neighbours to bolster its GDP. But no more.

Obama has a great opportunity to kill off fortress Europe. Firstly he needs to spend more time in China, helping them ease their currency as well ensuring more US companies get to play in the land of the cheap slave. Secondly he should spend more time berating the Eurocrats for destroying the common market ideals of the EU. Thirdly he should state right now the USA is on Iran alert and get some allies together to remove the most dangerous threat to us all since the last dangerous threat to us all. Fourthly, he needs to find dirt on Mitt Romney because it looks like he is going to be the next president of the USA.

As for Chindia, I was lucky enough at the weekend to experience the hilarious Chinese at work. The occasion was posh and the wine was all French. Well the wine wasn't French but the bottles were. Some of the labels said Chateau Lafite and others said Chatooux Laffite. This is good news for France for the Chinese only drink their stuff. The prices for recent vintages are astronomical as shown on and for those who fancy a long punt, this is where to put your money.

But enough of this ranting. Back to the bond markets ...

Today's shorts:
Debt (telegraph)

Today's longs:
Obama (bloomberg)

Refco and MF Global. Whose next? Better not speculate.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mish Mash: Told you so

Young versus old © fintag

News comments:
The Euro is collapsing. What a surprise.

As you know we are the crystal ball gurus and have been predicting the death of the euro for quite a while. 2011 has been a year of change and 2012 will herald even more change.

Take this video I took yesterday showing a surreal 1984 scenario of undercover hoodie police men handling a defenceless student protester. Students are the people who will look after us when we are old. The way things are going, Students will soon be shooting anyone with a pension.

Onto the "real world" and the fintag plan of a two tier Euro is on its way...

France is the next to fall (fintag)

Greece took its money and ran (fintag)

Italy is a ponzi scheme (fintag)

PIGS to be relegated to Euro B (fintag)

Why did the head of Lloyds TSB run off so quickly? Gossip is he has history with F1 Bernie ...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ponzi Scheme Italy

Up up and away © fintag

News comments:
There is debt and there is debt.

The media love telling us how indebted countries are. But this is all relative. Liabilities are only one side of a balance sheet. Assets are the other.

The IMF (and CRAs) have tried to find ways of publishing proper balance sheets of countries but this is very difficult to do. Debt expressed as an amount is pointless. Debt expressed as a percentage is also pointless if there are assets to match (unless you are MF Global of course where nobody including PWC has a clue).

CDSs, ratings and bond spreads (to risk free rates) are better indicators of a country's "risk" and focus on Italy has overtaken the Greek tragedy. Its gross 10yr yields are looking mightily fine are as its spreads against the German bunds.

The markets should be focussing on France but given the embarrassment of the Italian PM (Gaddafi without the violence) they have turned onto his country and are expressing serious doubts over its ability to service its debt.

The Euro will soon be two. Or it will be none. Like X Factor at the weekend, there will be surprises in store.

Today's shorts:
Italy (bloomberg)

France (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Hedging inflation with a rolex (forum)

Who needs gossip with volatility like this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

France is the next to fall

Greece debt © telegraph

News comments:
A nice simple graphic from the

As you can see, France needs to save Greece because it will lose most including its AAA. When France loses its rating, it can no longer be seen as an equal partner with Germany and will flounder in the markets going forward.

The 10yr Italian bond spread is the current market obsession, (bloomberg) and Italy does have a lot of debt. But France is the one no-one is looking at. The country has nearly 90% debt / GDP and its probably more. France relies on the CAP to survive and enjoys the rebates the EU gives it. No wonder it wants to introduce the tobin tax because its banks will soon be nationalised and so will be taxing themselves! The UK will of course be truly fckued given 80% of transactions come from London. Thanks Sarkozy.

But you still want to know about Greece. Well its stolen EUR300bn from the European tax payer. It cannot afford a new election. It should be left to fail. It's not a big deal. The Euro will survive. A lower currency for Greece will be good - tourism will come back from Turkey and like Iceland it will start over afresh.

Today's shorts:
Europe (wsj)

Today's longs:
USA (thiscantbehappening)

IMF to fund Obama's election campaign.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's bomb Iran

Greek tank © fintag

News comments:
When the world is in recession, War is the usual way out. So it is not a surprise when we learn of plans to attack Iran. Weapons of Mass Destruction all over again.

The great depression of the 1930's was sorted out when we all went to war. The early 1990's recession was sorted out when Iraq was attacked for the first time. And so Iran is next especially useful during an election year in the US...

Of course France and Germany would like to attack Greece for acting like a spoilt child, but Greece may attack itself. As previously reported, Greece is tooled up nicely.

Today's shorts:
Fintags prediction of war (fintag)

Today's longs:
G20 to save us all (marketwatch)

Military coup in Greece just before Christmas.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goldman Sachs, beards and MF Globals BCM

MF Global © fintag

News comments:
While Europe fights its way out of a paper bag, MF Global has gone bust in spectacular style.

This is a brilliant dissection of the man at the helm from William D. Cohan. Best thing I have read in a long time (bloomberg)

From fintag's perspective we thought you should read this Business Continuity statement from MF Global's website. Funniest thing we read all year...

MF Global is committed to ensuring that a current and effective global Business Continuity Management (BCM) program is in place and that the program captures
the nature and scale of business in each MF Global region/location; that it is regularly tested to ensure ongoing appropriateness; and is in compliance with all relevant regulatory requirements.

Key Components of MF Global's BCM Program

Risk Analysis and Review

The objective of risk analysis and review is to examine risk events that can impact the continuity of operations.

This process provides an analysis of the types of risk events that can interrupt business processes and is used to establish prevention and mitigation measures. It is also used in the business continuity planning stage to build resilient business continuity plans. Risk Analysis and Review provides a good basis for designing and carrying out simulation exercises and tests that will verify the BCP’s effectiveness.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

All locations will carry out BIAs to identify critical and non-critical business processes/functions and offer a better understanding of each business unit’s recovery requirements, costs related to the BIA will aid in identifying the Recovery Time Objective (RTO/application restoration) and the Recovery Point Objective (RPO/data restoration) and the minimum level of services and/or products that are acceptable to MF Global in order to achieve its business objectives during an incident, emergency/disaster, or business interruption. Based on the results of the BIA, the business unit will formulate viable business recovery strategies to achieve the delivery of their critical activities and processes at an acceptable level within their RTO and RPO timeframe.

Business Continuity Plans (BCP)

All business units, in all locations, are required to have a BCP in place that are appropriate to the nature and scale of the business. The departmental BCP will document the planned action and response to an emergency situation, its recovery of critical activities/processes, and identify how it will restore business activities back to its normal state of operations based on approved recovery strategies.

Recovery Facilities

Key MF Global business unit and IT Operations processing locations have dedicated recovery facilities that are located a substantial distance from the primary office. The main principle is to duplicate, as much as possible, the functions and workflow processes that are in place in each "business as usual environment" (BAU).


Training is developed and conducted by the BCM staff to establish and support a global BCM culture. BCM training and awareness programs are categorized into three main areas: Basic, Management, and Specialized.

Today's shorts:
Eurobonds (bloomberg)

PWC (reuters)

Today's longs:
None today

Italy to send in Berlusconi's body double as he is too busy entertaining to attend the G20.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greeks have the last laugh: End of the Euro here we come

Paternoster Square © fintag

News comments:
All those smug political smiles and hollow rhetoric has gone by the wayside.

The Greeks are a historic nation with pride and obstinacy. Having being humiliated by the EU as its debt was slashed by 50%, they know this is not a free lunch and the Greeks will have to pay in other ways so they want a referendum.

As we have predicted all year, the Euro will split into two by the end of this year. Greece is the catalyst but it will be Italy that causes the split. The Greek people want control of their own destiny; not to be ruled by the French and the Germans. The country is truly in a mess and it should sort them out - not outsiders.

So now we learn the Greeks may consider putting it to the people - are we in or are we out.

Out will be the answer.

Today's shorts:
Communism needs capitalism (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Germans irritated by the Greeks (reuters)

Another crisis summit to be held next week by the EU.