Fasanara Capital | Investment Outlook - June 28th 2013
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Fasanara Capital | Investment Outlook - June 28th 2013 Document Transcript

  • 1. 1 | P a g e “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
  • 2. 2 | P a g e June 28th 2013 Fasanara Capital | Investment Outlook 1. Bernanke clarified that the double win for the financial markets of both QE and potential GDP recovery has now vanished. It will be either one or the other from September onwards. 2. Until then, we then believe any potential upside is capped and the risk is to the downside, as the froth is skimmed from the markets, investors take profits on upticks (as opposed to buy on dips) lightening up books ahead of the summer-time, and as EMs / Commodities exert gravitational forces. Thus, we plan to remain flat to short markets over the summer-time, and potentially go long sometimes after that 3. Again, rates are the biggest catalyst to equity underperformance. Should rates rise decisively, equity are most likely to tumble in size, no matter how much nominal growth stands behind it. So much as this observation sounds obvious, it still stands in stark contrast to market forwards. 4. Japan: weaker Currency seems the safest bet in town. Higher Rates seems the cheapest bet in town. Higher Equity seems to require the boldest view to take. However, we have now added a tactical long Equity, as we believe July will be a positive month for stocks in Japan. 5. China: vulnerability is unmistakable and may call for more expansionary policies, on par with Japanese contenders. Trigger may be the labor market. China may play hard ball with banking system and may be willing to tolerate short term pain, but is less likely to tolerate pain in unemployment. Last time it intervened in size (end 2008, start 2012), PMI unemployment had just fallen below critical threshold. 6. Europe: not only do we believe the EUR break-up is a real possibility, but we think the process of dismantling the peg is already unfolding. Europe may soon re-enter the news headlines. 7. VALUE BOOK: at present our Value Book remains pretty flat to short, as markets are toppy, still expensive vs fundamentals, at risk of a 10%/20% steeper correction. We currently see most of the opportunities in the HEDGING BOOK: short JGB rates & Yen, short Australian Dollar, Long Interbanking/Swap Spreads, long Currency Pegs.
  • 3. 3 | P a g e US Equities: What we learned from Bernanke’s remarks A key event this month was Bernanke specifying his expected timing for a tapering to take place (Q4 2013) and for the end of QE (mid 2014). It all depends on GDP and Unemployment, as before, but now we have his precise expected timetable around it. It does not mean hikes in interest rates, it does not mean FED’s balance sheet shrinking, but it still holds relevant information as we moved from open-ended mode to a precise timetable. Truth be told, so much as we can only applaud a return to fundamentally priced stocks and bonds, and an end to the virtual reality generated by QE, we can only welcome his decision. So much as we can only hope for the price of money to return in the hands of the market and be freed up from Central Bankers’ manipulation, we can only welcome a normalization of rates to 3% on the 10yr in 2013 and 4%-5% in 2014, in the presence of GDP recovery without Inflation. Also, in fairness, it is positive to notice that the FED’s hand was not forced by rising inflation expectations, which would have provided a totally different playground. However, we do remain less optimistic than the FED on GDP prospects in such debt-laden economy, and in an environment of rising rates in particular. As we argued in the past (US Equities have entered bubble territory), interest rates are the bubble within the bubble, as they provided the foundations for 70-year high corporate profits, 30-year high in house affordability (NAHB index) and related housing market recovery, as they provided a lifeline to a still over-levered private sector (gripping down consumer demand), as they helped US deficits built up, as they soften student loans loss ratios. And the list goes on. Take super-low interest rates and ultra-low mortgage rates out of the equation and the recovery may melt down like snow in the sun. Critically, the latest GDP report held some piece of information more valuable than the simple drop in growth over the first quarter: real per capita disposable income fell at annualized rate of 9.2% (a similar drop took place in Q3 2008). As the personal savings rates are already super low at 3.2% of disposable income (and ticking higher now), this is not boding well for consumer demand/consumer growth/corporate profits in the medium term. To be sure, Bernanke focused minds on GDP/unemployment prospects over the coming months. The double win for the financial markets of both QE tailwind AND potential recovery of GDP tailwind has now vanished. It will be either one OR the other from September onwards. Which also means that any potential upside is capped from here, until a confirmation of the GDP/employment picture is provided over the coming months. Further upside would then be more likely in Q4 rather than Q3, as the data may take time to depict a clear trend. Until then, we believe the risk is to the downside, as the froth is skimmed from the markets, investors take profits on upticks (as opposed to buy on dips) lightening up books ahead of the summer-time, and as Emerging Markets / Commodities exert gravitational forces.
  • 4. 4 | P a g e The potential for a steeper correction in the near term is there. A further 10%-20% loss would be all but unjustified. Gold suffered of such heart attack, as liquidity comes and goes, and buying on borrowed money has no mercy for mild fluctuations, making steep correction steeper. Therefore, we believe markets will trade range-bound to move lower during Q3. After that, two things may happen: 1. Confirmation of GDP recovery / confirmation of improving employment picture  markets up 2. Weakness in the economy and employment picture  re-pricing of QE vs current expectations of tapering in Q4  markets up For what is worth, if we are right about the lack of growth being the elephant in the room, then Bernanke will be next confirming QE and delaying tapering, with Equity markets going up on inflationary policies resuming beyond current expectations of tapering by Q3 and exiting by mid-2014. In conclusion, we plan to remain flat to short markets over the summer-time, and potentially go long sometimes after that. Why Bernanke did what he did In terms of the motives behind Bernanke’s move, one would think that an optimistic view over the US economy is the key underpinning. We would add to that that Bernanke may also have wanted to take the froth away from a market running ahead of itself: talking of tapering conditional on the economy as opposed to actually implementing tapering may have been an efficient way to achieve that goal. We can only suspect that he had grown concerned of excess volatility in Japan. At the same time, he may have wanted to reload its bullets too. It is better to take the markets by surprise with a resumption of QE activities, if need be, as opposed to have it disappointed by their ineffectiveness on diminishing returns. He was clearly way less concerned of the concurrent fragility in Emerging Markets, which were on the verge of capitulation that day, and the tight liquidity conditions in China, where Shibor rates were skyrocketing. Also, the next day was option expiry, with huge Gamma in the markets which could have had destabilizing effects. Unsurprisingly then, Bernanke’s words had indeed a lethal effect on markets at large in the following days. True, it cannot be his mandate of worrying about the world. However, tightening the spigot of global dollar liquidity right at the same time as EMs are on the verge of collapse could have been timed somewhat differently. Surely, this may be yet another proof that domestic policies and domestic goals come first and form a competitive landscape, these days. So much as Japan’s QE is intended
  • 5. 5 | P a g e to debase the Yen in a competitive devaluation, US’s QE is intended to lift local markets first (differently than past expansionary credit policies), reallocating capital globally (repatriation of US manufacturing activities comes along). Domestic policies are growingly confrontational cross- countries, at present. One more reason to think that volatility is to stay high. Bubble Chain vs Deleverage Chain Our framework for attempting to make sense of market chaos isolates too opposing forces: Bubble Chain and Deleverage Chain. The players for the two chains are displayed in the Chart below (for a full description of the timeline of the two chains please refer to page 2 of the attached: Timeline of Bubble Chain and Deleverage Chain). The Bubble Chain reacts to Central Bank’s liquidity and puts dogmatic trust into the holy promise of open-ended Quantitative Easing, in spite of fundamentals being foretellers of a parallel universe. Here, chasing the yield (income stream) in the markets has become chasing the rally (capital gains), which is turn has become chasing the next bubble. The Deleverage Chain speaks of the real universe, and still tries to price itself against real GDP, against the unfortunate reality of an end-of–journey Keynesian economy gripped by 40 years of over-leverage with no growth to support it. We believe that Japan is an important driver of the Bubble Chain, as its fate will affect the perceived effectiveness of QE policies globally. On the Deleverage Chain, China is the chief catalyst, and understanding what happens to China’s credit markets may help understand what happens next to the Deleverage Chain. CATALYST S
  • 6. 6 | P a g e In the last couple of weeks, we saw equity markets in the US and Europe giving up to the gravitational forces of the Deleverage Chain and moving down, in what could be the start of a more sizeable correction. Emerging Markets, their currencies and commodities showed further weakness. No recoupling in sight, as yet, but the two chains started moving more in sync. On a longer term, we believe re-coupling is most likely: the virtual reality manufactured by Central Banks can deflect from the physical world of real GDP/real Industrial Production for only that long. As we suspected, volatility resurrected to the lows it was confined to by Central Banks activism, rebelling to it, as they run into exhaustion mode: after years of ripping the easy benefits, the law of diminishing returns is kicking in, and the underlying patient, treated with huge doses of morphine, starts to cough out of breath again. In shorthand, ‘toppy markets’ are ‘gapping markets’. Should we position in the area of carnage and go long Delevearge Chain against Bubble Chain? Perhaps, but not as yet. We do have that trade in mind for the months ahead (Russia & China). On Bubble Markets, cracks were visible across the chain, particularly on govies, corporate credit and High Yield markets. Lightening of positions has kicked off. Back in January we thought that ‘2013 might be the first year earmarked with a negative return (of some dimension) for government bonds ever since 1994’: we hold to that view. Gold proved way weaker than we had expected, moving down with the market, moving down without the market. We were wrong on Gold. Rising rates was a powerful blow, coupled with one of his best fan, China, going through a rough moment. So much as we still like it for the long term, we trimmed down residual positions as the momentum is nasty, and we feared capitulation of large holders at some stage. We plan to re-enter this market, as we think its investment case remains valid in the long term. We are monitoring quite a few stories in the credit space, although an attractive entry point is still far from current pricing, in our opinion. We salute the ongoing sell-off as a positive for the markets. From here, let alone short term volatility, we believe Credit can weaken further, with the shape and tempo of such weakening depending on the magnitude of the move. Should the adjustment be severe in liquidation fashion, it may take few months only. Should the adjustment be slower and milder, it may take years. In our eyes, the uncertainty is about the shape and tempo of the move, more than the magnitude of the move itself. Whether the adjustment will be wild or mild, may depend on whether QE policies get unplugged as recovery kicks in or as inflation expectations rise. Inflation does not seem a concern now, but Inflation Scenario remains one of our key Fat Tail Scenarios.
  • 7. 7 | P a g e Causality&Correlation Value Opportunity: Equity vs Rates Last month, we stressed that equity markets would be most vulnerable to interest rates in the months to come: ‘Rates are the biggest catalyst to equity underperformance. Should rates rise decisively, equity are most likely to tumble in size, no matter how much nominal growth stands behind it. So much as this observation sounds obvious, it stands in stark contrast to market forwards. Decades of data corroborating portfolio diversification theories (à la Markovitz) have shown that when equity goes up, rates tend to go up (and bonds down), more often rather than not. Currently, consistently with such historical dogma, the correlation between equity and bonds is priced in by the market at approx - 20%. We disagree with the market pricing of correlation here as we believe it might soon turn out to be +50%. And on the way down! Bonds and equity could fall simultaneously. And not only because rates have hit their zero bound (if anything, the ECB starts contemplating negative nominal rates, for example). Such misalignment between our forecast and the market forwards highlights a valuable opportunity for our strategy: it helps build cheap hedges against Equity going down, or helps cheapening up good hedges against Rates going up. Despite rates went up and equity down, the correlation between the two moved only mildly, surely not as much as we think it can move over the next several months. As such, we believe there is more upside in the trade, and we plan to increase our positioning on lower equities / higher rates conditional optional hedges. Japan: we hold the line on Short Yen & Rates, we now added Long Equity Last month we argued that, weaker JPY seems the safest bet in town (beyond any short term rebound). Higher Japanese rates seems the cheapest bet in town. Higher Nikkei seems to require the boldest view to take, as it is digital volatile and two-sided fat-tailed market outcome from now on (rising higher, gapping down; up the stairs, down the elevator). We now change our positioning on Equity, tactically for the next few weeks, as we think July may be positive for stocks in Japan: 1. On July 21 st Upper House election, Abe’s party is expected to win a majority, paving the way for a smoother execution of its policy, namely in regard to the second and third pillars of his strategy: fiscal intervention and structural reforms. 2. In late July, second quarter earnings start to come out, and we expect them to reflect the preliminary benefit of a much weaker Yen. Earnings season should be positive.
  • 8. 8 | P a g e Japanese exports jumped 10.1% in May from a year earlier, best annual gain since Dec10. Earnings season should be positive. We have been long Japanese equity already as of last December/January into March, as we thought the change in policy was structural, and equity would have rallied more than the currency depreciated (Outlook and our CNBC interview). Such 'nominal rally', as we called it then, was hedge-able into hard currency at cheap costs. So we could rent a 'illusory rally', by hedging it out of its fake context. We have now re-established the same trade as then, by entering a tactical long equity position, for the short term, while shorting the currency. Shorting the Yen remains our single largest position in Japan. Indeed, as we noted last month, ‘’we believe that it is hard to imagine a state of the world where the Yen is not significantly weaker than it is today. - Rates could be higher, which means equity would be lower, as debt crisis may snowball abruptly, and JPY weaker in reflection of such calamity. - Or rates could be managed down successfully, anchored at zero across the curve via more monumental money printing, and equity up, just nominally so, as JPY weakens further, and rapidly so. The one scenario where the JPY goes back to its highs (around 75 vs USD) seems at present the most unlikely. The dynamics that the BoJ has set in motion are irreversible. By promising to print so much, they now can print so much or much more than that. By having selected such an overdose of monetary expansion, the more bonds sell-off the quicker they might have to step-up their printing presses. The more they crowd out the private sector on JGBs, the more they will eventually have to print. The more the market flies on liquidity-havens, the more it will be addicted to such printing. Samurai-Japan’s policy is remindful of the ‘burning the bridges behind’ war strategy of Sun Tzu. General Sun Tzu (from China, actually), in its “The Art of War”, explains that one technique for success in war is burning boats or bridges for escape. The tactic is basically this, taking an army across a river, burning all their boats, the only routes of escape. Left with two choices when facing the enemy army, to win or to die, people will do super human feats to survive. Similarly, Abe and Kuroda today, have put themselves in a corner where they are confronted with one of two options: print, and buy bonds only, hoping for the market to grow before inflation kicks in; or print more, and buy all bond and some equity, if inflation kicks in and/or the market does not grow. Stop printing and you die. Fight like a samurai, or die as a kamikaze’’ Another factor can drive the Yen weaker, in the short term: real rates differentials. After real rates in Japan plummeted below US real rates for the first time in years during May, the divide between them has widened further since then. 5yr real rates are at a new super low beyond -1.5% in Japan
  • 9. 9 | P a g e (as nominal yields rose less than inflation expectations), whereas they moved up from -1.5% to -0% in the US (as break even inflation rates lowered and nominal rates rose). Declining inflation expectations in the US, possibly on the back of the Deleveraging Chain shown above (whilst Japan seems kamikaze-committed to 2% percent inflation) are at the basis of such increase in real rates in the US. Incidentally then, local Japanese money managers (especially the VAR-shock sensitive ones like banks, broker dealers, regional and Shinkin banks) should be compelled to divest from shaky JGBs and sinking Yen, and move to USD cash, pure and simple cash, for a real yield pick-up. Finally, on Japanese interest rates, we plan to take advantage of potentially lower yields in the months to come in order to increase our short Japanese rates positions. As the market has started questioning the credibility of the Bank of Japan, we believe that samurai-Japan will manage to close ranks and fight back, bringing rates lower. At the speed it opted for, Abenomics cannot possibly last for several years: still, it is at his infant stage now. More money can be poured into the market, open-endedly. The revisions to its expected size may come as early as October. China: fake liquidity crunch or true credit exhaustion Last month, we left the conversation on China asking ourselves the following question: Can credit expansion resumes despite clear signs of diminishing returns and credit exhaustion? True, china stock of debt is not outrageous when compared to Developed Markets. However, what matters is not so much Domestic Credit to GDP ratios, where China lags behind Japan, US (at 150% vs 250%), but rather the speed of acceleration of credit expansion. Using Total Social Financing (overall credit supply to the economy), total leverage built up by 60% of GDP in the last 5 years, to 207% of GDP (research). Will it continue now after watching the monumental policy experiment in Japan? This month, we experienced the impact of a decelerating credit expansion on asset pricing, as Shibor rates (Chinese inter-banking rates) and Repo rates skyrocketed ahead of Dragon Boat holidays in spectacular fashion: up to 29% and 10% intraday respectively. It has been argued that the panic in Libor rates is likely to be the result of a stand-off between the Central Bank of China (PBoC) and the shadow banking system. The shadow banking system allowed the Total Social Financing in China (broadest measure of credit growth) to rise well in excess on PBoC’s intentions. The liquidity crunch (in the form of a delayed injection of liquidity in the inter- banking market) was then used to defuse an out-of-control credit system. Target of the policy was the plethora of trust ($ 1.4 trn) and wealth management products ($ 2 trn) engineered by non-bank financial institutions. Beyond that, the reverse repos utilized by small banks with large banks to get short term financing so as to reduce capital requirements by nearly 75% (bypassing risk ratings on corporate bonds) may have been a target too.
  • 10. 10 | P a g e Whatever the real motives there, it is surely dangerous for liquidity to dry up in a highly leveraged economy. Hot money capital outflows can take place on a large scale and force sequential failures across the industry. Unintended consequences can be triggered. A recent Fitch report indicates that signs of credit exhaustion are evident in China. Overall credit jumped from $ 9 trn to $ 23 trn in the last 5 years. Critically, China holds the key to what the market has in store in the near term for a variety of levers: the dollar index strength, equity markets in EM, and our shorts on JPYUSD and AUDUSD. For all intents and purposes, it suffices to say that despite all the noise about China rebalancing its growth model to internal consumption, the growth prospects of China are heavily reliant on exports and aggregate foreign demand. At 50% Investment on GDP, and Private Consumption now below 35%, China is way more dependent on the external world than ever before. The remarkable resilience it showed during the 2009 crisis and the 2011 crisis is history (when its two most important trade partners imploded - US and Europe respectively). China's instability now is unmistakable and might call for more expansionary policies, on par with Japanese contenders. It is key to understand that over the coming months, as policymakers make up their mind. The trigger to such reflation policies might be the labor market. China may play hard ball with the banking system and may be willing to tolerate short term pain there, but is less likely to tolerate pain in unemployment. Last time it intervened in size (end of 2008 and beginning of 2012), manufacturing unemployment had just fallen below critical threshold. That is an important lever to watch to understand China’s sensitivities, likely policy shifts, and its implications for the Deleverage Chain at large. The case for being short the Australian Dollar We believe the weakening in the Australian Dollar has further to go in the months to come (save for a short term rebound, which we now expect for the short term), following further weakness from China, tightening rate differentials to the US (impairing the carry trade that made the AUD strong in the first place), a weakening business cycle, a sizeable current account deficit. Particularly, Australia’s vulnerability to US interest rates is higher than in other markets. This is primarily due to position concentration in local bond markets: 60% of bonds are owned by foreigners (similarly to Norway and New Zealand), where bonds are 20% of GDP. As we previously argued, the Australian Dollar could possibly be a loser in more than one possible scenarios: - Deleverage Chain risk. GDP scare on more China Hard Landing evidence. AUD will be next in the Deleverage Chain we have shown above: from Gold and Miners,
  • 11. 11 | P a g e to Commodity Markets, to Emerging Markets, to a breakage point on fast- weakening Australian economy - Bubble Chain risk. Money printing machine gets activated following allegedly 'successful' Japanese experience. Nominal Rally would follow in the equity markets, through AUD Currency Debasement exercise (not so much for the same reasons as for Japan, where the currency is debased to achieve Debt Monetisation, as Australia has low debt/GDP ratios). Inflation risk is high in Australia. - Bubble Chain implosion, volatility-induced sell-off in a VAR-shock, globally out of Japan or the US (not so much a resumption of hostilities in Europe, which has last drove money into Australia, crowding out their govies, which at some point were 80% held by foreigners). A global risk off mode could possible drive AUD down this time around, much like it did on Lehman-moment, when AUD was 30% weaker than today vs the Dollar. To be true, these days a slightly weaker S&P is driving up AUD (and JPY) vs USD: but it is the digital adjustment we fear, a steeper correction, which we believe could invert the sign of the recent correlation. Euro Crisis to flare-up again In the last few months, Europe was left out of the news headlines, despite worrying trends unfolding, as investors’ attention was captured by rates in the US, volatility in Japan, the credit squeeze in China, the weakness of the Emerging Markets. We believe Europe may soon return to the scene, as the fundamentals have further deteriorated for some large countries within the block. Markets may currently be underestimating/mispricing such vulnerability. Markets may be giving too much credit to the positives in the market. Take Italy, for example. Consumer confidence rose from 86.4 to 95.7 in June, the highest in more than a year. However, retail sales fell for an eighth consecutive month. However, NPLs on banks’ balance sheets increased some more. However, subsidies to unemployed increased, together with unemployment. However, the government is much weaker than it was before as Berlusconi just went through another adverse court ruling which may force a radical shift in his political strategy. The current levels on BTPs and Bonos have decoupled from both the Target II flows and NPLs trends, with which they used to correlate quite tightly. Spreads to Germany are too tight, when valued against those fundamentals. Clearly, the ECB’s put has sedated markets, thus far. This month we learned that Italian gross non-performing loans rose 22.3% in April versus the previous year, to Eur 133bn. Net of impairments, they grew by 33% to Eur 66bn. This month, the Italian government flatly admitted that the Eur 8 bn needed to cover the promised lightening of value added tax (IVA) and property tax (IMU) is impossible to find. If the government
  • 12. 12 | P a g e cannot find the Eur 8 bn for that, how do they plan to retrieve the Eur 90 bn needed to refund arrears to corporations? Companies are defaulting at an alarming speed in the country, on the back of a weakening business cycle but also after failure to receive what is owed to them by the government. In the first quarter, 4200 companies went bust. Default run rate is 43 companies per day. Italy has youth unemployment of almost 40%, like in Portugal (whereas in Spain and Greece it is already 60%). In spite of that, absent adjustment to the currency, the rebalancing across European countries for Italy to return to a competitive status implies Internal Devaluation in the form of lower salaries by 30% to 40%. We do not see this happening quietly. And the internal devaluation might have to be more severe than that, as in the meantime the EUR has appreciated or remained strong against pretty much any other currency globally: so much for the ECB balance sheet shrinking in stark contrast to heavily expansionary policies in the US, Japan and the UK, so much for direct currency manipulation in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway.. Yesterday, after debating for hours, EU finance ministers proved to be aware of the issue by granting Eur 8 bn for initiatives for Youth Unemployment (much more than initially planned, Van Rompuy stressed). Considering that there is roughly 5.6 millions of them, that makes 1,429 euros each. Make no trouble in the streets, go have some fun kids .. Last week, Berlusconi was sentenced to 7 years in prison and barred from public office for life (the court of Cassazione has to uphold the conviction for it to become effective). Another key ruling on tax fraud charges is to be held later in the year. Berlusconi is the supreme leader of one of the two parties forming the crystal-fragile government grand coalition. He runs the party undisputedly: without him, there is no party. The party knows this all too well, and is expected to stand by him at all costs, until the end. Last time around, in December 2012, Berlusconi’s personal affairs upsized the Monti’s government and sent the country to new elections and market turmoil. Strategically, Berlusconi may be thinking of shifting gear on EUR-skepticism and become the new Grillo. Germany must be considering that any deal they cut with Italy on parental controls (fiscal and budgetary) in exchange for a potential bailout is as durable as the government who signs it off. Cash now in exchange for commitments later. Germany may not buy into that, neither before the German elections, nor after that. Surely, Germany has not bought into it thus far, as their exposure to Target II Eurosystem decreased some Eur 200 bn in the past 9 months, together with lower BTPs holdings for their private sector. Incidentally, the German supreme court is asked to rule again over OMTs, which they have never been utilized, before they may be ever utilized. We see most commentators looking at declining Target II exposure as a sign that tail risks have receded. We hold the opposite view. Target II is de facto a mutuality feature across the Eurozone, bundling countries together in risk sharing. It is the equivalent of marital assets in a divorce: take those away and the breakage costs are lower, way lower. If it was a positive, why then has foreign ownership of government bonds in Italy and Spain not restarted at all? It stands at less than 30% now, versus 55% two years ago. Again, less risk sharing than ever before equals lower break costs.
  • 13. 13 | P a g e The market may have forgotten Cyprus. Cyprus laid out the blueprint for the next bail-out/bail-in of a country in Europe. Contrary to previous statements, yesterday EU finance ministers have confirmed that Cyprus is indeed a model to be applied to future bailouts: ‘insured deposits under €100,000 are exempt and uninsured deposits of individuals and small companies are given preferential status in the bail-in pecking order’. The Eur 1.2 trn depositors in Italy (which actually complacently increased 7.3% on the year) may realize at some point that they are looking at Cyprus as their end game, should a crisis arise which demanded a bailout. A recent must-read Mediobanca research, speaks of a déjà vu of 1992, when a political and macro crisis forced it to devalue the Lira and exit the EMS. In summary, not only do we believe the EUR break-up is a real possibility, but we think the process of dismantling the peg is already unfolding. It may not happen if things change, we need a catalyst for it not to happen, as opposed to the other way round. Short-Term Outlook for the Euro One of the implications of a potential resumption of hostilities in Europe is a strengthening of the USD vs the EUR in the second half of the year. So far this year, the EUR showed resilience against most currencies, including the Dollar, for two main factors: 1. The ECB balance sheet was outright shrinking by some Eur 300 bn on repayment of LTROs, while the money of the OMT operations never really left the vaults of the ECB (Germany). In stark contrast to the ballooning balance sheets of the BoJ, FED and BoE. 2. Emerging Markets proximity to capitulation forced large repatriation flows into the Euro, similarly to what happened during the 1997 Asian crisis. The European fund industry alone is estimated as having placed approx 1trn into Emerging Markets as of the end of March (versus Eur 400bn in mid 2008). Some of these flows returned home in tears, driving the EUR stronger in the process. Going forward, we may finally see a stronger USD over the EUR, as the EUR crisis might flare-up again , as the recovery may be comparatively stronger in the US, as rates are re-priced higher in the US while the ECB is still seen debating the possibility for negative nominal rates, as the USD index is strengthening on commodity weakness. Euro Break-Up scenario Back in September 2011 we started writing: ‘the European construct is structurally flawed and going to be unwound within the next 3-5 years with a 50% probability’. Back in early 2012 we wrote: it may either come ‘from the bottom, with peripheral Europe’s electorate rebelling to austerity (as we are
  • 14. 14 | P a g e only few months into it and the full wrath of it is still to be seen), or from the top, with Germany’s electorate (led by Bundesbank’s orthodoxy) rebelling to an assistential model which sees them as the ultimate sole paymasters, with no clear deal in return’. In a nutshell, we argued, the basic disease infecting Europe is a cancerous excess level of debt. The real problem with that is the lack of economic growth, the elephant in the room, exasperated by fiscal austerity. The most visible vulnerability where it may reach tipping point is unemployment (particularly youth unemployment). The stage for debt, no growth and high unemployment to kick- start a European meltdown may be Italy or Spain, the two economies in the Euro-zone which are too large to fail, too large to save, and also too frail to recover. The fact that the fear of destruction, either in the form of widespread unemployment, civil unrest or sequential failures, is preventing the EUR currency peg from being dismantled, must delay the final extinction of the currency, until such same destruction is to happen anyway under the squeeze of the overvalued currency, overleverage and current account deficits. It could and should end up being an orderly dismantling of the Eur currency peg, as it might take dissolving the currency union to save the European Union. Multi Equilibria Markets Euro Break-Up, China Hard Landing, Credit Crunch, Inflation, Default, USD Devaluation are six strategic scenarios in our road-map for Multi-Equilibria Markets (where the final outcome is hard to anticipate as it may divert markedly from classical mean reversion: diametrically opposite scenarios are made equally possible, which deflect vastly from the baseline scenario currently priced in by markets. As argued extensively in previous Outlooks Nov 2012 and Jan 2012). “We live through the end of a Keynesian state, as the level of over-leverage is unable to be dealt with by pure growth. Four decades of credit expansion which followed the end of Bretton Woods are now coming to an end, as debt metrics are unsustainable and growth is gripped down by such debt overhang. The debt as a % of productive GDP/real output growth is just too high. Policymakers and handy central banks are confronted by unconventional hard choices between one of two evils: - Inflation Scenario (Currency Debasement, Debt Monetisation, Nominal Defaults). It seems the route followed by Japan, the US, the UK. This is a Nominal Default, but still a default (as it curtails the value of a fixed income claim as surely as a default). As we previously argued (March Outlook and CNBC interview), Japan is the lead illusionist here, printing more than the US in absolute terms, whilst having a third of its economic output. Of course the financial assets get bloated up, at present. It is purely a nominal rally, though, not a real one. One that can be captured only as long as you can hedge it out of its fake context. Elusive gains vs reliable returns.
  • 15. 15 | P a g e - Default Scenario (Real Defaults, sequential failures of corporates/banks/sovereigns across Europe). Let deleverage unravels, Europe flirts with this option, still. Opportunity Set: Value Book still flat, Hedging Book active Our positioning in the portfolio remains broadly unchanged to last month: 1) VALUE BOOK: at present, our Value Book remains pretty flat, as markets remains toppy despite their recent correction, still too expensive vs fundamentals, especially now that rates may be on the rise and the Central Bank support shows the first cracks. The risk of a steeper correction over the summer is there. Our current small allocation to longs in the Value Book is filled with select Special Sits which still offer asymmetric returns vs risks in our eyes. We will change our bearish positioning once the disconnect between the real world and financial markets tighten from here, as a consequence of market correcting further or fundamentals improving (we remain skeptical on real growth recovery, as argued extensively, but will remain open-minded as the situation develops and more data come in). Also, we will change that stance if markets move side-ways for long enough (which is just another way to digest their expensiveness, arithmetically equivalent in real terms to a declining market if inflation is above zero). As argued last month already, we have been in bubble markets similar to the current ones multiple times in history: 1) the Credit markets are all too remindful of 2007 (at that time it was Investment Banks inflating the bubble through leverage, this time it is Central Banks themselves, with obviously more margin for error, but not infinitively so). 2) The Equity markets, the Mothership US in primis, are remindful of conditions we have seen already in 2007, but also in 2000, 1987, 1973, 1929, all followed by market crashes (we gave our take on technicals/fundamentals for the US market in our previous Outlook on page 11: US Equities have entered bubble territory). Let alone a sound risk/return policy, as we observe that there has never been so much risk for so little return, over the last century (long–only funds and Sharpe Ratio-driven allocators should feel the discomfort). We suspect that the time for us to reload on long positions might be sometimes in Q4, as by then the fundamentals might have improved to a level where they are visible, or they will have stalled (as we suspect) thus forcing the hand of the FED to delay tapering and a concurrent re-pricing of expectations around it. 2) HEDGING BOOK: on the other end, we currently see most of the opportunities in the Hedging Book, and we banked on them in the month just past. As the market misprices the potential for realized volatility to pick up from here and for ‘toppy markets’ to be ‘gapping markets’ (Gold’s heart attack, Nikkei flash crash, next?). It makes sense to us to be long volatility in such uncertain markets where rates cannot
  • 16. 16 | P a g e possibly rally any further (and Credit can’t either in any meaningful way), where investors go long on large margin, where shorts are cleaned out, and where silly talks of the ‘bondification of equity’ spread around. As early as September 2012, we were early to say that equities would have been more ‘defensive’ than bonds (‘‘European Equities Will Jump’ Video), as we migrated our book from High Yields into Equities; riding the bubble of catch up rallies first (Europe), and Nominal Rallies later in December 2011/January 2012 (US and Japan, currency hedged). We now dump that train too, until further notice. Our methodology for Fat Tail Risk Hedging Programs should cover our – currently small - exposure to the Value Book, and over-hedge us enough to deliver a positive return in the second half of the year, while waiting for better valuations before we reassess re-loading on longs. Amongst hedging strategies, on the list of pre-identified scenarios in our Multi-Equilibria Markets roadmap, our top picks are as follows: short Japanese rates (Inflation & Default Scenario), short Yen (Inflation & Default Scenario), short Australian Dollar (China Hard Landing Scenario), Long Interbanking Spreads and Swap Spreads(Renewed Credit Crunch Scenario), long Currency Pegs (EUR Break-Up Scenario). In terms of instrument selection, we follow our methodology for eligible instruments with target multipliers on exit higher than 10X (and as high as 100X): Cheap Optionality first, but also Select Shorts, Embedded Optionality and Dislocation Hedges. Finally, we will hold our Monthly Outlook Presentation on the 10 th of July in 55 Grosvenor street, London, where supporting Charts & Data will be displayed for the views rendered here. Please do get in touch if you wish to participate. Francesco Filia CEO & CIO of Fasanara Capital ltd Mobile: +44 7715420001 E-Mail: francesco.filia@fasanara.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/francescofilia 55 Grosvenor Street London, W1K 3HY Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”)
  • 17. 17 | P a g e What I liked this month ITALY: deja’ vu of 1992, when political/macro crisis forced it to devalue Lira and exit EMS Read CHINA Gambles That A Credit Crunch Can Rein In Shadow Banking Read | Is Shibor Shock Part Of A Political Battle In China? Read | Chinese monetary policy, with Maoist characteristics Read Which countries are running the largest government deficits? Japan by far the largest, UK number 4 on the list, US 9. Norway has the largest surplus at 13% of GDP. Read W-End Readings The Big Picture: Francesco Filia: Japan is a catalyst for other economies – Opalesque Read Asia's rise -- how and when. Hans Rosling graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US Video “This document has been issued by Fasanara Capital Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The information in this document does not constitute, or form part of, any offer to sell or issue, or any offer to purchase or subscribe for shares, nor shall this document or any part of it or the fact of its distribution form the basis of or be relied on in connection with any contract. Interests in any investment funds managed by New Co will be offered and sold only pursuant to the prospectus [offering memorandum] relating to such funds. An investment in any Fasanara Capital Limited investment fund carries a high degree of risk and is not suitable for retail investors.] Fasanara Capital Limited has not taken any steps to ensure that the securities referred to in this document are suitable for any particular investor and no assurance can be given that the stated investment objectives will be achieved. Fasanara Capital Limited may, to the extent permitted by law, act upon or use the information or opinions presented herein, or the research or analysis on which it is based, before the material is published. Fasanara Capital Limited [and its] personnel may have, or have had, investments in these securities. The law may restrict distribution of this document in certain jurisdictions, therefore, persons into whose possession this document comes should inform themselves about and observe any such restrictions.