Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Global Markets Descend Into Contagious Panic As Italy Implodes

Global Markets Descend Into Contagious Panic As Italy Implodes

Commenting on today's sheer market chaos as the US and UK return from holiday, Bloomberg writes that "fixed-income markets have descended into panic amid mounting concern over the risk of Italy leaving the euro or leading to its break-up" and while Italy is suffering the biggest losses in peripheral debt, core bonds and Treasuries are spiking higher.

For those who stayed away from market news over the holiday weekend, this is what happened and why we are here today: Italy PM-designate Conte gave up on efforts of forming a government after Italian President Mattarella rejected Eurosceptic Paolo Savona for the Economy Minister position because the appointment would have “alarmed markets and investors, Italians and foreigners" (yes, very ironic in retrospect, although just as we predicted would happen)

Mattarella then summoned former-IMF senior director Cottarelli to meet in a move viewed by some as laying the groundwork for a technocratic government. Forza Italia said they would not support this government, and 5SM and League set their sights on the now highly likely new elections (touted from September 9th). Both 5SM and League saying they will evaluate their coalition in these new elections. 

Meanwhile, on Sunday Italian President Mattarella gave a mandate to form a government to ex-IMF official Cottarelli, while PM-designate Cottarelli accepted the mandate and sees elections at the start of next year. 

In related news, League leader Salvini said he hopes there will be a government in October for the approval of the budget law and to avoid a VAT increase and M5S leader Di Maio wants elections as soon as possible, while Forza Italia’s Berlusconi said his party will reject the Cottarelli government.
At the same time, the Spanish Parliament started the process for a no confidence vote against PM Rajoy, while it set the date for debate and vote of confidence on PM Rajoy's government for May 31st and June 1st.
In short: for those who missed the crazy, volatile days of 2011, here is your change to relive them, and here is the mandatory sea of red to go with it.

But what is different this time, is that while the risk-off sentiment is spreading across risk assets around the world, with Italy and Spain leading declines in European stocks and U.S. equity-index futures also sliding amid soaring contagion fears, with the euro also slammed below 1.16 pushing the yen and USD higher along with gold, it is unclear just what the ECB can do this time, which back in 2012 unleashed the threat of "whatever it takes" to halt the last Italian collapse.

Well this time, "whetever it takes" has been running non stop since July 2012, and the ECB is rapidly running out of bonds to monetize, so it may well be that we are finally approaching the end of the European experiment, unless of course Draghi gets a greenlight from Merkel to start monetizing everything - stocks, bonds, and anything else that is not nailed down - in hopes of stabilizing markets. 

And before it is all over, he will, just as Europe will file criminal charges against those who dare to short Italian bonds. For now, however, as we showed earlier, Italian bonds are crashing with 2Y yields plunging the most on record, Italian-German spreads exploding, Deutsche Bank stock tumbling below €10 for the first time since September 2016, and Italian bank CDS blowing out.

Here are some of the key charts from this morning's Italian avalanche:
Italy 2Y yield and 1-day move:

In fact, all major European benchmarks are also now in the red for 2018, except France’s CAC 40. Even more important, the declining euro isn't acting as a cushion for exporter-heavy indexes like the DAX, which is also heavily in the red today.
The downfall in Italian banks has spread across the continent with major losses for the likes of Commerzbank (-5.0%), BNP (-4.6%), RBS (-3.8%), Credit Suisse (-3.8%) all resting at the foot of their respective indices. Meanwhile, Europe's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, is back under €10 and just shy of all time lows:

With UK traders returning from vacation, Italy woke up to a sheer selling panic as yesterday's "modest" selloff mutated into a full-blown liquidation avalanche, lead by a furious repricing of the BTP curve, where 2Y yields exploded another 170 bps higher on the day rising to 2.60% from negative just a few days ago...

As a result of the panic selling, not seen since the days of the European sovereign debt crisis in 2011/2012, dealers pulled their price indications, which according to Bloomberg signalled dealer unwillingness to trade given the excessive volatility.
But what is even worse is that this is no longer just an Italian crisis, as Deutsche Bank stock tumbled below €10 for the first time since its existential close encounter in September 2016, and just why of all time lows, on fears Italy's problems will spread beyond its borders...

... but it's not just Germany as French banks are also getting slammed:
... while the EURUSD tumbles below 1.16, the lowest since last July as murmurs of "parity" are once again emerging.

Yesterday we predicted that it is only a matter of time before Europe and the ECB ban shorting of Italian bonds, and we are sticking with it, although at this point - now well past contagion - it is unclear if such a dramatic action will have much of an impact.
Meanwhile, all eyes on Draghi to see how the ECB responds now that Europe is once again facing threats to both its currency, as well as its very existence.

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