Saturday, February 11, 2012

Italy and its Debt to GDP/Greece debt problems/USA Debt Problems/Gold and silver raid/

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen:

Somebody did hack into my computer.  We are trying to remove the virus.

Before proceeding, we had two bank failures last night as they entered our banking morgue.

1.  SCB Bank of Shelbyvile In.
2. Charter National Bank and Trust,  Hoffman Estates, IL.

On Thursday we saw gold and silver equity shares languish throughout the day followed by the whacking of the metal in the access market...a sure sign of a major offensive shorting move by the bankers.  They did not disappoint, much to the glee of the regulators who stand by collecting their salaries and doing absolutely nothing stopping this collusive and criminal action by the bankers as they supplied copious amounts of non backed paper driving the price of the precious metals lower on Friday.  The price of gold finished the comex session at $1722.00 down 17 dollars.  The price of silver held its ground falling only 28 cents to $33.60.

Let us head over to the comex and assess the damage.

The total comex gold OI fell by 1071 contracts with the final reading for Friday registering 431,076 contracts.  The front delivery month of February saw its OI fall by 32 contracts from 818 to 786.  We had only 10 deliveries on Thursday so we lost 22 contracts or 2200 oz of gold standing as Blythe did some cash settlements with these longs.  The next big delivery month is April and here the OI fell slightly form 236,981 to 235,628.  The estimated volume on Friday was bigger than normal coming in at 191,182 as our banking heroes supplied a great number of non backed paper and drove the metal price down.  The confirmed volume on Thursday was also high at 172,861 as the raid commenced on Thursday afternoon in the access market.

The total silver comex OI refused to budge.  The final reading for Friday rose by 34 contracts to 105,366
as the commencement of the raid had little effect on our silver longs.  The front options expiry month of February saw its OI mysteriously rise for the second straight day to 64 from 34 despite zero delivery notices again.  Again this means that some entity needed silver badly and yet no physical silver could be found at the comex silver warehouses to supply these entities with the necessary metal.  The next big delivery for silver is March and we are less than 3 weeks away from lst day notice.  Here the OI fell slightly from 40,979 to 39,967 contracts as some of the March silver longs rolled to May.  It seems that the remaining longs are resolute as they prepare to tackle our bankers as physical silver is depleting around the world. The estimated volume on the silver comex on Friday came in at 58,209 which is very high for silver lately as the bankers tried to shake some of the silver leaves from the silver tree (and probably failed).  The confirmed volume on Thursday was also high at 55,297.

Now let us begin with February inventory movements opening balance in Gold


  February 9.2012                               :










Gold
Ounces
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventory in oz
503 (Scotia)
Withdrawals from Customer Inventory in oz
nil
Deposits to the Dealer Inventory in oz

nil
Deposits to the Customer Inventory, in oz
502 (Brinks)
No of oz served (contracts) today
229 (22,900)
No of oz to be served (notices)
557 (55,700)
Total monthly oz gold served (contracts) so far this month
2763 (276,300)
Total accumulative withdrawal of gold from the Dealers inventory this month
  4381
Total accumulative withdrawal of gold from the Customer inventory this month

132,886

 
We had very little activity in the gold vaults again yesterday. It is very strange that we are
witnessing little activity yet we had considerable gold notices filed for the past 3 months.  The question remains how are these things being settled?  (GLD paper maybe?)

The dealer Scotia released 503 ounces from its warehouse and 502 oz found its way into the customer at  Brinks.

We had no dealer deposit and no customer deposit.

The total registered gold in oz today registers 2.479 million oz.

The CME notified us that we had 229 delivery notices filed Friday for a total of 22,900 oz.
The total number of delivery notices filed for the month of February total 2763 for 276,300 oz.
To obtain what is left to be served, I take the OI standing for February (786) and subtract out Friday's deliveries (229) which leaves us with 557 or 55,700 oz left to be served upon our longs.

Thus the total number of gold ounces standing in this delivery month of February is as follows:

276,300 oz (served)  +  55700 (oz to be served upon)  =  332,300 oz or 10.33 tonnes of gold.
we lost 22 contracts to cash settlements or 2,200 oz of gold.

end



the silver chart: February 9. 2012:










Silver
Ounces
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventorynil
Withdrawals fromCustomer Inventory832,769 (Brinks, Delaware)
Deposits to theDealer Inventorynil
Deposits to the Customer Inventory681,699 (Brinks,Scotia)
No of oz served (contracts)zero(zero oz)
No of oz to be served (notices)34 (170,000 oz)
Total monthly oz silver served (contracts)458 (2,380,000 oz)
Total accumulative withdrawal of silver from the Dealersinventory this month2,287,779
Total accumulative withdrawal of silver from the Customer inventory this month 4,407,998


We had a fair bit of activity in the silver vaults as the bankers are scrambling to supply the metal.

We had no dealer activity whatsoever i.e. no dealer deposit and no dealer withdrawal.

The customer had the following deposit:

1.  Into Brinks:  597,484 oz
2. Into Scotia:   84,115 oz

total customer deposit:  681,699 oz

The dealer had the following withdrawal:

1.  Out of Scotia:  830,769 oz
2. Out of Delaware:  2,000 oz.

total customer withdrawal:  832,769 oz

we had a huge adjustment of 1,960,035 oz of silver adjusted out of a dealer at Delaware and into a customer at Delaware.

The total registered or dealer silver rests this weekend at 33.96 million oz
The total of all silver rests at 129.117 million oz.

The CME notified us that again we had zero notices filed and again for the second straight day we witnessed OI rise for February delivery month.
Thus the total notices filed for February remain at 458 for 2,290,000 oz
To obtain what is left to be served, I take the OI standing for February (64) and subtract out Friday deliveries (0) which leaves me with 64 notices or 320,000 oz.

One would expect to see some silver deliveries notices on Monday as the OI rose.
Surprisingly for the 3rd straight session:  zero notices for silver.
Generally on an options expiry month all notices are filed at the first of the money.  Lately we are getting strange things going on inside the silver vaults.

Thus the total number of silver oz standing in this non delivery month of February is as follows;

2,290,000 oz (served)  +  320,000 (oz to be served upon)  =   2,610,000 oz
we gained 150,000 oz of additional silver oz standing and none of that was delivered upon.

end


Let us now proceed to our ETF's SLV and GLD and then our physical gold and silver funds:

Sprott and Central Fund of Canada.

The two ETF's that I follow are the GLD and SLV. You must be very careful in trading these vehicles as these funds do not have any beneficial gold or silver behind them. They probably have only paper claims and when the dust settles, on a collapse, there will be countless class action lawsuits trying to recover your lost investment.
There is now evidence that the GLD and SLV are paper settling on the comex.


Thus a default at either of the LBMA, or Comex will trigger a catastrophic event.



Feb 11.2012:


Total Gold in Trust

Tonnes:1,278.65

Ounces:41,109,760.84

Value US$:70,325,658,877.69




Feb 9.2012


TOTAL GOLD IN TRUST

Tonnes:1,278.34

Ounces:41,100,042.28

Value US$:71,809,945,518.66





we gained 310,000 oz of gold enter the GLD vaults.




And now for silver Feb 11 2012:


Ounces of Silver in Trust311,879,302.200
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust9,700.53


Feb 9.2012

Ounces of Silver in Trust310,713,159.000
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust9,664.26


we gained 1,166,000 oz of silver added to the SLV vaults despite a raid.
I guess, to the clowns at the SEC, that makes sense.









And now for our premiums to NAV for the funds I follow:



1. Central Fund of Canada: traded to a positive 3.3 percent to NAV in usa funds and a positive 3.6% to NAV for Cdn funds. ( Feb 11 2012.).
2. Sprott silver fund (PSLV): Premium to NAV fell slightly  to  7.24..% to NAV  Feb 11.2012 :
3. Sprott gold fund (PHYS): premium to NAV fell slightly to  3.14% positive to NAV Feb 11. 2012). 

The raid on gold and silver certainly had an effect on our premiums to NAV.





end

Let us head over to the COT report and see how  positions changed among our players:

First the gold COT:


Gold COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
207,620
30,113
23,541
143,085
364,157
374,246
417,811
Change from Prior Reporting Period
10,142
3,994
934
-4,470
6,740
6,606
11,668
Traders
187
60
69
50
48
268
151


Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



61,815
18,250
436,061



4,322
-740
10,928



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Gold Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, February 07, 2012



Our large speculators:

Here those large specs that have been long in gold added a monstrous 10,142 contracts to their longs and thus provided the fodder for our bankers.

Those large specs that have been short in gold, knew that a raid was coming and added 3994 contracts to their shorts.

Our commercials:

Those commercials who are close to the physical scene and generally long in gold, pitched a rather large 4,470 contracts.  They also knew that a raid was forthcoming.

Those commercials who are always short and always provide massive non backed gold paper got the green light from our regulators to add 6,740 contracts to their already burgeoning gold shorts.

Our small specs:

Those small specs that have been long in gold added a rather large for them 4,322 contracts and probably got burnt by our banking heroes

The small specs that have been short in gold covered a very tiny 740 contracts.

The COT report is from a Tuesday to a Tuesday and thus it misses the raid on Thursday/Friday.
You can see that the bankers saw the massive increase in contracts to our large specs and small specs.
They provided the non backed paper and then commenced the raid.


Silver COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
32,239
8,652
20,019
31,795
66,445
84,053
95,116
3,774
-722
415
-1,898
4,023
2,291
3,716
Traders
69
31
36
33
45
123
93

Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



21,955
10,892
106,008



1,970
545
4,261



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Silver Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The large specs:

Those large specs that have been long in silver looked at declining inventories everywhere so they decided to add 3774 contracts to their long side.

Those large specs that have been short in silver did not like what they saw so they covered 722 contracts from their short side.

 Our commercials:

Those commercials that have been long in silver and are close to the physical scene covered a rather large 1,898 contracts.

Those commercials who have been short in silver from the beginning of time, added a monstrous 4,023 contracts to their short side getting ready for the big raid.

Our small specs:

Those small specs that have been long in silver added a huge 1970 contracts.
Those small specs that have been short in silver added a tiny 545 contracts to their short side.

Conclusion:  the bankers supplied the necessary paper knowing full well that a raid was called for on Thursday/Friday. Our banking heroes can carry out their criminal collusive behaviour knowing full well that they have the regulators in their pockets.

end


This is the fight we are up against:

(courtesy Dave from Denver/the Golden Truth)



Wall Street Takes "Nuclear" Option In Fighting New CFTC Regulations

Who do you think will win this battle? The ink is barely dry on Dodd-Frank - and the volumes of associated bureaucratic multi-hundred page "handbooks" are just now rolling off the Government's other printing press LINK - and already Wall Street is employing the highest level of influence and firing lethal legal weapons in order to protect its "family" and its license to steal.
(You think I'm kidding about the mushrooming bureaucratic paper being generated? Here's an excerpt from that link, which everyone should read:
Dodd-Frank isn’t all rule-making in order to act the legislation — it’s also about actual homework assignments, like that assigned by Section 719(c) which: requires the Commissions jointly to conduct a study (“Study”) and then to report to Congress (“Report”) on how swaps and security-based swaps (collectively “Swaps”, unless otherwise indicated) are regulated in the United States, Asia, and Europe and to identify areas of regulation that are similar and other areas of regulation that could be harmonized. The above is from the introduction to the 153-page study itself — just published on January 31st and which gives an exhaustive amount of detail on existing regulatory frameworks and proposals for swap regulation.)
It turns out that Wall Street is attacking the new CFTC limits on speculative positions - and thereby fighting limits on their ability to manipulate the gold and silver markets - using none other than Eugene Scalia as their lead attorney. For those of you don't recognize that last name, Eugene is the son of Supreme Court judge Anthonin "I hunt with Dick Cheney for favors" Scalia LINK. Now, of whom in hell do you think the justice system is going to rule in favor? Quite frankly, on Federal litigation matters there should be absolutely no connection between any of the legal representation and the judicial system. This particular connection is absurd. How many of you actually would believe that there won't be influence pedalled here? Then again, I guess mob organizations like Wall Street are best served by hiring mob attorneys like Scalia...
And then again, it turns out that the facts belie the rhetorical garbage spewing from Obama's mouth:
Obama Prosecuting Fewer Financial Crimes Than Under Reagan or Either Bush LINK
It turns out that the "grassroots reformer" elected by this country to clean up DC/Wall Street and restore Rule of Law is actually trampling all over the laws that are already in place. If Obama won't enforce the laws that exist, then why in the hell do we need new ones like Dodd-Frank?
I'll tell you why. Read thru the link in the opening paragraph above and you'll see that all of this new legislation is designed to do nothing more than create massive piles of paperwork and "studies" in order to deflect any possibility of the Government bureaucracy from actually doing its job of enforcing laws and prosecuting the big banks and corporations who are stealing our wealth. By the way, Obama supporters, how's that new healthcare legislation working for you? It's all frighteningly Orwellian...but then again, Atlas shrugs.
Atlas Shrugs



The big story is Greece. As the politicians are sent back to Athens to pass new austerity measures,
the following is a warmup as to what to expect from its citizens:


(courtesy zero hedge)


Prequel To The Main Event: Video Of Greek Warm Up Scuffles With Police

Tyler Durden's picture




While the bulk of today's Syntagma Square drama will come at a later hour, once the cabinet convenes at around 6 pm (or likely much later because as of this point there is no agreement on the Troika deal which kills it as per Troika demands), or maybe even tomorrow, we have already seen a prequel of what to expect courtesy of the now traditional exchange of Molotov cocktails and tear gas between Greek protesters and riot police. From Bloomberg: "Greek police used tear gas against masked protesters in central Athens after they attacked police and stores at the end of a march against austerity measures. Greek unions held their second strike in a week against the proposed measures as Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos pressed lawmakers to yield to conditions for a bailout, saying a refusal would open the way for the country’s exit from the euro. Nicole Itano reports on Bloomberg Television's "InsideTrack."


(for video see www.bloomberg.com or zero hedge).


end


The Greek police seems to have switched sides and are now backing the populace:

(courtesy zero hedge)


Greek Police Threaten IMF Arrests Due To "Austerity Demands"

Tyler Durden's picture




As the headlines from Europe become more and more realistic (and ironically more and more Onion-worthy), Reuters notes one of the more interesting examples of just how the Greek people are feeling. The Federation of Greek Police have accused EU/IMF officials, in a formal letter, of "...blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty". While violence erupts among the largely unemployed youth, the supposedly 'grown-up and responsible' segment of the Greek society, which for now at least appears not to be on strike, is recognizing the wholesale destruction of their society (as 22% cuts in minimum wage for instance are thrust upon them). The Greek police, who have stood against the protesters and done their jobs facing threats and anger, are seemingly expressing solidarity with the antagonists as they call out ECB, European Commission, and IMF leaders for theirdestructive policies. At what point do the police throw down their riot shields and follow the Greek people into their 'Bastille'?

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Greece's largest police union has threatened to issue arrest warrants for officials from the country's European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders for demanding deeply unpopular austerity measures.
In a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday, the Federation of Greek Police accused the officials of "...blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty" and said one target of its warrants would be the IMF's top official for Greece, Poul Thomsen.
The threat is largely symbolic since legal experts say a judge must first authorize such warrants, but it shows the depth of anger against foreign lenders who have demanded drastic wage and pension cuts in exchange for funds to keep Greece afloat.
"Since you are continuing this destructive policy, we warn you that you cannot make us fight against our brothers. We refuse to stand against our parents, our brothers, our children or any citizen who protests and demands a change of policy," said the union, which represents more than two-thirds of Greek policemen.
"We warn you that as legal representatives of Greek policemen, we will issue arrest warrants for a series of legal violations ... such as blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty."
The letter was also addressed to the European Central Bank's mission chief in Greece, Klaus Masuch, and the former European Commission chief inspector for Greece, Servaas Deroose.
Policemen have borne the brunt of the anger of massed protesters who frequently march to parliament and clash with police in riot gear. Chants of "Cops, pigs, murderers!"are regularly hurled at policemen or scribbled on walls.
Thousands turned out on Friday for the latest protest in Athens, this time against new austerity measures that include a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage.
police union official said the threat to 'refuse to stand against' fellow Greeks was a symbolic expression of solidarity and did not mean police would halt their efforts to stop protests getting out of hand



Late last night, the Cabinet approved new austerity measures and now the vote will go to the full parliament.
Prior to the cabinet vote 5 ministers resigned as they stated that the citizens cannot go through more austerity!
The cabinet must find an additional 325 billion euros of spending cuts as well as give guarantees that they will implement the austerity program. The Greek economy continues to falter and they will need to find an additional 15 billion euros as the agreed upon 130 billion euros will not be enough to bring their debt to GDP down to 120% by 2020.  They need 145 billion euros to do so!
After the Parliament approves the bill, then comes the fun part and the PSI  (Private Sector Involvement) bond holders all meet to hash out the haircut to the debt. There are some bond holders who have credit default swaps attached to their bonds and they will not likely budge until they get 100% par on their bonds plus maybe 10% for their trouble.  The latecomers who purchased bonds in December and January at 20 cents on the dollar may wish to take on the ECB by demanding a full payout and risk the default.
Regardless, the next 5 weeks will be fun to watch!!



(courtesy Bloomberg)

Papademos Gets Cabinet Approval for 2nd Bailout

Q

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos won Cabinet approval for deeper budget cuts needed to secure a second package of international aid, preparing the way for parliamentary vote in his race to prevent financial collapse.
The 287-page document was approved unanimously, said a government official who declined to be named. The backing means parliament will probably vote tomorrow on budget measures equal to 7 percent of gross domestic product over the next three years and a debt swap to cut 100 billion euros ($132 billion) off more than 200 billion euros of privately-held debt.
“The social cost this program implies will be limited compared to the economic and social catastrophe that would follow if we don’t adopt it,” Papademos told his ministers earlier, according to a transcript of his comments. “The completion of the program and financial support will cement our country’s future in the euro area.”
The support capped a week of tension as European Union and International Monetary Fund officials argued with Greek officials over the conditions to secure a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue package. Papademos on Feb. 9 reached an accord with leaders of the three parties supporting his interim government hours before a crucial meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Brussels, only to be told it needed more work.

Time for Responsibility

“Now is the time for responsibility for all of us toward our country,” George Papandreou, the former prime minister of Greece and the leader of the socialist Pasok party, said today in a televised speech in Athens. “The recipe for the program isn’t right or wrong. It’s the only one available.”
Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, the second- biggest party, said a write-off of debt through a voluntary exchange will allow the country to move away from the precipice.
“It won’t solve the problem, but it will help,” Samaras told his party’s lawmakers in Athens, in comments televised live on state-run NET TV. ‘‘It distances us from bankruptcy, looting, the chaos that would follow.’’
He said it was self-evident that party discipline would be imposed during the vote on a second financing package. “I’m sure you will all do your duty by your country.”
Samaras also said elections are needed as soon as financing is secured, as previously agreed on by party leaders.

Ministers Resign

With only weeks remaining before a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20, Papademos saw five ministers resign in two hours and protesters clashing with police in Athens during an anti-austerity strike.
“It should be evident that whoever disagrees and doesn’t vote for the new program cannot remain in this government,” he told his ministers. Political uncertainty, he said, was the main reason for finance ministers failing to approve the program.
Failure to secure the rescue package threatens 11 million Greeks with a default that would halt the payment of wages and pensions and shut schools, hospitals and businesses, Papademos said. Tomorrow’s vote amounts to a ballot on euro membership, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday in Brussels.
“If we see the salvation and future of the country in the euro area, in Europe, we have to do whatever we have to do to get the program approved,” he said.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers in Berlin that Greece was missing deficit goals and had to do more to meet its bailout commitments.
The Laos party, with 16 members in the parliament, said it would oppose the plan. The party’s four ministers in the Papademos government resigned yesterday.

Greek Humiliation

“What has particularly bothered me is the humiliation of the country,” George Karatzaferis, the leader of Laos, said in televised comments. “Clearly Greece can’t and shouldn’t do without the European Union but it could do without the German boot.”
The parties that support Papademos’s interim government will meet ahead of the parliamentary votes on the new measures. Lawmakers will convene from both the Socialist Pasok party and the New Democracy party, which leads in opinion polls before elections due as soon as April. A number of Pasok deputies have threatened to vote against the bill.
Police in Athens scuffled with protesters as unions started a 48-hour strike against the austerity measures demanded by the so-called troika of international creditors who monitor progress made by Greece.

Higher Debt

Schaeuble, briefing lawmakers in Berlin on troika estimates relayed to the Brussels meeting on Feb. 9, said current plans would leave Greece’s debt as high as 136 percent of GDP by 2020, according to two people in the meeting. That compares with the 120 percent foreseen in the second bailout. Debt was about 160 percent of GDP last year.
The emergency euro-area talks broke up late on Feb. 9 with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker saying Greece must turn its budget cuts into law, flesh out 325 million euros in spending reductions and have major party leaders sign up to the program so they don’t retreat after the elections. Another extraordinary meeting was set for Feb. 15.
Resolution of the aid talks, which have dragged on since July, would allow Greece to make the March bond payment and contain the threat that speculators will target debt-saddled nations including Italy and Portugal.

Strikes Called

The strike called by the private-sector GSEE union shut down schools, government services, and some public transit for the second time this week.
“They want to privatize the entire country,” Ploumitsa Triantafillopoulou, 42, who works for an organization that promotes day-care facilities for children, said yesterday in an interview. “All of us here we will lose our jobs. They don’t care for us. They don’t care for the people of Greece.”
Europe’s hardline stance follows more than two years in which Greece failed to carry through promised reforms to tackle its uncompetitive economy and meet the terms for aid. Greece blamed its shortcomings on a deepening recession now set to worsen with figures this week showing unemployment jumping to 20.9 percent in November and industrial production declining.
Bondholders met separately in Paris on Feb. 9 to discuss accepting an average coupon of as low as 3.6 percent on new 30- year bonds in a proposed debt swap. An agreement would slice 100 billion euros off more than 200 billion euros of privately-held debt and a formal offer must be made by Feb. 13 to allow all procedures to be completed before the March 20 bond comes due.
European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said the deal is “practically finalized.”
The measures are aimed at delivering budget reductions totaling 1.5 percent of GDP this year and range from a 22 percent paring of the minimum wage to lower pension payments and immediate job cuts for as many as 15,000 state workers.
To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at mpetrakis@bloomberg.net; Simon Kennedy in London at skennedy4@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

end

Yesterday S and P lowered the boom on 34 out of 37 Italian banks as Italy's economy is contracting badly.

(courtesy zero hedge)


S&P Downgrades 34 Of 37 Italian Banks - Full Statement

Tyler Durden's picture




S&P just downgraded 34 of the 37 Italian banks it covers. Below is the full statement. And so get get one second closer to midnight for Europe's AIG equivalent: A&G. As for S&P, this is the funniest bit: "We classify the Italian government as "supportive" toward its banking sector. We recognize the government's record of providing support to the bankingsystem in times of stress." Even rating agencies now have to rely on sovereign risk transfer as the only upside case to their reports. Oh, and who just went balls to the wall Italian stocks? Why the oldest (no pun intended) contrarian indicator in the book - none other than permawrong Notorious (Barton) B.I.G.G.S.
Mainly Negative Rating Actions Taken On 37 Italian Financial Institutions On Sovereign Downgrade And BICRA Change
LONDON (Standard & Poor's) Feb. 10, 2012--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said it has lowered its ratings on 34 Italy-based financial institutions. The downgrades follow the lowering of the unsolicited long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Italy (BBB+/Negative/A-2; see "Italy's Unsolicited Ratings Lowered To 'BBB+/A-2'; Outlook Negative," published Jan. 13, 2012, on RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal). They also reflect the revision of our Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) on Italy to group '4' from group '3', and of our economic risk and industry risk scores--both components of the BICRA--on Italy to '4' from '3' (see "BICRA On Italy Revised To Group '4' From Group '3' On Weakening Economic And Banking Industry Conditions," published Feb. 10, 2012).
In addition, we have affirmed our ratings on two Italian financial institutions and removed them from CreditWatch with negative implications. We have also kept the ratings on one Italian financial institution on CreditWatch with negative implications.
Mainly Negative Rating Actions Taken On 37 Italian Financial Institutions On Sovereign Downgrade And BICRA Change
OVERVIEW
  1. On Jan. 13, 2012, Standard & Poor's lowered its unsolicited long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Italy to 'BBB+/A-2' from 'A/A-1', assigned a negative outlook, and removed the ratings from CreditWatch negative.
  2. In our view, Italy's vulnerability to external financing risks has increased, given its high external public debt, resulting in Italian banks' significantly diminished ability to roll over their wholesale debt.
  3. We anticipate persistently weak profitability for Italian banks in the next few years, and a risk-adjusted return on core banking products that may not be sufficient for banks to meet their cost of capital. We believe this may be negative for the Italian banking industry's stability.
  4. We are revising our Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) on the Republic of Italy to group '4' from group '3', and our economic risk and industry risk scores, two components of the BICRA, to '4' from '3'.
  5. Our revised BICRA and economic risk score for Italy have resulted in primarily negative rating actions for the Italian banks we rate.

BICRA ACTION
On Feb. 10, 2012, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised its Banking  Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) on the Republic of Italy (unsolicited ratings, BBB+/Negative/A-2) to group '4' from group '3'. It has also revised  the economic risk and industry risk scores, two components of the BICRA, to '4' from '3'. These revisions follow our recent downgrade of the Republic of Italy (see "Italy's Unsolicited Ratings Lowered To 'BBB+/A-2'; Outlook Negative ," published Jan. 13, 2012, on RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal).
RATIONALE
The BICRA change reflects our view that Italy's vulnerability to external financing risks has increased, given its high absolute amount of external public debt. This results in adverse spill-over effects on Italian banks, in particular significantly diminishing their ability to roll over their wholesale debt. In addition, we anticipate persistently weak profitability for Italian banks in the next few years, and a risk-adjusted return on core banking products that may not be sufficient for banks to meet their cost of capital. We believe this may be negative for the Italian banking industry's stability.
Standard & Poor's BICRA rankings integrate its view of the strengths and weaknesses of a country's banking system compared with those of other countries. A BICRA is scored on a scale from 1 to 10, ranging from the lowest-risk banking systems (group '1') to the highest-risk (group '10'). Countries in BICRA group '4' include Czech Republic, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.
Our revised BICRA and economic risk score for Italy have resulted in primarily negative rating actions on the Italian banks we rate (see "Mainly Negative Rating Actions Taken On 37 Italian Financial Institutions On Sovereign Downgrade And BICRA Change," published Feb. 10, 2012).
The economic risk score of '4' is based on our revised opinion of Italy's "economic imbalances," one of the score's main components,  to "intermediate risk" from "low risk," as our criteria define these terms.
The economic risk score is an input in our calculation of risk-weighted assets (RWA) for banks under our risk-adjusted capital (RAC) framework (see "Bank Capital Methodology And Assumptions," published Dec. 6, 2010). Our revised economic risk score will likely lead to moderate declines in our RAC ratios for banks operating in Italy.
We believe that Italy's higher vulnerability to external financing may represent a risk to the sustainability of Italy's balance of payments. The deepening political, financial, and monetary problems in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU or the eurozone) are exacerbating the external funding constraints on the Italian public and private sectors, in our opinion. Italy's external financing costs have risen markedly in recent months and may remain elevated for an extended period as the Italian government and banks scale back cross-border financing. Still, we acknowledge that imbalances in asset prices and the buildup of leverage are low in Italy. In our view, these factors remain key supports for Italian banks' creditworthiness.
Our assessment of "intermediate risk" for "economic resilience" and "credit risk in the economy," the two remaining components of the economic risk score, remains unchanged.
Italy has a large and diversified economy with a sizable domestic market and manufacturing export sector. However, we anticipate weaker GDP growth for Italy relative to its peers owing to Italy's high public sector debt, which in our view is discouraging investment; weakening Italy's export competitiveness; and to Italy's worsening demographic profile.
The Italian private sector carries, in our view, moderate debt at 128% of GDP expected at year-end 2011. Household indebtedness, at 45% of GDP, is low relative to levels in peer countries. In addition, Italian households' financial wealth is about two times GDP, which sustains their creditworthiness in case of difficulties. Italy's banking sector typically has high levels of nonperforming assets (NPAs) relative to countries that we assess as having similar economic risk. The high NPAs reflect Italian banks' large share of loans to small and midsize enterprises, which form the backbone of the Italian economy. Extensive use of collateral has, however, generally enabled banks to post only moderate credit losses.
The industry risk score of '4' is based on our revised opinion of the Italian banking sector's "competitive dynamics" and "systemwide funding" to "intermediate risk" from "low risk," as our criteria define these terms.
Our view that Italian banks' profitability will likely remain weak in the next few years reflects Italy's flat economic growth, and banks' increased cost of funding and still high credit provisions. Risk-adjusted returns on core banking products may not be sufficient for banks to meet their cost of capital. We believe this may be negative for the Italian banking sector's stability. Based on our estimates, the return on adjusted assets related to domestic banking business should average close to 30 basis points in 2011-2013. The net income-to-revenue ratio should bottom out in 2012 and remain below 10% in the same period.While these profitability ratios would be only slightly below the average for 2009-2010, they would represent less than half of returns in 2005-2008. Persistently weak profitability for the next few years, together with increased cost of capital for the whole banking industry, could lead Italian banks to write down a large part of the goodwill they booked during the consolidation phase of the past decade. We note, though, that Italian banks' risk appetite generally remains restrained, reflecting their traditional business model.
We believe that "systemwide funding" risk for Italian banks has increased, mainly owing to the effects of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. European Central Bank (ECB; AAA/Stable/A-1+) funding provided to Italian banks was up sharply at €203 billion at end-January 2012, or 6% of total funding, versus €41 billion at end-June 2011. In our view, the steep rise is due to Italian banks having largely lost their access to external wholesale debt capital markets, which we believe will in turn significantly reduce their ability to roll over their wholesale debt this year. In our opinion, Italian banks' recourse to the ECB may further increase after the ECB's next Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) scheduled in late February 2012 (for further details on ECB funding to eurozone banks, see "Assessing The Severity Of The Eurozone Recession Is A Close Call," published Jan. 31, 2012). We believe that the ECB's proactive stance on providing liquidity to Italian banks has avoided a domestic credit crunch.
Italian banks' recourse to wholesale domestic or cross-border funding is contained, in our opinion, and to a degree offsets our concerns about systemwide funding. The banking system's core customer deposits (including bonds placed with retail clients) cover between 90% and 100% of its customer loans. Italian banks depend on external debt to cover about 15% of total loans on a net basis, by our estimates. But a significant portion of external debt relates to funding that foreign banks have provided to domestic subsidiaries, which we believe is clearly less confidence sensitive. We also believe that Italian banks' pools of assets eligible for ECB funding is sufficiently wide to cover 2012 wholesale maturities. In addition, the Italian government has offered Italian banks the option to request a state guarantee for ECB funding received in an amount up to their regulatory capital. The Bank of Italy has also temporarily expanded the eligibility criteria for credit claims used as collateral in the ECB's lending operations, as part of the ECB's support measures for banks. As for other eurozone members, our assessment of Italy's systemwide funding incorporates our expectation that the ECB will maintain its liquidity support for banks.
We have maintained our assessment of "intermediate risk" for Italy's "institutional framework." Italy has gradually aligned its regulatory standards with international best practices in recent years. Supervision is effective and hands-on, in our opinion. Italy's banking regulator has a good record in dealing with individual bank crises, in our view. However, we believe that some banks, particularly small ones, tend to have less-than-optimal governance. Still, Italy's banks still generally have some leeway that allows them to delay recognizing credit losses.
We classify the Italian government as "supportive" toward its banking sector. We recognize the government's record of providing support to the banking system in times of stress.


end



Mario Monti discusses this and other topics on CNBC. Please note the huge
Debt/GDP on Greece and Italy and the low growth rate for Italy (.32% growth rate projected for their GDP and their high unemployment 8.5%:

(courtesy Thomas Crown/zero hedge)

Ten Minutes With Italy's Mario Monti

CrownThomas's picture





Italy's Prime Minister (and self appointed economy minister) shot over to CNBC after his meeting with President Obama this afternoon to discuss how well everything looks for Italy since hewas elected took over.
Notable Comments:
  • Italian banks are "vulnerable" but have recapitalized themselves (rather, the ECB has given them money)
  • He had a good meeting with Obama, and Obama is supportive (he's careful to mention not financially supportive - perhaps forgetting how much the Federal Reserve bails out Euro banks)
  • A plan has been in place since January 1st to balance the budget by 2013 (Obama apparently didn't pay attention to this little tidbit)
  • Political cost is not a relevant matter... for the unelected government - the people will be happy to know it doesn't matter one bit what they want, the former Goldman Advisor knows what's best for them
  • He plans to transfer tax burdens to indvidual property owners and not burden corporations (should help the middle class)
  • S&P decision to downgrade Italian banks was due to previous leadership's decisions (he learned a little from President Obama)
  • ?
FTW: "If somebody considers investing in Italy now, thy should not be too worried about what comes next"
A few visuals on why nobody should worry:





Proof Of LTRO Bank Stigma, Or Why Mario Draghi Is Lying

Tyler Durden's picture




Earlier in the week we began discussing the stigma that would likely be attached to the banks that decide to borrow from the ECB via the LTRO. Many talking heads including Mario Draghi himself, arbiter in chief of all risky collateral in Europe, dismissed this - reflecting back at the compression in credit spreads in the market-place as evidence that all was well and confidence was returning. In the last week our (senior unsecured debt) index of LTRO-ridden banks has underperformed non-LTRO-ridden banks by 23bps to a 75bps differential. This is thelargest divergence since the LTRO began and corrects off mid-Summer tight levels of difference as the critical flaw that we also pointed out earlier in the week (that of the implicit subordination of bank assets via ECB's LTRO collateralization). Credit Suisse agrees with us and expounds on 'the flaw' in the LTRO scheme noting that the market is fickle and self-sustaining at times (as we have seen) but over time (and that time appears to be up this week), the market will weigh the liability side of the balance sheet versus the asset side, less haircuts (which implies haircuts will become the de facto capital requirements) and inevitably (given bank earnings potential) reflect this huge differential - most specifically in the senior unsecured debt market. With few shorts left to squeeze, spreads back at pre-crisis levels and financials having dramatically outperformed even large gains on sovereigns, the weakness in senior financial debt in Europe this week is more than just a canary in the coal-mine, it should become the pivot security for risk appetite perception.
Via Bloomberg:
There is no stigma whatsoever on these facilities,” Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt yesterday. “Some have made some sort of statements that I would call statements of virility, namely it would be undignified for a bank, a serious bank, to access these facilities. Now let me say that the very same banks that made these statements access facilities of different kinds -- but still government facilities.”

We Disagree (or rather - the senior unsecured debt market Disagrees)
Our indices reflect the average credit risk of six major banks that accepted LTRO loans EULTRO (and hence subordinated their senior unsecured debt holders) and six major banks that did not EUNOLTRO. The lower pane shows that the difference compressed back to pre-crisis levels of the summer and this week, as the reality of the flaw in the LTRO was brought to people's attention, the Stigma of LTRO subordination has appeared writ large in a quite significant underperformance (of almost 50% rise in the spread differential).

Credit Suisse: The Flaw
The market is essentially proceeding on the assumption, as we see it, that banks’ capital requirements can be met organically, through earnings and deleveraging. We want to be very careful about leaning too hard on this; we have insisted for a long time that the banking system needs to shrink, and that the capital markets would grow to match. But this is not a short-term process and cannot be, if it is to remain orderly.
The 2011 consensus range of bank capital requirements was € 100bn to €400bn; the log. average, €200bn, always seemed like a sensible estimate to us. The market is proceeding on the assumption that the need has all but gone away; many estimates now centre on €50bn. Such numbers strike us as ridiculous; the Greek banks alone are absorbing that (see above) and Anglo-Irish absorbed €30bn. This is (yet) another of those cases where a number is small until it is needed, at which point it grows.
But the market has made these moves in thinking despite our long asserting the premise that liquidity cannot cure a solvency issue, and it is liquidity that has been the big change.
What’s happened?
Partly, “the paradox of thrift”. Each bank individually can credibly plan to delever, but collectively the system cannot. But even if the inherent contradiction is recognised, it is hard to act on immediately.
Debt is no cure for debt. What it can do is prevent a self-fuelling Fisher-style debt-deflation and it is clear that the LTRO has at least to some extent achieved that. And it can buy time such that, if the basic business model is restored, solvency can be earned. But we are not sure the business model has been restored; far from it. Here again, our caution and outright mistrust needs to be tempered, and at least patient. But the apparent widespread notion that the LTRO is a game-changer simply does not wash in our view, because of our premise. Game-saver (no Fisher); yes. Game-extender, which makes it a potential gamechanger; yes. Outright game-changer; no.
So what’s the flaw?
The flaw is that, even in 2012, we retain respect for markets. Unfettered, they are not the tool of choice for resolving the current situation but we see it as essential to work with them and harness their power, rather than against them, as we discussed in Twelve Steps.
In Greece it is now clear that the process of avoiding a credit event for the past 21 months has been ruinously expensive. Frustrate the markets (again, individuals making rational, fiduciary decisions, not some conspiracy pursuing an agenda) and they will find a way  around the frustration, in our view; in the meantime, costs will increase due to the inefficiencies created, as has happened in Greece.
The result that we now expect in the European banking system is in our view rather beautiful.
The Basel Accords have a patchy track record – to put it at its most generous – and the EBA has almost no track record at all and as we see it, even less credibility in the eyes of the market. The market is fickle (and in this situation self-fuelling, so it must be tempered; indeed it has been by the LTRO), so it cannot even trust its own estimates (as stated above, they are all over the map). But it cannot be frustrated in seeking comfort on such an important issue as restoring trust in the biggest banking system in the world, in our view.
In the banking system just as in Greece, the rescue funds are coming in at a senior level.
There are therefore two kinds of bankthose with the market’s full confidence, which will be able to fund at a “senior” but partially subordinated level, and which can repay everything without question (see Flash of 20 January) andthose who cannot. The price of time to the latter is ever-further subordination in a self-fuelling circle. Over time, the market will empirically, and with efficient pricing, weigh the liability side of the balance sheet versus the asset side, less haircuts (so haircuts become the de-facto capital requirement), tranche by tranche, maturity by maturity, and see what happens. If there is any insolvency in the European banking system, it will eventually appear, independent of Basel or EBA requirements (which may still becoming binding, of course). But it is hard to see how it appears before some time has elapsed. In this environment, competition for retail deposits, of which the European banking system is chronically short, largely because of its size, will become ever more intense.
Inevitably, due to the mark-to-market nature of repo, the banking system is now even more sensitive to mark-to-market, further baking volatility into the cake.
This reinforces our idea that the ultimate arbiter of bank capitalization is the senior unsecured market.
We suspect that organic earnings retention cannot be the solution.

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