*Interbank risk throws off mixed signals. Euribor-OIS continues to improve, but the TED Spread saw a sharp reversal in the final two days of trading last week. Interbank risk, both US and European, have been among the most important factors to monitor in the last several months. We would look to the next round of LTRO on 2/29 as the next significant milestone/catalyst on this front. Moreover, we would expect that with Greece in the rear view mirror, interbank risk should recede further in the short term. Euribor-OIS tightened 2 bps last week, while the TED spread tightened less than a basis point.
* High yield rates sank to a new YTD low on Friday. This is both a risk gauge as well as a reflection of the Fed's policy to pay zero for the foreseeable future.
*European Bank CDS widened last week with the majority of the widening coming from banks in Sweden, The United Kingdom, and Spain.
Financial Risk Monitor Summary
• Short-term(WoW): Negative / 2 of 12 improved / 3 out of 12 worsened / 7 of 12 unchanged
• Intermediate-term(WoW): Positive / 6 of 12 improved / 2 out of 12 worsened / 4 of 12 unchanged
• Long-term(WoW): Negative / 0 of 12 improved / 7 out of 12 worsened / 5 of 12 unchanged
1. US Financials CDS Monitor – Swaps widened for 14 of 27 major domestic financial company reference entities last week.
Widened the most WoW: MS, ACE, GS
Tightened the most WoW: RDN, MTG, JPM
Widened the most MoM: ACE, MBI, CB
Tightened the most MoM: RDN, GNW, SLM
2. European Financials CDS Monitor – Bank swaps were wider in Europe last week for 24 of the 40 reference entities. The median widening was 2.6%.
3. European Sovereign CDS – European Sovereign Swaps mostly widened over last week. American sovereign swaps tightened by 8.7% (-4 bps to 37) and Spanish sovereign swaps widened by 3.8% (14 bps to 374).
4. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates fell 5.0 bps last week, ending the week at 7.32 versus 7.37 the prior week.
5. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The Leveraged Loan Index fell 1 point last week, ending at 1634.
6. TED Spread Monitor – The TED spread fell 0.8 points last week, ending the week at 41.4 this week versus last week’s print of 42.2. However, it's worth noting that in the last two days the TED Spread has backed up notably. As of this morning, it widened to 41.6. We'll be keeping an eye on this. For reference, its European cousin, Libor-OIS showed steady improvement.
7. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – The JOC index fell 1.3 points, ending the week at -10.8 versus -9.5 the prior week.
8. Euribor-OIS spread – The Euribor-OIS spread (the difference between the euro interbank lending rate and overnight indexed swaps) measures bank counterparty risk in the Eurozone. The OIS is analogous to the effective Fed Funds rate in the United States. Banks lending at the OIS do not swap principal, so counterparty risk in the OIS is minimal. By contrast, the Euribor rate is the rate offered for unsecured interbank lending. Thus, the spread between the two isolates counterparty risk. The Euribor-OIS spread tightened by 2 bps to 69 bps last week.
9. ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility – The ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility measures banks’ overnight deposits with the ECB. Taken in conjunction with excess reserves, the ECB deposit facility measures excess liquidity in the Euro banking system. An increase in this metric shows that banks are borrowing from the ECB. In other words, the deposit facility measures one element of the ECB response to the crisis.
10. Markit MCDX Index Monitor – The Markit MCDX is a measure of municipal credit default swaps. We believe this index is a useful indicator of pressure in state and local governments. Markit publishes index values daily on six 5-year tenor baskets including 50 reference entities each. Each basket includes a diversified pool of revenue and GO bonds from a broad array of states. We track the 14-V1. Last week spreads widened , ending the week at 127 bps versus 123 bps the prior week.
11. Baltic Dry Index – The Baltic Dry Index measures international shipping rates of dry bulk cargo, mostly commodities used for industrial production. Higher demand for such goods, as manifested in higher shipping rates, indicates economic expansion. Last week the index rose 2 points, ending the week at 717 versus 715 the prior week.
12. 2-10 Spread – We track the 2-10 spread as an indicator of bank margin pressure. Last week the 2-10 spread widened to 173 bps, 2 bps wider than a week ago.
13. XLF Macro Quantitative Setup – Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 0.5% upside to TRADE resistance and 2.2% downside to TRADE support.
Margin Debt - December
We publish NYSE Margin Debt every month when it’s released. NYSE Margin debt hit its post-2007 peak in April of 2011 at $320.7 billion. The chart below shows the S&P 500 overlaid against NYSE margin debt going back to 1997. In this chart both the S&P 500 and margin debt have been inflation adjusted (back to 1990 dollar levels), and we’re showing margin debt levels in standard deviations relative to the mean covering the period 1. While this may sound complicated, the message is really quite simple. First, when margin debt gets to 1.5 standard deviations or greater, as it did last April, that has historically been a signal of extreme risk in the equity market - the last two times it did this the equity market lost half its value in the ensuing period. We flagged this for the first time back in May 2011. The second point is that margin debt trends tend to exhibit high degrees of autocorrelation. In other words, the last few months’ change in margin debt is the best predictor of the change we’ll see in the next few months. This is important because it means that margin debt, which retraced back to +0.53 standard deviations in November, still has a long way to go. We would need to see it approach -0.5 to -1.0 standard deviations before the trend runs its course. There’s plenty of room for short/intermediate term reversals within this broader secular move, as we saw in November and December's print of +0.55 and +0.53 standard deviations. Overall, however, this setup represents a headwind for the market. One limitation of this series is that it is reported on a lag. The chart shows data through December.