MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: PORTUGAL, PORTUGAL, PORTUGAL

Takeaway: Portugal is posting a massive negative divergence vs the rest of the world. Sovereign CDS are going parabolic. Greece/Cypress II?

Key Takeaways:

Portuguese sovereign swaps rose 83 bps last week to 556 bps, and are up 185 bps in the last month (+50%). Since 5/22, Portguese swaps have doubled off their lows of 274 bps. By comparison, the rest of Europe is up 7-12% MoM. It's worth asking whether Portugal is going to soon become a new hotbed of focus. 

 

Meanwhile, the situation in the U.S. continues to improve following Bernanke's talk-down on tapering mid-last week. High yield rates fell 27.0 bps last week, ending the week at 6.31% versus 6.58% the prior week. Currently long-term rates are heading toward what we consider higher lows after recently putting in a higher high.

 

Financial Risk Monitor Summary

 • Short-term(WoW): Positive / 7 of 13 improved / 1 out of 13 worsened / 5 of 13 unchanged

 • Intermediate-term(WoW): Negative / 2 of 13 improved / 5 out of 13 worsened / 6 of 13 unchanged

 • Long-term(WoW): Positive / 4 of 13 improved / 0 out of 13 worsened / 9 of 13 unchanged

 

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1. American Financial CDS -  Swaps tightened for 27 out of 27 domestic financial institutions. Mortgage insurers posted sharp improvements WoW, with MTG and RDN dropping 43 and 49 bps, respectively. We've been using MI swaps as a proxy of sorts around sentiment of the rate of recovery in the housing market. After stalling out for a month or so, it's a worthwhile takeaway to see swaps again moving (aggressively) in the right direction.

 

Tightened the most WoW: ACE, XL, GNW

Tightened the least WoW: COF, AGO, WFC

Tightened the most WoW: MET, XL, AIG

Widened the most MoM: GS, MBI, AGO

 

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2. European Financial CDS - Most of Europe's banking system was uneventful last week. Spanish, Portguese and some Italian banks posted noteworthy increases, however.

 

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3. Asian Financial CDS - After seeing risk profiles steadily deteriorate for weeks, Chinese and Indian financials saw their high water mark swap quotes recede further last week. Chinese banks were down an average of 16 bps WoW, while Indian swaps came in 31 bps, on average  

 

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4. Sovereign CDS – Sovereign swaps were almost universally tighter last week, with one major exception. Portuguese swaps widened 83 bps WoW to 556. In the past month, Portuguese swaps have widened out 185 bps. This is a significant negative divergence from the rest of Europe. Is it too soon to begin asking whether Portugal is beginning to fulfill its destiny as Greece II? The data is starting to suggest that.

 

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5. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates fell 27.0 bps last week, ending the week at 6.31% versus 6.58% the prior week.

 

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6. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The Leveraged Loan Index rose 11.0 points last week, ending at 1795.83.

 

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7. TED Spread Monitor – The TED spread rose 0.3 basis points last week, ending the week at 23.46 bps this week versus last week’s print of 23.19 bps.

 

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8. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – The JOC index rose 2.2 points, ending the week at -0.95 versus -3.1 the prior week.

 

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9. Euribor-OIS Spread – The Euribor-OIS spread tightened by 1 bps to 12 bps. 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. 

 

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10. ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility – Deposits fell by 17 billion Euros last week. 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.  

 

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11. Markit MCDX Index Monitor – Last week spreads tightened 1 bp, ending the week at 95.02 bps versus 96.04 bps the prior week. 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 16-V1. 

 

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12. Chinese Steel – Steel prices in China rose 0.1% last week, or 3 yuan/ton, to 3409 yuan/ton. We use Chinese steel rebar prices to gauge Chinese construction activity, and, by extension, the health of the Chinese economy.

 

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13. 2-10 Spread – Last week the 2-10 spread widened to 227 bps, 15 bps wider than a week ago. We track the 2-10 spread as an indicator of bank margin pressure.

 

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14. XLF Macro Quantitative Setup – Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 1.3% upside to TRADE resistance and 2.3% downside to TRADE support.

 

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Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT

 

 


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