Trichet and the ECB may have calmed the waters on CDS sovereign debt spreads, but the same cannot be said for the corporate bond market or bank-to-bank lending.
Please consider ‘Lack of Trust’ Pummels Bank Lending in Europe.
Money markets are showing rising levels of mistrust between Europe’s banks on concern an almost $1 trillion bailout package won’t prevent a sovereign debt default that might trigger a breakup of the euro.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Barclays Plc led financial firms punished by rising borrowing costs, British Bankers’ Association data show. The cost to hedge against losses on European bank bonds is 62 percent higher than a month ago. Investment-grade corporate debt sales in the region plummeted 88 percent last week to $1.2 billion from the previous period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The rate banks say they charge each other for three-month loans in dollars rose to a nine-month high, even after a government-led rescue designed to prevent Greece from defaulting, and a new financial crisis. The euro fell to its weakest against the dollar since 2006.
Bank lending “conveys a lack of trust in the system,” said Robert Baur, chief global economist at Des Moines, Iowa- based Principal Global Investors, which manages $222 billion. “Banks are a little reluctant to lend overnight as they don’t know the full extent of what is on the bank balance sheets.”
The extra yield investors demand to own emerging-market bonds instead of Treasuries rose 15 basis points on May 14 to 295 basis points, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Emerging Market Bond index. Spreads rose as high as 328 a week earlier.
Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann said Greece may not be able to repay its debt in full, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said he’s concerned the euro area may break up. Sony Corp., the world’s second- largest maker of consumer electronics, said it may suffer a “significant impact” if Europe’s deficit spreads, while Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the foundations for a worldwide recovery aren’t “solid” as the sovereign-debt crisis deepens.
Concerns have spilled into the market for commercial paper, debt used by companies and banks for their short-term operating needs. Rates on 90-day paper are more than double the upper band of the federal funds rate, about twice the average in the five years before credit markets seized up in mid-2007.
Rates on commercial paper for 90 days are 25 basis points above the upper band of the Fed’s zero to 25-basis point target rate for overnight loans among banks. While far below the 245 basis point gap reached in October 2008, the spread is more than double the 10-basis-point average in the five years before credit markets seized up in the middle of 2007. As recently as February, financial CP rates were below the federal funds rate.
Except for banks with little exposure to European sovereign risk, lenders “have found liquidity to be scarce, securing funding only one month and shorter and mostly concentrated inside one week,” Abate from Barclays wrote in the report.
For data junkies, there are lots more details in the report. Certainly, the problems are not as severe as in 2008 but spreads are widening and corporate bond sales have collapsed. Those are not endemic of a recovery.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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