FrogMan (06:34am) Morning MTS team and all
Jim (06:35) frog man where ya been…
FrogMan (06:35) Hello Jim… Been away from sometime I know, family stuff and other projects to attend to + European style vacations ie 3 weeks OFF playing golf in Spain. Since I was in Spain thought I would report back on what is going there. This is what I saw, not statistical studies, what you feel when you walk around there.
Spain Record Tourist Season:
The Spanish experienced their best tourist season since 2007. All stars were lined up in their favor, namely instability in other European favored destinations: Turkey (riots + Syria), Egypt (political turmoil), Tunisia (instability and close to Libya). As a result most Northern European tourists were drawn by the stability of Spain and also low cost accommodation. In Catalonia, the tourist infrastructure caters mainly to low cost travellers with a lack of boutique/upscale hotel infrastructure outside of Barcelona. Lots of British tourism and the low cost flights were in full swing from what we could see. I imagine on the same basis that Portugal had a fairly good year as well. I am hearing that Greece had a fairly poor summer, with a friend of mine who went there mentioning historical tourist spots being empty.
Real estate market: roads to nowhere:
We drove around quite a bit and it is clear that the real estate crisis is still in full swing. Cities are littered with depressed real estate: empty offices and commercial surfaces to rent, including in the best parts of Barcelona; unfinished apartment buildings. Brand new roads lead to no man’s lands that were supposed to have office parks, industrial estates and other types of malls that never materialized. You have roads, street lighting, fire hydrants but these roads are usually blocked by concrete bollards. It is sometime surreal to see unfinished warehouse, homes, and supermarkets with trees growing inside them! Some even have some construction equipment rusting on their grounds. Hard to understand how even in the best of time all these office parks, commercial properties could have been occupied! In addition to that new stock of property you have to add older properties whose tenants went bust: you can see loads of commercial properties with windows blocked, graffiti and litter. So
On the residential real estate front:
Not much going on beside in the wealthiest resorts. Prices have adjusted down, and there is an oversupply of construction firms relative to demand so construction costs are down. As a result wealthy northern European are starting to look again at the market. Also Spain is offering residency permits (such permits are then valid Europe wide) to anyone buying a property worth over EUR 160k. When you drive around you can see billboards in Russian advertising this!
IMHO something the US should have done a long time ago!!
Economy: How is it doing?
Hard to say. You can see that many shops and business went bust given the number of empty/abandoned properties. You do not feel that the economy is vibrant outside the busy tourist areas. Still you certainly do not have the feeling that employment is as high as it is (reminder: 25% countrywide and close to 50% for under 25s). No people begging in the street. No civil unrest of any kind. On that point police presence is very high (we even had patrols on our private golf estate), and people will clearly tell you that tourists must feel safe (unlike in Greece, Spanish people have understood that you do not bite the hand that feeds you). Similarly you do not feel public spending cuts with cities very clean, and there are still big infrastructure projects going on (road/highway and fast train). I am not saying there is no pain around (I am very convinced there is) but it is not in plain sight for tourists to see. What is interesting is the cost of living. It is on a par to France.
At the same time I was hearing that salaries have adjusted down to attract foreign business (an entrepreneur recently mentioned on CNBC he could hire Spanish engineers for around USD 20-25k a year). We hired a golf pro for a few lessons and he was charging half of what a French or British pro (not mentioning a Swiss) would charge… clearly must be difficult to live on such salary. I would suspect there is also a nice black market that allows people to survive (press had stories a few month ago about clandestine bars, restaurant, massage and fitness business in major Spanish cities). You certainly see people carrying a lot of cash in their wallets. Might also be that people do not trust banks. On that subject there are plenty of them, so many of them I had never heard of before (and I thought I knew most of them having worked with many of them in the past)!
There is a distrust of the Spanish political class and you can feel it every time you have a long conversation with Spaniard. What is more interesting is the growing distrust of the Spanish royal family, following a few scandals including misuse of public funds! The King’s daughter and her husband are currently under investigation and to avoid public scrutiny she has moved with her family to Geneva. In doing so she created another scandal as she obtained a very cushy PR job (USD 500k package a year) for the NGO/foundation of a major Spanish bank! When we were there the story was making full pages of the paper and further fuelling hostility to the royal family. This does not bode well for the future as the royal family was usually seen as a source of stability for the country.
Catalonia and independence:
Since we were in Catalonia I asked a few locals if they really wanted their independence. I could not find any hardcore partisans of independence. Most people I spoke to pointed out that most local politicians are involved into various scandals and that the issue is being used to distract. All stressed the benefits from being part of the Eurozone and Europe, especially for the tourism industry and you could feel that no one is willing to take the risk. Many people in Catalonia come from other regions of Spain and they feel Spanish and would unlikely go the independence way.
Football: A religion, the saviour!
To end on these remarks, as I wrote these notes, Madrid has signed a transfer agreement for British football (I mean soccer player Gareth Bale for EUR 100mil. Bale will himself earn close to USD 500k a week for the next 6 years! Obviously this got a lot of press in Europe given the state of the country. Spanish sport journalists interviewed questioned the price of the deal but all pointed out that football is now the only source of joy for the Spanish people given the current crisis. Well, Spanish professional football has combined debts of $5.4 billion, while Real Madrid’s debts are approaching $800 million (and all clubs are receiving favorable tax treatments). Let’s hope for Spain that Spanish Football does not know the same fate as the Spanish real estate market!!
Based on observation and anecdotal evidence. Still think that some of the European money was wisely spent in upgraded infrastructure and this might play in favor of the country (unlike Italy and Greece where the money has vanished). But the size of the challenge is enormous
OF course: all is fine in the Eurozone now … At least until the German elections are over
Today started with 445k ESU and 2.8k SPU traded on Globex, SPU trading range was 1648.80 – 1636.00. Friday’s regular trading hours (RTH’s), SPU pit session trading range was 1625.70 – 1639.00 before settling at 1631.30, down 5.4 handles. Following the news that a military response to Syrian government will be delayed over the U.S. holiday, the global equity markets enjoyed a relief rally – catching many bears/shorts in the market by surprise, leading to a two-day rally. Last night in Asia, 9 out of 11 markets closed higher (Hang Seng +0.99%, Shanghai Comp. +1.18%, Nikkei +2.99%). In Europe 7 out of 12 markets were trading modestly higher (DAX -0.23%, FTSE -0.12%). The markets are — to say the least — headline driven, so we are staying nimble. We would prefer to trade off the reaction to the news versus guessing at what headline may be coming next …
Today’s pit session gapped 15 handles sharply higher to 1646.80 – 1647.00, trading a high of 1649.80 before deteriorating throughout the midday session to a low of 1631.80 at 1:28. For most of last week the chat room was reminded by william_blount WHO OWNS 1632.5???????? Today, it was pointed out by william_blount (08:44) SPILL NEEDS TO BE FIXED — 1640 roundy to 1642.5 SPOT w/ 1641.1 would be a DEEP a.m. low — be on yer toes.
At 9:00 the ISM manufacturing PMI checked in at 55.7 vs exp of 54.2, highest since April 2011 prior data was 55.4. However, the employment data dropped 1.1 points to 53.3 – leaving some to suggest that Friday’s NFP data likely to come in UNDER 200k highest. There was also an uptick in construction spending, checking in at 0.6 vs est of 0.3. The equities were treading water in the mid-1645 area following the releases. However, the bonds were becoming a concern – again. The Roger_S (09:46) 10 year yield hits 2.9% – TAPERING!! Followed by: Morgan Stanley: “We now expect global GDP to grow by 2.9%Y this year and 3.5%Y in 2014, down from our previous forecast of 3.1%Y and 3.9%.” Goldman raises Q3 GDP tracking forecast to 1.6% from 1.5% on better than expected July construction spending and Barclays revises U.S. third quarter GDP growth forecast up to 1.8% from 1.6% on strong construction figures – Reuters.
By 10:18 the equities were losing the bid. Roger_Volz (10:20) CNBC breaking news boehner supports the president william_blount (10:23) NEWS overwhelmed – stocks drop as Speaker Boehner and GOP Leader Eric Cantor endorse some kind of Syrian military resolution – the White House says Vice President Biden’s trip to Orlando Thursday has been postponed…
The equities began to step lower and by 10:47 printed a new low of 1636 before bouncing/holding at 1640 area. Once again a sideways to stepping lower trade followed as the SPU traded between in the 1635.50 – 1631.80 area from 11:45 to 1:50. At 1:51 a new low of 1631.00 traded, closing the morning gap before the SPU retested the midday high of 1640 area going into the release of the closing imbalance.
Note from the eurodollar pit: jmatthew (14:24) As of today’s settlement the market has priced in a 50 basis point rise in Fed Funds rate by January 2015.
The early look on the closing imbalance showed (14:38) MIM 67% sells showing $250mil to sell. The SPU was trading 1637 area when the closing imbalance showed a small $170 mil to the sell side. The cash close traded 1637.20 and the SPU settled at 1639.10, up 7.8 handles on the day.
Carley_Garner (09:15) we are selling puts in the Euro this morning. post labor day trade tends to see strength in the currency. we like the october 128 puts for about 37 ticks. http://bit.ly/13adonR
Aside from Syria, the U.S. government is scheduled to come back from vacation on Sept. 9 for both House and Senate. That is 9 legislative days before the end of the fiscal year and before the current spending authority expires. Without action (including a month-long emergency extension) shutdown on Oct. 1.
Sam_E yes i have a note on my screen that says in big bold letters. THE PIT IS REAL. EVERYTHING ELSE IS BS. there is a real difference between pit highs and lows and the ones on your chart. know the difference.
The pit rules the roost. The pit plays in the real world. globex is the dream world.
We agree with Sam!