Tag Archives: Defaults

Nothing Can Get Us Out Of This High Debt, High Intervention, Low Default, Low Productivity Loop, by Tyler Durden

This pithy little article hits the nail on the head. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

On Tuesday morning, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid published his 23rd annual default study, a document he first put out in the 1990s which as he says, “makes me feel very old” and adds that the story of this report over the past decade or so has been the increasing divergence between economic growth and defaults. And while defaults have trended down alongside growth, the last 12 months have been a supersized version of this as defaults have peaked at a lower level than during the previous three big default cycles even as growth across many countries was at the lowest levels for several decades or centuries.

According to Reid, the reason for this is simple: it is because debt has become so large over this period, and of such extreme systemic importance, that when each cycle turns there is an ever larger policy move to ensure that many of the most heavily indebted entities don’t default and risk a severe contagion event for the global economy.

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Debt Bomb Ready to Explode, by Jim Rickards

China has a lot of bad debt it doesn’t know what to do with. From Jim Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

The great Chinese growth slowdown has been proceeding in stages for the past two years. The reason is simple. Much of China’s “growth” (about 25% of the total) has consisted of wasted infrastructure investment in ghost cities and white elephant transportation infrastructure.

That investment was financed with debt that now cannot be repaid. This was fine for creating short-term jobs and providing business to cement, glass and steel vendors, but it was not a sustainable model since the infrastructure either was not used at all or did not generate sufficient revenue.

China’s future success depends on high-value-added technology and increased consumption. But shifting to intellectual property and the consumer means slowing down on infrastructure, which will slow the economy.

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Why the Coming Wave of Defaults Will Be Devastating, by Charles Hugh Smith

The global economy is more leveraged than at any time in history, which means this next debt bust is going to be one for the ages. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Without the stimulus of ever-rising credit, the global economy craters in a self-reinforcing cycle of defaults, deleveraging and collapsing debt-based consumption.

In an economy based on borrowing, i.e. credit a.k.a. debt, loan defaults and deleveraging (reducing leverage and debt loads) matter. Consider this chart of total credit in the U.S. Note that the relatively tiny decline in total credit in 2008 caused by subprime mortgage defaults (a.k.a. deleveraging) very nearly collapsed not just the U.S. financial system but the entire global financial system.

Every credit boom is followed by a credit bust, as uncreditworthy borrowers and highly leveraged speculators inevitably default. Homeowners with 3% down payment mortgages default when one wage earner loses their job, companies that are sliding into bankruptcy default on their bonds, and so on. This is the normal healthy credit cycle.

Bad debt is like dead wood piling up in the forest. Eventually it starts choking off new growth, and Nature’s solution is a conflagration–a raging forest fire that turns all the dead wood into ash. The fire of defaults and deleveraging is the only way to open up new areas for future growth.

Unfortunately, central banks have attempted to outlaw the healthy credit cycle.In effect, central banks have piled up dead wood (debt that will never be paid back) to the tops of the trees, and this is one fundamental reason why global growth is stagnant.

The central banks put out the default/deleveraging forest fire in 2008 with a tsunami of cheap new credit. Central banks created trillions of dollars, euros, yen and yuan and flooded the major economies with this cheap credit.

They also lowered yields on savings to zero so banks could pocket profits rather than pay depositors interest. This enabled the banks to rebuild their cash and balance sheets– at the expense of everyone with cash, of course.

Having unleashed tens of trillions of dollars in new credit since 2008, the central banks have simply increased the likelihood and scale of the coming default conflagration. Now the amount of deadwood that’s piled up is many times greater than it was in 2008.

Very few observers explore what happens after defaults start cascading through the system. Defaults mean loans and bonds won’t be paid back. The owners of the bonds and debt (mortgages, auto loans, etc.) will have to absorb massive losses.
Recall that banks rarely own the debt they originate: mortgages and auto loans are bundled and sold to investors such as pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, etc. So banks aren’t the only institutions at risk: every institutional owner of debt-based assets is at risk.

Two things happen in a default/deleveraging conflagration. One is that lenders get very wary of lending more money to anyone or any entity other than those with the lowest-risk profiles. That constricts lending to the bottom 95% who are already over-indebted.

To continue reading: Why the Coming Wave of Defaults Will Be Devastating

The Coming Default Wave Is Shaping Up to Be Among Most Painful, by Claire Boston and Carol Ko

From Claire Boston and Carol Ko at bloomberg.com:

Losses on defaults are growing higher as leverage rises

Bond prices may not reflect the trouble that’s brewing

When the next corporate default wave comes, it could hurt investors more than they expect.

Losses on bonds from defaulted companies are likely to be higher than in previous cycles, because U.S. issuers have more debt relative to their assets, according to Bank of America Corp. strategists. Those high levels of borrowings mean that if a company liquidates, the proceeds have to cover more liabilities.

“We’ve had more corporate debt than ever, and more leverage than ever, which increases the potential for greater pain,” said Edwin Tai, a senior portfolio manager for distressed investments at Newfleet Asset Management.

Loss rates have already been rising. The potential for them to climb further may mean that in general junk bonds are not compensating investors enough for the risk they are taking, said Michael Contopoulos, high yield credit strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The average yield on a U.S. junk bond is now around 8.45 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes, about the mean of the last 10 years.

In bad times, corporate bond investors on average lose about 70 cents on the dollar when a borrower goes bust. In this cycle, that figure could be closer to the mid-80s, Bank of America strategists said. Those losses would be the worst in decades, according to UBS Group AG’s analysis of data from Moody’s Investors Service.

At least part of the pain that investors will experience in this downturn was deferred from the last credit crunch, which for corporate issuers was relatively short-lived. During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve was quick to cut rates, and investors began diving back into junk bonds quickly, said Alan Holtz, a managing director in the turnaround and restructuring practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm that focuses on companies in distress. Many companies were able to refinance debt instead of defaulting.

“A lot of the troubled companies that had become overleveraged were able to find more temporary solutions in the last credit cycle,” Holtz said. “Those Band-Aids are no longer available now, and a lot of companies are going to have to face distress,” he said.

To continue reading: The Coming Default Wave Is Shaping Up to Be Among Most Painful

“On The Cusp Of A Staggering Default Wave”: Energy Intelligence Issues Apocalyptic Warning For The Energy Sector, by Paul Morelli

From Paul Morelli, at Energy Intelligence, via zerohedge.com (introductory paragraph by Tyler Durden):

The Energy Intelligence news and analysis creator and aggregator is not one to haphazradly throw around hyperbolic claims and forecasts. So when it gets downright apocalyptic, as it did this week in a report titled “Is Debt Bomb About to Blow Up US Shale?”, people listen… and if they are still long energy junk bonds, they panic.

The summary:

“The US E&P sector could be on the cusp of massive defaults and bankruptcies so staggering they pose a serious threat to the US economy. Without higher oil and gas prices — which few experts foresee in the near future — an over-leveraged, under-hedged US E&P industry faces a truly grim 2016. How bad could things get?”

The full report by Paul Merolli, a senior editor and correspondent at Energy Intelligence:

Debt Bomb Ticking for US Shale

The US E&P sector could be on the cusp of massive defaults and bankruptcies so staggering they pose a serious threat to the US economy. Without higher oil and gas prices — which few experts foresee in the near future — an over-leveraged, under-hedged US E&P industry faces a truly grim 2016. How bad could things get and when? It increasingly looks like a number of the weakest companies will run out of financial stamina in the first half of next year, and with every dollar of income going to service debt at many heavily leveraged independents, there are waves of others that also face serious trouble if the lower-for-longer oil price scenario extends further.

“I could see a wave of defaults and bankruptcies on the scale of the telecoms, which triggered the 2001 recession,” Timothy Smith, president of consultancy Petro Lucrum, told a Platts energy conference in Houston last week. Much has been made about the resiliency of US oil production in the face of low prices, but the truth is that many producers are maximizing their output — even unprofitable volumes — because they need the cash flow to service their debt (related). “As an industry, we’re at the point where every dollar of free cash flow now goes to paying back debt,” Angle Capital’s Steve Ilkay told the same conference. Ilkay, who advises North American producers on asset management, said during the boom years of 2012-14 about 55% of the sector’s free cash flow, which is calculated by subtracting capital expenditures from operating cash flow, was allocated toward debt repayment.

With West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stuck below $50 per barrel since August — and closer to $40 recently — the industry has responded with deeper cuts to capex and a greater focus on efficiency (EIF Nov.4’15). However, experts say this won’t be enough to avoid a bloody reckoning with persistent low oil and gas prices, as the sector grapples with some $200 billion-plus in high-yield debt, which it absorbed to finance the shale oil boom. Credit quality has been steadily deteriorating since June 2014, when WTI peaked at $108/bbl. Standard and Poor’s says there have been 19 defaults so far in 2015 across the US oil and gas industry, while another 15 companies have filed for bankruptcy. Besides those that have missed interest or principal payments, the default category also includes companies that have entered into “distressed exchanges” with their creditors, including Halcon, SandRidge, Midstates, Goodrich, Warren, Exco, Venoco and Energy XXI (EIF Jul.8’15).

To continue reading: “On The Cusp Of A Staggering Default Wave

Emerging-Market Credit Downgrades Soar to Overtake 2014 Tally, by Ye Xie

As credit goes, so goes the economy? From Ye Xie at bloomberg.com:

S&P: 224 rating cuts so far this year, more than 206 in 2014

28% of companies have negative outlook or are on watch list

Investors be warned. There have been more credit-rating downgrades in developing nations in the first nine months of this year than in the whole of 2014 and the outlook keeps getting gloomier, according to Standard & Poor’s.

An economic slowdown and lower commodity prices are to blame, said Diane Vazza, head of S&P’s Global Fixed Income Research Group, in a report Wednesday. S&P cut the ratings for 88 bonds sold by developing countries and companies in the third quarter, including Brazil, Zambia and Ecuador, while raising the grades for 22 securities. That brings the total number of downgrades to 224 this year, compared with the 206 cuts in 2014.

The ratings cuts will continue to overwhelm emerging markets in the coming months. As of Sept. 30, about 28 percent of companies in developing nations have a negative outlook or are on the watch list for potential downgrades, compared with 24 percent in the second quarter, the report showed.

S&P is not alone in sounding the alarm. UBS Group AG’s Bhanu Baweja, the strategist who correctly called this year’s rout in developing nations, is also concerned. The one-month long rebound in emerging-market currencies and stocks is poised to reverse, he said.

Brazil’s Downgrade

Latin America dominated the downgrades in the quarter after S&P stripped Brazil’s investment-grade rating last month.

The number of defaults in emerging markets this year increased to 17, the highest since 2012, after five more companies failed to make goods on debt payments in the third quarter, including Indonesian mining company PT Berau Coal Energy Tbk and Brazilian sugar producer Tonon Bioenergia S.A.

Emerging-market stocks fell to a two-week low and currencies weakened on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy continues to expand at a “moderate” pace, bolstering speculation that policy makers may increase benchmark borrowing costs this year.