While we understand that following the biggest market rout in years, it was all up to the central bankers to do everything in their power to restore confidence in the market’s upward trajectory in a time when there are only 2 POMOs left under the Fed’s soon ending QE3 program, which explains not only last week’s 2 QE4 hints by FOMC presidents but also yesterday’s ECB “leak” via Reuters that the central bank is contemplating launching corporate bond buying as soon as December. A leak which sent the market soaring to its best day of 2014. And while we give the European central bankers an A for effort, we can’t help but wonder if someone did a major mathematical error when calculating the “bazooka impact” of yesterday’s leak.
The reason: the same one we have cautioned about ever since 2012; the same why as we also explained in August the ECB’s ABS QE will be grossly sufficient: Europe simply does not have enough eligible, unencumbered collateral in the private sector which can be monetized by the central bank (the same issue that the Fed itself was forced to taper QE once its holdings of 10 Year equivalents hit 35% as we showed last year and the TBAC started warning about gross bond market illiquidity). This goes back to a different issue, namely that Europe historically has funded itself on a secured basis, where the loans are kept on bank balance sheets (and serve as deposit collateral) unlike the US, where the primary source of corporate debt is through unsecured borrowing directly from lenders. We have shown all this before:
Our summary from March 2012 was as follows:
What is immediately obvious here, is that unlike in the US, where these are less than 30% for corporates, in Europe, bank loans account for nearly a whopping 90% of total corporate funding! These are secured, LTV loans, made by banks, and not syndicated, which means they are kept on the banks’ balance sheets. As a result the bulk of Europe’s assets held by levered entities, are already encumbered through existing security arrangement in the debt market (recall that bond debt is for the most part unsecured, and is thus a junior piece to secured bank loans). It also explains why European banks have to scramble to find new assets which they can “pledge” to the ECB in exchange for some additional cash to plug this liquidity shortfall hole, or that.