Sunday, May 28, 2023

Someone At FT Alphaville Is Working Weekends, And With Good Reason: Yikes!

 Shades of Paul Murphy.

From Robin Wigglesworth, Editor, FT Alphaville:

Après debt ceiling deal, le T-bill déluge
Gird yourselves

So we have a debt ceiling deal. It still needs to actually be passed by Congress and the Senate, and only punts this weapons-grade idiocy into late 2024, but as Matt Yglesias writes, it seems a reasonable deal overall. 

    However, as we wrote last week, even a debt ceiling deal doesn’t mean that we will avoid negative financial and economic consequences from the whole tedious saga.

Since it hit the debt ceiling the US government has been drawing down money held in the Treasury General Account with the Fed. As a result its balance there has dropped from about $700bn at the end of 2022 to under $50bn now. Quickly rebuilding that buffer will boost Treasury bill issuance to $730bn over the next three months, and about $1.25tn over the rest of the year, according to Morgan Stanley....

....MUCH MORE (hyperlinks omitted, available at original)

Although September 13, 2007 was a Thursday rather than a Sunday, the following post, originally bylined with the overly modest, overly generic "FT Alphaville" later revealed to be FTAV's founder and editor Paul Murphy, although it wasn't the weekend, the post was timestamped at 38 minutes to midnight:

September 13, 2007, 23:22 British Summer Time!

From FT Alphaville:
All Chauffeur Alert! Bank of England Court convenes

It’s not the sort of invitation you’d turn down: 9.30 pm, Threadneedle Street, don’t be late. FT Alphaville understands that the governor, Mervyn King, his two deputies and the 16 non-executive members of the Bank of England’s Court of Directors convened on Thursday evening.

Needless to say, this will have been quite a confab, attendees ranging from Arun Sarin of Vodafone to Sir Callum McCarthy of the FSA, along with the in-house Bank team and the rest of the gang.

Top of the agenda, of course, was Northern Rock - known by another name to regular readers of Markets Live. News that the mortgage bank has had to seek emergency funding from its lender of last resort was broken by the BBC’s Robert Peston earlier in the evening.

But an All Chauffeur Alert? At 9.30? On a Thursday evening? Surely this must point to something more toxic - or at least something big and bad that we have yet to learn about. Rock is not a shock. The mortgage bank has been looking dangerously brittle for weeks, and when a share price falls by 3/4/5 per cent each and every day, people do tend to talk… We are assured, however, that Rock is as far as it goes. For now.

The convening of the Council was a technical matter, required to sanction the launch of what is effectively a lifeboat.

Whether the threat of a run on Rock, and perhaps other overly ambitious mortgage lenders with synthetic balance sheets, will be treated as something technical remains to be seen.....

—Via our anniversary post, September 13, 2010
Three Years ago Today: "Bank of England to bail out Northern Rock"
The news in August 2007 had been bad, with Goldman CFO Viniar babbling about 25-standard deviaton events.
The fall of Northern Rock was enough to tell anyone paying attention that something very bad was coming. The market went on to set it's all-time high on October 9, seemignly oblivious to what was happening in the credit markets.

Although the BBC's Robert Peston got the scoop, FT Alphaville bulldogged the story....

And for those unfamiliar with the technique, a repost from October 2014:
The Week Ahead--"How to Gird Up Your Loins: An Illustrated Guide"
Although we don't plan a Dress & Grooming column, this may come in handy should the markets descend into madness.

From The Art of Manliness:

If you’ve read the Bible, then you’ve probably come across the phrase “gird up your loins.” I’ve always thought it was a funny turn of phrase. Loins….heh.

Back in the days of the ancient Near East, both men and women wore flowing tunics. Around the tunic, they’d wear a belt or girdle. While tunics were comfortable and breezy, the hem of the tunic would often get in the way when a man was fighting or performing hard labor. So when ancient Hebrew men had to battle the Philistines, the men would lift the hem of their tunic up and tuck it into their girdle or tie it in a knot to keep it off the ground. The effect basically created a pair of shorts that provided more freedom of movement....MORE
Gird Up Your Loins 2

Also at the Art of Manliness:
How to Recover From a Bad First Impression