Wednesday, 28 March 2012

No risk, no worries, no gym, no cycling . . .

My first day off from the gym or cycling in a couple of weeks. I took some time out to relax and rid my self of lingering muscle pain before the trip to Italy. I even found time to head up to a store and buy a better camera. I'll be the first to admit that as a photographer I really suck, but the camera on the iPhone 3GS is not going to help me get better so time to spend. 

Jessie and I take in another 20 degree winter Geneva day

Things are getting interesting fast. First up the end of Q1 always sees people take a second look at portfolios and transactions. Today I was shown two energy deals that may or may not happen. The reason these deals are blocked is because of trade financing. It's not a very sexy subject to discuss, but in a world of risk adverse under-capitalized banks it's becoming a major blocking factor in world commodities trading. You see back at the height of the GFC banks were finding that physical commodity transactions were becoming more risky as many small or amateurish players (such as hedge funds) had started to get involved in the area. Their ability to complete transactions smoothly was hampered by lack of institutional depth (i.e. logistics, refining or smelting connections). They had offered these guys leverage as though they were Glencore or Vitol. By 2011 banks virtually withdrew from the small and medium sized letter of credit / trade financing transactions leaving many small producers unable to find markets for their products. The transactions I looked at today would have been done in 3 - 5 days back in 2006, but today credit lines remain congested. 

The Bernanke bounce that we had in the last couple of days is a response to central bankers continuing to see credit lines being pushed out into the wider economy. Bernanke, King etc, are printing money to force cash into the system . . .  but it's not getting through. Much like Japan in the decades after the bursting of the great property bubble companies (think Apple etc.), banks and institutions are content to sit on cash as they don't believe that the risk reward scenario justifies them putting it to work. The small producers see Brent at 125bbl, but they can't achieve that, but they won't surrender to the inevitable and consolidate or sell out. Something's going to give .... but when?

A new camera

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