Friday, December 24, 2010

5 Unlikely and unexpected events that you should consider in 2011

I saw a few lists making the rounds of low-probability events that are generally unexpected as predictions of potential 2011 surprises. Here is my list of potential 2011 surprises:
  1. Increasing reserve requirements in China, in conjunction with excess lending in the last year and lower balances amongst household depositors as a result of negative real rates and increasing inflation expectations result in a sharp rise in interest rates as demand for credit increases and cheap deposits are scarce. Credit becomes difficult to obtain, causing the expansion to slow significantly.
  2. Credit crisis in Brazil. Attempts at controlling inflation by Dima Rousseff's new government lead to tightening and in the process expose massive overallocation of credit by the banking sector. Increasing rates make certain parties unable to refinance without sacrificing profitability or at all and a trigger wave of defaults as a result, particularly in consumer credit. Uncertainty spreads to other LatAm countries leading to significant losses in dollar and local currency-denominated debt.
  3. Q4 2010 Retail sales disappoint as increasing volumes are more than offset by margin compression as a result of online competition leading to very low net-income. Poor retail earnings releases kill sentiment and start a snowball that leads to a 20% sell-off in the S&P. Aggregate S&P earnings still increase, but PE compression stays and the S&P ends 2011 at 1150. 
  4. Lackluster global growth lead to Aussie property market weakness. EU banks dump Aussie MBS at steep losses to limit exposure, leading to continued weakness in the European banking sector and a new wave of Gov guarantees, further stressing sovereigns.
  5. An EU member state defaults after receiving aid from the EFSF. Resulting haircut severly impairs EFSF capital base. Member states, under obligation to make EFSF bondholders whole, suffer rating downgrades as a result of the liability (France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium) excluding Germany. The EFSF becomes uneconomical and is abandoned as the German public protests about the risk risking becoming a guarantor to an increasing number of EU member states.
Please understand this is all wild, wild speculation of technically possible yet very unlikely events. In particular #4 and #5. These things might happen, but they could take multiple years to play out.


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