May 19, 2010

Are German naked short and CDS bans really that awful?

In response to the German bans on some naked short-selling and naked credit default swap (CDS) purchases Zero hedge declares:
If this pans out as expected, look for Bunds to collapse tomorrow, and wipe out a few billion from Pimco's NAV. We warned in February that the flight to safety in Bunds was both shortsighted, and too good to last.
I disagree.  Banning naked short selling and unmatched CDS purchases are fairly mundane regulatory changes.  Shorting is still allowed as long as the bonds or shares can be borrowed and default swaps are still available but only for hedging purposes.  Coming so soon after the bailout announcement, this is being linked to the "wolf pack" behavior mentioned by officials last week but these policies are in line with reform recommendations from before the Greek crisis made it to the front burner.

This may be the sort of news that can set off a panic given the view by many that the Europeans are flailing about but I expect the real money will take note of the limited scope and difficult enforcement of today's bans.  While I agree that Europe has not yet come to terms with Greece as a solvency problem rather than a liquidity problem, the current approach is still printing Euros to pay bond holders, so the downward pressure should stay focused firmly on the Euro.

With the lopsided view and large short positions in the Euro currently, I am not even sure the one way trip down there can continue through tomorrow.

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