July 29th, 2013
If there was any doubt that the Fed would proceed with tapering its monthly deficit monetization (i.e., $85 billion in POMO/S&P500 flow injection) over the next few months, those were just laid to rest courtesy of the Treasury's quarterly refunding statement which was filed moments ago, and specifically its Marketable Borrowing Estimates.
Last week’s House debate on the Defense Appropriations bill for 2014 produced a bit more drama than usual. Had Amash’s amendment passed, it would have been a significant symbolic victory over the administration’s massive violations of our Fourth Amendment protections. But we should be careful about believing that even if it had somehow miraculously survived the Senate vote and the President’s veto, it would have resulted in any significant change in how the Intelligence Community would behave toward Americans. The US government has built the largest and most sophisticated spying apparatus in the history of the world. Rep. Amash’s amendment was an important move to at least bring attention to what the US intelligence community has become: an incredibly powerful conglomeration of secret government agencies that seem to view Americans as the real threat.
With all eyes fixed on GDP and unemployment data this week (and all their revised and propagandized unreality) for more hints at if (not when) the Fed will Taper; the dismal reality that few seem willing to admit is that it is when (not if) and that the announcement of a "Taper" has nothing to do with the economy. There are three key factors driving this decision: Bernanke's bubble-blowing and bond-market-breaking legacy, the political 'clean slate' his successor needs, and, most importantly, the fear that QE will be discovered for what it is - monetization. As BoJ's Kuroda admitted last night "if QE is seen as financing debt, this could lead to rise in yields." With deficits falling, the Fed's real actions will be exposed (unless QE is tapered) and as Kyle Bass has explained before, it was out of the hands of the BOJ (or The Fed) and entirely up to market psychology.
With the case for the next Fed chairman having devolved to the most ridiculous of decision trees, such as Nancy Pelosi's "it would be great to have a woman", because apparently gender diversity trumps everything in the eyes of the California democrat, the choice of Bernanke's successor is now more nebulous than ever. It has certainly not been aided by the periodic floating of the Larry Summers trial balloon, especially as originating from the Fed's WSJ mouthpiece who one week presents Summers as the favorite and the next skewers his chances. However, one person for whom the Summers vote is essentially a done deal with 90% odds, is Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann. Here is his logic.
“He who goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing.”
The quote comes from Ben Franklin. But it was recalled to us neither by America’s president nor Britain’s prime minister. Instead, the Telegraph in London reported it from the mouth of Cheng Siwei, a “top member of the Communist hierarchy.” What goes around comes around. The Anglo-Saxons have forgotten what makes a successful economy. The Chinese have remembered.
Much has been made this weekend of the WSJ story that Janet Yellen (and her dovish counterparts) have been so much more accurate as forecasters than the hawks on the FOMC in recent years. This along with pitting her against the asinine Larry Summers appears to create a shoe-in for 'damn-it-Janet' to take the helm as the new Maestro (or mistress?). But, as CNBC's Rick Santelli points out, it is ludicrous to proclaim a 'winner' based on inflation predictions, as transmission channels of the endless money-printing are jammed (and besides the models that predicted economic growth and new hiring from this 'spiking the punchbowl' have failed dismally). Simply put, Santelli analogizes, "the Cubs haven't won the World Series in a century, but if I poll all of the players/managers and see which predicted we wouldn't win the World Series; and whoever guessed that right, we will make them the manager, does that guarantee me that next year we're going to win the World Series?" The bottom-line, unless GDP shows sustainable growth, the rest is just a "silly discussion."
A month ago we noted the out-squidding of Goldman Sachs as ex-JPMorganite Jacob Frenkel looked set to replace Fischer as the head of the Bank of Israel. Four weeks later and it seems the chairman of the all-important Group-of-30 has had enough, and when it comes to "squidding" into central banks, Goldman truly has no comparable.
- FRENKEL SAYS HE WITHDRAWS CANDIDACY FOR BANK OF ISRAEL CHIEF
- FRENKEL SAYS HE SUFFERED `AVALANCHE' OF ABUSE
Poor thing. And this is after his actual 'acceptance' was already agreed.
Silver, like gold, is largely subject to the same underlying supply/demand dynamics (whether legal or not) where on the margin it trades merely as a precious metal, and those misguided pundits out there who claim that the drop in gold Comex holdings is purely a function of ETF reallocation, are surprisingly mum when it comes to explaining Comex silver which has not followed the move of gold in physical holdings and is in fact near all time holding highs despite an even more aggressive plunge in its price. Alternatively if indeed gold's inventory plunge was driven by the permissive nature of Singapore vaults as willing recipients for all the gold that has departed the assorted Comex system vaults, and thus are merely a physical receptacle to absorb the pent up Chinese "golden" demand, it would explain why this has not happened to silver. At least not yet. That may change very soon because as Bloomberg reports, silver is the new gold when it comes to vaulting in Singapore, and thus China's precious metal warehousing ambitions.
Here’s a question– if you’re in the Land of the Free, do you think those green pieces of paper in your wallet are dollars? They’re not. Those green pieces of paper are Federal Reserve notes. “Notes” in this case meaning liabilities to the central bank of the United States. That makes you, me, and anyone else holding those green pieces of paper essentially creditors of the Federal Reserve, whether we signed up for it or not. And at this point, thanks to a long-standing policy of wanton money printing, the Fed has more liabilities than ever before in its history. By an enormous margin. Given that the Fed’s assets are so closely tied to the finances of the US government, the outlook should concern independent, thinking people. The US, Japan, and Europe are already too indebted to bail out their central banks. An insolvent government cannot bail out an insolvent central bank.
Indian philanthropist and cardiac surgeon, Devi Prasad Shetty is obsessed with making heart surgery affordable for millions of Indians. As Bloomberg notes, Shetty is not a public health official motivated by charity. He’s a heart surgeon turned businessman who has started a chain of 21 medical centers around India. By trimming costs, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. Of course, this will come as no surprise after we showed the incredible spread of the price of an appendectomy. “It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” notes the World Heart Federation, "it’s possible to deliver very high quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost." But, for Americans of course, when you have government footing the cost (and deficit spending), who cares?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is building a $4.5 billion headquarters at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a former mental asylum. It’s the largest construction project in DC since the Pentagon was completed in 1943 and won’t be completed until 2026 - a decade behind schedule and $1 billion over budget (with no guarantee that the next stage of the project will be fully funded). St. Elizabath's was the oldest federally funded psychiatric hospital in the country and irony of ironies for the endless sprawl of agencies that has become the DHS, the hospital's most infamous resident was John Hinckley, Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Today, DHS has 240,000 employees and a yearly budget of $60 billion and St. Elizabeths' first new tenants - the Coast Guard - will move in this August. But, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, the future of the rest of the project remains uncertain and "[It's] increasingly apparent that DHS’s scheme to build its headquarters on the grounds of a former mental hospital is inherently flawed," he writes. "Some would say it’s crazy."
U.S. JUDGE SAYS EX-AIG CEO GREENBERG SHOULD BE PERMITTED TO DEPOSE FED CHAIRMAN BERNANKE OVER INSURER'S BAILOUT -- COURT RULING; U.S. COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS JUDGE THOMAS WHEELER SAYS THERE ARE "EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES" FOR TAKING OF BERNANKE'S DEPOSITION
Too bad Bernanke's predecessor, who is just as culpable for the AIG collapse and bailout, won't be sitting next to the Chairsatan or else we would very soon have a great reason to roll out the following image:
Once upon a time (in April) the Troika slammed large Cypriot depositors with a "bail-in" template that included not only a forced assignment of equity in broke Cypriot banks, but far more importantly a haircut that amounted to 37.5% of deposits over €100,000. Since then a few things have happened in Cyprus neither of them good, i.e., a record collapse in bank deposits despite capital controls and a record crash in the local real estate market. The confluence of both these events meant that as bank liabilities shrank (deposits), asset fair values (home mortgages) collapsed even faster. Which, as we warned in March, would entail bigger and more aggressive deposit haircuts. Today, we learn that while the inevitable next bailout of Cyprus is still on the table, the deposit "haircut" just upgraded to an aggravated Brazilian wax, as the 37.5% gentle trim initially proposed was revised to 47.5%.
Munis are the most decentralized and still the most "good old boy" part of the Capital Markets. Relationships are paramount in the municipal markets, and in non-competitive situations, who you know often trumps what you know in doing business. Municipals are a unique space. For many years people and institutions paid less attention than they should to the financial statements of municipalities. Detroit is now teaching us several lessons and you can feel the sand shifting yet again. General Obligation bonds no longer have the first call on assets. The psychology of the Municipal market is also shifting in the sand. It was once a widely held belief that the State would stand behind any large Municipal credit in its domain. Detroit is proving this to be an inaccurate observation. There was even the notion that if the Municipal credit was large and systemic enough that the Federal government might step in to help. Detroit is exemplifying that this was a second mistake in thinking. We are now learning that each Municipal credit is a stand-alone situation which is a break from the traditional thinking of days past.