I Know What Keeps Obama Awake at Night

madhedgefundtrader's picture

While Obama relaxes in Hawaii, sipping Mai Tai’s adorned with little umbrellas and hooking up with distant relatives, a potential nightmare is giving him sleepless nights. Let’s say we spend our $2 trillion in stimulus and get a couple of quarters of decent growth. The “V” is in. Then once the effects of record government spending wear off, we slip back into a deep recession, setting up a classic “W.” Unemployment never does stop climbing, reaching 15% by year end, and 25% when you throw in discouraged job seekers, jobless college graduates, and those with expired unemployment benefits. This afflicted Franklin D. Roosevelt in the thirties.

So Congress passes another $2 trillion reflationary budget. Everybody gets wonderful new mass transit upgrades, alternative energy infrastructure, smart grids, and bridges to nowhere. But with $4 trillion in extra spending packed into two years, inflation really takes off. The bond market collapses, as China and Japan boycott the Treasury auctions. The dollar tanks big time, gold breaks $2,300, and silver explodes to $50. Ben Bernanke has no choice but to engineer an interest rate spike to dampen inflationary fires and rescue the dollar, taking the Fed funds rate up to a Volkeresque 18%. %. The stock market crashes, taking the S&P well below the 666 low we saw in March. Housing, having never recovered, drops by half again, wiping out more bank equity, and forcing the Treasury to launch TARP II.

The bad news accelerates into the 2012 election year. Obama is burned in effigy; Sarah Palin is elected president, and immediately sets to undoing all of his work. Republicans, reinvigorated by new leadership, and energized by a failing economy, retake both houses of congress. National health care is shut down as a wasteful socialist mistake, boondoggle subsidies for alternative energy are eliminated, and the savings are used to justify huge tax cuts for high income earners. We invade Iran, and crude hits $500.

 If you’re over 50, and all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because we’ve been through it all before. Remember Jimmy Carter? Remember the “misery index,”  the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate, which hit 20, and catapulted Ronald Reagan into an eight year presidency? A replay is not exactly a low probability scenario. This is why junk bond yields are still stubbornly high at 12.5%, and credit default swaps live at lofty levels. It’s also why the investing public is gun shy, favoring bonds over stocks by a ten to one margin. Are the equity markets pricing in these possibilities? Not a chance.

The risk of economic Armageddon is still out there. Personally, I give it a 50:50 chance. Batten the hatches, and please pass the Xanax.

For more iconoclastic and out of consensus analysis, visit me at www.madhedgefundtrader.com.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
TruthHunter's picture

"Romney is a liberal with an R after his name... look at what his healthcare did to MA. He's just as bad as all the rinos and dems currently in office."

No, Romney is a pragmatist.  He did what was required to survive

politically in the most liberal of states.  In a state hell bent on socialism

he did what he  could to keep it rational.

Out of school, I think he was focused on a business career. If he had

been a career politician, most anywhere but MA would have been


WaterWings's picture


Mormons will help you as long as you are willing to help yourself. Romney played his hand well, considering the circumstances.

Anonymous's picture

Regarding Obama, I think it is more or less impossible to deduce what the guy is genuinely about. I mean that he is surrounded by the same utterly corrupt crown of Beltway folks and endless delegations of corrupting lobbyists. It is a system beyond salvage and repair, just like in the last days of the Roman empire. What Obama is about or is not about really makes no difference. And neither does who gets elected next time around. It is the Banks, the Big Pharma, the Enery Folks, the Media Moguls and the Industrial Military oomplex that call the shots. If Obama or any other president has a problem with that, he or she will have the same fate as Kennedy. These people take their vested interests and money seriously.

litoralkey's picture

The American political process is about as broken as the financial system. Therefore, one has to be a bit skeptical. Just to give you one little example, one unrelated to the financial crisis. Here we are on Dec. 29, almost a year after the Inauguration, and there is no Under Secretary of the Treasury. That should be an important position. How can we run a government in the middle of a financial crisis without doing the ordinary, garden-variety administrative work of filling the relevant agencies?
----Paul Volcker


Well, there aren’t many useful historical models. But the example that comes closest to the situation facing the United States today is that of Japan after its late-80s bubble burst, leaving serious debt problems behind. And a maximum-likelihood estimate of how long it will take to recover, based on the Japanese example, is … forever. OK, strictly speaking it’s 18 years, since that’s how long it has been since the Japanese bubble burst, and Japan has never really escaped from its deflationary trap. This line of thought explains why I’m skeptical about the optimism that’s widespread right now about recovery prospects.
----Paul Krugman



Anonymous's picture

I don't think BB is going to save the dollar; the wealth of Americans is in stocks, not dollars (approx zero savings rate).

Which means, that the stock market will skyrocket. It's happening already, with bonds tanking. But not many people have realized this yet. When they do, we will be reaching past SPX 1550 in no time, and really up to the moon.

In worthless dollars.

heatbarrier's picture

This time is different.  The fabric of society is breaking up.

"Strategic default on mortgages will grow substantially over the next year, among prime borrowers, and become identified as a serious problem," said Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University. "It will grow because of a building backlash against the financial sector, growing populist rhetoric, declining sense of community with the business world. Some people will take another look at their mortgage contract, and note that nowhere did they swear on the Bible that they would repay."


Great Depression Trader's picture

We will be in crisis mode for the next 20 years.

We have been in crisis mode since 2000 when the dot com bubble blew up. Soon after 9/11 happened (which i believe was a false flag operation) which further put us in crisis mode. The Greenspan fed panicked and dropped rates down to 1%. Then the housing bubble blew and burst and now rates at 0%. Even though things have stabilized for the time being we all know that crisis mode will return, whether it comes in 2010 or 2011. We also have to worry about peak oil, never really knowing when it will rear its ugly head again but with crude at $81.60 in this environment the future doesnt look bright at all.

We also have the bond market to worry about as we all know that gov debt issuance will explode in the next 3 years. Rates will rise further putting pressure on real estate values and bank balance sheets. Bottom line is we have a plethora of problems that will keep on hitting us in the face.

Therefore, we must numb our emotions to the current environment if we want to be happy. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do about this. The PTB have a strong hold on the people and will maintain their power for another generation at least. The only thing we can do is personal preparation, whether it be buying gold, guns, food, saving money, preparing emotionally, etc. The message of truth will not reach the mainstream, the mainstream must seek truth for itself. For people love the lie and hate the truth. For when the truth shines on the darkness, it exposes evil and therefore the darkness tries to hide.

I have accepted reality for what it is now. I know there is no truth in the land. I know that corruption and lies reign. I know that the next 20 years will be very difficult. I know that there will be no colorful revolution of any sort and that liberty will die as fascism will reign. Thus, i will do everything in my power to have peace in my spirit, and not let the evil of the world consume me.


Anonymous's picture

Ditto your thoughts

Got me a farm in S. America and retiring there in 2012. However, I will stay and fight, if there is a glimmering hope that things are starting to change.

booboo's picture

Obama is Madhedgefundtrader's main man, loves hob knobing with the dems and speaks highly O's lofty goals of green energy and mass transit funded by powdered bones of your "granchilen"

Anonymous's picture

Guys you have not got a clue about the realities of Mitt. He is a good man but a classic liberal Republican, and in this environment well liked by liberals but not by conservatives. Palin is another Reagan type and as such draws exactly the same fire that Reagan drew all through the years. Obama is a classic far left socialist ( basic true believer like Castro and Hugo) and as such he will continue to take this economy into the tank. Now you are beginning to see exactly what I lived through with Jimmy Carter. He talked conservative to get elected, then proceeded to follow the liberal agenda which tanked our economy in no time. This is deja vu all over again!

Anonymous's picture

"I Know What Keeps Obama Awake at Night"...

Snakes? Spiders? White people?

Anonymous's picture

You mean dem Honkies?

ozziindaus's picture

What makes you think the Republicans will repeal any legislation spearheaded by Democrats? You mean you believe in the two party paradigm? For fucks sakes man. If anything, they'll just make the situation worse regardless of any historical lessons to be learnt.

Anonymous's picture

Ah Ah
you should work in Hollywood and write movie scripts.
I am sure you would be successful.
There is certainly some truth in what you say , but reality
will always surprise us in a way we cannot envision.

Anonymous's picture

Actually, under FDR, unemployment went from 25% to 15% between 1932 and 1938. This was almost entirely due to government spending. Interestingly enough, in the 1938 elections, Republicans managed to gain a substantial amount of seats in Congress, which compounded a growing concern over the growing national debt (sound familiar?). In response, FDR actually scaled back New Deal government programs and began to raise taxes. The result, was a that "W" to which you refer. A contracting economy, and higher unemployment. What ended that, was the largest government spending program the U.S. has ever seen: World War Two. Yes, believe it or not, the war effort was financed almost entirely by government dollars, and it, in effect, ended the Great Depression. Thank you, Mr. Keynes.

Mr. Anonymous's picture

Because the war was 'won'.  If we had lost, the stimulus failed (like the Keynesian stimulus failed in Germany).  The stimulus of WWII worked because, first and foremost, we were the only free industrial state standing and EVERYONE had to buy their goods from us.  How's that for market share?  Secondly, we had, a la China, manufactured and exported the shit out of goods for which we took borrowed dollars.  We were a net debt-holder to the world as recently as 25 years ago.  Wars only succeed if you win AND you find a bagholder.  Look at England: they got one for two right and yet it left them financially wrecked, ending their Empire and bringing about the malaise they only recently (via the financial ponzi scheme) and temporarily escaped.

Military Keynesiasm, in and of itself alone, is just one more lie on the fire.   

Anonymous's picture

Bernanke is up to something. I don't think he is going to let them throw him under the bus. What could he do?

Edna R. Rider's picture

I would be surprised if someone as arrogant as Obama lets anything keep him up at night.

Harbourcity's picture

I disagree.  I don`t think Obama is arrogant.  He was chosen for his ability to seem confident and trustworthy throughout these events.  Arrogance would imply he has any real control. 

DosZap's picture


"Unemployment never does stop climbing, reaching 15% by year end, and 25% when you throw in discouraged job seekers, jobless college graduates, and those with expired unemployment benefits."

I submit to you we are already at 25%...........

The Disgruntled, and tired of looking, and the part timers.

The only thing that's keeping this puppy from going violent, is the nearly 52 weeks of Unemployment bene's they have been recieving.

When this start to run out, and are not renewed.........look out.

Daedal's picture

The recession of 1920–21 was characterized by extreme deflation — the largest one-year percentage decline in around 140 years of data. The Department of Commerce estimates 18% deflation, Balke and Gordon estimate 13% deflation, and Romer estimates 14.8% deflation. The drop in wholesale prices was even more severe, falling by 36.8%, the most severe drop since the American Revolutionary War. This is worse than any year during the Great Depression (adding all the years of the Great Depression together, however, yields more severe deflation). The deflation of 1920–21 was extreme in absolute terms, and also unusually extreme given the relatively small decline in gross domestic product.

Unemployment rose sharply during the recession. Romer estimates a rise to 8.7% from 5.2% and an older estimate from Stanley Lebergott says unemployment rose from 5.2% to 11.7%. Both agree that unemployment quickly fell after the recession, and by 1923 had returned to a level consistent with full employment. The recession also saw an extremely sharp decline in industrial production. From May 1920 to July 1921, automobile production declined by 60% and total industrial production by 30%. At the end of the recession, production quickly rebounded. Industrial production returned to its peak levels by October 1922. The AT&T Index of Industrial Productivity showed a decline of 29.4%, followed by an increase of 60.1% – by this measure, the recession of 1920–21 had the most severe decline and most robust recovery of any recession between 1899 and the Great Depression.


dhengineer's picture

The remarkable thing about the 1920-21 recession/depression is that it righted itself in a few months with absolutely no government intervention.  The 1929 depression was on its way to recovery in 1931 or 1932, but Hoover/Roosevelt got their clumsy mitts on the controls and totally screwed it up.  They should have taken a lesson from good old Warren Harding:  hang out with the mistress more often, leave the White House in the hands of Silent Cal, and don't touch nothing!  Just leave it alone!  When will our supposed "experts" figure out that they actually know nothing about running an economy?

dhengineer's picture

The remarkable thing about the 1920-21 recession/depression is that it righted itself in a few months with absolutely no government intervention.  The 1929 depression was on its way to recovery in 1931 or 1932, but Hoover/Roosevelt got their clumsy mitts on the controls and totally screwed it up.  They should have taken a lesson from good old Warren Harding:  hang out with the mistress more often, leave the White House in the hands of Silent Cal, and don't touch nothing!  Just leave it alone!  When will our supposed "experts" figure out that they actually know nothing about running an economy?

Harbourcity's picture


How long can Congress extend Unemployment benefits is an important question.  Once the extensions end, so does any resemblence of a recovery.


Anonymous's picture

Bernanke and Geithner's top priority is to keep bankers rich. What actions they will take will be primarily driven by this goal. The effect of inflation and unemployment on the masses matter little--the effect of these on banks matter massively.

So what policies would be best for the banks?

Rainman's picture

Before we consider odds, let's wait til the State and Muni public sectors FINALLY come to grips with the longer term condition of their budgets. They've tried the furloughs. That's not nearly enough ........ lacerations are not cuts. Once they've come to grips with the permanence of the downturn, they'll cut jobs like mad . The Sun and Sand states will be into it bigtime by mid year. The other Bloated Blues will follow.

An unemployment rate at 10 % will make us giddy with relief when we return to it in about 3 years.

besodemuerte's picture

Probably something that isn't discussed enough.  The financial system won't stay high then suddenly fall off a cliff.  It'll happen domino-style with the states leading the way.  California, among others, is so screwed right now it's laughable.  Maybe the realization of states failing one by one will be the Black Swan we're all looking for?

Rainman's picture

I constantly remind myself that the most vital of steps toward sustaining Fabian Socialism is consistently outsized public sector employment. Taken in the aggregate, it represents an IMMENSE group who are fundamentally and realistically wards of the Fed, State, City, County or other municipality.

They aren't rising up, protesting or snitching......unless or until the employment ax falls. Keeping them employed will be a very high priority for our Gubmint Masters. 

Anonymous's picture

"Then once the effects of record government spending wear off, we slip back into a deep recession, setting up a classic “W.” "

Or an even more classic "reverse N."

Anonymous's picture

madhedgefuntrader is quickly becoming my favorite guest contributor.

Oso's picture

MHFT, i think for Obama to be kept awake at night, he has to have an understanding of what is going on to begin with.  Nothing he has said or done gives me any indication that this is the case, and with all his advisors constantly telling him what a great demi-god he is, I honestly believe he sleeps like a drunk baby.

Silver Bullet's picture

Must be nice. I love sleeping like a drunk baby.

besodemuerte's picture

I refer you to PierreLegrand's post above, #182131.  I concur with him, Obama knows exactly what he's doing.  It seems to many he's a bumbling idiot when it comes to running the show, but that's because he's not trying to run the show.  He simply isn't playing the game that the POTUS is supposed to play.  It's like saying Pete Rose was doing a piss-poor job managing the Reds during games that he was trying to lose for benefit of his own interests.


He's just a cog in the wheel who's goal it is to overload and topple our system.

KevinB's picture

Much as I detest Pete Rose, he maintained, and it was never disproved, that he never bet against the Reds. He's still a turd, but he's not as big as turd as the stain in the White House.

Anonymous's picture

One thing's for sure. He doesn't go sleepless worrying about the safety of Americans from Islamic terrorists.

Anonymous's picture

You really think these guys care ?
The 401k guys are asleep at the wheel with their contributions at auto-pilot. I think this madness will go on a while longer than the 30s..

Anonymous's picture

It won't be Palin or Romney or anyone other establishment pro.

This fall is going to be a bloodbath for anyone seeking public office who is even remotely connected to Wall Street. The American public is finally waking up to the fact that the country has been hijacked by financial interests that have sold ordinary Americans down the river. Think about what the IMF and the bankers did to Argentina a decade ago. Same thing is happening here now.

It will be more difficult to keep a lid on all the corruption and double-dealing in the US. Anyone that can be attached - even in a tangential way - to Goldman Sachs or JPM, or to Fannie or Freddie, or to the Federal Reserve, IMF, BIS, TBTF banks, AIG, etc. etc. is going to be labeled a traitor and a financial terrorist and will be run out of Washington DC.

New leadership will emerge from the Libertarian right - with plenty of support from "anti-corruption" Democrats on the left. A new generation of leaders must take over now. The current generation is well beyond compromised.

Anonymous's picture

Although I would love to see that happen, any serious 3rd party candidate or movement will be destroyed or coopted from within as soon as they gain traction.

This fall you will have the choice if a giant douche or a turd sandwich.... unless you live in Conn where you can choose between a criminal who now has seen the light or the wolf disguised as a sheep Peter Schiff.

Here in Michigan we get tnevturd sandwich with fires, large sized..

Anonymous's picture


Does not have a worry in the world...

He's already made....

Part of the new country club crony set....

And young too....which means the blabber continues

For a long time....

Anonymous's picture

If it plays out, I like a total political outsider to get elected. Someone not over-saturated like Palin. A charismatic and inspirational talker like Reagan and possibly with a background in business but not necessarily Wall Street finance.

besodemuerte's picture

I'd like to know what MadHedgeFundTrader predicts this will do to the lifestyles of us simpleton, average folk.  Do we carry on as usual, or does life as we know it come to a screeching halt as we adapt to eating Top Ramen for the rest of our lives?

ghostfaceinvestah's picture

There is a reason it is called the misery index.

J6P won't be sent to the gas chambers or anything, he will just lead the lowly life of quiet desperation that he was meant to live, as has been the case throughout history.

Think fewer opportunities - for education, for career advancement, for luxury goods, for vacations, for just about anything in life beyond toiling away to pay for the essentials.

The nice experiment our forefathers were able to set up is over, sheeple.  Things are going back to the way they have been throughout history - two classes of people - the oppressors and the oppressed.

Now get back to watching TV.

Anonymous's picture

I think its hilarious that you and your ilk think that in some mythical past, outside of the last 30 years, there were more opportunities for career advancement.

Anonymous's picture

Wow, I'm saddened that you all seem to think that everything we are going through/will go through is an internal affair. You really need to look around.

Gimp's picture

Sad but true Misthos. At least pulling a lever or punching a touch screen once every four years gives us the feeling we matter :-)

Stoploss's picture

Well done, exactly as i would expect this to play out. My first introduction to the stock market was in 1974, after being snatched up from watching cartoons, and whisked away to the brokerage with my father, to stand in a line more than 2 blocks long. Deja-vu..

Misthos's picture

It doesn't matter.  The only reason we have presidents is so we can name a specific time period after them (e.g. Bush era, Reagan era, Obama era...) and so we can feel like we actually have a democracy and a voice.

There is little difference between the Presidents.  Does anyone really see a difference in how this crisis has been handled between Bush and Obama? 

Palin being Reaganesque?  Ha!  Reagan did what any President would do after interest rates subsided...  He ran the country on a credit card.  You think Palin, or anyone else for that matter will be able to run the country on a credit card in 2012?  You think the Bond Market will allow for a significant tax cut?  Do you have the faintest clue of who really calls the shots?

Follow the money.... then you will understand how our "democracy" works.

Nonetheless, it's funny watching the "little people" discuss presidential politics as if pulling a lever every four years actually accomplishes something.

Ross Perot would have been the only unencumbered President.  We lost that chance.  Anyone else that comes from the status quo parties only changes the drapes in the White House.... little else.

Harbourcity's picture

I find it funny that this post was alloted to the `junk`category by some individuals in this forum where it`s common knowledge that the two parties are opposite sides to the same coin.  Presidents are only presidents because their party allowed them to become the president.  All US citizens had a choice of was between the two candidates that the two parties put forward.

i.knoknot's picture


after watching the '08 campaigns and debates... it was with disgust that my general summary of the US political system was "out of 300 million citizens, those two are the best we could do?"

this from someone who hasn't voted either main party in 20 years... i may be forced to watch the silly game, but i don't have to play. sadly though, i must suffer the results.