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James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was on CNBC Monday, December 20, 2010 mostly defending the Fed’s QE2. What struck me as totally self-contradictory were some of Bullard’s statements regarding the QE2, and inflation, which I will outline and rebuff here.

Moody's Warns There Is Increased Likelihood Of Negative Outlook To US AAA Rating In Next 2 Years

And now for some woefully overdue attempts at regaining credibility from farce agency Moody's, which after realizing that US debt may soon hit $16 trillion has noted that the US tax package increases the likelihood of negative outlook on the US AAA rating in next 2 years. What is worrisome, is that Moody's apparently did not get their Christmas bribe from Wall Street/the Administration, and actually dares to speak the truth: "From a credit perspective, the negative effects on government finance are likely to outweigh the positive effects of higher economic growth." As the announcement has pushed the DXY even lower, expect semi-formal validation that America will soon be insolvent to result in yet another surge in stocks.

Guest Post: The Key to Understanding "Recession" and "Recovery": The Wealth Pyramid

The top 20% are prospering and spending money; the bottom 80% are not, but thanks to vast wealth disparity, the top slice of households can keep consumer spending aloft. This provides an illusion of "recovery" that masks the insecurity and decline of the bottom 80%. There is statistical and anecdotal evidence supporting both a "we never left recession" and "the economy is recovering" interpretation. The key to making sense of the conflicting data is to understand that there are Two Americas. Roughly speaking, we can divide the U.S. economy into "Wall Street"--the financialized part of the economy which encompasses the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) economy and its bloated partner in predation, the Federal government--and "Main Street," the looted, overtaxed remainder of the "real economy" which isn't a Federally supported corporate cartel (i.e. the military-industrial sector, the "healthcare"/sickcare sector, Big Agribusiness, etc.)

22 Luminaries (And Dick Bove) Sign Open Letter To Fed Demanding End Of QE2

As if the rest of the world telling Ben Bernanke he has finally flipped, was not enough, here comes the opposition from within, after 23 public figures, among which economists, financiers, hedge fund managers and Dick Bove (not sure what he is) have sent an open letter to the Bernank demanding QE2 be immediately pulled. With the imminent market collapse that would follow such an action we are not surprised to see Jim Chanos among the list of signatories, although that long-biased Paul Singer of Elliott Associates would endorse such a contrary to his interests letter, is interesting to say the least.

Goldman: "The Dollar Needs To Fall A Lot Further From Here"

In today's note by Goldman's Robin Brook, the analyst takes an inverse approach of looking at what a dollar drop implies for CPI and general prices, in an attempt to settle a debate whether the expected drop in the USD as a result of QE2 will have a meaningful impact on both inflation, currency wars, and other derivatives of monetary policy.  As Goldman concludes: "the ‘pass-through’ from Dollar declines to US consumer price inflation
is small. This in turn means that – if indeed the Fed sees the Dollar as
one of its key policy levers for preventing inflation from staying
below its mandate for a prolonged period
the Dollar needs to fall a lot further from here." The quantification of  "lot" is not provided but is sufficiently indicative from a qualitative standpoint. Of course, the biggest issue here is with the construction of CPI itself, which is driven far more by a collapse in leveraged input prices specifically as pertains to shelter, then spiking prices in items most see as critical in day to day use. Nonetheless, as Goldman is one of the Primary Dealers whose opinion is now a part of the "reverse inquiry" methodology in determining monetary policy, the fact that the hedge fund is comfortable with a substantial drop in the USD implies that the Fed should be just as comfortable with a shock and awe approach to QE2, as a pronounced effect on the dollar would likely have to come from a stepwise drop as opposed to a gradual wear down which would be intercepted by other central banks. The key question remains: what level on the DXY is Goldman, and thus the Fed comfortable with as ""modestly inflation stimulating, and what will the price of jeans be, gold, and other commodities be, not to mention what the final level of excess reserves and margins for Chinese exporters, once that level is finally attained.

Broke States Or Stock Selloff: The Capital Gains Tax Dilemma

With just two months until the end of the year, the one most important issue facing the US economy, which incidentally is not how many trillions in new, never to be used (or used only upon the case of hyperinflation) dollar bills Ben Bernanke will issue on November 3, but what the fate of the Bush tax cuts will be, and especially that of capital gains tax, remains still unresolved, Bloomberg has done a good analysis that frames the dilemma for the crippled administration: insolvent states or a market sell off. One would hope that with Geithner's track record vis-a-vis taxes, the former would take precedence, although as Blankfein has been rumored to seek the capital to expand his 15 CPW duplex into a triplex, the final outcome is pretty much clear, and it likely means little if no change to cap gains taxes, and thus no sell off in stocks. The problem is, however, that California, the state with the biggest economy, projects taxpayers’ capital gains will grow 40 percent this year while New York, the third-most-populous state, forecasts a 59 percent increase, or roughly 24% from the current 15%: an event which would have rather dramatic implications on investors desire to close out positions well before January 1. Should these states not be able to recoup revenues from actual capital gains receipts, then a federal bailout is virtually assured.

Guest Post: Currency Wars - Misguided US Economic Policy

The critical issues in America stem from minimally a blatantly ineffective public policy, but overridingly a failed and destructive Economic Policy. These policy errors are directly responsible for the opening salvos of the Currency War clouds now looming overhead. Don’t be fooled for a minute. The issue of Yuan devaluation is a political distraction from the real issue – a failure of US policy leadership. In my opinion the US Fiscal and Monetary policies are misguided. They are wrong! Now after the charade of Extend & Pretend has run out of momentum and more money printing is again required through Quantitative Easing (we predicted QE II was inevitable in March), the responsible US politicos have cleverly ignited the markets with QE II money printing euphoria in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Craftily they are taking political camouflage behind an “undervalued Yuan” as the culprit for US problems. Remember, patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels. - Gordon T. Long

Wall Of Worry Redux: 24 Statistics Confirming America's Decline

Three months ago we presented the Coto Report's 50 ugliest facts about the US economy. Today, the Economic Collapse has followed up this list with 24 facts of their own, which confirm what Zero Hedge readers know: namely that the US economy has officially entered the "Late Roman Empire" phase of its civilization. Perhaps it is not too late to reverse course yet: As Economic Collapse states: " Urgent action must be taken if things are going to be turned around. It is time to get our heads out of the sand. It is not guaranteed that the United States will always be the greatest economy in the world or that we will even continue to be prosperous. For many Americans, it will be incredibly difficult to admit that our nation has become a debt addict and an economic punching bag for the rest of the world. But if we are never willing to admit what the problems are, how are we ever going to come up with the solutions? What you are about to read below is going to absolutely shock many of you. But hopefully it will shock you enough to get you to take action. We desperately need to change course as a nation." Alas, unless the current ruling oligarchy, in which both parties are merely a front for Wall Street money, and the entire political and financial system are changed drastically, and fast, the decline will merely accelerate until there is nothing left of America's once greatness.

Michael Pento Asks If The Fed Ultimately Controls Interest Rates

In forecasting the consequences of current economic policy, many pundits are downplaying the risks associated with the surging national debt and the rapid expansion of marketable Treasury securities. Their comfort stems from the belief that a staggering debt burden will be manageable as long as interest rates remain extremely low; and, as they believe the Fed is in complete control of setting rates across the yield curve, they see no danger of rates ever rising past the point of comfort. Those who subscribe to this fairy tale forget that, in real life, there are many more hands on the interest rate steering wheel.

CBO Estimates Stimulus Boosted Q2 GDP By 4.5%, Standalone Number Is Likely Under Around -3.5%

Due to the various inventory and trade deficit overestimates by the CBO, the initial Q2 number is about to be revised much lower: realistically, it will come out at under 1%, although that will likely be saved for the second and final revision: therefore the adjusted number to be reported on Friday will likely be around 1.8%. Yet the real kicker is not that the government has ramped up data fudging to make poor China blush like a rank amateur, but that according to the CBO, of whatever the final Q2 GDP number is, 4.5% came from the stimulus. In other words, take away the end of the fiscal boost and the economy is accelerating its relapse into depression, just as Rosenberg (and Zero Hedge) have been claiming for about a year, over the din of the cheerleaders on propagandavision.