Congressional Budget Office

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.

CBO Says Its Own Budget Estimate May "Significantly Underestimate" Short-Term Deficit Outlook

Those who were disappointed by the earlier CBO budget reestimate which increased total deficit by about $44 billion over the next two years, will have to weep more tears based on the just released statement by Congressional Budget Office director Doug
Elmendorf who said that in reality the budget deficit could come much higher than the just disclosed estimates, and the recent economic data releases have been "more negative" than data factored into the projection. Which, in government talk, means that the real deficit will likely come at least 20-30% higher, and since debt issuance tends to track around 40% higher than nominal deficits, the bottom line is that the US will have to issue a gross $3 trillion+ over the next two years. But who cares: one could add 10 zeroes to this number, and rates would likely drop to zero overnight.

Full CBO Budget Forecast: "This Year’s Deficit Is Expected To Be The Second Largest Shortfall In The Past 65 Years"

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the federal budget deficit for 2010 will exceed $1.3 trillion—$71 billion below last year’s total and $27 billion lower than the amount that CBO projected in March 2010, when it issued its previous estimate. Relative to the size of the economy, this year’s deficit is expected to be the second largest shortfall in the past 65 years: At 9.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), it is exceeded only by last year’s deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP. As was the case last year, this year’s deficit is
attributable in large part to a combination of weak revenues and elevated spending associated with the economic downturn and the policies implemented in response to it.

CBO Reduces 2010 Budget Deficit Estimate By $26 Billion, Increases 2011 Deficit Projection By $70 Billion

Just Reuters headlines for now: the CBO has reduced its 2010 budget deficit from $1.368 trillion to $1.342 trillion, even as it kicks the can down the road yet again, raising the 2011 budget deficit estimate from $0.966 trillion to $1.066 trillion: in other words a net deficit increase by $44 billion. Good thing nobody even cares about the 2012 number now that Mayan apocalypse predictions are fully priced into a Dow 36,000 number.

In Advance Of The GDP Report, Goldman's Hatzius Sees 3% GDP Drag From State, Local And Federal In Coming Year

Tomorrow's GDP report will be a major market catalyst as it will either confirm that an inflationary double dip has now arrived and the Fed will have no option but to print, or it will come "just better than expectations", once again sending the market into a lithium-deprived paroxysm of intraday jerkiness. Yet in the medium run, tomorrow's number is very much irrelevant, especially if Jan Hatzius' latest analysis on the impact of various trends at the local, state and federal level turns out to be correct. Goldman's analysis is based on the following assumptions: (1) Congress will not extend emergency unemployment benefits beyond the current expiration date in November 2010, (2) state governments will need to make do without any additional federal fiscal aid beyond what was included in ARRA, and (3) Congress extends the lower- and middle-income tax cuts of 2001-2003 as well as the Making Work Pay tax cut of 2009 but not the higher-income cuts of 2001-2003. The latter is of particular significance because as Bloomberg reports, Obama is about to take populism into high gear, as Geithner will next week bring the proposed tax cuts for the rich directly to the masses (and the corrupt simians in the Senate). Obviously the financial implications of that one move alone will be disastrous and even if tomorrow's GDP number prove better than expected, the market may ultimately trade off on the devastating impact from the expiration of the most important subset of tax cuts. Which is why, going back to Hatzius, the Goldman economist states: "The overall impact of fiscal policy (combining all levels of government) is likely to go from an average of +1.3 percentage points between early 2009 and early 2010 to -1.7 percentage points in 2011, a swing of about -3 percentage points. We estimate that the boost to the level of GDP starts to decline in mid-2010, first gently and then more forcefully, setting up a significant negative impact on GDP growth in late 2010 and 2011." The only thing Hatzius forgot to add is brace yourselves for impact. Yet somehow Goldman's own David Kostin projects that 2011 S&P EPS will grow by double digits... even as the firm's own economic team anticipates an economic crunch. This is precisely the conflicted double speak that we have grown to love and expect from the Wall Street sellside.

Excelsia's Cliff Draughn Goes In Search Of Your Sleeping Point

I have often said we can never eliminate risk, only manage it based on what the market is telling us. Our tactical asset allocation is directed towards the active management of risk versus reward in defining how we approach the financial markets. Our focus is to preserve wealth by controlling our exposure to risk assets, based on a number of quantitative and qualitative data points. In my opinion, a buy and hold allocation is a dead decision during markets such as we have now. Asset allocation, in my opinion, is an art involving quantitative analysis of financial markets combined with common sense. One critical factor in our process is finding the “sleeping point,” which I define as that level of risk exposure that allows you to sleep at night. Or, as one of my clients stated recently, “Cliff, I do not want to go back to eating spam.” We are here to make sure your investment process protects against the spam effect. We have had the worst May in stocks since 1940. No credit still equals no jobs. China is destined for turmoil as its real estate market unwinds. The Consumer Confidence Index is down to 52.9 in June from 62.7 in May. Fair value on the S&P for me is 950, which would indicate another 7% decline in stock prices from here. - Cliff Draughn, Excelsia Investment Advisors