Congressional Budget Office
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: The Triumph of Crony Capitalism (Final, Part 4)Submitted by Econophile on 08/17/2010 02:05 -0400
Until I began to examine the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill I had no idea that it would so significantly change the direction of the United States. It's scope is so vast and pervasive that it is difficult to grasp its totality. I wrote this article to try to explain this and why I believe it is so important for us to understand it. This is the final part of this four part series. I examine the consequences of Dodd-Frank.
The Fed's New Round of Quantitative Easing Is Like Trying to Patch Leaking Pipes by Pumping in More WaterSubmitted by George Washington on 08/11/2010 13:17 -0400
Keynesian stimulus can't be examined in a vacuum.
Earlier, we posted a link to Boston University's Lawrence Kotlikoff who penned an OpEd for Bloomberg titled simply enough "U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know." In it Kotlikoff took a direct stab at Krugman and all the other hard core Keynesian paradise or bust demagogues: "Some doctrinaire Keynesian economists would say any stimulus over the next few years won’t affect our ability to deal with deficits in the long run. This is wrong as a simple matter of arithmetic. The fiscal gap is the government’s credit-card bill and each year’s 14 percent of GDP is the interest on that bill. If it doesn’t pay this year’s interest, it will be added to the balance. Demand-siders say forgoing this year’s 14 percent fiscal tightening, and spending even more, will pay for itself, in present value, by expanding the economy and tax revenue. My reaction? Get real, or go hang out with equally deluded supply-siders. Our country is broke and can no longer afford no- pain, all-gain 'solutions'." To hammer his critical point in that delaying the inevitable crunch will only make things worse in the end, Kotlikoff also appeared on Bloomberg TV with Erik Schatzker. Koltikoff's argument is anchored by the IMF's July report that notes the US needs to grow at 14% in perpetuity to "grow into" its balance sheet. Obviously, we will be lucky to get a tenth of that.
Goldman's economic team continues its string of market negative output, this time focusing on debunking the myth of an expected market run up into the mid-term election in 3 months. Contrary to the attempts of numerous pundits who consistently try to create a self-fulfilling prophecy and allow themselves better exit points on legacy underwater positions, Goldman performs a statistical analysis and reports that while in the past the stock run up has in fact occurred after the mid-terms, this was traditionally accompanied by loosening fiscal and/or monetary policy, resulting in a boost to the economy. As Goldman's Alec Phillips says: "For various reasons, market participants tend to take a more optimistic view of growth following the midterm election." And for all those who think this time is different, fiscal loosening post the elections will be hard to come by, and will be further impacted by the natural contraction of the economy following 2+ years of fiscal gluttony. Goldman says: "By contrast, our own estimates imply a tightening of fiscal policy in 2011, including decreased transfer payments as a result of expired unemployment benefits and increased tax liabilities as a result of tax expirations, and while we don’t have quarterly estimates for 2012, our budget projections assume additional further restraint on an annual basis then as well." In other words next time someone says that the market traditionally runs up into midterms, be aware they are uninformed. And not only that, but it is far more than likely that the stock market will drop after November, as the unprecedented disconnect between the contracting economy and the irrational stock market, finally collapses.
John Paulson is a billionaire for good reason: he has been right far more than wrong. Yet is his "recovery" bet premature? Does his entire strategy hinge on a bet on housing, which as Bullard, Greenspan and Shiller all say is very precariously balanced on the edge of another leg down. Will Paulson finally be proven wrong, and if so will he be remember for his one wrong bet far more than for the series of right ones?
In Advance Of The GDP Report, Goldman's Hatzius Sees 3% GDP Drag From State, Local And Federal In Coming YearSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/29/2010 18:07 -0400
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.
Another well timed report from the CBO. This time they crap on those who have been advocating sustaining the Bush tax cuts. Funny thing is, if we do eliminate those tax cuts we are in for a hell of a recession come January. Is that a no win?
The U.S. is in worse fiscal shape than Greece measured by the fiscal gap--the present value difference between all future expenditures and receipts. Will America have a Greek style debt crisis?
Not much in the markets to write about. I need a crisis. Waiting for that to happen I focus on the CBO.
Yesterday the OMB released its Mid-Season Review of the US Budget. In keeping with the encroaching Beijingization of all data releases, the administration now sees yet another decline in the 2010 budget deficit, this time a reduction of $84 billion compared to the February forecast. According to the budget office, despite a $33 billion projected drop in revenues, outlays will see an even greater haircut courtesy of "lower unemployment and government program" spending. Yet even so, the 2010 budget deficit is expected to hit $1.47 trillion and $1.42 trillion in 2011. Of course, all these numbers are flawed and irrelevant: the confirmation - the OMB's assumption about jobs projections. To wit: "With continued healthy growth in 2011 and beyond, the unemployment rate is projected to fall, but it is not projected to fall below 6.0 percent until 2015." One problem with this "assumption": for this projection to actually happen, it means the US government needs to start creating 245 thousand jobs every month beginning in July through the end of 2005 (and we give the OMB the benefit of the doubt: if their assumption means 6% by the beginning of 2015, it implies a ridiculous job creation rate of 300,000 per month for 54 months straight). Alas, in attempting to present the rosiest picture possible, the budget office is now completely ignoring such useless things as logic and merely discrediting itself with increasingly more ridiculous "analyses."
Even as Bernanke is receiving his last minute briefing on what to say (everything, EVERYTHING, is good) and what to play dumb on (explaining the price of gold for example), a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes that digging ourselves out of the current unemployment hole which is 7.5 million less people having jobs than did in December 2007, will take at least 4 years, and not occur prior to March 2014. However, this assumes a flat working-age population, something the Fed would love to be the case. Alas, the country is growing: and if one incorporates the effects of labor force growth into the above analysis, as the CEPR authors have done using CBO projections, then we may have a much larger problem on our hands: the study concludes that taking into account the approximately 14 million new job seekers in the future, then the December 2007 unemployment rate will not be met until April 2021! Welcome to the new normal. Of course, both of these analyses assume that the economy will immediately commence growing and generating jobs at the recovery rate seen in the 2000s, when about 166,000 jobs per month were being added. With every month that this does not happen the 2021 date will continue being pushed out further into the future. Perhaps one of the Senators today can ask a question of Bernanke just how he plans on reconciling this glaringly simple explanation for why the US economy will be underwater for a period of over a decade.
How bad is it? We have no clue.
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
June Federal Budget Deficit Comes At ($68.4) Billion, $1 Trillion+ In Deficit Raked Up For First Nine MonthsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/13/2010 14:04 -0400
June budget outlays came in at the largest ever for the month. Also 2010 Federal individual income tax collections are running 4.4% lower, or $31 billion below 2009 levels: the economic "recovery" sure isn't causing greater tax receipts. And from the report: "The federal government incurred a deficit of just over $1.0 trillion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2010, CBO estimates, $81 billion less than the roughly $1.1 trillion deficit incurred through June 2009. Revenues so far this year are slightly higher than they were last year at this time; outlays are about 3 percent lower. CBO estimates that receipts in June were $36 billion (or 17 percent) higher than collections in June 2009. Morethan half of that difference stemmed from an increase of $19 billion (or almost 60 percent) in net receipts from corporate income taxes. Gross receipts from those taxes rose by $15 billion (or 37 percent), primarily because of higher estimated payments for the current year; a $4 billion decline in corporate income tax refunds also bolstered net corporate receipts."