Congressional Budget Office
Get ready for a failure in these negotiations
What's Obama going to say?
By now everyone knows how Americans feel about America: one quarter of the population (the half of the less than half that voted) is convinced the US is plunging into a socialist void that would make the USSR proud, another quarter of the population is furious at the wealthy and demands that they be taxed up the wazoo because "they didn't build that" but certainly profited from it, and is demanding wealth and income redistribution, while the silent majority is quietly picking up whatever pieces it can, and batting down the hatches, seeing very well, beyond the fog of bias and subjectivity, the inevitable epic deleveraging disaster, followed by even more epic printing that is coming this way. But how does the rest of the world see the US, especially now that the fiscal cliff (and the much less discussed debt ceiling debate: why, we don't know - it was "merely" the debt ceiling that led to a 20% drop in 2011). Yesterday, German financial media Spiegel provided a glimpse into just how Europe, which is in deep feces itself, sees America. The verdict: the next Greece.
Do not expect any changes to the trends of polarization and party non-conformists is the message from JPMorgan's CIO Michael Cembalest. As he explains moderates like Blue Dog Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans are now artifacts in the Natural History Museum, having given way to their more ideological offspring (through retirement or after having been beaten in primaries). If anything, Cembalest believes the House may become even more partisan after apparent losses by moderates in both parties. After a better than expected night for Democrats given Senate results, the fiscal cliff looms; With the status quo maintained, a divided government goes back to work to solve the Mutually Assured Fiscal Destruction problem. However, electoral results suggest the country is in no mood to address entitlement issues right now, will defer them to another day, and continue to shift towards a high-Federal debt economic model that bears some resemblance to Europe and Japan. In the 1950’s, the solution to 80% Federal debt was not taxation, austerity or inflation, but growth.
It’s really hard to ignore what’s happening today; the election phenomenon is global. The entire world seems fixated on this belief that it actually matters who becomes the President of the United States anymore... or that one of these two guys is going to ‘fix’ things. Fact is, it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. And we’ll show you why mathematically... This is not a political problem, it’s a mathematical one. Facts are facts, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Today’s election is merely a choice of who is going to captain the sinking Titanic.
What is really causing the economic malaise that the U.S. faces today? Most economists believe that it is the lack of aggregate demand that is causing the problem which can be rectified by continued deficit spending. The current Administration believes that it is simply the lack of the "rich" not paying their "fair share" and that a redistribution of wealth will solve the issue. Romney believes that his 5-point plan will create 12 million jobs in the near future. All are wrong.
Define headline heaven? Any time you can gratuitoulsy insert the names Art Cashin, Becky Quick and Paul Krugman in the same title. Like in this case. HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
It feels different this time. It also 'looks' different this time in that our 'recovery' just is not bouncing back from its Friedman-ite 'plucked' level to rise phoenix-like back to Potential GDP - as it is 'supposed' to. In an excellent two-part animated series, Stanford's John 'Rule' Taylor and Russ Roberts discuss this recovery's differences along many variables including GDP trend reversion, percent of the population that is working and, economic growth overall. They then go on to discuss potential reasons for this sluggish recovery; the ongoing slump in construction employment, the effect of housing prices on saving and spending decisions by households, and this recovery's having been preceded by a financial crisis. Taylor rejects these arguments, arguing instead that the sluggish recovery can be explained by poor economic policy decisions made by the Bush and the Obama administrations. Simple, clear, 20 minutes of Sunday evening preparation for the week.
Ryan has a bad plan, Biden has no plan at all.
Just how much havoc does living within one’s means wreak?
As earnings season is upon us, we will no doubt hear that expectations are so low that the market has it all priced in and upside is the only way to go (apart from the fact that Q4 expectations remain in the land of faeries and unicorns). Of course Q4's hockey-stick is critically going to depend on the fiscal-cliff - post-election. As we noted here, there are few positive outcomes from the fiscal cliff 'negotiations' with even a best-case 'possibility' of a 0.9% fiscal drag in the first half of 2013. Using trend growth of 3%, and Goldman's estimate of around a 4% drag (lower than the 6-plus% drag the CBO estimates), we can work back from the consensus 2.05% GDP growth for 2013 to figure what the market's priced in probability of a fiscal-cliff resolution is. It would seem the market is more than happy to almost entirely dismiss the fiscal cliff. Back of the envelope math implies only a 1.5% probability of the full fiscal cliff impact and therefore any expectation of an equity market rally on hopes of a compromise seem far-fetched with well over 95% priced in currently.
Even if both the Bush tax cuts and emergency unemployment insurance are extended, the 'sequester' is mostly postponed, and the fresh fiscal drag is confined to the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the new taxes to pay for Obamacare, Goldman estimates suggest that fiscal policy would shave nearly 1.5% from real GDP growth in early 2013. While it seems the 'market' believes that some compromise will be enough to lift the market to new stratospheric heights; we believe, as does Goldman, that the risks are almost exclusively on the downside of this 'not so good' fiscal scenario.
80% of the people who contribute to SS get less than what they paid in.
Hayman Capital's Kyle Bass is back and cutting through the caustic bullshit that surrounds every waking moment in this kick-the-can world. Dispelling the myth of our 'deleveraging' virtue, with global debt having grown from $80tn to over $200tn in the last ten years alone (a 10.7% CAGR) and the frightening reality of central bank balance sheet growth of 16% per annum, Bass concludes (rightly) that "you can't do this for very long" as governments infinitely leverage and central banks have begun the endgame of open-ended money-printing. Addressing the question of timing, Bass notes that while Europe and Japan are 'perceived' to be 'staying together' there are in fact devastating losses occurring (ask Greek bond-holders) and he firmly believes that "Germany will never go joint-and-several with the rest of Europe." The world sits at a place it has never been before in peace-time - as far as global debt balances and deficits - and that is why the global investing playbook is so hard. He goes on to address hyper-levered economies, delayed inflationary outcomes, and worries that the cost-push (lower GDP, higher CPI) prints are just beginning in Europe. As a fiduciary, and something all investors should consider, Bass states "Given what we see coming, our job is not to lose money!"
Bill Gross: The US Is A Debt Meth Addict - Unless The Fiscal Gap Is Closed Soon "The Damage Will Be Beyond Repair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/02/2012 06:37 -0500
The highlights from Bill Gross' latest monthly piece:
- Armageddon is not around the corner. I don’t believe in the imminent demise of the U.S. economy and its financial markets. But I’m afraid for them.
- Unless we begin to close this gap, then the inevitable result will be that our debt/GDP ratio will continue to rise, the Fed would print money to pay for the deficiency, inflation would follow and the dollar would inevitably decline. Bonds would be burned to a crisp and stocks would certainly be singed; only gold and real assets would thrive within the “Ring of Fire.”
- If the fiscal gap isn’t closed even ever so gradually over the next few years, then rating services, dollar reserve holding nations and bond managers embarrassed into being reborn as vigilantes may together force a resolution that ends in tears. The damage would likely be beyond repair.
- The U.S. and its fellow serial abusers have been inhaling debt’s methamphetamine crystals for some time now, and kicking the habit looks incredibly difficult.