Since all US rating agencies (Fitch is majority French-owned) have been terrified into submission and will never again touch the rating of the US following the DOJ's witch hunt of S&P, any US rating changes on the margin will come from abroad. Like China's Dagong rating agency, which several hours ago just downgraded the US from A to A-, maintaining its negative outlook. The agency said that while a default has been averted by a last minute agreement in Congress, the fundamental situation of debt growth outpacing fiscal income and GDP remains unchanged. "Hence the government is still approaching the verge of default crisis, a situation that cannot be substantially alleviated in the foreseeable future."
Legitimate revolution takes time, patience and fortitude. Unfortunately, this is a strategic concept that is lost on many Americans today who suffer from a now common ailment of attention deficit disorder and an obsession with immediate gratification. Even some who have their hearts in the right place and who work to defend and resurrect our nation’s founding ideals seem to believe that any action to defeat corrupt oligarchy must be effective immediately, otherwise, it’s not worth the attempt. History, of course, teaches us the opposite. As things stand at this moment, though, the death of the system is not something to cheer, no matter how much we might wish it to crumble under the weight of its own criminality. The collapse of the existing system will not be the end of our troubles, only the beginning. Chaos always opens doors for evil men, and they will certainly take full advantage of the chaos triggered by shutdown, default or continued inflationary debt spending. We must make ourselves ready to resist by making ourselves separate from the monster we plan to fight. Crisis waits for no one, and on the path our nation now walks, crisis is assured.
Mere weeks after the Merkel re-election, it will come as no surprise to anyone that Greece is to be bailed out for the third time. Germany's Die Zeit newspaper notes the government is assembling a Greek bailout plan which essentially has four gimmicks to fill the "high-single-digit-billion" budget shortfall. Despite having been told time and again that the worst is over, Greek Bailout III will entail shifting cash from the bank recap fund, Bill sales to specific banks which can be instantly collateralized with the ECB, possible extensions of credit by existing creditors, and reduction in interest rates on existing debt. Of course, we will be told that this is the last time and that Greece will emerge victorious in just 1 or 2 more years...but after a few weeks of epic strength, the Athens stock index is giving some back in the last 2 days.
- Spot the pattern: Senate Leaders Nearing a Deal (Politico), Senators say debt, shutdown deal is near (USA Today), Senate Leaders in Striking Distance of a Deal (WSJ), U.S. senators hint at possible fiscal deal on Tuesday (Reuters), Senate Debt-Limit Deal Emerging (BBG)
- U.S. debt ceiling crisis would start quiet, go downhill fast (Reuters)
- Uneasy Investors Sell Billions in Treasurys (WSJ)
- BOE’s Cunliffe Says U.K. Is Not in Grip of Housing-Market Bubble (BBG)
- Letta Mixes Tax Cut With Rigor in Post-Berlusconi Italian Budget (BBG)
- Japan Seeks to Export More High-End Food (WSJ)
- Burberry names Bailey CEO as Ahrendts quits for Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Biggest Reserves Jump Since 2011 Shows Inflow (BBG)
In the midst of a domestic crisis, it is easy to forget that the rest of the world is watching. Now that the U.S. federal government has shut down for the first time since the mid 1990s, the talk of the town is the political problems of the world’s largest economy and sole superpower. In China, most media reports about the shutdown have been merely informative, but every now and then they offer a rare insight into what the Chinese have learned about America’s shortcomings. Yet other commentators find the federal shutdown inspiring. the newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao commended the strength of American society for being able to function without the government. Interestingly, while the American public sees the shutdown as a government failure, some Chinese are seeing it as a sign of efficiency.
On Saturday, millions of Americans across 17 states found themselves in an unfamiliar situation: they couldn't rely on the US government for their daily foodstamp-funded bread. The result was anger, confusion and sometimes, outright panic, as shoppers left their full shopping carts in stores, and departed their favorite general retailer in a daze. However, while most outlets that accepted EBT were experiencing a one-day, non-recurring hit to their EPS, several Walmart stores in Louisiana decided to brave through the Xerox-induced blackout for several hours by eliminating the spending caps on EBT cards, leading to nothing short of shopping stampedes. The result, as CBS reports, is that "Walmart and local police ... were called into the stores to help maintain order Saturday as shoppers swept through the aisles at two stores and bought as much as they could carry."
It’s a Myth that the U.S. Has Never Defaulted On Its Debt
“There is precedent for a government shutdown,” Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, remarked last week. “There’s no precedent for default.” How wrong he is.
The popular take on the current debt ceiling stand-off is that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has a delusional belief that it can hit the brakes on new debt creation without bringing on an economic catastrophe. While Republicans are indeed kidding themselves if they believe that their actions will not unleash deep economic turmoil, there are much deeper and more significant delusions on the other side of the aisle. Democrats, and the President in particular, believe that continually taking on more debt to pay existing debt is a more responsible course of action. Even worse, they appear to believe that debt accumulation is the equivalent of economic growth.
Only a week ago, the consensus among most mainstream economic analysts and even some alternative analysts was that a government shutdown was not going to happen. The Republicans would fold in the shadow of President Barack Obama’s overwhelming drive for socialization, spending would continue to grow unabated, and the debt ceiling would be vaulted yet again to feed the bureaucratic machine with more fiat. Today, there is no consensus, very few people continue to be so blithely self-assured and even the mainstream is beginning to wonder if a much bigger game is afoot here.
While there is hope that DC will engage in its favorite, can-kicking activity any minute and if not resolve then at least push back the funding and debt ceiling stalemate by a few weeks, the reality is that without a deal in seven days, there may be no cash to pay down maturing Bills starting with the October 17 issue whose yield soared to nearly 50 bps yesterday. The reason for the capitulation as was revealed yesterday, is that various money market funds such as Fidelity's have been selling all paper around the X-Date. This morning the contagion surrounding the use of Bills as collateral has crossed the Pacific, following news that the "Hong Kong’s futures and options market operator will require traders to put up more collateral when using some Treasury bills to back their positions, citing concern that the U.S. is at risk of a default." In other words, as we forecast on Monday, the debt-ceiling confusion in cash-land has now openly engulfed the repo market, which only makes the states of a debt deal that much higher. Because if the repo, $2.5 trillion money market, and subsequently, the entire $80 or so trillion custodian market freeze up, what happens next will make Lehman seem like a quiet walk in the park.
When on October 1, fallen billionaire Eike Batista's OGX Petroleo & Gas, missed a $45 million bond coupon payment, some were surprised but most had seen the writing on the wall. After all, Brazil's second largest oil company after Petrobras, and the crowning jewel of Batista's EBX Group, had been under the microscope of investors and certainly creditors (and if it wasn't it certainly should have been) after oil deposits that Batista had valued at $1 trillion turned out to be commercial failures. And so the countdown to the inevitable bankruptcy filing began. Overnight, Bloomberg reports that the wait should not be long (in fact it may coincide with the default of that other insolvent mega-creditor: the United States), and will mostly certainly take place before the end of the month, following the retention of bankruptcy specialist law firm Quinn Emanuel.
- Janet Yellen, a Backer of Pushing the Fed's Policy Boundaries (WSJ)
- Jos. A. Bank proposes to buy Men's Wearhouse for $2.3 billion (Reuters)
- J.P. Morgan to Cull Business Clients (WSJ)
- RBS Said to Pass Currency Trader Chats to FCA Amid Probe (BBG)
- Prosecutors give SAC settlement ultimatum (FT)
- U.S. builders hoard mineral rights under new homes (Reuters)
- Bill Comes Due for Brazil's Middle Class (WSJ)
- US expected to slash aid to Egyptian government (AP)
- Samsung launches world's first smartphone with curved screen (Reuters)
- Microsoft’s $7.2 Billion Nokia Bet Not Luring Apps (BBG)
- China raises hurdles for foreign banks (FT)
As we have discussed previously, the "partial government shutdown" that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event - especially with the un-furloughing of The Pentagon. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17% of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This "shutdown" could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much. On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous. A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic. If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
In an ominous supplication to the fact that a deal may not be coming President Obama admitted that his administration is "exploring all contingencies on the debt limit." We assume, given his dismissal of the 14th Amendment and the idiocy ("there are no magic bullets" to avoid default) of the trillion-dollar-coin and premium-bond issuance to the Fed, this implies - unlike the ECB - that they are conceding it is possible we cross the "X" date. His remarks were a perfect rehash of everything he has said before... unless the Republicans stop demanding 100% of what they want and give him 100% of what he wants, he will not negotiate. In Summary: no negotiation with extremists holding hostages