In yet another hit for both the administration's trustworthiness and the hope of some spin-off of the GSEs, the WSJ reports that the Federal Housing Administration's projected losses over 30 years could reach as high as $115 billion under a previously undisclosed stress test. The results, which were not included in the agency's independent actuarial review (because of the potential uproar it might create according to emails), are based on the Fed's stress-test scenario - which seems like something that should (perhaps) have been included. The fact that this data was omitted from the report is "troubling" to House Oversight Committee head Darrell Issa. In its annual audit, the agency disclosed that under current conditions, total losses would exceed its reserves by $13.5 billion over 30 years (with a $943 million loss this year alone). The projected shortfall under a 'protracted economic slump' is $64.5 billion but the 'tail risk' event, that was originally included in earlier drafts, based on the Fed's stress test, is $115 billion. Hardly the upside-encouraging potential that private-finance will be looking for in funding FEDMAGIC.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"
- Apple Bonds Stick Buyers With $280.6 Million Loss as Rates Climb (BBG)
- Iceland Freezes EU Plans as New Government Shuns Euro Crisis (BBG)
- "Transparent Fed" - Ben Bernanke meets privately with Darrell Issa (Politico)
- Bank of Japan vows market steps to curb bond turbulence (Reuters) holds policy (FT)
- Stockholm riots spread in third night of unrest (FT)
- Dudley Says Decision on Taper Will Require 3-4 Months (BBG)
- Senate panel passes immigration bill; Obama praises move (Reuters)
- Italy to outline youth jobs plan as government struggles (Reuters)
- Apple CEO Tim Cook, Lawmakers Square Off Over Taxes (WSJ)
- Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes With Stateless Income (BBG)
- Sony Board Discussing Loeb’s Entertainment IPO Proposal (BBG)
- Vote Strengthens Dimon's Grip (WSJ), Dimon performance well choreographed (FT)
Today is one on those rare days in which everyone stops pretending fundamentals matter, and admits every market uptick is purely a function of what side of the bed Bernanke wakes up on, how loudly Kuroda sneezes, or how much coffee Mark Carney has had before lunch, but more importantly: that all "risk" is in the hands of a few good central-planners. Following last night's uneventful Bank of Japan meeting, in which Kuroda announced no changes to the "full speed ahead" policy of inflation or bust(ed bank sector following soaring JGB yields) and which pushed the Nikkei225 to surge above the DJIA closing at 15,627, today it is Bernanke's turn not once but twice, when he first takes the chair in the Joint Economic Committee's "Economic Outlook" hearing at 10 am, followed by the May 1 minutes release at 2pm (which may or may not have been previously leaked like last month). As a reminder, Politico reported last night that Ben Bernanke had previously met in secret with Darrell Issa and other lawmakers "to discuss the central bank’s efforts to stimulate the economy and how it could exit this strategy in the future, according to people who attended the meeting." And since we know how important transparency is to Bernanke and the Congress, "Participants in the meeting declined to disclose specifically what Bernanke told lawmakers beyond saying there was discussion about the Fed’s bond buying programs and other issues." But as long as Mr. Issa, the wealthiest man in the House, has his advance marching orders, all is well.
For an affair that numerous media outlets will have you believe has been spun out of all proportion, and that it really is the conservatives fault that the IRS was targeting them, it is somewhat ironic that the IRS official who opened up the entire Pandora's box with her targeted apology two weeks ago, and who learned in 2011 about the improper targeting of political groups yet lied under oath to Congress to the contrary, has decided to plead the Fifth and will invoke her right not to testify on Wednesday for fear of self-incrimination, according to her lawyer. But this would mean that... she may have something to hide? And that would be rather problematic for the media's spin cycle, although we are confident it will take just a few minutes of deep though in the proper channels, before this all too overt admission of guilt is somehow spun as the IRS being the unwitting targets of an aggressive McCarthyesque campaign seeking to discredit the government's impartial tax collector whose only noble purpose is to enable the government to get even bigger.
It has been a tough weekend for the President. First, the CEO of the Associated Press states the government's seizure of AP phone records was "so broad and so secret," among other factors, "that it was an unconstitutional act," adding that it had already had a chilling effect on newsgathering and press freedom. Add to that James Goodale's comments (the leading force behind the release of the Pentagon Papers and first amendment lawyer), that President Obama is "worse for press freedom than Nixon" and things are not going well. But, the problems did not stop there as the Wall Street Journal reports that while President Obama claims not to have been made aware of the IRS indiscretions until May 10th it seems the White House's chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the IRS likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups. The President's response so far is that "we’re not going to participate in is a partisan fishing expedition."
This was not your grandfather's hearing. The air was thick with partisanship already but when Darrell Issa began by playing audio of Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights and President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next Secretary of Labor, in which he confirms that he is arranging for details relating to the St. Paul case not to be disclosed. "Do you think it's appropriate for someone to -- at a federal level -- to try to keep information out in order to disguise what's actually going on?" Issa asked. "There are a whole variety of reasons why people, why we as a government and Justice Department, decide not to become involved in qui tam cases," Holder replied. Holder and Issa went back and forth until Holder lost it... "It is inappropriate and too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress," Holder said. "It is unacceptable. It is shameful."
And so the final curtain falls on the myth of what was supposed to be, in its own words, the "most transparent administration" in history. As it turns out, the big Friday story of Bloomberg journalists snooping on clients was just amateur hour compared to what the AP was about to serve. In fact, the Watergate affair may soon appear like a walk in the park compared to the First Amendment shitstorm that is about to be unleashed following the just reported news that the US Department of Justice had "secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news." First amendment? Freedom of speech and press? Surely not when it comes to the Nobel-peace prize winning President and those who dare to expose his secret ways. And what's worst, is that the AP breach has all the makings of a spiteful hack driven by personal vengeance against one of America's premier news outlets.
"The financial problems of the Postal Service are getting bigger every year," is how US Postmaster General Donahoe tried to convinced Congress not to block the bill the end Saturday delivery of mail. Raising the specter of mutually assured destructive bailouts in the future, the CEO rattle lawmakers (and other stakeholders) as NBC News reports, Representative Darrell Issa noting "It's very clear that ultimately, either the rate payer or the taxpayer will have to pay the $20 billion in debt of the Postal Service." Indeed Mr. Issa - so by our reckoning the plan to tax emails was a non-starter and so we compare the 73.5 billion pieces of mail handled by the USPS and the $20bn budgetary gap, it would appear the answer is simple - the current 46c stamp will have to rise in value by 27c or 60% in order to meet the shortfall. The problem of course is the legal limit on increasing stamp prices is bounded by what the BLS' official annual inflation report is, and which as the Fed is happy to reminds us, is at best 2% per year. Luckily, every problem, in this case too little inflation, has a solution: in this case hyperinflation.
Today, to little fanfare, the Fed announced a major binding settlement with the banks over robosigning and fraudclosure, which benefited the large banks, impaired the small ones (which is great: room for even more consolidation, and even more TBest-erTF, which benefits America's handful of remaining megabanks), and was nothing but one minor slap on the banking sector's consolidated wrist involving a laughable $3 billion cash payment. As part of the settlement, the US public is expected to ignore how much money the banks actually made in the primary and secondary market over the years courtesy of countless Linda Greens and robosigning abuses. A guess: the "settlement" represents an IRR of some 10,000% to 100,000% for the settling banks. We are confident once the details are ironed out, this will be an accurate range. Yet what is most disturbing, or not at all, depending on one's level of naivete, is the response of Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. As a reminder, Congress had demanded that the settlement not be announced before there was a hearing on it. This did not even dent the Fed's plans to proceed with today's 11 am public announcement which can now not be revoked. It is Cummings' response which shows, yet again, just who is the true master of the Federal Reserve.
Obamacare - There was a significant “drafting” mistake in the original legislation.
California Demands Business Insider Retract False Story On Jobless Claims Misreporting; Business Insider RefusesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2012 09:24 -0400
After yesterday Zero Hedge first reported the reason for the surprising plunge in the past week's initial claims, which as the BLS explained was due to "a state" (whose identity despite all tabloid speculation to the contrary is still unknown) not reporting "some" figures, assorted blogs picked up on what has since been confirmed to be an incorrect report by Business Insider's Henry Blodget claiming that "Well, we're glad to say that we've finally gotten to the bottom of what happened" and that the state in question is none other than California (supposedly as opposed to Illinois to shut up those wacky conspiracy theorists). Turns out the site known best for its slideshow presentations (which will soon double down as advertisements) may have once again fibbed just a little, following an official demand by none other than California state Employment Development Department direct, Pam Harris, that BI retract its article. To wit: "Reports that California failed to fully report data to the U.S. Department of Labor, as required, are incorrect and irresponsible... It’s unfortunate this ‘reporter’ and others who repeated the article’s erroneous statements chose to speculate rather than report, failing to confirm this information with EDD." Sure enough, the 'reporter' in question replied, and it appears that Business Insider is better informed than California when it comes to matters such as these, and has refused to retract.
Perhaps we are finally getting somewhere, though we suspect only traversing the toilet bowl, as the Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, just blasted the BLS over the jobs data in a conversation with Greta Van Susteren on FOX Business. Issa demands a 'Hearing' because:
the way it's being done with the constant revisions, significant revision, tells us that it's not as an exact a science as it needs to be and there's got to be a better way to get those numbers or don't put them out if they're going to be wrong by as much as half a point.
We are more than happy to provide the factual data to support this Hearing - though we suspect Hilda Solis will be deeply offended that her PhDs' work could be questioned.
Ben talks, the WSJ blows smoke and storms grow.