Debt Ceiling

Deja Broke: Presenting The Treasury's Options To Continue Pretending The US Is Solvent

The debt limit was formally reached last week, and we expect the Treasury's ability to borrow to be exhausted by around March 1 (if not before) and while CDS are not flashing red, USA is at near 3-month wides. Like the previous debt limit debate in the summer of 2011, the debate seems likely to be messy, with resolution right around the deadline. That said, like the last debate we would expect the Treasury to prioritize payments if necessary, and Goldman does not believe holders of Treasury securities are at risk of missing interest or principal payments. The debt limit is only one of three upcoming fiscal issues, albeit the most important one. Congress also must address the spending cuts under sequestration, scheduled to take place March 1, and the expiration of temporary spending authority on March 27. While these are technically separate issues, it seems likely that they will be combined, perhaps into one package. This remains a 'very' recurring issue, given our government's spending habits and insistence on its solvency, as we laid out almost two years ago in great detail.

Marc To Market's picture

It is widely recognized that the agreement to mitigate the fiscal cliff neither puts the US on a sustainable fiscal path nor lifts much policy uncertainty. At the same time, minutes from the latest FOMC meeting showed that several members anticipate ending QE3+ before the end of the year, seemed to cloud the outlook. Seeking to avoid partisanship of the heated debates, we offer the following overview of the outlook for US policy, free of hyperbole.

Stephen Colbert Takes On The Trillion Dollar Coin

We were wondering how long until the latest lunatic idea out of the "serious economist" mainstream would get the proper comedic treatment it so rightfully deserves. That time finally came last night when Stephen Colbert gave it the 3 minutes of attention it almost deserves. Oh well, now that it has made the comic circuit it is time to officially forget about this idiotic idea... At least until the next debt ceiling crisis in a year or so when like a bad sequel to Weekend at Bennie's Bernie's, it is resurrected once more.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: January 8

Equity markets recovered from a lower open following press reports overnight by eKathimerini that the country’s main banks are considering requesting additional funds for their recapitalization and edged higher throughout the session after sources at Hellenic Financial Stability Fund said that there no indications that Greek banks need more recap funds. In addition to that, Xinhua reported that chance of China RRR cut is increasing for January, citing industry insiders for RRR cut forecast. This follows on from the reports in ChinaDaily last week, which suggested that a small interest rate cut at the right time could substantially decrease financing costs and improve expectations for profitability, citing researchers from the China Development Bank, the State Information Center and the Shanghai Securities News who have worked together to forecast key economic indicators and policies in 2013. The risk sentiment was also supported by well subscribed debt auctions from the Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Belgium. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads are tighter by around 5bps in 10s. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the latest NFIB, IBD/TIPP and Consumer Credit reports. The Fed is due to conduct Treasury op targeting Oct'18-Dec'19 (USD 3.00-3.75bln) and the US Treasury is also set to auction USD 32bln in 3y notes.

Meet Jack Lew: Tim Geithner's Replacement

Bloomberg is out after hours with news that was expected by many, but which was yet to be formalized, until now: namely that following today's flurry of contntious nomination by Obama, the latest and greatest is about to be unveiled - Jack Lew, Obama's current chief of staff, is likely days away from being announced as Tim Geithner's replacement as the new Treasury Secretary of the United States. In other words, Jack will be the point person whom the people who truly run the Treasury, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by JPM's Matt Zames (who just happens to also now run the notorious JPM Chief Investment Office which uses excess deposits to gamble - yes, you really can't make this up) and Goldman's Ashok Varadhan, global head of dollar-rate products and FX trading for North America (recently buying a $16 million pad at 15 CPW) will demand action from.

Gallup Finds December Consumer Spending... Soared?

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Listening to talking heads and certainly to various retail associations, US consumer spending in December was lackluster driven by such traditional scapegoats as "lack of confidence ahead of the Fiscal Cliff", lack of clarity on taxation, fears about what the market may do, etc. And while retailers certainly did report a very mixed sales report for both November and December, it certainly was not due to lack of spending, at least not according to Gallup. Curiously, and rather inexplicably, the polling organization found that in December the average self-reported daily spending in stores, online, and in restaurants rose by a whopping $10 to $83. This was the highest monthly figure Gallup has reported since December 2008. It is also the first reading above the $80 mark since the 2008-2009 recession. But how is that possible? Wasn't the strawman that nobody would spend due to fiscal and tax uncertainty? Apparently not, and this unleashes merely the latest episode of baffle with BS, where data from one source contradicts directly what has been reported from other aggregators of spending data.

Frontrunning: January 7

  • Secret and Lies of the Bailout (Rolling Stone)
  • Banks Win 4-Year Delay as Basel Liquidity Rule Loosened (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Squeezed With Shorts Beating S&P 500 (BBG)
  • Bankruptcy regime for nations urged (FT)
  • Is the Fed Doing Enough—or Too Much—to Aid Recovery (WSJ)
  • Cracks widen in US debt ceiling debate (FT)
  • McConnell Takes Taxes Off the Table in Debt Limit Negotiations (BBG)
  • Abe Seen Spending 12 Trillion Yen to Boost Japan’s Economy (BBG)
  • Monti, Berlusconi Spar on Taxes in Weekend Media Barrage (BBG)
  • Cameron Sets New Priorities for U.K. Coalition (BBG)
  • Defiant Assad Rules Out Talks With Rebels (WSJ)
  • Korea Seen Resisting Rate Cut as Won Threatens Exports (BBG)

Guest Post: The US Debt Crisis - How High Will It Go?

Why must the debt grow every year? To keep the debt-servitude paradigm going. To increase economic activity in a country operating in this type of system, you need to increase the level of credit and thus debt grows in tandem. This is self serving: if debt is the “fuel” to increase economic activity, interest payments will become larger and larger, until eventually it reaches a point where debt can no longer be increased. This point is known as the Minsky moment–when there is no net benefit to extra debt. So there we have it, in our “creditopia” world, if debt does not expand, the economy cannot grow and jobs cannot be created. In order to increase debt, foreigners have to continually finance the ever growing debt by purchasing government bonds and selling consumer products to the US. In turn, the US must increase the level of consumption, decrease savings, and eliminate the threat of any nation posing a risk to the US dollar hegemony. Is this a symbiotic or a parasitic relationship? Is is certainly a relationship that cannot grow forever. It poses an economic risk for ALL nations due to the interconnectedness of the global economy.

Vol Curve Mangling Continues As March Debt Ceiling "Drop Dead" Day Looms

We explicitly noted that the purchase of vol steepeners across the debt-ceiling deadlines was the short-term trade as soon as the ATRA deal was approved. In the brief period since, the VIX term-structure has smashed from its flattest (most inverted) in 2 months to its steepest now in 5 months as hedgers roll out to March and beyond. Of course, all algos know is that they can lever VXX (and other synthetics) in the short-term to ramp equities higher - and sure enough the S&P 500 just hit highs above the highest close since December 2007.

Guest Post: Heads Or Tails - The 2013 Coin Toss

In money management long term success lies not in garnering short term returns but avoiding the pitfalls that lead to large losses of invested capital.  While it is not popular in the media to point out the headwinds that face investors in the months ahead - it is also naive to only focus on the positives.  While it is true that markets rise more often than not, unfortunately, it is when markets don't that investors are critically set back from their long term goals.  It is not just the loss of capital that is devastating to the compounding effect of returns but, more importantly, it is the loss of "time" which is truly limited and never recoverable. Therefore, as we look forward into 2013, we want to review three reasons to be bullish about investing in the months to come but also review three risks that could derail the markets along the way. The reality is that no one knows for sure where the markets will end this year; and while it is true that "bull markets are more fun than bear markets" the damage to investment portfolios by not managing the risks can be catastrophic.

Art Cashin On The Trillion Dollar Coin Alchemy

It would appear that even the venerable Art Cashin had to rub his eyes in incredulity at the recircling of the idea of the Treasury minting a "Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin" to solve the debt-ceiling 'problem'. His brief discussion on the idea is summed up perfectly in his final six words "anybody got an ebook on alchemy?"