Debt Ceiling

The One Thing Everyone Is Forgetting About The Fiscal Cliff

While everyone is hypnotized by the melodramatic theater in D.C., it is worth reminding readers just what the one most important statement so far uttered by anyone on the topic of the Fiscal cliff is. That statement belongs to Chairman Bernanke, it was uttered during the December 12 Fed press conference when QE4EVA was announced, and is his response to Peter Cook from Bloomberg TV who asked "if the policy makers were not to agree to some sort of deficit deal by the end of this year and we were to go over the fiscal cliff, that the size of these asset purchases could indeed grow in response to that?' Bernanke's response: "if the economy actually went off the fiscal cliff, our assessment, the CBO’s assessment, outside forecasters, all think that that would have very significant adverse effects on the economy and on the unemployment rate. And so, on the margin, we would try to do what we could. We would perhaps increase a bit." And there you have it, and there goes any sense of urgency, at least until the real deadline in late March, when the Treasury will have tapped out the G-fund and can't extend the debt ceiling any more.

"Get to work, Mr. Chairman."

Twas The Last Obama Conference Before Cliffmas...

... and all through the collocated server house, GETCO algos were stirring, hoping (as this is the only "strategy" left) that maybe, just maybe, Obama can pull a unicorn out of his skittles-dispensing hat. He won't, and most likely we will get one last does of stern fingerpointing, harsh language and accusative condemnation of those wascaly wepublicans. But find out for yourselves in 15 short minutes, when the market may be closed, but futures will still be open, although at least subject to the limit down rule. Of course, if the news was good, it would have come before 4 pm...

Is The S&P Set To Test 1370 (Or 1150)?

We noted the VIX divergence (and most importantly the 14-month flatness of the term-structure - which is following the 'debt ceiling' path perfectly!) yesterday and pointed out how illiquid markets were. Critically, those that could were selling into strength and those that couldn't (due to size and illiquidity) bought protection. Overnight the flash crash recoupled S&P to VIX but this morning has seen more protecction buyers step in, driving VIX towards 20% (5 month highs). Given the recent correlations (and managers knowing full well they can't unwind their exposure into the cash market as the avalanche will be too large), VIX implies the S&P at around 1370. Interestingly, this level of S&P is also approximately what a 2% rally in the USD would imply (the FX implication we suggested yesterday of a failed cliff resolution in the short-term).

Quad Witching Cliff-faller

It may not be apparent immediately, but in the aftermath of last night's epic collapse in fiscal cliff negotiations, which incidentally was perfectly obvious to anyone with half a brain and who experienced last summer's debt ceiling fiasco, which sadly excludes all paid political and financial - including sellside - commentators, all of whom expected a prompt resolution to this polarized issue as recently as a week ago, there is major behind the scenes panic. Because while banks would write profuse, long-winded essays to explain the logic and rationality of the "deal", now that they are all faced with adjusting their narrative the best they can come up with are two sentence fragments such as this one from Citi's Steven Englander "Problem is that it is the right wing of the Republican Party that wouldn’t give Boehner their support, making it less likely that he could win broad support among Republicans for a compromise with the White House. Also he will have to spend next couple of days negotiating with both his own party and the Democrats without knowing how much he can deliver." The answer: nothing at all. In fact as Scott Rigell said “I’m not sure the people who have been up here 20 or 30 years really understand what the next iteration of this process is”.  He is speaking for pretty much everyone else who has now been made a total fool by the Black Swan that is Congress. As a reminder a 3 month delay resolution assures a US recession, and a ~20% or so minimum correction in the stock market, which has been priced for absolute perfection for months, and which will once again have to be used by Wall Street as a means to get a consensus out of DC. Just as we predicted over a month ago. Finally while we may have avoided the Mayan apocalypse, we do have a quad witching and a NASDAQ rebalance to look forward to. Enjoy!

Plan 'C' Anyone? Boehner Humiliated As "Plan B" Lacks Enough Votes To Pass

Update: wow:

HOUSE SCRAPS PLAN TO VOTE ON BOEHNER'S TAX `PLAN B' TONIGHT
U.S. HOUSE PLANS NO VOTES UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS, BURTON SAYS
BOEHNER SAYS `PLAN B' TAX PLAN LACKED SUPPORT TO PASS
BOEHNER SAYS UP TO OBAMA TO WORK WITH REID ON BUDGET PLAN

Absolute total chaos. ES at lows of the days right now. Luckily, at least the debt ceiling is a firm deadline... Sometime in late March. Oh, and goodbye Boehner?

House Passes Sequester Replacement "Spending" Bill By 215-209 Vote, "Plan B" Vote Next - Live Webcast

Update: an unexpected setback for Boehner appears to have appeared with rumors that there may not be enough votes in support of Plan B. As a result the vote on Plan B is for now delayed, and the Republican leaders are said to plan a 7:45pm conference. Suddenly it is becoming a real nailbiter. Stay tuned and grab your popcorn.

The first key vote on the House's docket - the Spending Cut Bill, i.e. the Sequester removal, has just passed as widely expected, by a vote of 215-209 with 21 Republicans voting now. Shortly thereafter, the House will vote on the "Plan B" Boehner tax proposal which too is expected to pass the House, and then be blocked by the Senate. At that point the Fiscal Cliff debate for 2012 is likely to be shelved and reopened in 2013 only after the consequences of the Fiscal Cliff have taken place. A final resolution may well stretch out into March, as we predicted previously, when the drop dead decision date is due - that coinciding with the debt ceiling increase, which by mid-March will no longer be extendable.  Watch the vote live below.

Guest Post: Why Reported Inflation Seems Different Than Reality

The subject of inflation has remained an emotionally charged topic of debate over the last several years.  As rising prices for individuals, and businesses, has negatively impacted their prosperity; reported inflation has remained at very low levels.  With the Fed pumping trillions of dollars into financial system the fear of much higher inflation, as the dollar is debased, has caused gold prices to soar in recent years. The sole purpose in measuring inflation is to help businesses, individuals and government adjust their financial planning for the impact of inflation.  Inflation erodes future purchasing power, and decreases economic prosperity, if not accurately accounted for.  The accuracy of measuring inflation, and accounting for it properly, is essential to long term economic prosperity. Shortly after Clinton entered the White House the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) altered the calculation of inflation by changing the weighting of goods in the CPI fixed basket. But the manipulation of the data did not stop there.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

I’m going to lay out everything you need to know about the fiscal cliff negotiations. After reading this, you can ignore all of the media’s coverage of this topic as well as various politicians’ announcements pertaining to this subject. All you need to know consists of just one sentence. Politicians are in charge of this issue.

It Really Is Different (Again) This Time

Despite the seemingly generational destruction to household and bank balance sheets and an entirely unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy reponse, investors would never know it given the market's reactions from the 2009 lows relative to its rally from the 2003 lows. Different this time? hhmmm... Worried about gold prices falling also? Doesn't look like we learned anything from the 'Debt Ceiling' debate either...

Frontrunning: December 18

  • Obama Concessions Signal Potential Bipartisan Budget Deal (BBG)
  • Cerberus to sell gunmaker after massacre (CNN)
  • With New Offers, Fiscal-Cliff Talks Narrow (WSJ)
  • Judge rejects Apple injunction bid vs. Samsung (Reuters)
  • U.S. policy gridlock holding back economy? Maybe not (Reuters)
  • President fears for Italy’s credibility (FT)
  • Struggles Mount for Greeks as Economy Faces Winter (WSJ)
  • Abe leans on BoJ in post-election meeting (FT)
  • Bank of Japan to mull 2 percent inflation target as Abe turns up heat (Reuters)
  • EU exit is ‘imaginable’, says Cameron (FT)
  • Mortgage Risk Under Fire in Nordics as Bubbles Fought (BBG)
  • Sweden cuts interest rates to 1% (FT)
  • External risks impede China recovery, more easing seen (Reuters)

Indirect Takedown In Today's 2 Year Auction Lowest On Record

While generally a rather boring auction, with the 0.245% When Issued coming right on top of the final High Yield, in addition to bringing the US another $35 billion closer to the debt ceiling breach, today's 2 Year auction was remarkable for one more thing: the Indirect Take down of 17.7% was the smallest such award on record, which in turn confirms that last week's trend of collapsing Indirect interest is persisting. Has the Chinese boycott of US paper now moved to all foreigners? Forget the 2 month delayed TIC data, and keep an eye on the weekly updated Fed Custodial holding data - if we see a drop in this week's update for TSY paper, it may be time to start getting concerned.

Overnight Sentiment: Politics And Apples

At a time in the year when the market should be at a standstill, and when all trading should be over, the tension in the S&P is unprecedented, driven by two main factors: the ongoing Fiscall Cliff confrontation, which now appears set to not be resolved by Christmas, and very likely to persist into the new year, and what happens with hotel AAPLfornia, as suddenly it has become a liability to show LPs any holdings of the fruit in the year end statement. The two events combined will likely see furious market volatility persist well through the year end, and since volumes will further die down, we may well see massive stock moves on odd lots. And while AAPL is trading under $500 for the first time since February following last night's Citi downgrade, the confusion over the Fiscal Cliff persists, with The Hill first reporting that Boehner is willing to cave on the debt ceiling extension,  even as Boehner himself subsequently tweeted that "Any increase in the debt limit will require a greater amount in spending cuts and reforms." So back to square one, with a red herring proposal that Boehner can say we offered to the president and the president turned down. Japan continues to attract a lot of attention with the ADHD market desperate to hope that the coming of Abe 2.0 will be much better than that of 1.0, when in one year he achieved nothing and then resigned due to diarrhea. Judging by the action in the USDJPY, we may be a few short hours away from closing the gap that sent the pair to 84.30 first thing, and proceeding to unwind the near record JPY commitment of traders short position as the JPY realizes this time will not be different. Quiet calendar in the US, with the Empire State Manufacturing Index expected to print at -0.5 at 8:30 am Eastern, TIC data to show China's ongoing TSY boycott at 9 am, and a hawkish Jeff "Mutiny on the Eccles" Lacker speech at 1 pm.

The 12 Charts Of Christmas

After the success of the 'scariest charts for equity bulls', the following 12 charts are the most important, in CitiFX's view, to establish a 'starting point' for views on markets as we head into 2013. From employment trends echoing the 1970s, one-last-low in Treasury yields and '90s analogs, to EURUSD and its mid-'80s mirror, and the ongoing trend higher in gold; there is something here to scare equity and bond bulls and bears alike.