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.
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...
- 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)
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.
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.
I attempt to craft something that has a chance of working.
Global Central Banks agree to another year of access to FRBNY FX Swap Lines
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.
At the end of October, as the Tristate Area was being flooded by Hurricane Sandy, one after another Wall Street firm tried to position Sandy virtually as a non-event, with total damage "forecasts" by such "reputable" firms as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America forecasting a total bill between $10 and $20 billion (as anything above that and the Q3 damage to GDP would be far more substantial than their recently bullish forecasts had accounted for, and would also imply a substantial spillover effect into Q1 2013), the same as various insurance companies who had other far more obvious reasons to undershoot on the total damages. We said the opposite, and based on historic damage forecasts, predicted the damage would likely be between $50 and $100 billion. Once again the sellside consensus was wrong and a fringe blog was accurate, as the CBO has just released the Obama administration's full aid request. Bottom line: $60.4 billion, or roughly what one year of what the ultimate tax hike compromise will bring into the government's treasury. Furthermore, if fully funded by debt today, this amount would send the US (which has a $57 billion debt buffer as of this moment) over the debt ceiling immediately.
Investors are being hit from all sides now. We face the fiscal cliff and the quite real possibility that we will go over it, the debt ceiling and then we are assuaged by various tax and spending schemes. The stock market chugs along with their “What me worry” attitude. Just because we are now in a world drowning in apathy do not think that this will go on forever. The problems have become magnified by the slush of capital thrown about by the world’s central banks so that when the bough breaks; it will be a systemic break. It will flash right across the world and we will have another “Oh My God” moment which, as I peer into the future, may come in the next year.
InTrade may have gotten the Obamacare outcome horribly wrong, but it was spot on in predicting the Obama presidential victory. And if it has continued its accurately predictive ways, it will mean a lot of pain is in store for the market (if not so much the President) very shortly, because the online betting service, now only accessible to offshore based US residents just saw odds on a debt ceiling deal plunge to all time lows of 10% earlier today, before rebounding weakly to 16%. As a reminder, Harry Reid has said on numerous occasions that there will be no Fiscal Cliff resolution without a favorable debt ceiling outcome, which therefore means that according to InTrade the odds of a Fiscal Cliff getting done in 2012 have plunged to 16%, and the probability of a market tumble, as the cliff moving over to 2013 means a cornucopia of unintended consequences, is logically (1-16%).
US leaders see that this strategy has worked for EU leaders (those who went along with it are still in office, those who didn’t have been kicked out). And so they are now adopting a similar strategy with discussions on the fiscal cliff.
Tim Geithner's time is almost done, but the former NY Fed head is only one of very many whose position is expected to be replaced in Obama's second term (just so there is a non-continuous chain of command if and when the time comes for the people to demand an explanation for the state of the US economy from the talented Mr. Geithner). Who else is out and who is expected to be in? The following list attempts to cover all upcoming rotations at the top of the US cabinet. What is not attempted is a prediction of where in the private sector people such as Geithner will end up: that is considered largely self-explanatory.
The market continues to track the same pattern it performed going into the failed debt ceiling talks of July 2011. As you’ll recall, then as is the case now, US politicians failed to reach a credible solution to the US’s debt problems. What followed was a credit rating downgrade and a market collapse.
Since the 2nd Liberty Act of 1917 birthed the debt ceiling, due to issues financing USA's entry into World War I, CNBC's Rick Santelli notes that there has been many documented 'violations'. However, as Rick so vociferously points out President Obama's comment yesterday on the debt limit and highlights the fact that "to have an unlimited amount of money to call upon is too much power power for one person. It's always in our country been about checks and balances but I think this administration just wants more checks and no balancing of the checkbook." Rick is right, of course, and the current diatribe from Geithner and Obama yesterday on the possible 'removal' of the debt limit beggars belief - and yet has become a negotiating point to be 'traded'. While some argue the premise of the debt limit for a reserve currency nation is nonsense, Santelli sums it perfectly in ten little words: "Debt Ceiling Is Not The Problem. Debt Is The Problem," adding the debt ceiling, as we have pointed out regularly, is an important (perhaps the most important) issue facing us currently (and inseparable from the supposed 'austerity' of the fiscal cliff - lower spending growth not lower spending).