A short time ago, the House of Representatives rejected (by 239-176 though not enough to avoid Obama's veto) the $1.3tn increase in the federal debt limit. As Reuters notes, this vote seems like 'a largely symbolic vote aimed at staking out election-year positions on government spending' as we know by now that Timmy G will underfund yet another pension plan (on the promise to transfer-pay it all back very soon) if it ever came to that. The Hill also adds Democratic comments that this was clearly 'a political stunt' as the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says "This is a game that will say, see, I voted against debt." Where the sound-and-fury is laughable of course is that both the House and Senate need to 'disapprove' of the debt ceiling hike that is already 'pre-approved' in last year's Budget Control Act (and the Senate is widely expected not to disapprove). As politician after politician sought media-time, Ron Paul echoed his sensibilities (though not really helpful in this situation) that "we're in denial", and "you can't solve the problem of debt by accumulating more debt."
Back on January 5, when we first broke the news that the US debt ceiling has been reached, and breached, yet again, we said "And now the Social Security Fund pillaging begins anew until Congress signs off on the latest interim debt ceiling increase." Sure enough, operation rape and pillage is a go.
- U.S. SUSPENDS PAYMENTS TO PENSION FUND TO AVOID DEBT CAP BREACH
- GEITHNER INFORMS CONGRESS ON SUSPENSION OF PAYMENTS TO FUND
- GEITHNER SAYS `G' FUND PARTICIPANTS `UNAFFECTED' BY SUSPENSION
- GEITHNER SAYS `G' FUND TO BE MADE WHOLE AFTER DEBT LIMIT RAISED
- GEITHNER: DEBT LIMIT WILL BE INCREASED JAN. 27 UNLESS BLOCKED
In other words: Congress better pass the debt ceiling pronot, or else it will have to explain to government retirees the tens of billions in deficit funds, i.e., marketable debt, already issued will permanently offset the level in G-fund holdings. Lastly, any comparison to similar acts of commingling performed by other insolvent entities in recent months is purely coincidental and no Obama handlers were thrown in jail as a result of this post.
That after last year's abysmal performance on Wall Street, best summarized by the following quarterly JPMorgan Investment Banking revenue and earnings chart, bonuses season would be painful should not surprise anyone. But hardly anyone expected it to be quite this bad. The WSJ reports that Morgan Stanley, likely first of many, will cap cash bonuses at $125,000 and "will defer the portion of any bonus past $125,000 until December 2012 and December 2013" with bigger 'sacrifices' to be suffered by the executive committee which, being held accountable for the collapse in its stock price, will defer their entire bonuses for 2011. Morgan Stanley is likely just the beginning: "As banks report fourth-quarter results this month and make bonus decisions for 2011, total compensation is likely to be the lowest since 2008." This means that once Goldmanites get their numbers later this week, we will likely see a mass exodus for hedge funds which remain the only oasis of cash payouts on Wall Street. Alas, unlike the Bank Holding Companies, a series of bad decisions will result in hedge fund closure, as the TBTF culture will never penetrate the stratified air of Greenwich, CT. And with bonuses capped at about $80K after taxes, or barely enough to cover the running tab at the local Genlteman's venue, the biggest loser will be the state and city of New York, both of which are about to see their tax revenues plummet. And since banker pay is responsible for a substantial portion of Federal tax revenue, look for Federal tax withholding data in the first few months of 2012 to get very ugly, making America even more responsible on debt issuance, and likely implying the yet to be re-expanded by $1.2 trillion debt ceiling will be breached just before the Obama election making it into the biggest talking point of the election cycle.
A Shocking €1 Trillion LTRO On Deck? CLSA Explains Why Massive Quanto-Easing By The ECB May Be Coming Next MonthSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/16/2012 16:26 -0500
It is a pure coincidence that following the previous report of stern condemnation of traditional ECB QE in the form of Large Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP) by the Bundesbank, we should follow it up with the latest analysis by Chris Wood of CLSA's famous Greed and Loathing newsletter, in which the noted skeptic does an about face on his existing short European financial trade and covers such exposure, while observing the much-discussed major shift in ECB liquidity provisioning as the catalyst. And while his trade reco may or may not be right (if we were betting people we would put our money on the latter), what is interesting is the basis for the material change in exposure which to Wood is explained simply by the dramatic shift in the ECB approach toward monetary generosity, courtesy of the arrival of ex-Goldmanite Mario Draghi. The basis is the first noted here massive surge in the European balance sheet (Figure 2) which while not engaging in prima facie monetization, has done so via indirect channels, in the form of an LTRO, which is basically a 1%, 3-year loan, but more importantly, a balance sheet expansion which while having failed to increase the velocity of money in any way (with all of the LTRO and then some now having been redeposited back at the ECB as reporter earlier), has at least fooled the market for the time being that any sub 3 Year debt is "safe". So just how large will the next LTRO be? "Market talk is focusing on an even bigger amount to be borrowed at the next 3-year longer-term refinancing operation (LTRO) due on 29 February. GREED & fear has heard guesstimates of up to €1tn!" That's right - it is possible that in its quanto monetary diarrhea (but at least it's not printing, so the Bundesbank will be delighted), the ECB is about to increase its balance sheet from €2.7 trillion to € €3.7 trillion, or a €1.7 trillion ($2.2 trillion) expansion in 8 months! And gold is where again?
- China’s Forex Reserves Drop for First Quarter Since 1998 (Bloomberg) - explains the sell off in USTs in the Custody Account
- Greek Euro Exit Weighed By German Lawmakers, Seen as Manageable (Bloomberg)
- Greek bondholders say time running out (FT)
- Housing policy to continue (China Daily)
- Switzerland’s Central Bank Returns to Profit (Reuters)
- US sanctions Chinese oil trader (FT)
- Obama Starts Clock for Congress to Vote on Raising Federal Debt Ceiling (Bloomberg)
- Turkey defiant on Iran sanctions (FT)
- ECB’s Draghi Says Weapons Working in Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)
- Greece to pass law that could force creditors in bond swap (Reuters)
Are the markets already front running a potential announcement of a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE 3)? Maybe so. We had expected QE3 at the end of last summer as the economy weakened substantially from the impact of the Japanese earthquake/debt ceiling debate/Eurozone crisis trifecta. However, with political pressures running high due to the raging battle in Congress raising the debt ceiling there was little support from the public for further intervention. Furthermore, with inflation, as measured by CPI, already outside of the Fed's comfort zone, the Fed opted to institute "Operation Twist" (O.T.) instead. With the Euro-Crisis on the broiler, another debt ceiling debate approaching, the U.S. economy struggling along as Europe slips into a recession and corporate earnings being revised down there are plenty of reasons for stocks to decline in price. Yet, they have continued to inch up. With short interest on stocks having plunged in recent weeks it certainly sounds like the markets are betting on something happening and soon.
- HOUSE TO VOTE JAN. 18 ON OBAMA'S DEBT-LIMIT INCREASE REQUEST
Two days ago we wondered how long it would take for Obama to restart the debt ceiling theater. Not that long it turns out.
- OBAMA SENDS CONGRESS REQUEST TO RAISE DEBT CEILING
- OBAMA NOTIFICATION STARTS 15-DAY CLOCK FOR CONGRESS TO VOTE
So with Congress in recess, will Obama succeed in passing another automatic vote using base trickery? The same Obama, who as recently as 3 hours ago warned Congress that any attempts to pass approval on the Keystone Pipeline without his involvement are "counterproductive"... In other news, America' new debt ceiling of $16.3 trillion, or 107% of GDP is now just a formality, about to be interrupted by a little circus clowning.
America may have breached its debt ceiling, but that is certainly not preventing it from issuing debt, placing another $21 billion in 10 Year bonds in a reopening, which priced 1.5 bps through the WI tail of 1.915% or at 1.90%. This is merely the latest record low yield in the history of the auction. The Bid To Cover came at 3.29: not a record, but certainly one of the top 5 highest. Oddly enough, while the Directs disappeared from yesterday's 3 Year auction, today they surged, coming at double last month's 8.4% at 17.4%, the highest since the August post-downgrade auction. Primary Dealers accounted for 44.3% with Indirects coming in at a very weak 38.3%. Still, the take home is that in the past two days, the US has raised over $50 billion in debt with no capacity, and instead is plundering from government retirement accounts, just like it did back in July 2011 at the first, but not last, debt ceiling theater. SSDD.At least we know what it takes to get new record low yields: just keep breaching the debt ceiling - guaranteed way to raise 30 Year debt at 0.00% in a few months.
As Zero Hedge reported first, the US is once again, in just 5 short months (see chart), back at the debt ceiling, with just $25 million in new debt issuance dry powder, or in other words, no space of more debt absent resorting to the same "technique" last seen in late July when the Treasury plundered from government retirement accounts in order to accommodate new debt, such as yesterday's issuance of 3 Year bonds, and today's 10 Year bonds. And as The Hill reported yesterday, Obama is expected to request that Congress allow the incremental and final $1.2 trillion debt expansion (of the $2.1 trillion total) within a few days. So it is all on autopilot right? Wrong. As Bank of America explains below, it is very likely that the US will not have a debt ceiling hike for at least a few weeks, meaning that while a debt hike will ultimately come, it will very soon be all the song in dance, potentially overtaking the GOP drama, coupled with the pillaging of government retirement accounts yet again and likely leading to more rating agency action as the US debt fiasco is once again brought front and center. And the last thing the market needs is to experience the August 2011 collapse which brought it to 2011 lows and sent it gyrating for 400 DJIA points daily, in essence breaking the market as noted previously. And the worst news is that even with $1.2 trillion in new debt capacity, the total amount is guaranteed to not last through 2013, and should tax withholdings dip as trends are already indicating on adverse year over year comps, the $1.2 trillion in new debt may be exhausted as soon as September, which at this point may be the only thing that derails an Obama reelection if indeed he is running against "Wall Street."
Not even an hour after we asked the question, The Hill gives us the answer: "The Obama administration will be asking Congress to raise the debt limit in the coming days, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday. "I'm confident it will be executed in a matter of days, not weeks," he told reporters. The notification by the administration — which had been scheduled for last month — was delayed because Congress has been holding only pro forma sessions. The White House will be asking Congress to raise the U.S. borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion. The move would mark the third and final increase from the debt-ceiling deal reached last year by Congress." Of course, the optics of yet another debt-ceiling increase, even a preapproved one, are simply horrible during campaign season. But such is life. Here is the kicker though: the US has preapproval for $1.2 trillion in debt issuance, as per the August 2011 agreement. So far so good. The problem is that since then the US has issued $900 billion in debt in five short months! In other words, somehow the remaining buffer of just $300 billion, or a final debt ceiling of $15.5 trillion, is supposed to last the US until after the presidential election, because this topic flaring up just before Obama is due to hit the debate circuit will be reelection suicide. So our question is: how will the US, which has a gross debt issuance rate of over $100 billion per month on average, last for a year with just $300 billion in dry powder? And even if the $1.2 trillion count begins from the new request, it still means the new debt ceiling will be breached some time in August/September, as we expected last year when we did the calculation assuming a $180 billion gross issuance per month ($900 billion in 5 months). We can't wait to hear the OMB's explanation.
3 Year Auction Prices At Record High Bid To Cover, Direct Bidders At 2 Year Low, Even As Debt Ceiling Breached AgainSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/10/2012 13:21 -0500
We may well have reached the point where every single bond auction has to be a new record in something, or else (the else being the point where a reversal in yields becomes self-sustaining with trillions and trillions of ZIRP cash sloshing around and the smallest increases in rates could wreak havoc within the entire system)... Today, the record in the just completed $32 billion 3 Year auction was the record high Bid To Cover, which came at an all time high, obviously, 3.73, compared to 3.624 before, and 3.314 last 12 auction average. The bond priced at 0.37% (44.86% allotted at the high), with the low yield coming at a tiny 0.276%. Naturally, there always is more than meets the eye, with the bulk of the demand coming from Dealers, who took down 56.1% in the never-ending game of repo-mediated ponzi, while Indirects were accountable for just 38.%, and Directs coming at a 2 year low of 5.3%: this should probably be a warning sign to some. Probably a far more important question is why the Treasury is issuing debt in the first place: as Zero Hedge first (and so far only) pointed out last week, the Treasury has, or rather had, a $25 million buffer before it breaches the ceiling - in other words no capacity for gross issuance (not even net of the $77 billion Fed remittance). Simply said, this means every auction means more plunder from government retirement accounts - a replay of what happened in late July. Obviously, at some point the president will make it a point to push the interim debt ceiling higher, just probably not before the state of the union speech.
One of the recurring analogues we have used in the past to describe the centrally planned farce that capital markets have become and the global economy in general has been one of a increasingly chaotic sine wave with ever greater amplitude and ever higher frequency (shorter wavelength). By definition, the greater the central intervention, the bigger the dampening or promoting effect, as central banks attempt to mute or enhance a given wave leg. As a result, each oscillation becomes ever more acute, ever more chaotic, and increasingly more unpredictable. And with "Austrian" analytics becoming increasingly dominant, i.e., how much money on the margin is entering or leaving the closed monetary system at any given moment, the same analysis can be drawn out to the primary driver of virtually everything: the inflation-vs-deflation debate. This in turn is why we are increasingly convinced that as the system gets caught in an ever more rapid round trip scramble peak deflation to peak inflation (and vice versa) so the ever more desperate central planners will have no choice but to ultimately throw the kitchen sink at the massive deflationary problem - because after all it is their prerogative to spur inflation, and will do as at any cost - a process which will culminate with the only possible outcome: terminal currency debasement as the Chaotic monetary swings finally become uncontrollable. Ironically, the reason why bring this up is an essay by Pimco's Neel Kashkari titled simply enough: "Chaos Theory" which looks at unfolding events precisely in the very same light, and whose observations we agree with entirely. Furthermore, since he lays it out more coherently, we present it in its entirety below. His conclusion, especially as pertains to the ubiquitous inflation-deflation debate however, is worth nothing upfront: "I believe societies will in the end choose inflation because it is the less painful option for the largest number of its citizens. I am hopeful central banks will be effective in preventing runaway inflation. But it is going to be a long, bumpy journey until the destination becomes clear. This equity market is best for long-term investors who can withstand extended volatility. Day traders beware: chaos is here to stay for the foreseeable future." Unfortunately, we are far less optimistic that the very same central bankers who have blundered in virtually everything, will succeed this one time. But, for the sake of the status quo, one can hope...
Whether it is strong-USD-based forward revenue reductions for US corporations, rear-view mirror-based fuel-cost implicit tax-cuts, or unsustainable savings rate reductions, the recent US data has created a plethora of 'this time is different' decoupling theorists. We discussed David Rosenberg's perspective on this unsustainability last week and now his old employer (Bank of America) is notably out with a rather negative note on the chances of this 'local' European problem becoming a global issue and impacting US growth through both trade and financial linkages. In their view, we will see a steady deceleration in growth this year while the consensus sees a pick up and by the spring these negative revisions (from sell-side economists) will weigh heavily on stock markets and support bonds. They sum it up succinctly: 'Enjoy the recent price action while it lasts.'
America may be $25 million away from breaching the interim debt ceiling, it may have well over 40 million people subsisting on food stamps, and we may be reading all about this "austerity" thing gripping the country, but it sure won't be impacting Federal workers, all millions and millions of them, if Obama has his way. According to Washington Post, the White House will propose a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees as part of its 2013 budget proposal, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the plans." Well as long as the president is adamant about increasing taxes on what is left of America's upper middle class (and let's not forget that half of America pays no taxes at all) to pay for this, we see no way that this proposal will irritate the class-war divided United States even further. And yet we can't help but wonder: why a pay increased? Haven't we been brainwashed day after day how the only threat is deflation, that prices are not going up, that nobody actually needs food or gas, and that people should in fact be grateful for a pay cut?