Debt Ceiling

Market Takes Leg Lower As Treasury Supports Use Of "McConnell Provision" In Debt Ceiling Fight

As the Fiscal Cliff discussions get progressively more acrimonious, more people are being reminded that the new and improved $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which the US will breach in a few days, is just as important, and just as much at an impasse. Which is why the Treasury just opined on the issue, by openly supporting the "McConnell Provision" and in doing so may have made any future Cliff/Ceiling discussions more difficult as the US has effectively invoked the nuclear option, aka a Presidential Veto to effectively elimiante the debt ceiling, something which will antagonize the GOP to such an extent any potential Fiscal Cliff deal may become unfeasible. The market is hardly happy that the already record polarity in Congress is about to get even worse as a result of this hardline stance, and just took another big leg lower.

UK's Osborne Delays Fiscal Target; Leaves AAA Future In Limbo

UPDATE: GBP at lows of day - moar QE?

UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his Autumn 'Budget' Statement this morning and, as Citi notes, while he signaled that the struggling still-AAA nation is on course to achieve its cyclically-adjusted surplus on a rolling five-year horizon; the government now expects that net public debt/GDP ratio will start falling only in 2016/17 - a year later than originally planned. Mr Osborne attributed the softening in the debt/GDP target to growth underperformance in the UK and the Eurozone; leaving Moody's decision in early 2013 on the AAA rating still in jeopardy (the rating agency put the UK on negative watch and warned the coalition government to refrain from abandoning its ambitious fiscal austerity targets). GDP forecasts have been lowered, with a 0.1% contraction now seen this year (from a +0.8% forecast in the March budget). The 2013 and 2014 forecasts are also lowered to 1.2% and 2.0%, from 2.0% and 2.7% respectively. For now, cable (GBPUSD) has rallied back off knee-jerk reaction lows to around unchanged.

Out Of The Fiscal Cliff And Into The Fire: Art Cashin On The Real Economic Malaise

Forget the Fiscal Cliff: it is merely a much needed economic distraction for the next 3-4 months (distracting from what? Why Europe of course). Yes, it will be resolved, and yes taxes will go up, and yes, debates over it will most likely be carried over into 2013 and nothing will be compromised until the ultimate debt ceiling deadline (because it is really a Fiscal Cliff-Debt Ceiling package deal) is hit some time in March 2013, but eventually one or both parties will cave, right after the market plunges to put it all into the proper perspective as it did around the time of TARP and the August 2011 debt ceiling debate, and a resolution will materialize. The bigger issue has nothing to do with the Fiscal Cliff, which is indeed a sideshow. The bigger issue, as Art Cashin explains, has everything to do with a secular decline in the US economy, where a 1% growth rate will soon be the "New Killing It", where millions more (in part-time workers) will soon be let go, and where businesses no longer generate the cash flows needed to stay open. Art Cashin explains.

Europe Faces €123 Billion In December Coupon Payments: Full Forward Calendar

Europe may be fixed for the next week or two (until someone once again figures out that by manipulating the market, the ECB is merely making it easier for peripheral governments to do nothing to fix their unprecedented intra-Eurozone imbalances, as has been the case all along with the only strategy Europe has deployed to date namely kicking the can), but that doesn't mean all event and newsflow ends. Here is what to expect out of the insolvent continent as it attempts to put a very volatile (and violent) 2012 to bed with just one more month. Of particular note: €123 billion in Euro coupon payments in the month of December, which serves as a timely reminder that in 2013 European banks better be ready to buy up the record gross and net issuance of their sovereigns with gusto, or else Europe may promptly become "unfixed" all over again.

Guest Post: ISM - Outlook Declines

The recent release of the ISM Manufacturing index continues to point to signs of a slowing economy. This (49.5) reading, which is what is reported by the bulk of the mainstream media, is fairly meaningless. Remember, economic change happens at the margins.  Since the PMI is more of a "sentiment" index (it is a diffusion index that measures positive versus negative sentiment on various areas from employment to production to inventories) it is a better used as a gauge about what businesses will likely do in the future based on their current assessment of conditions. The importance of the change in sentiment is lost on most economists who have never actually owned a business.  However, it is clear that the fiscal cliff, the recent storm, and the continuing Eurozone saga are continuing to erode business sentiment.  This erosion in sentiment in turn affects economically sensitive actions such as production, employment and investment.

Fiscal Cliff Headline Manic Depression Set To Continue

Today's "trading", in a repeat of what has become a daily routine, can be summarized as follows: flashing red headline about Fiscal Cliff hope/optimism/constructiveness out of a member of Congress who bought SPY calls in advance of statement: market soars; flashing red headlines about the inverse of Fiscal Cliff hope/optimism/constructiveness out a member of Congress who bought SPY puts in advance of statement: market plunges. Everything else is noise, as is said hope/expectations/constructiveness too since it is increasingly likely nothing will happen until the debt ceiling hike deadline in March, but stop hunts must take place in a market which nobody even pretends is driven by fundamental newsflow. Such as the bevy of PMIs released last night, the key of which was the China HSBC PMI as reported previously, which beat expectations by the smallest of possible increments, at 50.5, but rising to expansion territory and the highest in 13 months, which sent the EURUSD spiking and has kept it in the 1.3030 range for the duration of the overnight session. Sadly, those on the ground in China hardly felt the number was a bullish as EURUSD trading algos around the world, sending the Shanghai Composite to a fresh post-2008 low, closing down over 1% at 1,960. But let's just ignore this inconvenient datapoint shall we?

Guest Post: Personal Income And Spending Weigh On Economic Recovery Hopes

The personal income and spending report Friday morning left a lot to be desired for those expecting a stronger economic environment soon.  However, the report fell well in line with what we have been expecting over the past several months as the drag on real wages and incomes have weighed on the consumer; and with personal consumption making up more the 70% of the economy, changes to employment, incomes or credit has an immediate and significant impact to growth. When it comes to the economy, and particularly the ongoing recession watch that has nearly become a sporting event, it is real (inflation adjusted) incomes that matter.  In the most recent report we see that real personal incomes declined for the month from $11,546 to $11,532 billion for the month reflecting a -.12 change. Economic expansion since the last recession has been hovering around a flat line for the past seven months. The next couple of months will be very telling about the strength of the underlying economy.  The manufacturing data continues to point to further economic weakness, hiring plans have deteriorated and the main drivers of economic growth have all stagnated. While we can hope to get lucky that things will work out for the best - "hope" rarely works out as an investment strategy.

On The Fiscal 'Cliff' (Not 'Slope') And The 3 'F's Of American Policy-Making

Some policymakers (and commentators) are attempting to make a molehill out of a mountain; seemingly less worried about the outcome of negotiations in the short-term, as they believe the cliff is not a cliff, but more of a slope, since economic damage will initially be limited while any equity market sell-off will only spur a resolution. We tend to side with Barclays and BofAML that the full set of expiring measures constitutes a cliff, not a slope. In brief, here is why - automatic withholdings and in Geithner's words "no authority to delay the process." The extent to which households can buffer this higher withholding is significantly weak as recent 'savings' rates have plunged - implying a need to draw on liquid assets to smooth any consumption shortfall. Citing Winston Churchill, BofAML sums up the siutation well - "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they have tried everything else," and we remain stoic that stock market weakness and severe outside criticism will be important in forcing any agreement, as the politicians appear to face six signficant hurdles ahead. Meet the Three 'F's of Fiscal Policy In America...

Hedge Fund November Performance

November is now over, and hedge funds can count their lucky stars for the baseless November 16th rally, predicated by the now defunct notion that the GOP and Democrats are close to a Fiscal Cliff compromise (it increasingly looks that the real catalyst on the "cliff" will be the absolute debt ceiling hike deadline in March of 2013, meaning the US will go over the cliff, if only for three months). Had the unprecedented levitation in the middle of the month, the bloodbath would have been epic. As such, with a 13K close in the DJIA, and 1.3000 in the EURUSD, the Nov. 30 P&L it was far more palatable and the surge in redemption calls (and the resulting end of unjustified "2 and 20" fees) has been postponed by one more month. So who are the most prominent winners and losers: leading the table are the fund with European exposure, where the recent bipolar mania has Europe as being better, if only until it fully breaks again. The biggest losers? Macro funds, who still don't realize that the in the New Normal, macro "up is down."

Europe's Recessionary Collapse Beating Even Most Optimistic Expectations

There was some confusion as to why yesterday various Eurozone consumer confidence indices posted a surprising jump and beat expectations virtually across the board: turns out Europeans had an advance warning of today's horrendous economic data among which we learned that Eurozone October unemployment just hit a record 11.7%, up 0.1% from September (we are trying to get data if the Eurozone is gaming its unemployment number the way the US does by collapsing its labor participation rate), with Italy unemployment surging to 11.1% from 10.8%, on expectations of a 10.9% print, French consumer spending in October was down 0.2%, compared to an unchanged reading in September, but far more troubling was that German retail sales imploded at a rate of 2.8%, the biggest monthly collapse in 4 years, and worse than even the most bearish forecast. Do we hear "Sandy's fault."

Guest Post: Q3 GDP - The Devil Is In The Details

The good news this morning is that the 2nd estimate of the third quarter (3Q) GDP was revised up from 2.0% initially to 2.7%.  This is up sharply from the 2Q print of 1.3%. However, the combination of rising levels of unsold goods (inventory), slowing sales growth and declining incomes all point to weaker GDP growth in Q4 and into the early quarters of 2013.  Look for GDP growth in the 4Q to decelerate to 1.5% to 1.7%. While there is currently not an official recession in the U.S. economy, as of yet, the details of the current economic growth are not ones of robust strength. If we are correct in my assumptions the economic underpinnings will continue to negatively impact fundamental valuations as profit margins continue to be compressed. While most of the media, and mainstream analysts, continue to focus on the state of the economy from one quarter to the next - the trend of the data clearly shows the need for concern.  Of course, this also why Bernanke is already considering QE4.  As we stated previously, while economic growth did pick up this quarter it is the makeup, and more importantly the sustainability, of that growth is what we need to continue to focus on.

Market Drops As GOP Rejects Obama's "Uncompromising" Fiscal Cliff Offer

Markets sold off earlier today when Boehner commented that "no substantive progress had been made" in the last two weeks, only to recover quite rapidly. The 'rejection' is now in full context as the WSJ has just reported the terms have not changed (or compromised) at all since we first discussed them two weeks ago. A $1.6tn tax increase (upfront), $50 billion economic stimulus, and most importantly (we suspect guided by the miscreant hand of Geithner) the removal of the need for congressional approval to raise the debt ceiling. Overnight futures are down 5-6 points pushing towards Boehner's intraday lows. This should throw a little light on exactly where the negotiations stand (nowhere) and how willing each party is to change and bring hope to the table for compromise (not at all). With DC this far apart still, the game for the next few weeks is not to solve the fiscal cliff but to avoid getting the blame for the cliff-dive.

The Millionaire Man Exodus: What Obama Can Learn From The UK's "Tax The Rich" Plan

Regardless if the Fiscal Cliff is resolved tomorrow (impossible), on December 31 (unlikely), or in tandem with the debt ceiling hike some time in March 2013, after all the government fund buffers have been soaked dry as they were back in August 2011 (most likely), one thing is certain: America's wealthiest are about to see their taxes soar - that's more or less a given. The question is what happens then. Will, the wealthiest - those who have access to and can buy banking, incorporation, citizenship and legal services in any global jurisdiction in a world that has never been this decentralized and this , take it all quietly up until that point on the Laffer curve says they will commit mass suicide, or maybe, just maybe, because they don't feel like being force to pay uncle Sam even more than they currently do with the proceeds not used for something constructive like paying down debt, but instead to fund government corruption and inefficiency, they will pick up and leave without saying goodbye or even looking back, and in the process crush future US government tax revenues even more and send the deficit soaring more. "No risk in that", many will say - after all where can they go? Well, apparently many places. Because if the UK, where as the Telegraph reports a stunning two-thirds of domestic millionaires opted to leave the country than pay a "punitive" 50% tax, is any indication it is possible that the imminent tax hike on America's wealthiest is going to be one of the most destructive things that can happen to America's already unsustainable budget deficit.