Credit markets have been bleeding wider recently but based on Credit Suisse's 'Risk Appetite Index', they remain high in Euphoria territory in the US. This is worryingly crowded on its own but the key point that they note is the divergence between US exuberance and the rest-of-the-world's far less sanguine view of credit. The risk-appetite spread between the two has been this wide two times before in recent years - July/August 2011 (which saw a major sell-off - debt ceiling) and April/May 2010 (another major sell-off - end of QE and flash-crash). As we noted earlier, equity market valuations are very much pinned to risky credit now and so this indicator is yet another canary-in-the-coalmine...
The first day of the "next 4 years" is starting in a very auspicious fashion. First, the market crashes. Then, a major blue chip company, Boeing, just announced it would cut 30% of management jobs from 2010 levels. And finally, the US Treasury just added $24 billion in debt, or enough to fund Greece for over one year, sending the total debt load (the US is now at 103% debt/GDP) ever closer to the debt ceiling breaching $16.4 trillion. But don't worry: over the next 4 years, the US government will add another $6-8 trillion in debt, so those who didn't get their allocation in this auction will have more than enough opportunity. As for this one, the yield was 1.68%, the lowest since August (but, but, what happened to the great rotation out of bonds and into stocks?), the Bid to Cover was 2.59, the lowest since last November and only higher compared to August' 2.49. And finally, the take down breakdown was uneventful: 46.2% for Dealers (to be promptly flipped back to the Fed - keep track of CUSIP 912828TY6), 39.7% for Indirects, or below the 12 TTM average of 41.28%, and Directs got 14.1%, also below the average, and lower than last month's 22.9%. As noted: uneventful. As also noted: there will be many, many more such auctions in the future, so those who wish to convert one paper into another will have ample opportunity to do so.
Obama has been reelected, the Senate remains in the hands of the democrats, while Congress is controlled by the GOP. Most importantly, the printer is firmly in the hands of Ben Bernanke. In other words, nothing has changed, as was largely expected all along. The worst case scenario - a protracted litigation, challenging the results of the election - has been avoided after Mitt Romney contested shortly before midnight, and as a result the immediate downward gap in risk following the election has been largely recouped overnight. More importantly, '4 more years' of the same monetary policy and no end to currency dilution have resulted in a nearly $50 jump in gold overnight with the metal in the $1720s this morning, because while the Fiscal Cliff remains hopelessly unresolved, and the baseline scenario that the market will need to tumble to shock politicians into waking up, remains (as does Goldman's 1250 year end S&P price target), the reality is that no matter what happens, Bernanke and crew will print and monetize the coming deluge of debt (which would also have been the case if Romney had won). And with total debt set to rise to $22+ trillion over the next 4 years, a deluge it will be. Most importantly, with Obama reelected, Europe is now "off the hook" and can finally rock the boat, which means Greece can take its rightful place at the front of the domino chain. Remember: the latest Greek austerity vote is today and voting (i.e. debating) has begun, and with vote results expected later today. It also means that the military festivities in the middle east, where the US now has 2 aircraft carriers and 2 marine assault groups, can resume.
The yakuza scandal didn’t help.
"Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire." Strauss & Howe wrote these words in 1997. They understood the dynamics of how generations interact and how the mood of the country shifts every twenty or so years based upon the generational alignment that occurs as predictably as the turning of the seasons. The last generation that lived through the entire previous Crisis from 1929 through 1946 has virtually died off. For those who doubt generational theory and believe history is a linear path of human progress, I would point to the last week of chaos, disarray, government dysfunction, and misery of those who didn’t prepare for Superstorm Sandy, as a prelude to the worst of this Crisis. The lack of preparation by government officials and citizens, death, destruction, panic, anger, helplessness and realization of how fragile our system has become is a perfect analogy to our preparation for this Fourth Turning. The regeneracy of the nation will occur during the next presidential term. The mathematical impossibility of sustaining our economic system is absolute.
Tim Geithner's public "servant" tenure has not been without its blemishes: from his deplorable run as the (figure)head of the New York Fed (from 2003 until 2009), when the entire financial system literally imploded under his watch, to his epic failing up as Hank Paulson's replacement as treasury Secretary of the United States, despite his legendary inability to navigate the Minotaurian labyrinth that is the TurboTax income tax flowchart, the Dartmouth alum has had his share of run ins with adversity (and adversity won). Of course, Geithner's tenure in charge of the Treasury in the past 4 years has been somewhat mollified by the fact that here too here was merely a figurehead, and the true entity that runs the US printing presses is none other than the JPM and Goldman Sachs co-chaired Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (for more on the TBAC read here and especially here as pertains to the former LTCM trader and current head of JPM's CIO group), meaning that the US Treasury, just like the Fed, are merely branches of the one true power in US governance: Wall Street. Geithnerian figureheadedness aside, the one undeniable fact is that Tim Geithner's days as head of the Treasury are now numbered: he has made it quite clear that he will not accompany Obama (should the incumbent be reelected) into his second term. So what is a career "public servant" to do once the public no longer has any interest in retaining his services? Bloomberg's Deborah Solomon has some suggestions...
When summarizing yesterday's first of the month ramp, we said: "Should the NFP disappoint for whatever reason, today's rally will be promptly unwound. On the other hand, as the final major economic datapoint before the election, there is a snowball's chance in hell the NFP beats at anything less than 1 standard deviation [ZH: this was proven this morning when the NFP printed above the highest Wall Street estimate, a 3std dev beat]. The good news, for those who are sick and tired of the constantly fudged metrics, is that after next week, we revert back to normal, and the mysterious economic push higher (a lot of it reflexive: Why are you confident? because stock are higher. Why are stocks higher? because I am confident) in the past 2 months will finally dissipate." Which is why anyone looking for a reason why the futures have proceeded to slide to their day's lows, this may be it: all the good news is now fully priced in. Things to look forward to now: Fiscal Cliff, Debt ceiling debate, further collapse of Greek and potential resumption of Grexit speculation (just look at the EURUSD), Spain bailout (Spanish bonds today are very unhappy), and the prompt unwind of all "better than expected" jobs number following the election, regardless of who wins the Oscar for best presidential performance. Because now there is an alibi for not only weak future numbers, but for historical revisions. It's name is "Sandy" - get used to it: it will be the excuse for every upcoming economic data miss until January.
This past Wednesday, nobody reported that a squadron of 8 Israeli F-15 jets dropped 4 two-ton bombs on the giant Yarmouk missile factory on the outskirts of Sudan's capital Khartoum. Which is just as Israel wanted it. Because what otherwise would be a provocative incursion tantamount to war (if only Sudan wasn't a complete basket case of a country), was really nothing short of a dry-run for an Israeli attack on Iran. At least according to the Sunday Times. "A long-range Israeli bombing raid last week that was seen as a dry run for a forthcoming attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities has destroyed an Iranian-run plant making rockets and ballistic missiles in Sudan.... The raid, in which two people died, triggered panic across the city. Witnesses said they heard a series of loud blasts followed by the sound of ammunition exploding. “It was a double impact — the explosion at the factory and then the ammunition flying into the neighbourhood,” said Abd-al Ghadir Mohammed, 31, a resident. "The ground shook. Some homes were badly damaged." And... nobody cares. Here we leave it up to readers to imagine the epic horror, deep revulsion that would greet news that Iran had conducted a pre-emptive strike against Israel by blowing up a missile factory in Turkey, killing two innocent people, just to make sure it can.
Well, my fellow Slope-a-Dopes, I've been hearing a lot about the dreaded "Fiscal Cliff" for quite some time now. So I decided to take a flying frog freelance free fall leap into the woefully written word abyss, to see if I could sort out for myself, when and how we would experience the coming sensational supersonic splat.
The 2012 US presidential election is perhaps one of the most unique and important elections in recent history from an economic perspective (with the time-line rapidly approaching). In choosing its leader for the next four years (for which we provide a handy 'where-do-they-stand' cheatsheet), we agree with Goldman that the country will likely be determining the path for near-term economic growth, medium-to-longer term fiscal stability and monetary policy at a time when the stakes are exceptionally high - whether or not the US economy returns to recessionary conditions in 2013, the US sovereign debt rating and the broader credibility of the US government to Americans and foreigners alike all hang in the balance. Goldman sees three factors that set the 2012 election apart.
These dirty little secrets about Europe are being hidden from the general public? Why do you think that is?
Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind: it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."
For those who are curious why Tim Geithner has been invisible in the past 2 months, the answer is he has been manning the phones like a true patriot, and making sure nobody dares to rock the European boat ahead of the US election (as was already disclosed), in this case exemplified by Moody's just released announcement that the rating agency will not downgrade Spain to junk, soaring debt, collapsing GDP and laughable unemployment rate notwithstanding (unless of course the ECB fails in its mission to scare all shorts from approaching within 10 miles of an SPGB, and Spain loses private market access again, in which case Moody's would proceed with a "multiple notch downgrade"). At least not until the US election that is. After that... well, with the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, Greece vs Troika, etc, etc, buy VIX.