A few weeks ago when discussing the imminent debt ceiling breach, and the progression of US debt/GDP into the 100%+ ballpark, we reminded readers that in February S&P said it could downgrade the US again in as soon as 6 months if there was no budget plan. Not only is there no budget plan, but the US is about to have its debt ceiling fiasco repeat all over as soon in as September. Which means another downgrade from S&P is imminent, and continuing the theme of deja vu 2011, the late summer is shaping up for a major market sell off. Minutes ago, Egan Jones just reminded us of all of this, after the only rating agency that matters, just downgraded the US from AA+ to AA, with a negative outlook.
Who will buy our debt in the coming months and years? Europe is saturated with debt and doesn’t have the means to purchase our debt. Japan is a train wreck waiting to happen. China’s customers aren’t buying their crap, so their economic miracle is about to go in reverse. The Federal Reserve cannot buy $1 trillion of Treasury bonds per year forever without creating more speculative bubbles and raging inflation in the things people need to live. The Minsky Moment will be the point when the U.S. Treasury begins having funding problems due to the spiraling debt incurred in financing perpetual government deficits. At this point no buyer will be found to bid at 2% to 3% yields for U.S. Treasuries; consequently, a major sell-off will ensue leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity. In layman terms that means – the shit will hit the fan. The Federal Reserve and Treasury will be caught in their own web of lies. The only way to attract buyers will be to dramatically increase interest rates. Doing this in a country up to its eyeballs in debt will be suicide. We will abruptly know how it feels to be Greek....The entire financial world is hopelessly entangled by the $700 trillion of derivatives that ensure mass destruction if one of the dominoes falls. This is the reason an otherwise inconsequential country like Greece had to be “saved”.
Today's otherwise key news event - the ECB rate announcement (which just printed at unchanged as expected) and press conference, will be trivial. As such, everyone is set to ignore the latest update from Mario Draghi, who courtesy of a $1.3 trillion liquidity injection since December has now largely wasted all his liquidity dry powder, at least until Spanish and Italian bonds are trading back at 7%, some time in the next few months. The result is that people like Citi's Steven Englander are saying to ignore the ECB, and to focus solely on the ADP (which has a horrendous predictive track record of the actual NFP print) report, to be released at 8:15 am, as it may be the only tradable hint ahead of the NFP report which as noted before is coming out on Friday, which is an equity holiday, although futures and bonds will be trading at the time of the release. More importantly, since the Fed now responds to economic data points in real time, a big miss to the consensus print of 206K will likely set the market surging as it will mean the Fed doves are back in control. Paradoxically, a meat or big beat, will be very market negative, as it will justify the withdrawal of liquidity support for at least 3-4 months, when the election fight will be in full swing, and Obama would be quite happy for another boost to the S&P in advance of November, and the repeat of the debt ceiling fiasco.
...For those confused why the market is reacting like a stung bee to today's announcement that contrary to Jan Hatzius' expectations, Twist may not be extended (at least not before we get a 20% market correction), here is where all, repeat all, market "growth" has come from in the past three months. Hint: $2 trillion in central bank easy money. Because the ECB is now shooting blanks, the Fed will find it difficult to ease so close to the debt ceiling farce, and the BOJ is irrelevant. And if the spigot is shut off, watch out below.
It is no secret that when it comes to attention spans and 'deep thought', Americans would rather be at the movies. After all, for a country which prides itself on its distractability and sales of ADHD medications, the only thing that matters is the line up of entertainment. Perhaps one reason why last summer's debt ceiling fiasco ended up being such a popular thriller with the masses is that the movie lineup at the time was less than inspiring, leading to a 1.4% decline in summer theater attendance. Which begs the question: what is in store for this year? Because as we have noted, we already know that the US debt ceiling will likely be breached sometime in September, leading into the presidential election, and as a result Americans will demand distraction, or else there is an all too real possibility the same market crash as happened in August of 2011, may recur. So what are the distractions in store for the herd? Courtesy of BofA and the Hollywood Stock Exchange, here is the complete summer lineup, coupled with the HSX movie stock price (an indicator of expected revenues). Will it be enough to offset reality setting in with a thud? You decide.
As it now stands, the US economy faces a “fiscal cliff” in early 2013 – meaningful Government spending cuts AND tax increases at the household level. Nothing like a double whammy, now is there? Unquestionably this is one of the reasons why the Fed has pledged to leave short-term interest rates low for some time. So what happens if nothing is changed and both tax increases and spending cuts are allowed to materialize? Although it’s an approximation, the deadly combo could shave 1.5% plus from US GDP next year. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are for a more meaningful contractionary impact. And that’s before the ultimate global economic fallout influence of Europe and China slowing. But there is a larger and very important issue beyond this, although the “cliff” is something investors will not ignore and could be very meaningful to forward economic and financial market outcomes, especially given the relative complacent market mood of the moment.
It is funny to hear the talking heads preface virtually every bullish statement with "the US economic data is getting better." It's funny because it's wrong. We have been tracking economic data based on our universe of indicators and as of today we have seen a miss rate of about 80%. And now, Deutsche Bank has joined us in keeping track of economic beats and misses, with their own universe of 31 economic indicators. The results are shown below and the verdict is in: the US economy has officially turned the corner... lower, now that the seasonally adjusted boost from a record warm winter fades and becomes an actual drag (not to mention the fading of the $2 trillion in central bank liquidity).
Is A Bad NFP Print Days Away - Goldman Says Warm Weather Added 70,000-100,000 Jobs; Now It's Payback TimeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2012 21:20 -0400
Three months ago, this site was the first to discuss the impact of abnormally high temperatures on "better than expected" economic data, which the mainstream media in its perpetual permabullish bias attributed to economic "growth", and not even to $1.3 trillion in ECB liquidity, which today even the ECB's Constancio admitted was nothing but QE: "The purpose of the European Central Bank's two three-year longer-term refinancing operations was to address banks' short-term funding issues and "nothing else." "The sole aim of the LTRO was to cater to the funding stress of euro area banks in general," Constancio said at a colloquium on macro-prudential regulation here. "It never crossed our minds that we were solving the sovereign debt crisis" with these measures. Hence QE, albeit masked by worthless collateral exchange to make the naive Germans believe the ECB was not outright printing money. It was. Now that the 'economy', and by that we mean the stock market of course, is finally turning over, the topic of the weather will start being far more prominently featured, as there will have to be a validation to unleash QE at either the April or the June FOMC meeting (something which the Chairman hinted at on Monday, and which Bill Gross has been saying for months). Why blame it on the weather of course. It is in this context that we show the latest Goldman Sachs economic outlook piece from Zach Pandl who now states that "unseasonably warm temperatures have lifted the level of nonfarm payrolls by 70,000-100,000 as of February." Call it erroneous seasonal adjustments (as we have for the past two months), call it a trigger happy BLS, or just call it people leaving their home more than if there was 6 feet of snow outside, the point is that now up to 100,000 jobs will have to be "given back." Which in turn means that next Friday's NFP forecast of +213K may just end up being as low as 113K, with the print coming just in time for the Chairman to commence warming up the printers, and soon enough to where more QE will give the president the sufficient bounce in stocks he needs to mask the debt ceiling breach in September.
Earlier today, outgoing Treasury Secretary and tax challenged part-time pathological liar (see here) Tim Geithner said that any worries of the US debt ceiling are misplaced, and that at best such an event would occur "late in the year" (and to think the August 2011 extended $16.394 trillion debt ceiling was supposed to last well into 2013). Naturally, coming from Geithner, it meant this statement was a flat out lief the second it left his mouth, which is why we decided to do our own analysis of just when the latest and greatest debt ceiling would be breached. The answer is that at the current rate of debt issuance, which incidentally is going to accelerate sharply due to the recent extension of the payroll tax cuts which will require an incremental $100-150 billion total debt to be funded, and extrapolating future issuance solely on historical patterns, the US debt ceiling D-Day will be September 14, 2012. This means that there will be just over 6 weeks for the GOP to hijack each and every presidential debate before the November election with just this topic. Because there will hardly be anything more humiliating for Obama than to have to defend his platform even as the country is once again past the verge of insolvency, and forced to "commingle" retirement funds to keep Treasury operations running. Which incidentally is just as we predicted would happen when we explained why the GOP fast shelved the payroll tax debate so rapidly. It was nothing but a prelude to precisely this. Because once it is raised, and it will be raised of course, next up will be yet another ratings downgrade by S&P and this time, Moody's as well. All of which will most likely happen before November.
US Issues New 5 Year Bonds At Lowest Bid To Cover Since August, Sends Total US Debt Over $15.6 trillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2012 13:17 -0400
Today's $35 billion 5 Year auction was not very pretty: coming at a high yield of 1.04%, it was a tail to the When Issued trading 1.03% at 1pm, and the highest rate since October's 1.055%, and the first 1%+ print in 2012. Also notable was the drop in the Bid To Cover to 2.85, which in turn was the lowest since the 2.71 in August of last year. Aside from that the internals were in line: Directs took down 11.3%, in line with the 11.4% average, Indiricts 41.9%, just below the 42.8% TTM average, and the remainder was Dealers, whose 46.8% allocation was just slightly lower than the 45.8% they have taken down previously. All in all another auction that squeezed by courtesy of the PD syndicate, which as has been noted before, is already loaded to the gills with the short-term bonds that Uncle Ben is selling. More importantly, this is the auction that in conjunction with tomorrow's last of three, will send total US debt higher by another $39 billion and brings it to a fresh record high $15.6 trillion. There is now about $700 billion in debt issuance capacity before the debt ceiling is breached again. At this run rate, this is just under 6 months before the debt ceiling scandal ramp up again, or just in time to be used by the GOP as the biggest trump card in the Obama reelection debates, just as we suggested here first back in February.
While it has no chance of passage, the GOP 2013 budget, details of which have been leaked by the WSJ, proposes slashing corporate and individual tax rates, collapsing the current six tax bracket system into just two tiers (10% and 25%), lowering top corporate tax rate to 25% and scrapping the anachronism that is the AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax. Finally, the proposed plan would nearly eliminate U.S. taxes on American corporations' earnings from overseas operations: something which companies with foreign cash would be rather happy to hear. Needless to say, Democrats will promptly dead end this budget in the Senate: "The proposal, to be offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who has become the Republicans' leading figure on budget issues, has little chance of becoming law soon. While likely to be welcomed by House GOP rank-and-file members, it would be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate."
No conclusions here, just a simple chart showing monthly Saudi Arabia crude oil production based on OPEC data, which has been rangebound in a tight 8,000 - 9750 tb/d range, superimposed with Brent prices over the past decade. The last time Brent soared to record highs back in the summer of 2008, Saudi production peaked at 9,522 tb/d (despite similar promises for spikes in crude production and exports). During last spring's spike, Saudi produced around 9,000 tb/d. In the past two months, production has been at record highs, even as oil keeps setting new highs, entirely due to liquidity, but not because speculators are evil incarnate as Nancy Pelosi will want her brainwashed fans to believe, but simply because for the most part they are Primary Dealers, and other entities attached at the hip to the Fed, who serve as Ben Bernanke's transmission mechanism of record liquidity being dumped into the system. Our advice: if anyone is hoping that Saudi Arabia can pump the 12,500 tb/d needed if Iran truly goes offline, buy a bike, as failure from Saudi to satisfy lofty demands will promptly send unleaded to new all time highs. Couple that with the Treasury debt ceiling fiasco in 5-6 months, and those Obama InTrade reelection contracts may seem a tad rich.
The first session of this 112th Congress was spent with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over the debt ceiling, taxes, spending cuts, the deficit super committee, appropriations bills and finally the extension of unemployment compensation and a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Standard and Poor's downgrade of the United States' federal debt was due in part to all the haggling over how, and actually whether, to reduce the debt. No One Is Willing to Pay the Political Price to Cut Spending This year Obama asked Congress for, and was given, an additional $1.2 trillion of borrowing authority, which will increase the debt limit to $16.4 trillion, just enough to get him past the 2012 election. It could be close, however. If budget projections prove to be overly optimistic, Obama could face another cliffhanger over a further increase in the debt ceiling in the midst of the presidential election in November. How embarrassing to have to say "re-elect me – and by the way, I need to borrow some more money to pay this month's bills."
In February, the US spent a third of a trillion to fund various government programs. Since only a fraction of this money was funded with tax revenues, the balance has to come from somewhere else. Like today's 10 year $21 billion Bond auction. In the aftermath of yesterday's weak 3 year, today's bond also priced at the highest yield since October, printing at 2.076%, just inside of the When Issued 2.08%, and a far cry from January's 1.90% as the Fed is expected to use the word inflation in just under 60 minutes. The Bid To Cover was 3.24, compared to the 3.12 TTM average. The breakdown of buyers was virtually unchanged from February's auction, and saw 42% taken down by Dealers, 38.6% go to Indirect Bidders, and Directs taking down 19.4%, or the highest since August. Once this week's auctions are concluded, total US debt will be $15.6 trillion as the ramp into October's (at the latest) debt ceiling fight, which promises to be the highlight of this election season, begins in earnest. Any minute now, the CBO will also release its revised grading of the President's budget, which will see the 2012 deficit forecast increase from $1.08 trillion to $1.2 trillion.
The Greek CDS auction has not yet taken place, nor has one quantified how many Greece-guaranteed orphan bonds with UK-law indentures have to be made whole (at a cost to Greece of course, no matter how much Venizelos protests), and somehow the world is already moving on to bigger and better risk strawmen. Because if one sticks their head in the sand deep enough, it will be easy to ignore that European banks have gradually over the past year or quite suddenly (as in the case of Austrian KA Finanz) taken about €100 billion in now definitive losses on their Greek bonds and CDS exposure. Luckily, just like in the US, there is now over $1.3 trillion in fungible cash sloshing in the system, allowing banks to 'fungibly' fund capital shortfalls and otherwise abuse every trace of proper accounting, when it comes to a post-Greek default world. The problem is that none of this actually solves the fundamental insolvency issues plaguing the 'old world', but what it does do, is force the accelerated depletion of an aging and amortizing asset base. That's fine - as Draghi said the ECB can "always loosen collateral requirements even more." So while we await to hear just who will sue Greece and Europe, and how much cash will have to be paid out to UK-law bondholders (before the Greek default is even remotely put to rest), here is a listing of what Bank of America (recall - BofA is the one bank most desperate to remove any lipstick from the pig due to its need for more QE) believes will be the biggest risks to its outlook going forward. In order of importance: 1) Oil prices (remember when a month ago we said this then ignored issue may soon hit the very top of investors worry lists?), 2) Europe; 3) US Economy; and 4) China. That about covers it. Oh and massive debt issuance supply too as well as the even more epic straw man that is this Thursday's stress test. Remember: stress tests will continue until confidence in the ponzi returns!