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 12:17 -0500
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!
When it comes to reporting the news, Reuters ability to get the scoop first may only be rivaled by its ability to "spin" analysis in a way that will make a normal thinking person's head spin. Such as the following piece of unrivaled headscrathing titled "The good news behind oil prices" whose conclusion, as some may have already guessed, is that "the surge in crude oil is looking more like a harbinger of better days." Let's go through the arguments.
"It Ain't Over Till It's Over": Empirical Observations On Who The Next Occupant Of The White House May Be And WhySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2012 21:44 -0500
It is appropriate that as a post-mortem to tonight's GOP primary, which according to initial reports has Romney as winning both Michigan and Arizona, we have ConvergEx' Nick Colas providing an extensive summary of the factors in favor and against both the presidential incumbent, and the challenger, and in doing so handicap the possibility of election victory for either Obama or the Republican candidate, whoever he may end up being. As Colas says, 'it ain't over till it's over' - "As the battle for the 2012 Presidential election begins to pick up speed, we read a flood of reports that President Obama is a lock for reelection. And just as many that he is destined to be a one-termer. Those who believe that the winner of the 2012 election will be Republican claim that the keys to Obama’s downfall will be unemployment, skyrocketing oil prices, and increased federal spending. However, according to historical data and some political science theory, it looks like Obama has a pretty good chance of staying in the White House.... The GOP isn’t out of the race yet, but it’s up against some strong historical opposition." And while we would agree that all else equal Obama likely is a shoo-in, never before will there have been a full blown debt ceiling crisis in a repeat of August 2011 in the weeks and months leading into the election - that factor alone, in our humble opinion, could end up being the swing variable that pulls the otherwise ironclad victory away from Obama's clutch, and explains why the GOP caved so quickly on the payroll tax extension which will add $100 billion in debt, and force a debt ceiling breach ahead of November, as was first predicted on Zero Hedge. That, of course, and runaway oil: should crude continue its relentless surge, which it will if QE3 occurs, or an invasion or Iran becomes reality, Obama can kiss another 4 years goodbye.
In a 60-36 vote, Senate just passed the payroll tax extension, previously voted through by Congress. From Reuters: "The U.S. Senate on Friday passed legislation extending a tax cut for 160 million workers and long-term jobless benefits through December, clearing the way for President Barack Obama to sign the measure into law. The Senate approval by a simple majority vote followed the House of Representatives' approval earlier on Friday. The legislation, which also extends current payment rates to doctors through the Medicare health care program for older Americans, will add $100 billion to the U.S. deficit and is aimed at further stimulating the economy." As a reminder, all this means is that a repeat of the debt ceiling fiasco is now virtually assured before the presidential election as discussed here, which explains the GOP's willingness to pass this through as fast as possible with no offsetting spending cuts. As for the benefits of $1000/taxpaying household, the recent rise in gasoline prices has already offset those. One can only hope that crude prices are as susceptible to successful central planning intervention as all other assets, or else many more extensions will be needed before the year is over.
Today, the US total debt rose by $32 billion touching on a new record high of $15.392 trillion. As a reminder this is just the beginning: as we noted yesterday, according to the president's own budget total US debt is now expected to surpasses the greatest and final debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion just around September, and likely sooner with the addition of the $160 billion in additional debt needed to fund the extension of the Bush temporary yet perpetual tax cut through the end of 2012. So while we know that total debt to GDP is already over 100% and unlikely to ever decline back to double digits, thus putting into question the marginal utility of debt to generate further economic growth, another just as important question is what is the incremental utility of tax revenue relative to debt issuance, i.e., is America now issuing more debt than it is collecting from tax revenues: a step which would further cement its status as a banana debt republic. The chart below should provide some comfort in that regard. In fiscal 2012, starting October 31 through today, the US has collected $677.6 billion in withholdings taxes, while issuing $601 billion in debt over the same period of time. In other words, for now at least tax revenues are running 12% above debt issuance. Alas, considering that according to the president's own budget there is another $1 trillion in debt issuance over the next seven and a half months, we have a very distinct feeling the red line will cross the blue line yet again, and quite soon at that. Naturally, a logical question arises: why not just do away with taxes entirely and have all US capital needs be debt funded? After all, all that "saved or created" tax money would be used to buy bonds or better yet, iBonds, or something just as silly. And the USD would never, ever, lose its status as reserve currency...
You're not answering my question, I asked a simple question. You're the director of the OMB. I just asked a simple question, will it spend more or less?
"Uh, Marriner Eccles: We Have A Problem" - Obama Predicts He Will Breach Debt Ceiling Two Months Before ElectionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/14/2012 11:19 -0500
In light of the epic fiasco from last August, when the US debt ceiling hike became a 2 month televized affair, culminating with the GOP caving, but not before the S&P downgraded the US (and in the process breaking the US stock market), Zero Hedge has long been analyzing the chronology of future debt breaches, as with the presidential election in November, what happens in the months and weeks ahead of it as pertains to the number one problem facing America - its lethal debt addiction - will be by far the biggest weakness of Obama's campaign. This is something we believe the GOP has finally understood, and they want a full replay of last August's insanity, to remind America just how broke (and broken) this country is. Yet it turns out all of our analyses have been for naught (if 100% correct). Because it is none other than President Barack Obama who has been kind enough to point out, that on September 30, 2012, or in just over 7 months, total US debt subject to the limit will be, wait for it, $16,333,900,000,000. Why is this an issue: because the final debt ceiling that Obama has been afforded with automatic Senatorial roll overs (even as Congress theatrically votes these down), is $16,394,000,000. In other words, with two months ahead of the election, the US will have a de minimis $60 billion in debt capacity. And since the implied burn rate is $133 billion/month this means that the United States will be in full blown debt ceiling hike chaos just as the final electoral debates take place. And one wonders why the GOP rushed to green light Obama an additional $160 billion in debt issuance. If indeed the $160 billion in new debt is added, the US may not even last to September before Tim Geithner is forced to start plundering G-fund and other retirement accounts. It also means that two months of America in a debt ceiling breach situation will deal a dramatic blow to Obama's reelection chances as the last thing the US population will want is a replay of last summer.
Two weeks ago when discussing the latest lunacy surrounding America's exponential curve #1 also known as its debt balance, we suggested what the GOP election strategy should be: "[if] the debt ceiling becomes a sticking point at the election, Obama's chances of reelection plunge. Which makes us wonder - will Republicans grasp that the paradox of defeating Obama is precisely in giving him a carte blanche on all the stimulus programs he wants? Because if Congress approves another $200, 300 or even $400 billion in stimulus pork (the only thing better than one Solyndra? One thousand Solyndras!) the Treasury will drown in the need to raise hundreds of billions more, and will in fact hit the ceiling well in advance of the elections. As for the stimulus projects themselves, they will crash and burn just like all centrally planned endeavors, and actually result in a far worse outcome than if they had never been attempted. [Because] the best way to finally get back to a fiscally prudent regime? Why go to town, of course." We were delighted to discover that our policy anti-recommendation has finally been adopted. Because as the WSJ reports when it comes to the latest payroll tax extension we find something quite stunning: "House Republican leaders said Monday they would introduce a bill extending the payroll-tax break for the rest of the year without finding spending cuts to offset the program's cost. The proposal marks a major shift for Republicans, who previously had insisted that the costs of extending a trio of provisions expiring at the end of the month be offset with spending cuts." That's right - no offsetting spending cuts. Which means one thing - much more debt. How much more? At least $160 billion much. Which means that the debt ceiling discussion will hit not in November as we speculated previously, but potentially as soon as September.
On Friday, we gave the skinny on some of the more amusing and/or aggressive key assumptions in the president's 2013 budget. Now hear the TOTUS, as presented via the president.