For the 3rd time in 3 days, Silver (and gold) have been slammed lower in an almost instantaneous hammer blow, only to be lifted shortly thereafter to fill the apparent foreced sale void. Prices of precious metals have become increasingly volatile intraday in the last week or so as the debt ceiling debacle plays out but this mornings dump-and-pump seemed to sum up the new normal perfectly. Once again, it would seem, the Chinese will be sending thank you letters to the Fed and their henchmen... (as Goldman suggests there will be no Taper until March)
Despite the ongoing antics in Washington the market remains less than 5 points (at the time of this writing) from its all-time closing high. If the markets were concerned about economics, fundamentals or potential default; stock prices would be significantly lower. The reality is that as long as the Federal Reserve remains convicted to its accommodative policies the argument for rationality is trumped by the delusions of Mo' Money. We have seen these "Teflon" markets before - do we really need to remind you what happens to a Teflon pan when you finally scratch the surface? In the meantime here are 5 things to ponder as the week progresses...
- Spot the pattern: Senate Leaders Nearing a Deal (Politico), Senators say debt, shutdown deal is near (USA Today), Senate Leaders in Striking Distance of a Deal (WSJ), U.S. senators hint at possible fiscal deal on Tuesday (Reuters), Senate Debt-Limit Deal Emerging (BBG)
- U.S. debt ceiling crisis would start quiet, go downhill fast (Reuters)
- Uneasy Investors Sell Billions in Treasurys (WSJ)
- BOE’s Cunliffe Says U.K. Is Not in Grip of Housing-Market Bubble (BBG)
- Letta Mixes Tax Cut With Rigor in Post-Berlusconi Italian Budget (BBG)
- Japan Seeks to Export More High-End Food (WSJ)
- Burberry names Bailey CEO as Ahrendts quits for Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Biggest Reserves Jump Since 2011 Shows Inflow (BBG)
If mere hope of an "imminent" deal starting on Thursday and continuing through Monday, with no actual deal but who cares about details, was enough to push the DJIA up by 600 points, then all it would take to set a new record market high today, is for another day to pass - one day before the October 17 X-Date when one Senator can filibuster the US through the deadline on their own, and when the House still has to have a voice on what the Senate has been doing - without an actual debt deal. After all, the market is so "centrally-planned" all that is needed is knowledge that Bernanke will get to work, and is getting to work to the tune of $85 billion a month, mixed in with some hope. And with today's "market for idiots" facilitating POMO of over $5 billion which guarantees a green close, all that is needed is a complete failure in talks for the SPX to go limit up on even more hopes things will be fine any second now... if not right now.
With two days to go to until dreaded October 17 D-Day (on which incidentally, very little of note will happen, because as Goldman explained earlier today, that is simply the date past which the Treasury can no longer borrow, but still has some $30 billion in cash which could last to fund the Treasury's needs as long as the end of the month if not longer) Washington is now openly playing with fire. Because for all the hopeful talk of an imminent deal on Thursday, then on Friday, then today, not only is there nothing substantive on the table, but Obama will not even meet with the Senate, let alone the House, until tomorrow morning. At that point there will be about 36 hours until October 17. But what is worse for all the end is nigh-ers, who are absolutely certain the world will end if Congress crosses the D-Day deadline (which, again, as Goldman said earlier "going slightly past the October 17 deadline is entirely possible") is that as The Hill explains, Senate could still miss the debt deadline, assuming there is a debt deal in the first place. Which is a big if.
With the possibility of a US government default growing day by day (1Y USA CDS rose 12bps today to 72bps) amid impasse after impasse in DC, Bloomberg's Mike McKee looks at the five possible scenarios should the debt ceiling be breached (however unlikely and ridiculous some may appear). From prioritization of payments to across-the-board cuts, 14th amendment interventions and delaying payments, McKee explains the process and implications of each. There are no good options left but we can't help but get the sense the Republicans might just be playing a longer-game here to take us beyond the Democrats' "red-line" of October 17th to highlight their fear-mongering (remember the shut-down devastation?) and potentially regain some election capital (in this increasingly twisted game of picking the worst of two evils)... and indeed, as we have long argued, until we see the market crash, nothing will be resolved.
Remember how we were told time and again that Europe was saved? Remember how repeatedly we were told that the European Central Bank (ECB) would do “whatever it takes” to fix things? Turns out all of that was a total load of BS.
There is no safe haven, Marc Faber tells Bloomberg TV's Tom Keene, "The best you can hope for is that you have a diversified portfolio of different assets and that they don't all collapse at the same time." Bank deposits are no longer safe; money and treasury bills are not 100% safe; and equities in the US are relatively expensive by any valuation metric. However, at around $1250, gold is a buy, Faber adds on the basis of the ongoing monetization of debt globally. The debt ceiling debacle will lead to the Fed stepping up to directly fund the government (something it already implicitly does but mainstream media prefer not to consider). Faber clarifies the idiocy of the discussions, "both parties want to spend, it's just on different things," with "the idiocies of government" having grown way too large, wasting money everywhere... the Democrats are "buying votes" and the Republicans funding the military complex. The debt-ceiling is merely a symptom of the problem, Faber concludes, that "government has grown disproportionately large and that retards economic growth."
UPDATE: *OBAMA SAYS REPUBLICANS MUST SET ASIDE SOME PARTISAN CONCERNS
Senator Harry Reid has a cunning new plan and says "we're getting closer," providing yet more hope that the US won't tip inauspiciously over the edge of the economic abyss. The latest rumored deal proposal, to be presented at the White House meeting at 3pm, includes automatic spending cuts, a framework for budget negotiations, extends the debt ceiling for 6-9 months, and funds the government through December at current sequester levels. Doing so, as AP reports, would punt the fight over whether to lock in 2014 sequestration levels at $967 billion until December. And by extending the debt ceiling until the middle of next year, it would put the issue in the center of the heated 2014 midterm elections. While this provided some short-term optimism, Obama was quick to remind the market that "it appears that has been some progress in the Senate in fiscal impasse negotiations and will see if it is real when he meets congressional leaders."
So the debt ceiling “we’re going to run out of money and the world ends” talk is not accurate. What is accurate is that playing games with your debt limits impacts other investors’ psychologies. And THAT is the real issue here.
- Headline of the day: U.S. Risks Joining 1933 Germany in Pantheon of Deadbeat Defaults (BBG)
- As Senate wrestles over debt ceiling, Obama stays out of sight (Reuters)
- The "Truckers Ride for the Constitution" that threatened to gum up traffic in the capital was a dud as of Friday afternoon (WSJ)
- China New Yuan Loans Top Estimates as Money-Supply Growth Slows (BBG)
- Vegetable prices fuel Chinese inflation (FT)
- China Slowing Power Use Growth Points To Weaker Output Data (MNI)
- London Wealthy Leave for Country Life as Prices Rise (BBG)
- Gulf oil production hits record (FT)
- Every year like clockwork, analysts start out bizarrely optimistic about future results, then “walk down” their forecasts (WSJ)
- Weak Exports Show Limits of China’s Growth Model (WSJ)
In a world devoid for the past two weeks and certainly for foreseeable future of most US economic data (this week we get no CPI, Industrial Production and New Home Sales among others), markets are now reliant on China for an indication of how the economy is doing, which is why this weekend's weaker than expected Chinese exports (ignoring the fact that China trade data is largely made up) and higher than expected consumer price inflation (driven by higher vegetable prices), even as new yuan loans soared to CNY787 billion, well above the CNY675 billion estimate despite broader M2 slowing from 14.7% in August to 14.2% in September, means the Chinese economy is once again in a vice and following the summer's liquidity driven boost, is set to roll over. Which in turn means that once again the PBOC is flying blind: unable to inject more liquidity without risking broader inflation, while most indicators are already rolling over. In short, ugly and certainly rolling over Chinese economic indicators for the market to mull over on Columbus day, even though all this will be promptly forgotten once the Washington debt ceiling song and dance resumes and the now traditional 10:30 am surge grips the algotrons as the latest set of "imminent deal" rumors is unleashed.
It’s a Myth that the U.S. Has Never Defaulted On Its Debt
November 14th – not October 17th – is the key date for Doomsday watchers to circle on their calendars. For 66 years, Goldman Sachs notes, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has published a Doomsday Clock showing how close the world is to global catastrophe. On November 14th the committee will vote again whether to adjust the minute hand on the proverbial clock face. However, most market participants characterize October 17th as the fiscal Doomsday when the federal government hits its debt ceiling. It seems, for now (though this evening's futures market suggests a little more fear), that everyone assumes a deal will be reached to avert disaster just as nuclear Armageddon has been avoided since 1947.
Enter Goldman Sachs, whose Alex Phillips just said that: "If a longer-term resolution can be reached over the coming days, we would expect the downside risk from the fiscal debate to be limited to about 0.5pp in Q4, compared to our current growth forecast of 2.5%." In other words, pro forma for the 14 day government shutdown (and continuing) Goldman has just cut its Q4 GDP forecast from 2.5% to 2.0%. And to think this was the year that Jan Hatzius was desperately praying his optimism (for the 4th year in a row - and who can possibly forget Hatzius boosting its Q4 2010 GDP estimate from 4% to 5.8% - and the same every year since) would finally be rewarded. Sorry Jan: we were right again, you were wrong. Again.