With the House, as previously reported, now out of the debt ceiling negotiations, it is all up to the Senate to reach some compromise with 4 days until the midnight of the first X-Date. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, at least going into Monday, there is no deal, and not even a glimmer of what a potential deal may look like. Yes, Democrat leader Harry Reid did said on Sunday that he had a "productive conversation" with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on efforts to reopen the U.S. government and raise the federal debt limit, Reuters reports, but that's as far as it gets. "Our discussions were substantive, and we'll continue those discussions. I'm optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today," Reid said in remarks on the Senate floor. He did not provide any specifics of the conversation. Democrats and Republicans remain divided over spending levels in any temporary government-funding measure.
If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling soon, the U.S. government won't be able to pay its debts. Here's NPR's simple (and complete) illustration to who the government owes money to — all the holders of U.S. Treasury debt, broken down by category and by how much government debt they hold. It would appear the government's ponzi self-financing may be exposed for all to see... (and is it anywonder the Chinese are complaining?)
We assume it is a coincidence that on the day in which we demonstrate China's relentless appetite for gold, driven by what we and many others believe is the country's desire to have a call option on a gold-backed reserve currency when the time comes, just posted in China's official press agency, Xinhua, is an op-ed by writer Liu Chang in which he decries the "US fiscal failure which warrants a de-Americanized world" and flatly states that the world should consider a new reserve currency "that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States." Of course, if China were serious, and if the world were to voluntarily engage in such a (r)evolutionary reserve currency transition, then all Magic Money Tree theories that the only thing better than near infinite debt is beyond infinite debt, would promptly be relegated to the historic dust heap of idiotic theories where they belong.
We now appear to be close to the day of reckoning that likely determines what the coming weeks/months hold.
- Do we step back from the brink, see our politicians reach an agreement and carry on? Although to be fair, in 2011 the break below supports that led to accelerated losses in the equity markets actually took place once an agreement was reached.
- Do we break lower thereby causing the negative feedback loop/concerns that feed back into the economy, kill any possibility of tapering and sees the Fed re-establish its dovish credentials (Like 1998 and 2011)
- Do bond yields push higher after an agreement thereby increasing concerns about a negative feedback loop into the economy, housing, emerging markets, Europe (Like 2011) and ultimately the equity market?
Time will tell us the answers to the above questions, but whatever happens, Citi notes it looks like the price action in the near future is at pivotal levels that need to be watched closely.
Normally Treasury Bills are not something discussed around the dinner table or hotly debated on the business news channels. As UBS notes, the fact that the Tbill market has become the focus of attention is an ominous sign, and indicates that the stalemate over the debt ceiling could have profound effects. While TED-Spreads, and financial CDS were the key indicators in 2008, now we must watch money fund flows, and Tbill forwards. In a sense, the Tbill market is the proverbial canary in a coal mine for the US financial system. The canary is not yet back in good health.
We are now into a second week of a partial Federal Government shut-down, which is causing considerable concern, centred on the Government’s ability to finance its debt and pay interest without a budget agreed for the new fiscal year. Should this continue into next week and beyond, the Fed will have to enter damage-limitation mode if the Treasury cannot issue any more bonds because of the separate problem of the debt ceiling. With gold at an extreme low in valuation terms, current events, whichever way they go, seem unlikely to drive it much lower. A wise man perhaps should copy the Asians, who know a thing or two about paper currencies, and are buying gold in ever-increasing quantities.
Government spending has long been believed to have a multiplier effect in the economy. However, as the chart above shows, the reality is quite shocking. Each dollar in debt only increased GDP by roughly $0.15. In other words each $1 in government spending actually has a negative multiplier effect of 85% in the real economy. The leaders in Washington need to start focusing on the real issues at hand. While we toss around $100 billion here and there, as if it is left pocket change, the reality is that the rising debt levels will continue to drag on economic growth going forward. Of course, the continued shenanigans in Washington, inept leadership and lack of fiscal responsibility is why there is a continuing increase in the number of individuals who perceive the need for a third political party. Change was promised. Change is wanted. Change will happen. Unfortunately, history shows that REAL change, politically and otherwise, has only occurred under the worst possible conditions.
BREAKING: Senate rejects Democratic plan to extend debt ceiling through next year.
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 12, 2013
Goldman: "2013 Is Different: For The Second Time The Expectation Of A Last Minute Deal Was Incorrect"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2013 11:27 -0500
The main reason for last week's massive market surge on nothing but hope, if no actual deal, is due to the market's now habituated response that no matter what happens in Congress, there will always be a last minute deal. After all this was the pattern with the 2011 government shutdown and debt ceiling deal, and the 2012 fiscal cliff solution: surely enough points to make a pattern. However, as Goldman's Alec Phillips points out, 2013 may be different: "First, Congress allowed sequestration to take effect on March 1, despite the expectation among many observers earlier in the year that the cuts would be pushed off in light of the predicted the negative practical and economic effects that might result. Then, two weeks ago, Congress allowed the government to shut down. For the second time this year, the expectation of a last-minute deal turned out to be incorrect."
After a two-day, five hundred point Dow Jones rally on nothing but hope that just because politicians are talking, all shall be well, it was the weekend's turn, when the market is conveniently closed, for true Congressional colors to emerge. Sure enough, moments ago Boehner told GOP lawmakers that Obama has "rejected our deal", and that talks with the president have hit an impasse. The WSJ, whose recent poll in conjunction with NBC found Republican approval rating at an all time low (because if the debt ceiling slams shut, the machinery that funds both the "wealth effect" for the 0.01% and the 60 million on foodstamps and disability will cease: or in other words a bust for the ultra wealthy and poor, if not quite so bad for what's left of the middle class) reports that his comments, in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, put renewed focus on a plan being developed by Senate Republicans to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and fully reopen the government. As we speculated, Obama, smelling blood, has decided to shut down the GOP on all their demands: "On Saturday, a House GOP aide said Mr. Obama had essentially rejected everything offered by House Republican leaders in their proposal." Which is hardly a negotiation. The question is will the GOP, having pushed the country so far, decide to back off now, and let Obama take all the spoils?
Bipartisan Proposal Would Substantially Reduce Budget Crisis
The popular take on the current debt ceiling stand-off is that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has a delusional belief that it can hit the brakes on new debt creation without bringing on an economic catastrophe. While Republicans are indeed kidding themselves if they believe that their actions will not unleash deep economic turmoil, there are much deeper and more significant delusions on the other side of the aisle. Democrats, and the President in particular, believe that continually taking on more debt to pay existing debt is a more responsible course of action. Even worse, they appear to believe that debt accumulation is the equivalent of economic growth.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
While one after another money market fund quietly announces they are liquidating "cash equivalent" Bill holdings, be they the mid/late October vintage or, now that a can kicking negotiation is in process, the Bills in close proximity to the Thanksgiving day 6 week extension period, over buck breaking concerns that the debt ceiling extension may be snagged due to political manoeuvering, someone was once again ahead of the curve. That someone are the 20 Primary Dealers, which as the NY Fed reports, sold out of the bulk of their Bill holdings in the last two weeks of September in the process taking their Bill holdings to the lowest in all of 2013. The last time Dealers sold off near-term Treasurys with such gusto: July 13 of 2011, just before the last debt ceiling extension fiasco, when Bill holdings dropped to a net negative ($10) billion position.
The Treasury Department has warned that the continued failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling would leave the United States unable to pay all of its bills and may force the country to default on its government bonds. Here are some helpful answers to the most common questions about the debt ceiling crisis...