If public pensions don't delay and start plugging their funding holes now, they will need to contribute just under $200 billion per year over the next 30 years, amounting to 1.2% of GDP and 8.8% of state and local tax revenues. If funds wait a decade, the impact per year explodes to $325 billion over 30 years and will "cost" 1.2% of GDP and 12.2% of tax revenues. But the most likely, and worst case scenario, is if pension funds do nothing at all, "let the machine run its course", then the economic damage is unquantifiable as low asset returns inevitably cause lower income through benefits after assets are fully depleted.
When the US federal government was shutdown, China jumped in on the financial bandwagon and suggested that we build ‘a de-Americanized world’, which boils down to getting rid of the dollar as the international reserve currency.
Late last night, Paul Ryan wrote a WSJ op-ed titled "Here's How We Can End This Stalemate" in which some believe he provided the framework for what a possible fig leaf offering on the government shutdown and debt ceiling compromise could look like. While on the surface this may be grounds for optimism, the reality is that Ryan, whose entire proposal is based on the assumption that Obama is willing to negotiate which for now he has shown repeatedly he won't, merely fell back to his traditional "grand bargain" talking point made so clear during the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. What Ryan does suggest is yet another angle to a common bargaining position, one which would be certainly more palatable to Obama: because in order to get both parties happy and reach a compromise, all that would happen is for various long-term assumptions would be changed, with zero actual, real current impact - something politicians are good at, because it does not generate an adverse impact during their tenure (afterwards, it becomes someone else's problem).
The Chief Economist at Citi Willem Butler has said today on CBC in an interview that the fiasco over the US budget and the lack of money is nothing more than irresponsible on all political wings and that the country is being run by Munchkins in the Land of Oz.
- JPMorgan eyes $4bn ‘pay for peace’ deal (FT)
- Prosecutors Pursue Big SAC Settlement (WSJ) - in the US if you are rich enough, no crime is bad enough
- Cruz's Defiant Stand Is Also a Lonely One (WSJ); Texas senator speaks for more than 14 hours (FT)
- Iran Applies Brakes to U.S. Mideast Plans (WSJ)
- Americans in Poll Doubt Economy Rebound in Defiance of Forecasts (BBG)
- Big Banks Cut Basel III Shortfall by $112 Billion at End of 2012 (BBG) - the equivalent of 10 bridges to the Kalahari desert
- Obama’s Jabs at Russia on Syria Shows Diplomacy Tensions (BBG)
- ICAP Staff Face Criminal Charges Tied to Libor (WSJ)
- Alibaba Is Said to Shift Target for I.P.O. to U.S. From Hong Kong (NYT)
- Home gold rush is over (Reuters)
- Conoco in landmark Alaska drone flight (FT)
Following the FOMC surprise, no less than twelve Fed speeches will provide some "clarifications" on where the Fed now stands. It is very likely that this subject will continue to dominate the discussions of market participants. At the same time, US data will get scrutinized after the recent weakening and to see how warranted the Fed's concerns were. Two US consumer sentiment surveys, durable goods orders, and the third reading of Q2 GDP are important. In addition, monthly consumption and income data for August provide more information on the third quarter and of course there will be interest in the latest weekly claims numbers after some distortions in recent readings.
US Fed's exit plan poses a critical dilemma and underscores important contradictions. The calendar says Europe should be talking about exits too--as aid packages for Spanish banks, and Ireland and Portugal are to wind down in the coming year--yet more rather than less assistance may be neeed.
As macro news continues to trickle in better than expected, the latest batch being benign (if completely fake) Chinese inflation data (CPI 2.6%, Exp. 2.6%, Last 2.7%) and trade data released overnight which saw ahigher than expected trade balance ($28.5bn vs Exp. $20.0; as exports rose from 5.1% to 7.2%, and imports dipped from 10.9% to 7.0%, missing expectations), markets remain confused: is good news better or does it mean even more global liquidity will be pulled. As a result, the release of an encouraging set of macroeconomic data from China failed to have a meaningful impact on the sentiment in Europe this morning and instead stocks traded lower, with the Spanish IBEX-35 index underperforming after Madrid lost out to Tokyo to win rights to host 2020 Olympic Games. Even though the news buoyed USD/JPY overnight, the pair faced downside pressure stemming from interest rate differential flows amid better bid USTs. The price action in the US curve was partly driven by the latest article from a prolific Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath who said many Fed officials are undecided on whether to scale back bond purchases in September. Hilsenrath added that the Fed could wait or reduce the programme by a small amount at the upcoming meeting. Going forward, there are no major macroeconomic data releases scheduled for the second half of the session, but Fed’s Williams is due to speak.
Dispassionate view that Italy poses the biggest risk for the euro area and it will not wait for the German elections.
Next weeks events placed within the larger context.
Schaeuble and Merkel have very recently confirmed what was leaked a month ago - that Greece will likely get yet another 'helping hand' aid program. Some have noted that this may be financed using EU funds instead of additional loans from EU-area countries (or the IMF) yet Merkel's comments (perhaps playing to her electioneering needs) appeared to dismiss this - prompting talk of a 'bail-in' based on the new normal 'template' applied to Cyprus. Greece has so far received two bailout packages totaling EUR240 billion (with about EUR22 billion still to be released) which is 130% of Greece's GDP (which stands at EUR186.2 billion) and while the thord package appears smaller (for now) at EUR10.9 billion (based on IMF funding gap forecasts), this covers only the period through 2015 (and we know how accurate the IMF has been in the past with its hockey-sticks). Greece remains mired in the sixth year of a recession with more than 6 out of 10 young people unemployed.
Characterizations of the invesmtent climate.
Next month promises to be more volatile than this month. Consensus views are unlikely to be challenged by the data in the week ahead.
In January, the Pew Charitable Trusts published a study showing that 61 U.S. cities have an aggregate pension funding gap of $99 billion and an additional shortfall of $118 billion for retiree health benefits. These figures were widely cited by the media in the aftermath of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. They refer to fiscal year 2009, which was the latest year with a full data set. Unfortunately, Pew’s analysis is ridiculously optimistic.
"At all times, ultimate collateral and ultimate money remain crucial reference points in modern financial markets, but the actual instruments are important only in times of crisis when promises to pay are cashed rather than offset with other promises to pay.... Our world is organized as a network of promises to buy in the event that someone else doesn’t buy. The key reason is that in today’s world so many promised payments lie in the distant future, or in another currency. As a consequence, mere guarantee of eventual par payment at maturity doesn’t do much good. On any given day, only a very small fraction of outstanding primary debt is coming due, and in a crisis the need for current cash can easily exceed it. In such a circumstance, the only way to get cash is to sell an asset, or to use the asset as collateral for borrowing."