As we have discussed previously, the "partial government shutdown" that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event - especially with the un-furloughing of The Pentagon. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17% of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This "shutdown" could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much. On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous. A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic. If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
The chart below, showing the historical change in the IMF's periodic revisions of world growth and revised for today's just released latest World Economic Outlook, shows that much taxpayer money can be saved if the monetary fund's staff was replaced with dart-throwing chimps.
While the world's largest hedge fund, the Fed, may not care about the performance of its "bad bank" assets, and thus is largely ambivalent if the US Treasury defaults on the $2 trillion in US paper held by Ben Bernanke, others don't have the luxury of merely printing away any incurred MTM losses. Such as America's largest foreign creditor China, which at last check held at least $1.277 trillion in US Treasurys, which after realizing with a substantial delay that the US Congress is not precisely a "rational actor" and its bonds may be materially impaired in the case of a technical default, is starting to panic. In an oped in the largest media publication, China Daily, vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao, warned that the "clock is ticking" to avoid a US default that could hurt China's interests and the global economy. Somehow we doubt Boehner or Obama are particularly concerned about what happens to "Chinese interests." Of course, if China so wishes, it can pen an Op-Ed in the NYT and tell the US just what will happen if $1.3 trillion in US Treasurys were suddenly to be dumped in a liquidation fire sale.
The standard wisdom on gold is that it does well in times of economic bad news such as in the 1970s, a period of stagflation and recessions, when the yellow metal rose from $35/oz to peak at $850/oz in 1980. But this time, Don Coxe, a portfolio adviser to BMO Asset Management, believes, things are different. In this interview with The Gold Report, Coxe explains why gold will rise when the economy improves.
“Spies … Can Now, For The First Time, Monitor Everything About Us, And They Can Do So With A Few Clicks Of A Mouse And – To Placate The Lawyers – A Drop-Down Menu Of Justifications”
If one wants to see what it looks like when the Federal Reserve has enabled the US government to become completely irrelevant in a world in which fiscal policy is completely meaningless and all that matters is how high the S&P500 is on any given day courtesy of trillions in monetary policy injections stimulating "confidence" and the wealth effect, then look no further than this article by Politico recapping the bad blood in Congress among the four feuding leaders.
The US Federal Reserve’s recent surprise announcement that it would maintain the current pace of its monetary stimulus reflects the ongoing debate about the desirability of cooperation among central banks. Discussion of central-bank cooperation has often centered on a single historical case, in which cooperation initially seemed promising, but turned out to be catastrophic. We are thus left with a paradox: While crises increase demand for central-bank cooperation to deliver the global public good of financial stability, they also dramatically increase the costs of cooperation, especially the fiscal costs associated with stability-enhancing interventions. As a result, in the wake of a crisis, the world often becomes disenchanted with the role of central banks – and central-bank cooperation is, yet again, associated with disaster.
A week ago, we first reported that Bridgewater's Ray Dalio had finally thrown in the towel on his latest iteration of hope in the "Beautiful deleveraging", and realizing that a 3% yield is enough to grind the US economy to a halt, moved from the pro-inflation camp (someone tell David Rosenberg) back to buying bonds (i.e., deflation). This was music to Bill Gross' ears who in his latest letter, in which he notes in addition to everything else that while the Fed has to taper eventually, it doesn't actually ever have to raise rates, and writes: "The objective, Dalio writes, is to achieve a “beautiful deleveraging,” which assumes minimal defaults and an eventual return of investors’ willingness to take risk again. The beautiful deleveraging of course takes place at the expense of private market savers via financially repressed interest rates, but what the heck. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if the Fed’s (and Dalio’s) objective is to grow normally again, then there is likely no more beautiful or deleveraging solution than one that is accomplished via abnormally low interest rates for a long, long time." How long one may ask? "the last time the U.S. economy was this highly levered (early 1940s) it took over 25 years of 10-year Treasury rates averaging 3% less than nominal GDP to accomplish a “beautiful deleveraging.” That would place the 10-year Treasury at close to 1% and the policy rate at 25 basis points until sometime around 2035!" In the early 1940s there was also a world war, but the bottom line is clear: lots and lots of central planning for a long time.
Perhaps investors are becoming inured to the United States’ annual debt-ceiling debacle, now playing out for the third year in a row. But, as the short-term antics become more routine, the risks of long-term dysfunction become more apparent. At least for now, the rest of the world has seemingly unbounded confidence – reflected in very low borrowing rates – in America’s capacity to put its house (of representatives) in order. No one can imagine that a country with so many unique economic advantages would risk such a damaging self-inflicted wound as default would cause. But this time could be different. Obama needs to force his Republican opponents to blink, and there is no guarantee that they will.
Breaking Bad With Big Bank CEOs: How Bad Bank CEOs Use the Bystander Effect to Dupe Good People Into Working For ThemSubmitted by smartknowledgeu on 09/30/2013 05:09 -0500
This may become the most important article I’ve ever written. But whether it becomes that article or dwells in anonymity is up to you, the reader.
‘Tapering’ may be put off indefinitely due to the very fragile state of the massively indebted U.S. economy. This means that interest rates must be kept low for as long as possible, leading to money printing and electronic money creation on a scale never before seen in history.
This will inevitably lead to higher gold prices - the question is when rather than if.
Silver’s fundamentals remain very sound, with a very small finite supply of above ground, investment grade silver coins and bars and robust and increasing industrial and store of value demand - particularly in Asia.
We continue to believe silver will rise to its real record high or inflation adjusted high of $140/oz in the coming years.
The high priests of academic and “official” history love a good villain for two reasons: First, because good official villains make the struggles and accomplishments of good official heroes even more awe-inspiring. And, second, because nothing teaches (or propagandizes) the masses more thoroughly than the social or political lessons inherent in the documented rise and fall of the world's most despicable inhabitants. We get shivers of fear and excitement when we discuss the evils and the follies of ancient monsters like Nero, Attila the Hun, Caligula, etc, or more modern monsters, like Mussolini, Stalin Hitler, Goebbels, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and so on. We take solace in the idea that “we are nothing like them”, and our nation has “moved beyond” such animalistic behavior.
Many well-meaning commentators look back on the era of strong private-sector unions and robust U.S. trade surpluses with longing. The trade surpluses vanished for two reasons: global competition and to protect the dollar as the world's reserve currency. It is impossible for the U.S. to maintain the reserve currency and run trade surpluses. It's Hobson's Choice: if you run trade surpluses, you cannot supply the global economy with the currency flows it needs for trade, reserves, payment of debt denominated in the reserve currency and credit expansion. If you don't possess the reserve currency, you can't print money and have it accepted as payment. In other words, the U.S. must "export" U.S. dollars by running a trade deficit to supply the world with dollars to hold as reserves and to use to pay debt denominated in dollars. Other nations need U.S. dollars in reserve to back their own credit creation.