It is a common view that the shutdown, the debt-limit debacle and the repeated failure to enact entitlement and pro-growth tax reform reflect increased political polarization. John Taylor believes this gets the causality backward. Today's governance failures are closely connected to economic policy changes, particularly those growing out of the 2008 financial crisis. Despite a massive onslaught of legislation and regulation designed to foster prosperity, economic growth remains low and unemployment remains high. Claiming that one political party has been hijacked by extremists misses this key point, and prevents a serious discussion of the fundamental changes in economic policies in recent years, and their effects.
As Citi's Matt King recent showed, when it comes to stepwise, quantum leap repricings of widely held credits, the revelation is usually a very painful, sudden and very dramatic one. This can be seen nowhere better than in the default of Lehman brothers, where while the firm's equity was slow to admit defeat it was nothing in comparison to the abject case study in denial that the Lehman bonds put in. However, as can be seen in the chart below, when it finally came, and when bondholders realized they are screwed the morning of Monday, Septembr 15 when the Lehman bankruptcy filing was fact, the move from 80 cents on the dollar to under 10 cents took place in a heartbeat.It is the same kind of violent and anguished repricing that all unsecrued creditors in the coming wave of heretofore "denialed" municipal bankruptcy filings will have to undergo. Starting with Detroit, where as Reuters reports, the recovery to pensioners, retirees and all other unsecured creditors will be.... 16 cents on the dollar!... or less than what Greek bondholders got in the country's latest (and certainly not final) bankruptcy.
- Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On (BBG)
- More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around (Reuters)
- Contractors Point Fingers Over Health-Law Website (WSJ)
- Jury Decides Against BofA on 'Hustle' Program (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse to overhaul interest rates trading business (FT)
- Home Builders Target Higher End (WSJ)
- The Many Lives of Iron Mountain (NYer)
- Busy tourist season nudges Spanish unemployment lower (Reuters)
- Morgan Stanley Joins BofA in Broker Recruiting Truce (BBG)
- Ending World’s Longest Nonstop Flight Adds Five Hours (BBG)
Alasdair explains how his "Fiat Money Quantity" (FMQ) is derived, as well as what it can tell us about the true levels of fiat money supply. In the case of the dollar, it reveals that levels are far above what is commonly appreciated – so far, in fact, that a currency crisis could arrive sooner than even many dollar bears expect... and how horribly mispriced gold remains.
While there haven't been many economic data points to highlights the so-called damage to if not the economy, then the confidence of the all important US consumer, data on consumer confidence has been trickling in, and as expected, has been sliding. However, nowhere more so than in the just released latest read in the Bloomberg Weekly Consumer confidence index, whose expectations gauge just tumbled to -31, or the lowest level since November 2011. Bloomberg reports: "Americans in October were the most pessimistic about the nation’s economic prospects in almost two years as concern mounted that continued political gridlock will hurt the expansion. The monthly Bloomberg Consumer Confidence Index expectations gauge plunged to minus 31, the lowest level since November 2011, from minus 9 in September, a report showed today. The share of people projecting the economy will worsen jumped by the most since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. five years ago. The weekly measure of current conditions fell to minus 34.1 in the period ended Oct. 13, the weakest since March."
TedBits - Newsletter
The dollar is the world’s go-to currency. But for how much longer? Will the dollar’s status as the only true global currency be irreparably damaged by the battle in the US Congress over raising the federal government’s debt ceiling? Is the dollar’s “exorbitant privilege” as the world’s main reserve currency truly at risk? Sane governments do not default when they have a choice – especially not when they enjoy the “exorbitant privilege” of issuing the only true global currency. We are about to find out whether the US still has a sane government.
As Warren Buffet openly states that he believes that a default on US debt will be catastrophic and that lawmakers in Congress need to get their act together and get the federal government back to work by passing the budget we might well wonder if it’s just for show or if he really believes that.
Everyone knows that one of the immediate catalysts of the near systemic collapse in the aftermath of the Lehman bankruptcy, one which set in motion the sequence of events that led to Bernanke increasing the Fed's balance sheet fourfold, was when the Reserve Primary Money Market Fund announced on September 16 that the value of its shares had dropped to 97, sparking an epic run on money market funds, and requiring an immediate bailout first from its sponsor, and then the Federal Reserve and US government. What is far less known is that the Reserve Primary Fund was just one of many money market funds that got locked out and was in danger of collapse following the decision to let Dick Fuld hang. How many? According to a research note released by the NY Fed itself, at least 28 more!
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.
Five years later, while some are congratulating themselves on avoiding another depression, no one in Europe or the United States can claim that prosperity has returned. The financial system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low bar – back then, it was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Those in government and the financial sector who congratulate themselves on banks’ return to profitability and mild – though hard-won – regulatory improvements should focus on what still needs to be done. Some are pleased that the economy may have bottomed out. But, in any meaningful sense, an economy in which most people’s incomes are below their pre-2008 levels is still in recession. An The glass is, at most, only one-quarter full; for most people, it is three-quarters empty.
The appalling fiscal and monetary situation in the U.S. will lead to further dollar weakness in the coming months. This weakness will be most manifest versus gold as other fiat currencies have their own risks.
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.
Back in April, in a desperate scramble to raise liquidity courtesy of a hail mary Goldman syndicated term loan, we penned "Confused By What Is Going On At JCP? Here's The Pro Forma Cap Table And The Cliff Notes", where in addition to the obvious - that this is merely buying a few months for the melting icecube company which with every passing day is closer to a Chapter 11 (or 7) bankruptcy filing - we also laid out that what Goldman was doing was merely positioning itself to be at the top of the company's capital structure with a super secured and overcollateralized credit facility, through what is effectively a pre-petition DIP... As it turns out we only had to wait for five months before the same Goldman that raised the company's emergency liquidity term loan turned around and launched a vicious attack on the same company that paid it millions in dollars in underwriting fees. Specifically, what Goldman just did is write a report (perhaps one of the best bearish cross-asset investment theses we have seen to come out of the firm in a long time) in which it laid out, in a lucid and compelling manner, why JCP is doomed. The report is titled appropriately enough: "Initiate on JCP with Underperform: Looking for cash in the name"... and not finding it.
A corporate culture that allows wasteful spending engenders fraud, corruption and systematically destroys shareholder value.