"They’re going to cut back the bone and they’re going to keep the fat, basically. They’re going to try to panic the population into acquiescing in a Democratic Party sellout by cutting back payments to the people...while making sure that they pay the Pentagon, they pay the foreign aid, they pay Wall Street." Michael Hudson
The Treasury had to sell $66Bn worth of notes this week and there was no POMO for the Fed to bid with. The US could have been really screwed but, luckily, the market crashed and everyone panicked - INTO TREASURIES! Isn't that convenient?
Still confused by the last two days of Ben Bernanke testimony which in under 24 hours had elements of glaring contradiction? A) You are not alone and B) Judging by the market's response to the Congressional and Senatorial portions of Bernanke's testimony, not even he knows what monetary message he was trying to convey. And since all of his decisions are ultimately predicated by Goldman Sachs (either in the form of current GS employee Jan Hatzius, or former GS employee Bill Dudley) here is Goldman's take on the "Q&A on the Monetary and Fiscal Policy Outlook" based on Alec Phillips and Sven Jari Stehn's take of Humphrey Hawkins events in the past two days.
California Runs Out Of Money Again, Comes Begging To Wall Street As Moody's Threatens To Go Nuclear On Muni MarketSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/14/2011 08:58 -0400
First New Jersey, now California. The cash-strapped state, which begged for, and got, a "bridge" loan from JP Morgan as recently as October 2010 (the same bank that recently bailed out Chris Christie), is asking for another bridge to the old bridge loan, ergo a "bridge bridge" loan. The excuse: the potential upcoming government shutdown, which would lock California out of the muni market. Surely the fact that it already has little to no cash left was not a part of the equation. BusinessWeek reports: "California is considering seeking a bridge loan from Wall Street ahead of an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the federal debt ceiling, in case talks fail and send the bond market into turmoil, Treasurer Bill Lockyer said. Proceeds from the loan would be used to help pay the state’s bills until Lockyer can sell an estimated $5 billion of so-called revenue-anticipation notes, or RANs, scheduled for late August. Without those notes, the state could run out of cash as it did in 2009, when it issued $2.6 billion of IOUs." Of course if the US is downgraded, Meredith Whitney's prediction will come true with a bang: as part of its warning yesterday, Moody's also threatened to downgrade 7000 municipal ratings which would halt RAN, and any other, issuance for an indefinite period of time. And while this is merely more M.A.D. posturing to help the debt ceiling dispute come to a speedy resolution, the fact that California is now forced to issue new bridge loans to "bridge" old ones is oddly troubling.
My take on what may happen to confidence.
The Fearmongering At The Top Begins: Obama Says "Can Not" Guarantee Social Security Payments Without A Debt Ceiling HikeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/12/2011 13:30 -0400
It worked for Hank Paulson who showed up in Congress with a three page termsheet, delusions of grandeur, a scary story, and an easily frightened audience. Why should it not work for the president. As Reuters reports, "Barack Obama said in an interview on Tuesday that checks to recipients of the Social Security retirement program may not go out in early August if he and congressional leaders do not agree a debt deal. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue," Obama said in an interview with CBS, according to a transcript on the network's web site. "Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said." Is that so Mr. President? Please explain then how according to the most recent DTS the YTD (fiscal) amount paid out on Social Security is $469 billion, well below the amount collected from Federal Tax Deposits of $780 billion. As a comparison, this number is lower than the combination of Medicare and Medicaid ($638 billion YTD), and the combination of Defense and Education Payments ($480 billion). Indicatively, Federal salaries are a whopping $137.6 billion, or said otherwise, all of the SSN payments to date are just three times bigger than what the government pays its own employees. Perhaps a bigger issue is that the debt held by the public has increased by $720 billion YTD, a number which will soon grow to $1.5 trillion if the government does get debt hike it so desperately needs.
The low job growth in the U.S. isn't a "soft patch," it's a sea of quicksand. In a nutshell, here's the situation: 2/3 or more of all job growth comes from small businesses starting up and expanding; only a third or less of new jobs come from Corporate America or government expansion. As recent reports have shown, Corporate America has been on a hiring spree--overseas. From the point of view of globalized Corporate America, why hire anyone in a slow-growth market like the U.S.? It makes sense to hire new employees in fast-growing markets where the corporation is reaping its growth and most of its profits. As for government hiring: the game of expansion based on explosively rising debt or Federal stimulus spending is over. To live within their means, local goverment and related agencies will have to shed jobs, as labor accounts for 80% of government expenses. That leaves any future expansion of jobs up to small business. But small business isn't hiring, and won't be hiring, for these structural reasons...
Now that the market's bipolar yet brief attention span has once again shifted back to Europe, the vacuum tubes have completely forgotten that last week just confirmed that the labor part of the US economy (one part of the Fed's original dual mandate, before the whole market manipulation thing became dominant) has joined housing into sliding back into near outright contraction (and the just released news that Cisco will fire 10,000 people - more on that later - will only make things much, much worse). And so the US, which up until two weeks ago was supposed to be the source of "reverse decoupling" has been quietly swept under the carpet. Yet Goldman's economics team, which in addition to being wrong about NFP forecasts, is unable to conveniently avoid discussing the US economy, has just released its latest macro report, titled, appropriately enough: "Still Disappointing." Needless to say, Hatzius still refuses to acknowledge that his December 1 "economic renaissance" call was abysmal, and so continues to push for a 3% growth in H2, but is finally getting closer to admitting defeat: "The bottom line is that acceleration to a slightly above-trend growth pace in coming months, coupled with unchanged monetary policy through 2012, remains our modal forecast, but the risks to this view are very much tilted to the softer side. In order to hold on to the modal forecast, we will need to see a clear improvement in the indicators as well as a resolution to the debt ceiling debate that imposes fiscal restraint of not much more than the 1% of GDP that we are currently building in for next year. We should have more clarity on both of these issues by early/mid-August." Good luck Jan.
The Cost Of Obama's Latest TV Appearance: $112.5 Million Increase In The US Deficit, $150 Million Increase In US DebtSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2011 12:10 -0400
The most meaningful summary of Obama's most recent (in a long series) speech, which this time was only 14 minutes delayed: the US Deficit increased $112.5 million during the president's latest teleprompted appearance (9m deficit $973 bn ; $108 bn / mo ; $3.6 bn / day ; $150 mm / hr ; $2.5 mm / minute). Since US debt increases at a rate about 30% higher than the actual deficit, the actual new debt incurred was about $146 million. And that's all you need to know about the latest episode in the political tragicomedy charade.
Folks… you just can’t make this stuff up. On July 6th, just two days ago, at least a dozen busybody Congressmen sponsored the introduction of HR 2411, the “Reduce America’s Debt Now Act of 2011.” They always come up with fantastic names for these pieces of legislation… and rest assured, the better/more patriotic the name, the more ominous the bill. This one follows the pattern. HR 2411 states that every worker in America should be able to voluntarily have a portion of his/her wages automatically withheld and sent directly to the Treasury Department for the purposes of paying down the federal debt. “Every employer making payment of wages shall deduct and withhold upon such wages any amounts so elected, and shall pay such amounts over to the Secretary of the Treasury…” That’s right. Uncle Sam is so broke that he wants to give all the good little Americans out there the opportunity to contribute an even greater portion of their paychecks to finance government largess. Desperate? Hmmm…. Don’t worry, it gets better.
It appears that the AARP does have a powerful lobby. Not even an hour after we posted the AARP's stern displeasure with the revelation that the appropriately named Chained-CPI adjustment would cut into Social Security, and Nancy Pelosi is already making waves with her shock that this proposal was in fact among the options being discussed: "Before Thursday's White House meeting on the budget, congressional Democrats said they planned to remind President Obama not to leave his party and base behind. The Democrats' testiness followed reports that the White House was proposing to alter Social Security and Medicare as part of a potential debt-ceiling deal with Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., planned in the meeting to “express his feeling that we haven’t been kept in the loop,” according to a senior Democratic aide who asked not to be identified so he could speak candidly about the friction between the president and Democratic congressional leaders. That feeling is shared by many Democrats, irked not just by the potential cuts, but by the White House’s failure to float it to Democratic lawmakers before they learned of the proposal through media. “Good politics starts with good communication, and I think they should have come and talked to us about the direction, particularly when it’s the social contract and we feel so strongly about it,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md." That's interesting: so despite our observation well over two weeks ago that the CPI adjustment would have a major adverse impact on entitlement NPV and that it has been discussed for quite a while now, somehow nobody bothered to explain to the Democrats on the Hill that the immediate consequence of this action would have been a massive change in Social Security dues? Just how clueless and mathematically challenged is everyone over in Congress? As for the Democrats' claim that these discussions "only now" appeared on the scene, we leave that to those far more gullible than us to swallow.
A look at one of those "new ideas" to resolve the debt limit impasse. I think it is a No Sale.
AARP Screams Bloody Murder, Warns Against Changing CPI Definition And Cuts To Social Security In Pursuing Budget CompromiseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/07/2011 14:49 -0400
While it is unclear what precisely has given Obama confidence to announce that his meeting with congressional leaders on deficit reduction and the debt limit was "very constructive" one thing is very likely: it involved the change of the definition of CPI. As we reported some time ago, one of the serious proposals to deal with the deficit situation is to make a revolutionary actuarial adjustment and change the way the actual definition of inflation. As we reported: "Lawmakers are considering changing how the Consumer Price Index is calculated, a move that could save perhaps $220 billion and represent significant progress in the ongoing federal debt ceiling and deficit reduction talks. According to congressional aides familiar with the discussions, the proposal would shift how the Consumer Price Index is calculated to reflect how people tend to change spending patterns when prices increase. For example, consumers tend to drive less when gas prices increase dramatically. Such a move is widely seen by economists as resulting in a slower rise in inflation." Today the WSJ's Damian Paletta follows up on this ludicrous yet serious proposal: "One proposal in the budget talks that is getting a serious look from all sides would switch the government’s way of measuring inflation and delivering a big impact on tax, spending, and entitlement programs. How big? It could save roughly $300 billion over 10 years. That big. The idea of using this different measure of inflation, known as a “chained” consumer price index, has won support from numerous deficit-reduction commissions as well as many liberal and conservative economists." Yet reminding everyone that there is no such thing as a free lunch in finance, the "biggest savings—an estimated $112 billion—would be from slowing the growth in the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries." Sure enough someone is unhappy. Enter the AARP which is already screaming, justifiably, bloody murder should the administration proceed with what will be an outright slashing of Social Security obligations. "AARP will not accept any cuts to Social Security as part of a deal to
pay the nation’s bills,” said Rand. “Social Security did not cause the
deficit, and it should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause." Did Obama's war with America's seniors just enter Defcon 1?
Yesterday I laid out why the Status Quo is financially unsustainable in The Promises That Cannot Be Kept. The unavoidable consequence of that is the the nation will experience a Great Reset in which the promises of the Savior State are relinquished, either voluntarily or involuntarily. As I discussed in July 4, 2011: The Cycle of Dependency and the Atrophy of Self-Reliance, our reliance on the Savior State has sapped our will and confidence, and hollowed out communities that have become dependent on the Savior State and its quasi-private partners, the corporate cartels of banking, defense, healthcare and so on. The Great Reset will thus be a great shock to everyone who has grown dependent on Big Government and global Corporate America. An unprecedented array of interconnected trends are converging that will force a Reset not just in the economy but in the American society and culture.