It has been a relatively quiet overnight session, if with a downward bias in the EURJPY which means futures are just modestly in the red. The action however is merely deferred, with a slew of macroeconomic reports on the horizon, chief of which is the ECB rate decision, which consensus has as unchanged at 0.25%, although Draghi's subsequent conference is expected to lead to EUR weakness, even if briefly, since the central bank is widely expected to downgrade both growth and inflation forecasts. DB adds that the recent rise in eonia — which may reflect concerns about the treatment of LTROs in the end-December AQR and be encouraging the accelerated 3Y LTRO repayments — may warrant a temporary liquidity easing: a special short-term tender; temporarily easing minimum reserve requirements; or — technically possible, if politically controversial — temporarily suspending the SMP sterilization process. Concurrent with the draghi conference, we also get the second revision of Q3 GDP, which consensus now expects to rise to 3.1%, as well as this week's initial jobless claims random number generator. Later in the day the Factory Orders update is expected to show a -1.0% decline, while Fed speakers Lockhart and Fisher round off the day.
While it is not a surprise, and had been reported previously, there is a certain dose of humor in Reuters reminding us that Jeffrey Zients, who is currently tasked with fixing Obamacare.gov Healthcare.gov (and which crashed yesterday for CNN when it experiment with the upgraded website), will soon be leaving his post and replace Gene Sperling as Obama's top economic advisor. Surely if anyone can fix the economy, it is the man who has hired every private sector sysadmin genius and managed to expand the 500 million lines of code website to accomodate a few more thousand simultaneous requests.... before it crashes again.
While even the most naive private sector cyber-experts knew well in advance that an effective rewrite of Obamacare's 500 million lines of code would take a "little longer" than the month promised by the government in advance of the November 30 fix deadline, the Obama administration went ahead with its much touted healthcare.gov relaunch anyway. The results have been mixed.
- Washington turns bond market upside (FT)
- China Air-Zone Move Expands Field of Islands Spat With Japan (BBG); Japan rejects China claim on airspace over disputed islands (FT)
- 'Great Satan' meets 'Axis of Evil' and strikes a deal (Reuters)
- Iran Pact Faces Stiff Opposition (WSJ)
- Allies Fear a US Pullback in Mideast (WSJ)
- India to resume paying Iran in Euros (Economic Times)
- At 'Business Insider,' it's time to sell (USA Today)
- More ECB currency war jawboning: ECB’s Hansson Says Rate Cut Options Not Fully Exhausted (BBG)
- Spy World Links Plus Obama Ties Stoke Concern About NSA Review (BBG)
- A disunited Europe will struggle even to disintegrate (FT)
“We paid our Social Security and Medicare taxes; we earned our benefits.” It is that belief among senior citizens that President Obama was pandering to when, in his second inaugural address, he claimed that those programs “strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers.” If Social Security and Medicare both involved people voluntarily financing their own benefits, an argument could be made for seniors’ “earned benefits” view. But they have not. They have redistributed tens of trillions of dollars of wealth to themselves from those younger. Social Security and Medicare have transferred those trillions because they have been partial Ponzi schemes.
Economics is all about making rational decisions given some set of likes and dislikes. It doesn’t presume to tell you what you should like or dislike, and it assumes that you do in fact know what you like or dislike. Or at least that’s what economic theory used to proclaim. Today economic theory is used as the intellectual foundation for a political stratagem that goes something like this: you do not know what you truly like, and in particular you do not know your economic self-interest, but luckily for you we are here to fix that. This is the common strand between QE and Obamacare. The former says that you are wrong to prefer safety to risk in your investments, and so we will fix that misconception of yours by making it extremely painful for you not to take greater investment risks than you would otherwise prefer. The latter says that you are wrong to prefer no health insurance or a certain type of health insurance to another type of health insurance, and so we will make it illegal for you to do anything but purchase a policy that we are certain you would prefer if only you were thinking more clearly about all this.
The cheapest plan now has a deductible of $6350! Before it was $150. Employees making $9 to $10/hr, have to pay $30/wk and have a $6350 deductible!!! What!!!! They can't afford that to be sure. Obamacare will kill their propensity to seek medical care. More money for less care? How does that help them? Here is the craziest part. Employees who qualify for mediCAL (the California version of Medicare), which is most of my employees, will automatically be enrolled in the Federal SNAP program. They cannot opt out. They cannot decline. They will be automatically enrolled in the Federal food stamp program based upon their level of Obamacare qualification. Remember, these people work full time, living in a small town in California. They are not seeking assistance. It all seems like a joke. How can this be the new system? Pelosi, pass the bill to find out what's in it? Surprise! You've annihilated the working class.
The root cancer at the core of the U.S., and indeed global economy, is cronyism and an absence of the rule of law when it comes to oligarchs. In the U.S., this cronyism is best described as an insidious relationship between large multi-national corporations and big government to funnel all of the wealth and resources of the nation to themselves at the expense of everyone else. In a genuine free market defined by heightened competition and governed by an equal application of the rule of law to all, the 0.1% does not aggregate all of a nation’s wealth. This sort of thing only happens in crony capitalism, which is basically nothing more than complete and total insider deals to aggregate newly created money into the hands of the few. The following profile of Washington D.C.’s so-called “boom” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pretty much tells you all you need to know.
If there were any shreds of hope left that the stunning decline of the middle class could be turned around, Obamacare has absolutely destroyed them. Over the past decade or so, the middle class in the United States has been absolutely eviscerated. The number of working age Americans without a job has increased by 27 million since the year 2000, median household income in the U.S. has fallen for five years in a row, and the poverty numbers in this country are spiraling out of control. And now here comes Obamacare. As you will see below, Obamacare is causing millions of Americans to lose their current health insurance policies, it is causing health insurance premiums to explode to absolutely ridiculous levels, and it is systematically killing jobs even though the employer mandate has been delayed for a while.
UnitedHealth, the nation's largest provider of privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks citing "substantial funding pressure from the federal government." The WSJ reports that physician groups are protesting as many elderly patients are now unsure about whether they need to switch plans to keep seeing their doctors. Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment." UnitedHealth said its provider networks are always changing and that it expects its Medicare Advantage network "to be 85% to 90% of its current size by the end of 2014," due to the new health law (Obamacare). More job creation?
Would printing the cash to fund pensions for low-income retirees trigger inflation? It's more of an open question than we might imagine at first glance.
"Unfortunately, today’s administrative state gives so much power to unelected bureaucrats—who are protected against any meaningful control by voters—that they can alter, manipulate, and change the law almost at will. The result is a breakdown in the rule of law and an arbitrary system in which the government operates, not according to predictable standards and meaningful rules, but according to political whim and in arbitrary, day-to-day, ad hoc manner."
Despite rewriting history as usual, proclaiming that the administration 'knew' early numbers would be low (not true since they estimated 500,000 and are rumored to only have ~50,000), and changing the definition of what an enrollee is, and managing our expectations via Carney's press conference, we are intrigued to see what the "huge demand" Kathleen Sebelius expected for Obamacare has actually resulted in... Perhaps she needs to call the helpline! Remember, as Peter Schiff noted, the website can be fixed, but Obamacare can't (unless, of course, more keg-standers and sluts sign up).
*OBAMACARE ENROLLS 106,185 IN PRIVATE HEALTH PLANS IN OCTOBER (26,794 on Federal Exchange,79,391 on State Exchanges)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa leads yet another hearing on the Obamacare implementation and the rollout of Healthcare.gov. The Committee will examine the operational challenges in the development of Healthcare.gov and the extent to which recognized Information Technology (IT) best practices were followed. This one should be fun since its the techies answering the questions - US CTO Todd Park and Deputy CIO Henry Chao answering the questions...