There has been quite a bit of discussion lately over the rapid reduction in the government's budget deficit as it relates to economic growth going forward. There are 3 issues that will likely impede further progress on the deficit reduction in the months ahead; 1) lower rates of tax revenue, 2) weaker economic growth and 3) greater levels of spending. The good news for stock market bulls is that deepening budget deficits increase the amount of bonds that the Treasury will need to issue to cover the shortfall in spending. This will give the Federal Reserve more room to continue their current monetary interventions which have inflated asset prices sharply over the last year. Creating financial instability to gain economic stability has been an elusive dream of the Federal Reserve since the turn of the century; yet someday it is hoped that they may just be able to "catch their own tail."
- U.S. set to adopt Volcker rule to curb bank trading gambles (Reuters) After vote, lawsuits likely next hurdle for Volcker rule (Reuters)
- U.S. Congress budget talks could produce Tuesday deal, aides say (Reuters)
- Wealthy Go Frugal This Holiday Amid Uneven U.S. Recovery (BBG)
- Tearful Thai PM urges protesters to take part in election (Reuters)
- Fed’s Bullard Sees Higher QE Taper Odds as Labor Market Improves (BBG)
- Coeure Says ECB Would Offer More LTROs Only When Banks Can Lend (BBG)
- Inside China's Super-Sterile Chicken Farms (WSJ)
- Mandela Service Rivals JFK’s as Leaders Meet in South Africa (BBG)
- China data defy slowdown forecasts (FT), and of course the word is "data"
- Cold, ice grip U.S. as more snow to blanket East (Reuters)
"If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it." Sadly, that appears to be the approach that the Obama administration and the mainstream media are taking with the U.S. economy. They seem to believe that if they just keep telling the American people over and over that things are getting better, eventually the American people will believe that it is actually true. And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now. Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers. The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics. All of that "stimulus" should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy. Sadly, all of those "emergency measures" do not appear to have done much at all.
The Obamacare enrollment portal is the gift that keeps on giving endless examples of government incompetence. The latest comes from Bloomberg which informs us that "there’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have, after about 1 in 4 enrollments sent to insurers from the federal website had garbled included incomplete information." Still that particular glitch was not enough to prevent Obama from taking full credit for a "fixed" website after somehow the White House managed to calculate that sign ups soared to 100,000 people, and have taken off since the "fix."
“We need some recognition that we’re doing a service to the community. But we can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that,” exclaims the president of the California Medical Association, as The Washington Examiner reports, independent insurance brokers estimate 70% of California's 104,000 licensed doctors are boycotting the exchange. “The Covered California board says we have plenty of doctors, and they allege they have 85 percent of doctors participating, but they’ve shown no numbers," and if a large number of doctors either balk at participating in the exchange or retire, the state’s medical system could be overwhelmed. “Enrollment doesn’t mean access, because there aren’t enough doctors to take the low rates of Medicaid,” warns one health director. “There aren’t enough primary care physicians, period.”
Obamacare is a catastrophe that cannot be fixed, because it doesn't fix what's broken in American healthcare. It is a phony reform that extends everything that makes the U.S. healthcare unsustainable sickcare.
Just when you thought it was safe to step back into the water of the "fixed" Obamacare website, another glitch, this time in sending data on Medicaid, has The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services writing a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn't being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. Potentially affecting tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients, ABC reports, "Essentially, if you're a consumer on healthcare.gov, it will tell you you're eligible for Medicaid and the state agency will take care of it, but there's no real way for the state Medicaid agency to know anything about it." The information, according to AP, is incomplete with regard to verifying eligibility and as South Carolina's HHS Director notes, "it's going to be a gigantic logistical mess."
By standards of previous generations, the middle class has been stripmined of income, assets and purchasing power. So what does it take to be middle class nowadays? A recent paper used Census data to discuss what sort of income it takes to qualify as middle class but income is not the only the metric - indeed, it can be argued that 12 other factors are more telling measures of middle class membership than income.
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.