Moments ago, an unlikely grouping between a 33-year old Republican, Rep-Justin Amash, and an 84-year old Democrat, Rep-John Conyers, resulted in a House vote, that if passed, would have suspended the NSA's "indiscriminate collection of phone records" and effectively ended the program's statutory authority. Yet despite significant lobbying by the White House, security experts and representative on both sides of the aisle, the vote came within a startlingly close 12 votes of passage. A majority of Democrats, 111, voted for Amash's amendment despite the full court press while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134. That the vote did not pass is not surprising. However, that it came to just 12 votes of passage is the stunning development and shows a sea change of how Congress approaches both personal privacy and the broader implications of the Patriot Act. All of it thanks to the action of one man who at last check was still stuck in the transit terminal in Moscow.
The judge has decided to over-rule both objections and that nothing with regard the Chapter 9 process is held up.
- *DETROIT JUDGE OVERRULES OBJECTIONS CLAIMING BANKRUPTCY INVALID
- *DETROIT JUDGE SAYS HE HAS POWER TO GRANT GOVERNOR SUIT IMMUNITY
- *DETROIT BANKRUPTCY FILING IS VALID, FEDERAL JUDGE RULES
- *DETROIT BANKRUPTCY ELIGIBILITY TO BE DECIDED IN FEDERAL COURT
Now, we proceed to the Federal eligibility hearing (whether the city is eligible to proceed with Chapter 9). Remember this took almost a year with Stockton, CA. For now, Unions 0 - Orr 1 but it seems like neither side will be a winner when this is all over (which makes sense as while there is the law and the Obama-law, there is simply no money). The current plan (for now rejected by creditors) means a 90% loss for muni-worker retirees, 81% loss for unsecured creditors, and a 75% loss for secured creditors.
With the Detroit bankruptcy hearing under way (constitutional crises notwithstanding), we thought it useful to cut through the rhetoric, break-down the mutally-assured-destruction barriers, and peer into the cold-hard facts as the city looks to restructure its $18 billion in debt.
With earnings season in full swing as some 20% of the S&P is expected to report, the quieter macro picture moves to the backburner especially with the Fed now silent for a long time. Looking at key central banks events, at the Turkey central bank meeting this week, Goldman expects that the bank is more likely to deliver a moderately hawkish “surprise” and hike the lending rate by 100bp to 7.5% (7.0% for primary dealers), and leave the key policy (1-week repo) and the borrowing rates unchanged at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Among the other central bank meetings this week, benchmark rates are expected to remain unchanged in New Zealand, Philippines and Colombia, in line with consensus, while a 25bp cut is expected to be announced at the Hungary MPC meeting.
- Earthquake Sends Kiwis Screaming From Wellington Buildings (BBG)
- China quake death toll more than doubles to 54, hundreds hurt (Reuters)
- In 2011, Michigan Gov. Snyder said bankruptcy wasn't an option for Detroit. Two years later, he changed his mind (WSJ)
- GlaxoSmithKline says Chinese laws might have been violated (FT)
- SEC Tries Last Ditch Move to Put SAC’s Cohen Out of Business (BBG)
- Detroit’s Bankruptcy Reveals Dysfunction Common in Cities (BBG)
- Obama to start new offensive on economy (FT)
- As WTI and Brent reunite, Gulf of Mexico faces squeeze, not glut (Reuters)
- Extended Stay Files for Public Offering (WSJ)
- Apple Developer Website Hacked: Developer Names, Addresses May Have Been Taken (MacRumors)
- Treasuries Not Safe Enough as Foreign Purchase Pace Slows (BBG)
The following story from Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil should be familiar to anyone who i) wanted to get rich quick; ii) wasn't too willing to read the small print, and iii) put their faith in a TBTF bank. Or simply watches South Park. Jon recounts the story of "Philip L. Ramatlhware, an immigrant from Botswana who went to a Citigroup branch in downtown Philadelphia one day five years ago to open a regular bank account. He was 48 years old at the time and disabled, after being hurt in an accident as a passenger on a Greyhound bus. In April 2008, he received $225,000 in a settlement for his injuries, part of which went to pay legal fees. He was holding the settlement check when he walked into the branch. Immediately he was referred to a broker for a “financial consultation,” according to an arbitration claim he filed against Citigroup. The broker assured him the money would be invested in “guaranteed” funds and that he could have access to them whenever the need arose, the complaint said. Ramatlhware gave him $150,000 to invest. The broker put $5,000 into a bank certificate of deposit, bought a $133,000 variable annuity and invested the rest in a series of mutual funds. Less than six months later, Ramatlhware had lost $40,000, according to the complaint."
It is so sad to watch one of America's greatest cities die a horrible death. Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States. Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about. Detroit is only just the beginning. When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before. All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading. We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically. We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is "normal", but an extremely painful "adjustment" is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it. So don't laugh at Detroit. The economic pain that Detroit is experiencing will be coming to your area of the country soon enough.
Amid the furore of Sunday morning political programming, Detroit Mayor Bing and Michigan Governor Snyder have been quite vocal. Bing made it clear that "a lot of negotiations will go into fixing our city," and when asked whether he will seek a Federal bailout, he responded, "not yet." The decisions following this huge bankruptcy are likely to be precedent-setting as Bing noted that more than 100 urban US cities "are having the same problems we're having." As the WSJ reports, Bing warned, "We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last. And so we have got to set a benchmark in terms how to fix our cities." Snyder was a little more hopeful that salvation will come from above as he stated that while "I don't view that as the right answer... if the federal government wants to [bail us out], that’s their option."
It's good to see that as more of the US spirals into chaos, someone still has a sarcastic sense of humor. For those who missed it, in the Kevyn Odd statement listing the primary reason for the bankruptcy of Detroit, this was the punchline: "For years, the City has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed and deferred paying certain obligations to make ends meet. The City is insolvent." In other words, a pure pyramid scheme whose final can kicking day has finally come. Which perhaps explains why the just appointed Judge to preside over the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history is none other than Judge Steven Rhodes, 64, who just happens to be the co-author of "The Ponzi Book: A Legal Resource for Unraveling Ponzi Schemes." In other words, if there is anyone qualified to oversee the biggest Ponzi scheme collapse to date in US public sector history, it would be Judge Rhodes. We can only hope, however, that he leaves some time in his busy schedule over the next several years, for that other, biggest of all Ponzi schemes, the United States of America.
It wasn't exactly like rubbing salt into the wounds of a US population that over the past month has learned it has no electronic communication privacy left, but it was close, when last night the US government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that it was granting the secret FISA court - the same 11 people who decide behind closed doors whose email, phone or browser history is of national interest and thus subject to further "examination" - an extension of its telephone surveillance program. This is one of the two data surveillance efforts by the US (in conjunction with all major private telecom and internet companies) that Snowden leaked about. Why do we know this? Because the Obama administration is suddenly serious about being the most transparent ever: "The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs." In short: "we will continue spying, but at least we are fully transparent about it."
Congress: "Is it fair to say that Wall Street has benefited more [from QE] than Main Street has?"
Bernanke: "I don't think so... I want to emphasize that we're very focused on Main Street... Our low interest rates have created a lot of ability to buy automobiles..."
"For years, the City has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed and deferred paying certain obligations to make ends meet. The City is insolvent" - Kevin Orr
UPDATE: Well that didn't last long - maybe just "Oops" would have been more appropriate
Michigan Governor and Detroit's emergency manager take the stage to explain it all...
While in the past President Obama has been more that willing to throw good money after bad and "refuse to let Detroit go bankrupt," it seems when push comes to shove - under the intense scrutiny of a nation awash in scandal, a drastically bifurcated congress - that despite the imploring from local congressmen for "moar" already - that the savior of the city will not this time ride to the rescue on his white horse. In a statement, the White House said they "are monitoring the situation in Detroit closely," with no hint - just as they have made clear for months - of any sort of Federal bailout. As USA Today notes, the federal government provided federal loans to prevent New York City from declaring bankruptcy during the 1970s. But times have changed; the federal government has debt and financial problems of its own, and a Detroit bailout could run into significant opposition in Congress and cause serious damage in the Muni market.
With little going on today besides the just reported GE earnings, which beat consensus EPS expectations of $0.35 by the smallest possible increment but, as expected, missed consensus revenue of $35.56 printing at $35.12, and both the Japanese (which experienced a 500 point drop in minutes overnight) and Chinese (which closed below 2000 again) markets sliding, it is perhaps better to summarize the day that just was: Detroit City files for bankruptcy (send in Detroika!), Moody's take the US off negative outlook, Google and Microsoft miss on earnings and the S&P 500 hits a new record high. As DB says, the above certainly made for an eventful close to the US session after what was a fairly dull second day of testimony and Q&A for Bernanke. He has said all that can be said for now and we're left waiting for the data. And the earnings data so far has been abysmal if mostly on the top line, with corporate revenues now assured to double dip and decline for the second quarter in a row. And if the tech bellwethers all of which have been major disappointments to date and have guided down, are an indication of what is coming, Q3 may and will be even worse.