The ex-back of the envelope TARP calculation "chump" become wood-chopper, turned equity portfolio manager has gone full circle and decided his time is better spent serving the public good once again. As the WSJ reports, Neel Kashkari is considering running for office in California. The napkin-laden chrome-dome has seen his funds suffer from spotty performance since their launch - all underperforming the benchmarks. We can't help but think the timing of his announcement odd given his love affair with Apple and tonight's collapse but that would be harsh judgment on the always self-denigrating 39 year-old. Of course, we will hear the impressive nature of him leaving a well-paid job to run for office as his patriotism runs wild; we are less 'believer'. Still, managing to have your name turned into a noun and a verb is no easy task...
On occasion, truth is stranger than fiction; and in the somewhat surreal world in which we now inhabit, The Onion's perfect parody of where we are headed could have been lifted from any mainstream media front-page with little questioning from the majority of Americans. For your reading pleasure, the 62-year-old with a gun that is the last man standing between the American people and full-scale totalitarian government takeover.
If governments or central banks really can create wealth simply by creating money, why does poverty exist anywhere on earth? Why haven’t successive rounds of quantitative easing by the US Fed solved our economic recession? And if Fed money creation really works, and doesn’t create inflation, why haven’t Americans gotten richer as the money supply has grown? The truth is obvious to everyone. Fiat currency is not wealth, and the creation of more fiat dollars does not mean that more rice, steel, soybeans, Ipads, or Honda Accords suddenly come into existence. The creation of new fiat currency simply strengthens a fantasy balance sheet, either by adding to cash reserves or servicing debt. But this balance sheet wealth is an illusion, just as the notion we can continue to raise the debt limit and borrow money forever is an illusion.
The US Was Operating In Mali Months Prior To French Incursion: Meet The "Intelligence and Security Command"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/20/2013 13:55 -0400
Last week we reported that in the aftermath of the so far disastrous French campaign to eradicate "rebels" in the north of Mali, because of their implied threat fo Europe, that "US Drones, Boots Arrive In Mali." Turns out we were wrong, and as the case virtually always is, for some reason there was already a US presence of at least three US commandos in Mali in the summer of 2012. What they were doing there remains a mystery, as it is a mystery if the ever co-present flip flops on the ground were there inciting the perpetual scapegoat Al Qaeda to do this, or that. Or maybe it was not the CIA. Maybe it was the Army's "little-known and secretive" branch known as the Intelligence and Security Command. Regardless, what becomes obvious is that while the US was on the ground and engaged in secret missions, it needed an alibi to avoid "destabilizing" the local situation once its presence became conventional wisdom. It got just that, thank to one Francois Hollande just over a week ago.
“Here we go again”
In what is sure to be a complete non-starter with the Obama administration, WSJ reports that Paul Ryan said that "Republicans are discussing whether to support a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing authority, possibly linking the debt ceiling to future talks aimed at reaching a major deficit deal....Mr. Ryan said no decisions have been made about how to approach the debt and spending negotiations, but that leaders hope House Republicans will reach consensus on a strategy by the end of the week. The former vice-presidential candidate said "we're discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit" increase that would lead to broader deficit talks with Senate Democrats and the White House. "We hope to achieve consensus on a plan to proceed so we can make progress on controlling spending and deficits and debt," Mr. Ryan said." The logical question immediately arose, and promptly received a non-answer "Mr. Ryan wouldn't say what he meant by a temporary debt-ceiling increase, declining to give a specific increase figure or timeframe for an extension."
From Goldman Sachs: "Allowing the sequester to hit would, in our view, have greater implications for growth than a short-lived government shutdown, but would not be as severe as a failure to raise the debt limit. Although Republicans in Congress generally support replacing the defense portion of the sequester with cuts in other areas, there is much less Republican support for delaying them without offsetting the increased spending that would result." And in bottom line terms: "Sequestration would reduce the level of spending authority by $85bn in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and $109bn for subsequent fiscal years through 2021. The actual effect on spending in calendar 2013 would be smaller--around $53bn, or 0.3% of GDP--since reductions in spending authority reduce actual spending with a lag. The reduction in spending would occur fairly quickly; the change would be concentrated in Q2 and particularly Q3 and could weigh on growth by 0.5pp to 1.0pp." In other words: payroll tax eliminates some 1.5% of 2013 GDP growth; on the other side the sequester cuts another 1%: that's a total of 2.5%. So: is the US now almost certainly looking at a recession when all the fiscal components to "growth" are eliminated? And what will the Fed do when it is already easing on "full blast" just to keep US growth barely above 0%?
The underlying trends seen this year have continued, but after strong follow through in Asia, a more subdued tone has been seen in Europe. The US dollar is generally softer, except against the yen and sterling. Japanese markets were closed for holiday, but the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose almost 0.3%, lifted by more than a 3% rally in China on speculation that there may be a sharp increase in the cap on foreign investors' ability to invest in Chinese equities. In Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is hp about 0.4%, led by a rise in financials. Spanish stock market is at its highest level in almost a year (Feb 2012) and Italy's market is at its best August 2011, though their bond markets are seeing some profit-taking today. With a light economic calendar in North America today, Bernanke's speech in Michigan after the markets close may be the highlight. We identify six key factors shaping the investment climate.
As 1.4 million people have been kicked off the 99 week unemployment rolls, the number of people applying for SSDI skyrocketed. Just because the scumbags on Wall Street and in the rest of corporate America commit fraud on a massive scale does not mean we should look the other way when lowlifes in our community do the same thing on a smaller scale. The working middle class pays the bill for the cost of both frauds. More than 90% of all the people who go onto SSDI never go back to work. This program was supposed to be short term until people could recover and go back to work. There are now 8.83 million people so disabled, they supposedly can’t work. There are only 12 million officially unemployed people in the country. The government is so incompetent, they barely check the applications for SSDI. Anyone with an ounce of brain power (this disqualifies anyone on MSNBC) knows that at least 50% of the people on SSDI are capable of some form of employment.
- Obama Picking Lew for Treasury Fuels Fight on Budget (BBG)
- Deutsche Bank Bank Made Huge Bet, and Profit, on Libor (WSJ)
- Spain Beats Maximum Target in First 2013 Debt Sale (BBG) - In other news, the social security fund is now running on negative?
- "Icahn is also believed to have taken a long position in Herbalife" (NYPost) - HLF +5% premarket
- Lew-for-Geithner Switch Closes Era of Tight Fed-Treasury Ties (BBG)
- Turkey Beating Norway as Biggest Regional Oil Driller (BBG)
- Greek State Firms are Facing Closure (WSJ)
- Draghi Spared as Confidence Swing Quells Rate-Cut Talk (BBG)
- China’s Yuan Loans Trail Estimates (BBG)
- SEC enforcement chief steps down (WSJ)
- CFPB releases new mortgage rules in bid to reduce risky lending (WaPo)
- Japan Bond Investors Expect Extra Sales From February (BBG)
Every nation-state has a body of laws woven into the fabric of society. As Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has commented on extensively, the stronger the rule of law, the stronger the economy. And by "stronger" laws, I mean laws that are impervious to tampering for personal or political gains. The connection between a sound judiciary and economic health is readily comprehensible, except maybe to a politician... businesses and individuals are far more likely to invest capital in a country with understandable laws that are impartially and universally enforced than if the opposite condition exists. That's because the lack of a consistent body of law breeds uncertainty and adds a huge element of risk for entrepreneurs. Which brings us back to the matter at hand – American justice on a slippery slope.
As reported previously, when Bloomberg broke the news two days ago, it now appears that the official appointment of Jack Lew as the new SecTres will take place tomorrow. From Bloomberg: "President Obama will announce tomorrow that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his pick for Treasury secretary, person familiar with the matter tells Bloomberg’s Han Nichols." In other words - goodbye Timmah: best of luck writing your new book, which in the tradition of every ex-public servant who departs the government where they kept their mouths firmly shut, we assume will be all about bashing Tim Geithner.
Bank Of America On The "Trillion Dollar Tooth Fairy" Straight "From The Land Of Fiscal Make Believe"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/08/2013 20:47 -0400
A year ago, out of nowhere, the grotesque suggestion to "resolve" the US debt ceiling with a platinum dollar coin came, and like a bad dream, mercifully disappeared even as the debt ceiling negotiations dragged until the last minute, without this idea being remotely considered for implementation, for one simple reason: it is sheer political, monetary and financial lunacy. And yet there are those, supposedly intelligent people, who one year later, continue dragging this ridiculous farce, as a cheap parlor trick which is nothing but a transparent attempt for media trolling and exposure, which only distracts from America's unsustainable spending problem and does nothing to address the real crisis the US welfare state finds itself in. And while numerous respected people have taken the time to explain the stupidity of the trillion dollar coin, few have done so as an integral part of the statist mainstream for one simple reason - it might provide a loophole opportunity, however tiny, to perpetuate the broken American model even for a day or two, if "everyone is in on it." Luckily, that is no longer the case and as even Ethan Harris from Bank of America (a firm that would be significantly impaired if America was forced to suddenly live within its means), the whole idea is nothing more than "the latest bad idea" straight "from the land of fiscal make believe." We can only hope that this finally puts this whole farce to bed.
November Consumer Credit Soars, Driven By Student And Car Loans: 95% Of All 2012 Consumer Debt Funded By Uncle SamSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/08/2013 16:17 -0400
SSDM: just like in October, and September, and August, and so on, November consumer credit saw a decent pick up of $16 billion, well above the expectation of $12.75 billion, above the $14.1 billion in October, and the third highest monthly print of 2012. And if this was driven even remotely by actual short-term consumption demand, it would likely be a good sign, as it would imply consumers have more faith in being able to repay their credit cards. Sadly, of the entire $16 billion jump, only $817 million, or 5%, was based on a jump in revolving credit. The real "growth" came as usual courtesy of Uncle Sam handouts, solely in the form of auto and student loans, which accounted for a whopping $15.2 billion of the increase in consumer debt, the second largest jump in the year, second only to the $18 billion in January. And as everyone knows, student loans are already on fast track to forgiveness (full forgiveness in 10 years if one works for the government), as will be the case for those NINJAs who buy GM cars using government loans. For all of 2012, a whopping $130 billion of the $137 billion total has been in the form of government handouts. In other words, nearly 1% of 2012 GDP has been funded by Uncle Sam in the form of (dischargeable) loans which everyone else will be responsible for, until nobody at all is responsible.