Peter Orszag

Obamacare Architect Gruber Testifies Before "Stupid America" - Live Webcast

Today at 9:30am Eastern, the two key people behind Obamacare will testify under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. One of them is Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS Administrator and the person who was tasked with managing the implementation of Obamacare: a process that was a complete disaster as those who tried to sign up on the healthcare.gov website in late 2013 will recall (and whose overhaul cost over $2 billion).  On the other hand, Jonathan Gruber has recently gained notoriety after a series of videos with him were leaked, in which he bragged that deception and “the stupidity of the American voter” allowed Obama to ram his pet healthcare program into law.

The Unfaithful Departed: Meet The People Who Bailed On The Obama Administration

Friday's latest resignation of yet another former Obama administration faithful - that of White House press secretary Jay Carney - got us thinking: how many people have jumped off the USS Obamic? The answer is, in short, a lot. Below is a list (by no means complete) of the most prominent officials and advisors who have quietly exited the Obama administration stage left over the past 6 years.

"The Course of Empire": A Retrospective On The US Housing Crisis

A decision by the FHFA requiring the GSEs to finally release detailed information on loans they acquired and guaranteed uncovers an ugly truth about the GSEs that many should be aware of (as we noted the exuberance here). The release was only required on 35 million fully-amortizing, full documentation, 30-year fixed rate mortgages, which means as JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes the underwriting histories on another 20-30 million loans (e.g., the riskier ones) remain a mystery (and likely will forever). As Cembalest concludes, some people made up their minds on all the factors causing the housing crisis in 2009, and others in 2011. As long as new information keeps coming out, it seems premature to close the book on it, he adds, first, the private sector descent into underwriting hell took place well after the multi-trillion dollar GSE balance sheets had gone there first; and second, there are many reasons to wonder how bad the former would have been had the latter not preceded it.

Obama To Appoint Jack Lew As Treasury Secretary Tomorrow, Bloomberg Reports

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.

Meet Jack Lew: Tim Geithner's Replacement

Bloomberg is out after hours with news that was expected by many, but which was yet to be formalized, until now: namely that following today's flurry of contntious nomination by Obama, the latest and greatest is about to be unveiled - Jack Lew, Obama's current chief of staff, is likely days away from being announced as Tim Geithner's replacement as the new Treasury Secretary of the United States. In other words, Jack will be the point person whom the people who truly run the Treasury, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by JPM's Matt Zames (who just happens to also now run the notorious JPM Chief Investment Office which uses excess deposits to gamble - yes, you really can't make this up) and Goldman's Ashok Varadhan, global head of dollar-rate products and FX trading for North America (recently buying a $16 million pad at 15 CPW) will demand action from.

The Top Ten 'Fiscal Cliff' To-Do List

The schizophrenia in US equity markets (and by correlation all risk markets) is nowhere better highlighted than the last 24 hours of 2% swings in the S&P 500 on nothing more than boiler-plate comments from DC. However, as BofAML's Ethan Harris notes, "the year-end fiscal challenges in the US are more like an 'obstacle course' than a 'cliff' - politicians must navigate about 10 major policy decisions before year-end." We continue to expect a messy multistage deal on the cliff - with some wishy-washy  partial deal late December and more complete resolution (as it will be called) late Spring. We agree with BoFAML's view that until then, we suggest that investors fade the likely “press fakes” of an imminent deal, and brace for downside volatility. It seems to us that the negotiations remains stuck at square one.

"Uh, Marriner Eccles: We Have A Problem" - Obama Predicts He Will Breach Debt Ceiling Two Months Before Election

In light of the epic fiasco from last August, when the US debt ceiling hike became a 2 month televized affair, culminating with the GOP caving, but not before the S&P downgraded the US (and in the process breaking the US stock market), Zero Hedge has long been analyzing the chronology of future debt breaches, as with the presidential election in November, what happens in the months and weeks ahead of it as pertains to the number one problem facing America - its lethal debt addiction - will be by far the biggest weakness of Obama's campaign. This is something we believe the GOP has finally understood, and they want a full replay of last August's insanity, to remind America just how broke (and broken) this country is. Yet it turns out all of our analyses have been for naught (if 100% correct). Because it is none other than President Barack Obama who has been kind enough to point out, that on September 30, 2012, or in just over 7 months, total US debt subject to the limit will be, wait for it, $16,333,900,000,000. Why is this an issue: because the final debt ceiling that Obama has been afforded with automatic Senatorial roll overs (even as Congress theatrically votes these down), is $16,394,000,000. In other words, with two months ahead of the election, the US will have a de minimis $60 billion in debt capacity. And since the implied burn rate is $133 billion/month this means that the United States will be in full blown debt ceiling hike chaos just as the final electoral debates take place. And one wonders why the GOP rushed to green light Obama an additional $160 billion in debt issuance. If indeed the $160 billion in new debt is added, the US may not even last to September before Tim Geithner is forced to start plundering G-fund and other retirement accounts. It also means that two months of America in a debt ceiling breach situation will deal a dramatic blow to Obama's reelection chances as the last thing the US population will want is a replay of last summer.

The Farce Is (Again) Complete: Former Obama Budget Chief Orszag Says Official Economic Projections "Too Optimistic"

And so the comedy circle is complete yet again after none other than former White House budget chief Peter Orszag throws cold water in the face of the White House, the Treasury and everyone else who has so far been so stupid to continue to deflect blame for America's horrendous fiscal situation purely on S&P and its "colossal $2 trillion mistake." Because if the guy who up until a year ago personally came up with the White House's voodoo numbers is telling you they are full of shit (the numbers, not the White House), perhaps it does put the administration's claim that it is all S&P excel spreadsheet skills that are at fault, in a slightly different light.

Stone Street Advisors's picture

States can't have their proverbial cake & eat it, too. In times of economic and financial distress, they can jack-up taxes on "the rich," to their hearts' content, but they cannot do so without consequence. States prosper when the fortunes of "the rich" increase and share in the pain when they decrease.

The Ten Things That Would Make David Rosenberg Bullish On America

David Rosenberg submits a list of the ten things that would make him bullish on the US economy. As precisely zero of these have a snowball's chance in hades of happening, we are not too concerned about Rosie leaving the "realist" fold any time soon.

Frontrunning: January 21

  • Peter Orszag: America must brace itself for turbulence (FT)
  • ECB Flags Risks of Higher Prices (WSJ)
  • Spain Plans Partial Nationalization of Savings Banks (Reuters)
  • BofA Reports Loss on Costs Tied to Bad Loans, Mortgage Unit (Bloomberg)
  • European Governments Weigh Bond Buybacks (WSJ)
  • Portugal Vote Imperils Accord (WSJ)
  • Obama Taps GE's Immelt to Head Economic Advisor Panel (Bloomberg)
  • Hu defends Beijing’s Currency Policy (FT)
  • GE Net Rises 31%, Tops Estimates Amid Finance, Health Gains (Bloomberg)
  • Nigeria oil fund fears hit bond issue (FT)
  • Ivory Coast's Gbagbo Faces Financial `Asphyxia' by EU (Bloomberg), bad news for bondholders