While all eyes are on 'pretty woman' at the head of the Fed, things are taking a turn for the worse on the European continent.
As we have discussed previously, the "partial government shutdown" that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event - especially with the un-furloughing of The Pentagon. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17% of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This "shutdown" could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much. On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous. A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic. If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
Five years later, while some are congratulating themselves on avoiding another depression, no one in Europe or the United States can claim that prosperity has returned. The financial system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low bar – back then, it was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Those in government and the financial sector who congratulate themselves on banks’ return to profitability and mild – though hard-won – regulatory improvements should focus on what still needs to be done. Some are pleased that the economy may have bottomed out. But, in any meaningful sense, an economy in which most people’s incomes are below their pre-2008 levels is still in recession. An The glass is, at most, only one-quarter full; for most people, it is three-quarters empty.
- Hilsenrath: Tense Negotiations Inside the Fed Produced Muddled Signals to Markets (WSJ)
- Biggest US Foreign Creditors Show Concern on Default Risk (BBG)
- Shutdown Costs at $1.6 Billion With $160 Million Each Day (BBG)
- What default? Republicans downplay impact of U.S. debt limit (Reuters)
- Top Bankers Warn on U.S. Debt Proposal (WSJ)
- India to stick with austerity despite looming election (Reuters)
- Japan's Current-Account Surplus Plunges (WSJ)
- Amazon Wins Ruling for $600 Million CIA Cloud Contract (BBG)
- German Factory Orders Unexpectedly Fall on Weak Recovery (BBG)
- Britain's Higgs, Belgium's Englert win 2013 physics Nobel prize (Reuters)
- Supreme Owner Made a Billionaire Feeding U.S. War Machine (BBG)
We strongly suspect that both government debt growth and money supply inflation will continue unabated – any pause will immediately bring about the kind of short term economic pain these policies have explicitly sought to prevent and will therefore be quickly reversed. It is not unlike the situation the revolutionary assembly of France found itself in during the late 18th century: when it issued new money, industry seemed to revive. As soon as it stopped, industry slumped again. And so it was decided to issue ever more money, until the entire scheme blew up. There can be little doubt that modern-day governments are on the road to a similar date with destiny – and lately the speed at which they travel toward it has increased markedly.
While the ongoing government shutdown, now in its second week, means even more macro data will be retained by the random number generators, central banks are up and running. This means that in the upcoming week the key event will be the release of the FOMC minutes from the last meeting at which the Fed surprised almost the entire market by not tapering asset purchases as effectively pre-announced. There are MPC meetings in the UK, Brazil, South Korea and Indonesia. The main focus, however, will be on the US political situation still. Data that will most likely be delayed this week includes the US Trade balance, JOLTs, Wholesale and Business inventories, Retail sales, PPI, Import Prices, and the Monthly Federal budget.
- A U.S. Default Seen as Catastrophe Dwarfing Lehman’s Fall (BBG)
- Software, Design Defects Cripple Health-Care Website (WSJ)
- Gunmen kill 5 Egyptian soldiers near Suez Canal, 2 people die in blast (Reuters); Egypt death toll rises to 53, streets now calm (Reuters)
- Three retailers sell Apple iPhone 5C for $50 or less (Sun Sentinel)
- New American Economy Leaves Behind World Consumer (BBG)
- Dow's Exiles Often Have Last Laugh (WSJ)
- Macy's Puts China Online-Expansion Effort on Hold Amid Economic Slowdown (WSJ)
- Gold Befuddles Bernanke as Central Banks’ Losses at $545 Billion (BBG) - just ask the BIS gold selling team: they are unbefuffdled
- Markit Group Said to Avoid U.S. Antitrust Claims as EU Proceeds (BBG) - being owned by the banks has benefits
- Paulson leads charge into Greek banks (FT) - and scene for the Greek banking sector
The situation in Spain is shifting from the sublime (as reflected in PM Rajoy's epic failure during his recent Bloomberg TV interview) to the absolutely ridiculous. As AFP reports, a simple typographical error boosted Spain's 2014 public debt forecast by 10 billion euros ($13.6 billion), the government admitted on Thursday. Four days after announcing the national debt figure to the world, the Economy Ministry issued a correction: "It is an erratum," adding that the person that typed up the report mixed up the last two digits...
The federal government has been partially shut down for 4 days, and it appears likely that the situation could continue for a while longer. As the shutdown continues, the political focus has begun to shift to the next deadline. If the debt limit is not raised before the Treasury depletes its cash balance, Goldman fears it could force the Treasury to rapidly eliminate the budget deficit to stay under the debt ceiling. They estimate that the fiscal pullback would amount to as much as 4.2% of GDP (annualized). The effect on quarterly growth rates (rather than levels) could be even greater.
If you listen to TV commentators, you’ve been told the worst is behind us. Growth is picking up, and Europe is coming out of its slumber. No one seems to be concerned that this tepid below-2-percent growth is being entirely fed by the central bank’s massive money printing. It’s a “growth at any price” policy. How quickly we forget. We currently fear Fed tapering, as we should. Yet, we should be even more fearful that it doesn’t taper. Today, we really have a dreaded choice of losing an arm now or two arms and a leg tomorrow. Because the price distortions have been massive, the adjustment will be horrendous. Government policy makers and government economists simply do not understand the critical role of prices in helping discovery and coordination.
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".
The standard wisdom on gold is that it does well in times of economic bad news such as in the 1970s, a period of stagflation and recessions, when the yellow metal rose from $35/oz to peak at $850/oz in 1980. But this time, Don Coxe, a portfolio adviser to BMO Asset Management, believes, things are different. In this interview with The Gold Report, Coxe explains why gold will rise when the economy improves.
Billionaires and political lackeys alike have been falling all over themselves in the rush to praise the Federal Reserve's unprecedented monetary intervention since 2008. That billionaires and political hacks, apparatchiks and toadies cannot laud the Fed's Cargo Cult enough is no surprise: the billionaires and the government that feeds them both gained handsomely from the Fed's policies. As the Fed-induced asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate follow the inevitable Supernova track to implosion, that we've reached Peak Federal Reserve will be obvious - in hindsight.
- Troops Forage for Food While Golfers Play On in Shutdown (BBG)
- Police suspect dental hygienist Miriam Carey was behind the wheel of Capitol chase (WaPo)
- Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process (Reuters)
- Swiss Regulator Probing Banks Over Foreign-Exchange Manipulation (WSJ)
- GOP Begins Search for Broad Deal on Budget (WSJ)
- No Jobs Report Means Economists Chew on Football Instead of Data (BBG)
- U.S. default seems unthinkable but investors have options (Reuters)
- Citigroup fined $30 million after analyst sent report to SAC, others (Reuters)
- FBI Snags Silk Road Boss With Own Methods (BBG)
- Recession Warnings Found in Asset Price Falls (BBG)
- Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff (Reuters)
"We may well have had a big, big rally in the U.S. stock market, but it's not based on reality.
I would encourage investors to know you're in a fool's paradise, be careful, and when people start singing praises, say, 'I've been to this party before, and I know know it's time to leave.'"