State Tax Revenues
Our condolences to students in Arizona, who have seen a near doubling of their college tuition in just 5 short years. In fact our condolences to students in the six states where tuition have risen by more than 60%, in the ten states where it has increased by more than 40%, and in the 29, or more than half of all states, where college tuitions have risen by more than 10 times the Fed's inflation target of 2% per year.
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."
We all stand 'fingers-over-eyes and thumbs-in-ears' awestruck at the immense wreckage that the fiscal cliff titan will wreak upon the country. However, deep inside our socially responsible minds, all we can really think about is - what about my needs? The Pew Center On The States has just released a very broad and detailed look at just how the increased taxation and reduced spending will impact each and every state. Here, in two simple charts, is the answer.
Almost precisely a year ago we posted "268 NY Credit Suisse Employees Learn They Are About To Be Laid Off Via Department Of Labor Website." Now, a year later, irony has struck again, as this time 138 employees from an already substantially trimmed Credit Suisse office in Manhattan, find out courtesy of the DOL's WARN website, but certainly not their HR team who wants everyone as motivated as possible until the "Hammer Hits" day, they have just been made redundant in the critical Christmas bonus season between October and December 29, 2012. Instead now everyone will be undermotivated until they get to learn who gets sacked. All that is left now are the actual identities of the pink slippees. The only other open question is whether the loss to US Federal and NY State tax revenues and US GDP will be offset by the more broken windows that are increasingly being discounted as a result of the ever rising unemployment and greater social unrest (not to mention part time NYPD jobs especially if sharpshooting is actually involved in their training this time).
While markets await details on the next round of quantitative easing (QE) -- whether refreshed bond buying from the Fed or sovereign debt buying from the European Central Bank (ECB) -- it's important to ask, What can we expect from further heroic attempts to reflate the OECD economies? The 2009 and 2010 QE programs from the Fed, and the 2011 operations from the ECB, were intended as shock treatment to hopefully set economies on a more typical, post-recession, recovery pathway. Here in 2012, QE was supposed to be well behind us. Instead, parts of Southern Europe are in outright depression, the United Kingdom is in double-dip recession, and the US is sweltering through its weakest “recovery” since the Great Depression. QE is a poor transmission mechanism for creating jobs. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
For all the drama surrounding Wall Street bonuses in a year in which Wall Street profitability was cut in half to just $13.5 billion, the worst since the collapse and bailout of 2008 and 2009 (and compared to $27.6 billion in 2010 and $61.4 billion in 2009), one would think that the average banker would see zero bonus in 2011, or in some cases, especially if they worked at a Greek bank, be told to pay for the privilege of working. The truth is that according to official data from the NY City Comptroller, the average bonus dipped by just 13% in 2011, declining modestly from $138,940 to $121.150. In fact, while a number of large firms announced reductions in cash bonuses for 2011 (with several firms reporting reductions in the range of 20 to 30 percent), personal income tax collections indicate a smaller decline in the overall cash bonus pool. A big reason for this is deferred bonuses from prior years hitting this year's payroll and thus smoothing the impact. Still, bankers being forward looking people, are looking forward and probably not liking what they see. Yet while 2011 data for comprehensive pay is still not available, in 2010 the average salary rose by 16% to $361,180 as more firms shifted to a base-heavy comp structure. Indicatively, the average Wall Street salary is 5.5 times higher than the rest of the private sector at $66,100. And no matter how one feels about them, one thing is true: the New York economy would founder without taxes paid by bankers: "the securities industry in New York City accounted for 23.5 percent of all wages paid in the private sector despite accounting for only 5.3 percent of all private sector jobs" and more importantly, "each job created (or lost) in the securities industry leads to the creation (or loss) of almost two additional jobs in other industries in the City. OSC also estimates that each new Wall Street job creates one additional job elsewhere in New York State, mostly in the City’s suburbs." Hence - Wall Street's bonuses have become "Too Big Too Fall", as the entire economy of NY City and the state is now held captive by Wall Street's exorbitant bonuses.
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
If anyone is tired of the daily European soap opera with surrealistic tragicomic overtones, they can simply shift their gaze to the 8th largest economy in the world: the insolvent state of California, whose controller just told legislators has just over a month worth of cash left. From the Sacramento Bee: "California will run out of cash by early March if the state does not take swift action to find $3.3 billion through payment delays and borrowing, according to a letter state Controller John Chiang sent to state lawmakers today. The announcement is surprising since lawmakers previously believed the state had enough cash to last through the fiscal year that ends in June." ....uh, oops? But sure, fix the problem of excess debt by more "borrowing" why not. As for the math: "But Chiang said additional cash management solutions are needed because state tax revenues are $2.6 billion less than what Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed in their optimistic budget last year. Meanwhile, Chiang said, the state is spending $2.6 billion more than state leaders planned on." Quick, someone come up with a plan that involves subsidies and tariffs on China, or something else that deflects from what the source of the problem really is. Because the last thing that anyone in America would want to bring up is this thing called "responsibility" for their actions, or, as in now becoming the default case, the lack thereof. And why do that, when time spent so much more productively scapegoating this, and blaming that for one's own massive errors of judgment.
State Tax Revenues Plummet By $87 Billion, Biggest Year Over Year Decline In History; Record State Tax Hikes In ProgressSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/08/2010 14:16 -0400
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released a report "State Tax Changes in Response to the Recession" in which the center notes that "national recession has had such a devastating effect on state finances that states took in $87 billion less in tax revenue from October 2008 through September 2009 than they collected in the previous 12 months. This 11 percent decline, the steepest on record, resulted from the impact on tax collections of lost jobs, reduced wages, and lowered economic activity." And here we are, missing the forest for the Greek tree, and discussing evil CDS speculators' role in Greece barely able to make a €5 billion bond auction, when we should be all over the evil Municipal CDS speculators wreaking havoc in our own back yard.
New York State is quickly becoming the next California, as tax revenues drop 36% from 2008 levels, and a dejected governor expressing his frustration with policy measures that continue to not bear fruit. As a reminder the state most reliant on the financial sector, is struggling with a $2.1 billion budget deficit that is still looming despite tax increases, federal aid and spending cuts.
A new monthly report released by the New York State Comptroller indicates that the tax collection weakness in Empire State continues. For the April-July quarter total tax revenue was $11.5 billion, $52 million below projection, and, more significantly, $3.6 billion below amount collected in the prior year period. For the Year To Date period, receipts, including transfers from other funds, through July 2009 of $15.7 billion were $190.9 million below Financial Plan projections released by DOB on July 30 and $4.8 billion lower than last year for the same period.