“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
These words, spoken by U.S. President Barack Obama in various forms and iterations, have become a running joke amidst the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. All across the country, hundreds of thousands of citizens are receiving cancellation notices in the mail. The stringent requirements for insurance plans under the new edict are curtailing many individual policies. A simpleton can grasp the economics: you prohibit something, it goes away. And yet, for years prior, the White House ignored the oncoming train and is now slowly inching away from the wreckage.
This was not the unforeseen consequence of good-intentioned legislation.
Curious why algos suddenly are buying because other algos are buying because other algos are buying, pushing the S&P higher by 10 point in virtually no time? Simple. It appears at least one vacuum tube decided to scan the news archive, and fell upon the Politico story from 7 AM Eastern which said that the Republicans and Democrats had met in a secret meeting.
Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
While trading during US hours is all about the Cliff On/Cliff Off debate, the rest of the world is simple: the overnight session begins (and largely ends) with whether or not China has done another reverse repo (if yes, then PBOC will not lower rates, and inject unsterilized billions into the market) and whether the Shanghai Composite is up or down. Last night, after jumping by 3% the session before, it was down 0.13% to 2029. Was this it for the great Chinese "bottom?" Japan may or may not figure in the equations, although with the 10 Year future just hitting a record overnight, it is amusing to see how the bond complex is indicating record deflation just in time for the market to anticipate a surge in inflation. Ah, the joys of frontrunning central planning's monetization of government bonds. And then we move on to Europe, which is a whole new level of basket case-ness...
Independent from Congress … or from the American People?
The first session of this 112th Congress was spent with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over the debt ceiling, taxes, spending cuts, the deficit super committee, appropriations bills and finally the extension of unemployment compensation and a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Standard and Poor's downgrade of the United States' federal debt was due in part to all the haggling over how, and actually whether, to reduce the debt. No One Is Willing to Pay the Political Price to Cut Spending This year Obama asked Congress for, and was given, an additional $1.2 trillion of borrowing authority, which will increase the debt limit to $16.4 trillion, just enough to get him past the 2012 election. It could be close, however. If budget projections prove to be overly optimistic, Obama could face another cliffhanger over a further increase in the debt ceiling in the midst of the presidential election in November. How embarrassing to have to say "re-elect me – and by the way, I need to borrow some more money to pay this month's bills."
A short time ago, the House of Representatives rejected (by 239-176 though not enough to avoid Obama's veto) the $1.3tn increase in the federal debt limit. As Reuters notes, this vote seems like 'a largely symbolic vote aimed at staking out election-year positions on government spending' as we know by now that Timmy G will underfund yet another pension plan (on the promise to transfer-pay it all back very soon) if it ever came to that. The Hill also adds Democratic comments that this was clearly 'a political stunt' as the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says "This is a game that will say, see, I voted against debt." Where the sound-and-fury is laughable of course is that both the House and Senate need to 'disapprove' of the debt ceiling hike that is already 'pre-approved' in last year's Budget Control Act (and the Senate is widely expected not to disapprove). As politician after politician sought media-time, Ron Paul echoed his sensibilities (though not really helpful in this situation) that "we're in denial", and "you can't solve the problem of debt by accumulating more debt."
Time for the hourly update on the Congressional soap. The Hill reports that "Congressional Democratic leaders are headed back to the White House on Wednesday for more talks on raising the debt ceiling. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced House and Senate Democratic would meet with Obama at the White House at 2:50 p.m. Obama called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday night." It adds that after the release of a new proposal Tuesday by the bipartisan Senate Gang of Six, Obama told reporters it was time for leaders to "talk turkey" and work to reach a deal. And while there has been a recent increase in voices against the $3.7 trillion "plan", the fate of the McConnell fall back plan, which as expected is the most likely to pass as it is completely toothless, is also looking shaky:"House Democratic leaders are attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) debt-ceiling fallback plan, characterizing it as a political ruse intended to scapegoat Democrats and taint them at the polls. “I’m not a fan of the McConnell proposal,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Tuesday during a press briefing in the Capitol. “It’s designed to protect mostly Republican members of Congress from taking responsibility for votes that they’ve already made." How this plan makes sense in light of Obama's earlier statement that the House would not compromise a debt ceiling plan based on one time increases to the limit, without a long-term debt ceiling extension is unclear, nor is it clear how any of these plans which are simply window dressing will pass muster from the rating agencies, where even Fitch earlier announced any plan would have to be comprehensive for no downgrade of the US to occur. Translated: the CRAs need more stuffing for the Christmas stockings.
Still don't have your playbill for the latest installment of beltway Kabuki? Confused by what each actor's motivations are in the "great compromise" farce? Here is The Hill with a summary of who wants what so that the race for this year's Nobel prize in most dramatic on screen teleprompted performance is no longer confusing to anyone, especially since the Treasury Secretary is applying for the Nobel prize for most clueless assorter hanger on, with his "we have no Plan B" approach to worst case contingencies.
The distraction factor today will be 100%, as the government has decided to draw out the government shutdown decision to the very end. Per Reuters, Hoyer has said that both sides are very close to a shutdown "deal" with 70% agreement on dollars. Supposedly 30% disagreement on a binary issue is good news. "U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said on Friday that budget negotiators were "very close" to a deal to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. "There's no deal yet unfortunately," Hoyer told NBC's Today show program as negotiators worked furiously to reach agreement. "I think we're very close. I think we've come 70 percent of the way in terms of dollars. That's a long way to go in trying to reach compromise."" Obviously the disagreement percentage will drop more and more as this soap opera season draws to a close, with only one logical outcome, which obviously will be one of market relief, even as the DXY is pennies away from both 2008 and 2009 lows, both of which preceded major global market calamities.
Jobless Benefits Extension Voted Down As Republican Opposition Sinks Latest Attempt For Perpetual Entitlement StateSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2010 15:27 -0400
A last minute attempt by Democrats to pass a 90 day extension of jobless benefit just failed to pass in Congress. Before the vote, which only sought a 3 month extension instead of a year long one, Steny Hoyer said: "I think every Democrat will vote for it. I'm hopeful that the Republicans will vote for it." However, since democrats brought the measure up as a "suspension" bill, meaning that it required the approval of two-thirds of the House to pass, instead of under normal house rules which would have allowed the vote to pass, the extension failed. Therefore just like the last time this extension failed, look for up to 4-5 million unemployed to fall off EUC and extended claims over the next few months, with a hit of up to 2 million by the first/second week of December. To be sure, there was also a political flavor: as NBC reports "But with suspension bill now coming to the floor on the last day of votes before the Thanksgiving vacation, the vote will give House Democrats the opportunity to argue that the GOP blocked unemployment benefits for the jobless during the holiday season."
Senate To Pass Latest Unemployment Stimulus Bill: Cost To Futures Generations: A Penny Or Three (NPV)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/20/2010 15:45 -0400
In keeping with the tradition of digging America into a debt hole so ridiculously large any conversation over whether the US will be able to ever pay this debt off is immediately moot, the Senate has just ended debate over the latest micro fiscal stimulus, specifically the legislation extending unemployment insurance benefits. It appears the latest iteration of the "you never have to work again as long as you vote for Obama" bill is about to pass. Next up: free government jobs for everyone as the census becomes a monthly affair. And when that fails, free Bernanke Bux for all who still remember how to breathe after all the daily Desperate Housewives of Liberty 33 drama. As for the cost of this latest freebie: $25, $50 billion.. who cares - at the eventual hyperinflationary discount rate, the NPV is about a penny or three. As for current funding, two Fed Assured 2 Year glitchless auctions at record low rates will take care of it.
America's New Budgetless Reality Is "Betrayal Of American Taxpayers", Says Republican House Leader John BoehnerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/22/2010 12:41 -0400
House Democrat leader Steny Hoyer will today announce that the US will not pass a budget in 2010 as “It isn’t possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget until we’ve considered the bipartisan commission’s deficit-reduction plan, which is expected in December." Yet "the House has never failed to pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were put into place in 1974." The real reason of course is that the budget would indicate new and unprecedented trillions in deficits, which would wreak havoc on Democrat chances to contain their upcoming mid-term election loss to just "landslide" status, instead of what is increasingly shaping up as being more in the "apocalyptic" category. Those whose memory spans longer than 24 hours, will recall that Peter Orszag resigned yesterday. Something tells us these two events may be correlated. In the meantime, we are now convinced that realizing the hopelessness of its political situation, the administration and the Fed will now create the most ridiculous, unprecedented, destructive and historic market melt up in history to preserve any chances of demonstrating just how "effective" their market manipulation, pardon, economic resurgence efforts are. If you are short, be ready to have all your shares forcibly called in over the next 4 months. At least the humor of the situation is not lost on one person: House Republican leader John Boehner has taken out a page on his website to lampoon the tragicomedy that US economic and fiscal reality has become.
Bernanke: We Must Raise Taxes and Cut Services • Sane People: No, We Need to Stop Endless Bail Outs, Imperial Adventures and Fraudulent SchemesSubmitted by George Washington on 04/08/2010 14:55 -0400
Hello, Earth to knuckleheads ... Earth calling knuckleheads. This is the American people.
Raise Taxes and Cut Services? Why Not Stop Unneccesary Bailouts, Unnecesary Wars and Unnecessary Interest Costs Instead?Submitted by George Washington on 03/02/2010 20:19 -0400
If we did these things, we wouldn't have to raise taxes OR cut core services to the American people ...