When William Shakespeare penned the words, “All the world’s a stage“ in, As you like it, it was centuries before tense photos of tense leaders would show tense concern over tense military operations. What transpired around the killing, or killing announcement, of Osama bin Laden has been astounding. Whether you believe that bin Laden was “taken out” by this NAVY Seal operation, after nearly a decade, two wars, an over 81% increase in the military budget, and thousands of deaths, following the tragic loss of life on 9/11, or whether you believe he was dead and iced years ago and strategically used as a sign of unflappable leadership, is irrelevant. The surrounding uproar was theatre of the extravagant, no matter how you slice it. But, theatre was invented for distraction, in culture and in politics. So while all the Osama drama was unfolding, the Treasury Department issued another plea for raising the debt ceiling, aka supporting its pro-bank policy. It went something like this: We need to borrow more to pay social security obligations and not default on our debt, so other countries won’t question our ability to manage an economy (as if that hasn’t already happened) and we won’t have to pay more to borrow more. If we don’t – you know what’ll happen – yep, another financial crisis. The actual quote was: “The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments.”
Treasury Hopes To Issue $72 Billion In New 3,10, 30 Year Bonds Next Week, Even As Capacity Now Just $30 BillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/04/2011 09:13 -0400
Next week will be interesting. Even as the Treasury is scrambling to find debt ceiling expansion options (for a complete analysis see this post from January) it has just released its most recent refunding statement, according to which it hopes to issue $72 billion in 3 Year, 10 Year and 30 Year bonds. What is interesting is that completely contrary to expectations, and to recent Treasury announcements, while the UST was expected to issue $69 billion this time around, it actually increased each issue by $1 billion. So much for that promise that the Treasury will need to borrow less. But what is worse is that there are no maturities or refunds next week, meaning the net debt increase next week will be $72 billion. This simply means that Geithner will now have to really start cutting back on all other interagency issues, and to actually start taking away from the funding of the SSTF. And the kicker: Congress is nowhere even close to start thinking about hiking the debt ceiling. While we had been expecting this to be a non-issue, it may suddenly become quite an issue, as unexpected downstream effects from the debt ceiling mitigation exercise start affecting local governments. Bottom line: the US economy now has just $30 billion in incremental debt capacity. And money, being fungible, means that this is it for GDP growth at least until Congress gives the green light on the debt target increase.
Treasury Cuts Its Borrowing Need Estimate By Half, To Suspend State, Local Gov't Funding Due To Upcoming Debt Ceiling BreachSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/02/2011 15:35 -0400
After announcing it issued $265 billion in marketable debt to fund $445 billion in financing needs (including the wind down of $195 billion in SFP cash management bills), the Treasury has just announced it expects to need just $142 billion in Treasury issuance in the April-June quarter. This ridiculous amount is more than 50% lower than the previous estimate of $299 billion disclosed on January 31, and confirms that the Treasury is now scrambling to appear prudent to Congress with its debt needs. That it will need far, far more at the end of the day is beyond question. The reason for the over 50% plunge in borrowing needs "largely relates to higher receipts and lower outlays." Well, that's great - perhaps the treasury can explain why its preliminary cash need for the July-Sept quarter are $405 billion (compared to $396 billion a year earlier). Altogether, this advance estimate is ludicrous and shows that Geithner has totally lost a grip on reality. Yet on the other hand, in order to make his point, the market needs to crash (just like the May 6th crash killed any hope of an Audit the Fed bill). Looks like risk is duly noting its duty to act appropriately when record 2011 bonuses are at stake.
GoldCore Questions On Comex Silver Default Due To Secret Buying By Russian Billionaire, Chinese Traders and People's Bank Of ChinaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/29/2011 07:54 -0400
Let us reiterate a COMEX default on delivery of precious metals and specifically of silver bullion bars is far from “noise”. It is of significant importance and that is why we have covered its possibility for some months. A COMEX default would have massive ramifications for precious metals markets, for the wider commodity markets, for the dollar, for fiat currencies and for our modern financial system. Silver surged 3.4% yesterday to settle at a 31 year nominal high and rose by $1.55 on the day. Silver is up some 28% in April alone. The last time this happened is when Warren Buffett took a large stake in silver in 1987 and there were rumours of Buffett “cornering the market”. Silver remains in backwardation and the possibility of a COMEX default cannot be ruled out – especially as silver bullion inventories are very small vis-à-vis possible capital allocations to silver in the coming weeks and months. The possibility of an attempted cornering of the silver market through buying and taking delivery of physical bullion remains real and would likely lead to a massive short squeeze which could see silver surge to well over its inflation adjusted high of $140/oz. Indeed, a recent article in the Financial Times suggested that private or state interests with very deep pockets are attempting to corner the silver market. Bizarrely, this massive story which mooted the possibility of Russian billionaires, Chinese traders and even the People’s Bank of China and other central banks secretly buying silver, has subsequently been barely reported or commented on. There are now two “conspiracy theories”. One is the long side conspiracy theory which claims, a la the FT, that there are foreign private and state actors attempting to corner the silver market through secret buying.
Same old same old in D.C. thinking.
Recently there has been lots of goalseeked speculation by sellside research about what the impact of QE2 will be. Considering that the biggest force in bond buying (PIMCO) disagreed with virtually everyone else, it is safe to say that nobody has any idea what will happen on July 1 (of course unless the Fed also actually stop its off-balance sheet curve vol selling, in which case the imminent collapse in the bond market is guaranteed). Naturally, after the private sector has come out defending its respective books, here come the Admirals of the Obvious from the San Fran Fed to voice in on just how good and wise QE2 was especially when compared to such a "monster" as 1961's $8.8 billion Operation Twist. According to the Fed, Operation Twist, which was truly a curve "twisting" operation instead of an outright debt monetization and deficit funding operation, succeeded in reducing rates by 0.15%. It is this delusion that fostered QE2, which is merely a continuation of QE1 and a contributor to the Fed's soon to be $2.9 trillion balance sheet, as the Fed was obviously trying to recreate history. Little did it realize that Twist was not about the implosion of a shadow banking bubble but all about removing rate arbitrage opportunities. Curiously enough, it was the rush of gold from the US To Europe, to express this arbitrage, that forced the US to engage in Operation Twist. Only later was the gold backing of the dollar completely removed thereby eliminating this arb opportunity. Of course, it is now deja vu all over again: the Fed has to do all it can to prevent the transfer of fiat into gold, albeit at non-fixed rates, or as some have called it, a non-central bank instituted gold standard. Yet oddly enough, despite all time record nominal prices, the demand for gold is only increasing, a result that the Fed had not anticipated at all and is forced to scramble to reverse. And now that QE2 has been a complete failure, the only option is to back track on everything and admit the Fed has failed, or pursue more QE, sending gold offerless. Your call Ben.
Gold and silver have surged to new record nominal highs in dollar terms (all time and 31 year) with the dollar falling sharply on international markets. Silver has continued to surge in all currencies and has surged to a new record nominal high of $46.25/oz (£27.85/oz and €31.54/oz) on growing rumours of a short squeeze involving a billionaire or state interest attempting to corner the silver market. The massive concentrated short positions of some Wall Street banks have incurred serious losses and a desperate attempt to close their futures positions due to the tight physical marketplace may be leading to a short squeeze. This is something that GoldCore and a few other analysts have warned of for some time. We have long said that the very small silver market was ripe for cornering by private or state interests and that appears to be happening on some level. However, there are an increasingly large number of silver buyers who realize the market can be cornered and they are buying in anticipation of this event. The blogosphere has again been ahead of the curve and dismissal of much circumstantial evidence of silver manipulation, a short squeeze etc. as “conspiracy theories” is becoming less easy to do. It looks like many investors internationally and one or a few private individuals and states are cornering the silver market. At one stage the Hunt Brothers cornering of the market was a “conspiracy theory” – it soon became fact.
The flashing fuchsia elephant at the core of our economic, and thus budget problems – remains the response to the financial homicide imparted by the big-banks and abetted by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. There was a choice to be made in Washington in the fall of 2008 - smack Wall Street into place, do a good-ole free-market – you fail if you deserve to fail, we’ll protect consumer assets and that’s it maneuver - and deal with possibly intense, but definable fall-out for a short period. Or - lavish bailout upon guarantee upon subsidy upon asset purchase upon the lowest rates in our nation’s history on Wall Street, and wring the very possibility of a recovery out of the general economy from the get-go. Of course, the brilliant minds of our exceedingly-privileged, out-of-touch, economic leadership decided on the former, and are acting their asses off to pretend that that decision, in itself, wasn’t the cause of the economic problems that followed, from Main Street anemia, to commodity inflation to international disdain and a weak currency that has no right to even have the purchasing capacity it still does. And, yet Tim Geithner had the audacity of job-security to take his debt ceiling ‘plea’, on the Sunday Morning talk show circuit – really, we will be in crisis and other countries will think poorly of our ability to pay our debts if we don’t raise the ceiling and increase our debt. In truth, it is Tim Geithner’s ego on the line, while his boss, through staggering absence of mention, is fine with assuaging it. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke remained silent about the topic, not least because between the Fed and the Treasury department, more debt has been racked up and issued in the past two years than ever before. Of course, the debt cap will get raised, just as it got raised under Treasury Secretaries Paul O’Neil, John Snow and Hank Paulson.
Part 2 of the Great Beltway Soap Opera promises to be quite entertaining. According to Reuters, even though the US desperately needs to get a debt ceiling resolution immediately (we are at a point when any debt auction could be the last, depending on how many refunds the Treasury has to issue at any given point), Republicans are resolved to "stretch out negotiations on raising the U.S. debt limit until July....Prolonging negotiations past mid-May when Washington will hit its debt limit could give Republicans more leverage to secure big spending cuts, but it could worry investors as the country runs up against a possible default. The Republicans said they would act before that happened." The only question is whether bond investors (no matter how deflationary attuned) will stay in bonds before any possible compromise. Of course, should yields surge as a result of political "instability" it will merely reinforce the continuation of an easing regime, especially since Goldman is now obviously in a faux-disinflationary regime (more thoughts on that imminently, together with how to trade the unwind of Goldman remaining "Top Trades for 2011" following purported Bill Dudley instructions). And if the debt ceiling debate is in any way comparable to the grotesque farce that was the $38.5 billion, pardon $14.7 billion spending cut, then America is certainly buggered.
For some reason, much ado is being made about the nothing that is last night's 11th (or technically 10th) hour aversion of a government shutdown. As we pointed out last week, it is not as if this strawman outcome, or for that matter the raising of the debt ceiling was ever in doubt: "look for both of these events to be consistently spun as key positive outcomes, even though the chance of these things actually not transpiring in a non-favorable light is non-existent." And sure enough, we are confident that the spin of this outcome will be extremely bullish even if in reality it is the perpetuation of a baseline status quo, while the alternative would have been unthinkable. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing more than a free episode of political soap opera. The markets largely shrugged, because the Treasury Department still would have been able to issue and service debt and the Fed would continues to goose markets higher courtesy of POMO. Yet as Reuters points out astutely: "The battle over the U.S. budget has ended. Now the war begins. The debate over this year's budget that took the U.S. government to within an hour of a shutdown is only a dress rehearsal for bigger spending clashes to come." Here is what to look forward to, as the beltway entertainment spigot is cranked out to the max.
Adrian Douglas submits: The latest LBMA clearing statistics (Feb 2011) reveal that the LBMA bullion bank members traded a total average net daily gold volume of 18.1 million ounces with a value of $24.8 billion. Some analysts have in the past estimated that the gross volume is likely to be 3-4 times the net volume giving potentially over 70 million ounces of gross gold trading worth 100 billion dollars. This would be equivalent to trading all the gold that is mined in world each year each and every day! Clearly the majority of this trading is unbacked by physical gold. The bullion banks only make a ledger entry for gold sold or bought and as long as the client never asks for delivery the bank never has to have the gold. I have through my studies indicated that probably 45 ounces of gold have been sold for each one that exists. The bullion banking business is very opaque but it struck me that if the members of the LBMA are collectively trading a net value of $6.2 trillion annually this should be laid out and explained in the bullion banks annual reports. In analyzing the Annual reports of the major bullion banks I made some astonishing discoveries. For most of these banks their bullion banking business is entirely hidden from the accounting. In the text there is almost no mention of gold, silver, bullion, or precious metals. In fact it is impossible to know that these banks are even in the bullion banking business let alone know anything about their trades, assets and liabilities. The only exception is Scotia Mocatta (see below). The bullion banking business is completely obscured from view in the annual reports. We know from our discussion that there should be revenues of $1.2 trillion annually be reported which would make the activity the largest activity in any of the banks, yet instead it is entirely missing! How could such trading and references to it be almost entirely absent from these reports?
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers'), the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, gained 14.3% in 2010 but systemic funding challenges persist...
Leaving aside for the moment the petty let's be children and see if we can grind the government to a halt game going on amongst parties and sub-parties, and the fact that both parties blessed every single debt cap increase placed before them in equal measure over the past decade of Bush *2 + Obama * 1/2, I just want to focus on House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan's, corporate tax decrease proposal for a second - because the math is so bizarre.
"So Rick Ackerman posted a piece that I spotted on Zero Hedge—which surprised the hell out of me. Either Tyler and his gang of merry pranksters are losing their nerve about the downward trajectory they think the U.S. economy and monetary policy is headed in—or they ran the piece for shits and giggles. Ackerman’s piece said, in effect, that dollar hyperinflation was impossible. His post was titled “Big Gap in Logic Weakens Hyperinflation Argument”. The cause of hyperinflation is always the same: Spiralling prices that cannot be reigned in with traditional monetary policies of interest rate hikes. But Ackerman doesn’t see this: In his piece, it’s clear he doesn’t realize hyperinflation is an effect of rising prices. Eventually people realize the money itself is to blame—but only eventually, at the end. That’s why Ackerman’s first sentence sort-of makes sense, but not really. But although Ackerman is partly right in the first sentence, his second sentence? That it’s “highly unlikely that this will happen in the United States”? Brother, a panic in the dollar that leads people to exit it for commodities has happened already—and not that long ago: In 1979-’80, when inflation crossed the double digits but before Volcker slammed the brakes via interest rate hikes, people were beginning to get out of the dollar and into anything else, especially commodities, especially gold and silver." Gonzalo Lira