- Obama Signs Bill Enacting Budget Deal to Avert Most Tax Hikes (BBG)
- GOP Leaders Take Political Risk With Deal (WSJ)
- Basel Becomes Babel as Conflicting Rules Undermine Safety (BBG)
- Portugal Faces Divisions Over Austerity Measures (WSJ)
- The Fiscal Cliff Deal and the Damage Done (BBG)
- Cliff deal threatens second term agenda (FT)
- Deposits stable in euro zone periphery in November (Reuters)
- Fresh Budget Fights Brewing (WSJ)
- China Poised for 2013 Rebound as Debt Risks Rise for Xi (BBG)
- Who's Afraid of Italian Elections? (WSJ)
- China services growth adds to economic revival hopes (Reuters)
- Asian Economies Show Signs of Strength (WSJ)
- Japan’s Aso Targets Myanmar Markets Amid China Rivalry (Bloomberg)
The bipolar mood swing over the short-term band aid Fiscal Cliff non-solution may be over, and finally the market, which yesterday saw the official breach of the debt ceiling on the final day of 2012 on paper may be starting to look forward 58 days to that day in February, or more likely March, when the real catalyst as we have said all along- the increase of the US debt ceiling by another $2.4 trillion - has to be resolved. Futures are down a modest 5 points even as the EURUSD slide continues now that year end window dressing repatriation means European banks no longer need to show the currency on their books - at some point the EURUSD-ES correlation algos will kick in but not yet. Keep in mind that in the summer of 2011 the debt ceiling negotiations started some two months before the D-Day in early August, this time around politicians, who have learned nothing, will likely leave all debate until the very last moment once again, as the democrats assume the GOP will fold like a cheap lawn chair once again, even as the tensions at the GOP to do just the opposite hit a fever pitch. Which is why not even Goldman Sachs, as confirmed in a note by Alec Philips last night (coming shortly), cares to predict what (or when) the "debt ceiling 2013" outcome will be.
This New York Times Op Ed by Louis Michael Seidman, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most absurd and dangerous articles I have read in a very long time. This guy’s incredible conclusion is that it is the Constitution of the United States itself that is causing all that ails the nation at this time. Not once did I read about the Federal Reserve, or the “war on terror,” or the banker bailouts, or the complete destruction of the rule of law in recent years. Nope, none of that. Instead, this scholar’s conclusion is that the founding document, which created the fertile breeding ground for freedom and free markets and led to tens of millions of people to flee to from all corners of the globe, is the problem.
In the last second of trading on January 2, 2013, trades executed more than $3 above existing market prices in Apple Computer Corp (symbol AAPL). These trades were marked ISO, which means the trader submitting the orders wanted to execute at these higher prices. Why? Good question. This has happened before (as Nanex are so excellent at uncovering).
The 'deal' is done and even the evening news seems somewhat perplexed by the market's excited reaction to three-quarters of the nation paying more taxes. Perhaps, as ABC News highlights below, it is the 'pork' that stuffed the bill... "The mix of tax perks covering the next year, with budget implications for the next two years, includes everything from incentives for employers to hire veterans to incentives for employers to invest in mine safety. But it also includes these:"
In part one of this two part series – Hey You – we examined how an invisible government of wealthy, power hungry men have utilized the propaganda techniques of Edward Bernays and lured the American people into a narcissistic, techno-gadget, debt based servitude. Over the last one hundred years they have created a totalitarian state built upon egotism, material goods, and fulfilling our desires through Wall Street peddled debt and mass consumerism. It has been an incredibly effective form of control that has convinced the masses to love their servitude. The lyrics to Pink Floyd's 'Mother' had both a literal and figurative meaning for Roger Waters. Having seen his Wall Tour performance this past summer at Citizens Bank Park with a diverse crowd of 40,000, ranging in age from senior citizens to teenagers, it seems this song has gained new meaning. He sang a duet with himself from 1980 projected on the Wall and when he sang the lyric, “Mother, should I trust the government?” the entire stadium responded in unison – NO!!! This revealed a truth that is not permitted to be discussed by the corporate mainstream media acting as a mouthpiece for the ruling class. A growing legion of citizens in this country does not trust the government. This is very perceptive on their part.
When it comes to the main sovereign story of 2011 and 2012, namely the endless bailout of Greece, now in its third iteration, the conventional wisdom is that courtesy of the near elimination of the country's private sovereign debt and the fact that its official foreign debt held by benevolent taxpayer funded globalist powers (IMF, ECB, EFSF) has been mostly converted into a zero-coupon, perpetual piece of paper, the country is fine. After all it has no debt interest expense to finance, and the only shortfall it has to plug is that created by its primary budget deficit (which as we showed earlier is "improving" on a year over year basis not because the economy is improving, but because the Greek government is simply refusing to pay its bills). So there is nothing more to do but sit back and wait while the economy slowly recovers, the unprecedented internal imbalance with Germany is gradually aligned, are the unemployment rate drops, (while hoping that the population does not die out first) right? Wrong. Moments ago Kathimerini reported that in 2012, the amount of non-performing loans has exploded by a laughable amount, rising some 50% from December 2011, when it was "only" 16% and stood at 24% last month. And therein lies the rub, because as Kathiermini prudently notes, the "bad loans come to a considerable 55 billion euros. This means that the sum of NPLs already exceeds the total funds set aside for the recapitalization of the local credit system, which amounts to €50 billion."
In many respects, 2012 was a year of waiting: waiting for a path forward on the European debt crisis; waiting for the results of a polarizing U.S. election; waiting for the Chinese leadership transition; waiting for a resolution to the U.S. fiscal cliff issues; waiting for the Middle East to find peace; waiting for a clear path to global growth; and therefore, waiting to invest additional assets in the markets (or not, as the case may be). In this 2013 Outlook, Michael Cembalest, JPMorgan Asset Management's Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy, provides a comprehensive summary of the global factors at play, with a tone of optimism grounded in realism. Perhaps just what we need after the surreality of the last two days.
Earlier today, in what can only be summarized as an epic meltdown, NJ governor Chris Christie proceeded with an even more epic rant against House speaker John Boehner, in narrow terms, and House Republicans in broader, for killing the $60 billion Sandy Assistance bill, whose funding would have offset one full year of the just legislated tax hikes on the rich which would add $62 billion annually to the Treasury (or alternatively would have been unfundable for the next 2 months while the US struggles to pay its mandatory bills courtesy of having breached the debt ceiling). Alternatively, all Americans could just agree to accept less welfare and entitlement benefits to show their solidarity for New Jersey and fund the recovery of the Tristate area by a "shared sacrifice" instead of going the default route and demanding even more deficit spending - something that would naturally saddle the next generation with even more pain, not the current, far more entitled one - but in this country that is an absolutely ludicrous proposition. Below is a clip of the entire Christie performance which is a must see for sheer indignation entertainment value alone.
The fiscal cliff deal appears to be a done deal and markets have reacted accordingly (although President Obama is apparently awaiting a photo-op later today to sign it). However, the deal leaves a large number of loose ends that ensure high drama for the next two months on the US fiscal front. The immediate impact of all the loose ends and deadlines may be smaller than the Dec 31 fiscal cliff, but all of these loose ends are important and could lead to short-term price action. Several of them are very important for the long run USD outlook as well.
We already knew that the US crossed the debt ceiling on New Year's day. It is, however, one thing to read a Geithner press release, it is another to see America's ridiculous debt it in action. So here it is, courtesy of TreasuryDirect, in all its debt ceiling glory: $16,432,730,050,569.12, with the debt subject to the ceiling at the limit of $16.394 trillion.
And with that we can close the books on the first quarter of Fiscal 2013, in which US public debt grew by $366 billion, some $122 billion per month on average.
Wondering why rail traffic has been somewhat surprisingly consistent despite uncertainty? Concerned at government's tenticular reach into each and every aspect of our lives? This somewhat stunning anecdotal report from OilPrice.com might shed some light:
A cargo train filled with biofuels crossed the border between the US and Canada 24 times between the 15th of June and the 28th of June 2010; not once did it unload its cargo, yet it still earned millions of dollars... The companies “made several million dollars importing and exporting the fuel to exploit a loophole in a U.S. green energy program.” Each time the loaded train crossed the border the cargo earned its owner a certain amount of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which were awarded by the US EPA to “promote and track production and importation of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.”
We suggest this is merely yet another unintended consequence (just as we noted here) and perverted incentive of central planning and an all encroaching government.
Update 2: MLNX down 22%. Earnings, and cash flows, matter. And now, time to ramp some other stock only to see it implode when it announces earnings or guides down.
Update: MLNX, a $2.6 billion market cap company, was up 3% today before being halted after hours and crushing guidance by preannouncing horrible revenues. Expect many other S&P 500 companies to be forced to do the same now that their market value, driven almost exclusively by "someone's" ceaseless selling of VIX futures and by correlation engines which assume every company has to rise (and sometimes even fall) by the same amount as the biggest synthetic indicator, the E-Mini, is so disconnected from any cash-flow reality, that only the Fed can possibly assume there is fair value for the stock market at current levels.
The drop in VIX in the last two days is the biggest percentage drop on record (based on Bloomberg's data) as the S&P 500 futures (ES) have managed a 70-point rally. The exuberance at today's open ebbed through the middle of the day but then resurged into the close as the day-session range was actually quite narrow (sub-10pts). High-yield credit surged (leading the way) coupled with VXX (huge odd volume spike) as pain trades were everywhere. FX markets were decidedly unimpressed even as Treasuries tracked along with stocks for most of the day (though lagged the late-day surge as 10Y yields stalled out at the 12/187 highs). Commodities held on to gains even as the USD turned positive on the week. On the bright side, all those who have been invested in the S&P since March 2000 can exit at (nominal) breakeven and all it took was a 400% increase in the size of the Fed's balance sheet. This feels very delicate and all anchored on a massive protection unwind (as volumes and blocks were dumped into the late-day ripfest).
While the predictions of Blackstone's Byron Wien (born in 1933), who may not be in the senate or "sleep-deprived", but this year will become an octogenarian, may have been all over the place in the past 10 years, some correct, but most miserably wrong (with a recent hit rate of about 25%), he always does provide entertainment value. Which is the only value in the latest release of his 10 forecasts for 2013. Naturally, take all of these with a salt mine.