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His government has ramped up spending to ward off unrest, helping drive inflation to a 15-year high last year, and pushing Algerians into the currency and real estate markets as they seek to shield savings.

“To protect themselves against inflation, and therefore the devaluation of the dinar, Algerians are investing in property, gold and foreign currencies,” Abderrahmane Mebtoul, a professor of economics at the University of Algiers, said in an interview. 

Prioritization Of Payments: Would They? Could They?

One of the most frequent questions related to the debt limit is whether the Treasury could prioritize payments in order to remain below the debt limit while continuing to make what it deems to be essential payments. As Goldman explains below, technical complexities and legal uncertainties might prevent a full prioritization of all payments, but they do believe (trillion-dollar-coin idiocy aside) that the Treasury could ensure that enough cash is available to make interest payments on Treasury securities.

Futures Sell Off As Shutdown Enters Week Two

Overnight trading over the past week has been a bipolar affair based on algo sentiment about what is coming out of D.C. But which the last session was optimistic for some inexplicable reason that a deal on both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling out of DC was imminent, today any optimism is gone in the aftermath of the latest comments by Boehner on ABC, in which he implied that a US default is not unavoidable and that it would be used as more political capital, as it would be once again blamed on Obama for not resuming negotiations. As a result both global equities and US futures are down sharpy in overnight trading. And since the government shutdown, better known as a retroactively paid vacation, for everyone but the Pentagon (whose 400,000 workers have been recalled from furlough) continues it means zero government economic statistics in today's session with the only macro data being the Fed-sourced consumer credit report at 3 pm. This week also marks the unofficial start of the Q3 reporting season in the US with Alcoa doing the usual opening honous after the US closing bell tomorrow. JPMorgan’s and Wells Fargo’s results on Friday are the other main ones to watch to see just how much in reserves are released to pretend that banks are still making money.  As usual, expect disinformation leaks that send the market sharply higher throughout the day, which however will only make the final outcome that much more painful, because as during every US government crisis in the past, stocks have to plunge so they can soar again.

When Train Drivers Are Paid More Than Surgeons

We last discussed the rise of the robot (as a a replacement for human labor) six months ago, pointing to the implicit (and large) deflationary bust that this entails and nowhere is this more evident today than in Australia's outback. As Bloomberg reports, the 400-plus workers employed by Rio Tinto in the remote Pilbara region (driving train-loads of mined minerals) are the highest-paid train-drivers in the world. The decade-long mining boom down-under has sucked up skilled workers, raising wages for engineers to drivers to an average $224,000 per year - as much as a surgeon in the US. This ridiculous situation has led, unsurprisingly, to the mining companies replacing them with robot locomotives.

Goldman Fears "Rapid Downturn In Economic Activity" If Debt Limit Breached

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.

The Market Today: What's Working And What Isn't So Far In 2013

Given the post-crisis record pace of growth in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet (aka money-printing) it is perhaps surprising that year-to-date, Gold has underperformed its cross-asset-class peers. But considering the 2-and-20 that is flushed away by "sophisticated" investors year after year, the dismal performance of the average hedge fund remains a symbol of the only thing that has worked this year: buy-every-dip, dash-for-trash, always sell vol, and never (ever) sell...

David Stockman Explains The Keynesian State-Wreck Ahead - Sundown In America

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".

Who Works The Most?

"Work hard, play hard" is the adage often put forward to encourage that work-life balance so many find hard to come by. But judging from the time spent on daily activities, it would appear there is one message for the Japanese and North Americans... move to France!

Goldman's 3 Debt-Ceiling Debacle Scenarios

The most likely outcome of the current fiscal dispute, in Goldman's opinion, is an agreement that combines an increase in the debt limit and a "continuing resolution" that reopens the federal government. Unlike the November T-Bill market traders, Goldman expects this to pass; but no earlier than the end of next week (i.e., October 11-12) and more likely sometime around the Treasury's projected deadline of October 17. Other outcomes are possible, but Goldman believes they have lower probabilities.

Frontrunning: October 4

  • 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)

No Farm Payrolls

With the government shutdown stretching into an improbable 4th day (and with every additional day added on, the likelihood that the impasse continues even longer and hit the debt ceiling X-Date of October 17 becomes greater), today's monthly Non-Farm Payroll data has quickly become No-Farm Payroll. However, just like on day when Europe is closed we still get a ramp into the European close, expect at least several vacuum tube algos to jump the gun at 8:29:59:999 and try to generate some upward momentum ignition in stocks and downward momentum in gold. In addition to no economic data released in the US, President Obama announced last night he has cancelled his trip to Bali, Indonesia, to attend the APEC conference and instead to focus on budget negotiations back at home - which is ironic because his latest story is that he will not negotiate, so why not just not negotiate from Asia? Ah, the optics of shutdown.

Wall Street Headhunter: "I Haven't Seen Morale This Bad Since The Titanic"

One thing is now abundantly clear: 2013 is now one big scratch for bankers who were expecting that this year bonuses would finally pick up from the prior several years mediocre performance and catch up to the record days of 2009 (just after the biggest wholesale bank bailout in history). The WSJ summarizes the situation best: "I haven't seen morale this bad since the Titanic," said Richard Stein, a senior recruiter at Caldwell Partners CWL.T -3.41% who specializes in financial services. And if bankers are not happy, nobody else will be (here's looking at you dear perpetual banker bailout ATM known as US taxpayers).

Frontrunning: October 3

  • Mounting Wall Street fears of US default (FT)
  • This is what the US government does when it is "shut down" - CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels (WaPo)
  • SEC Weighs Overhaul of Exchanges’ Self-Regulatory System (WSJ) - just let Goldman and JPM do all the policing; not like anyone cares anymore
  • Reid Sets Tone for Democrats in Shutdown Fight (WSJ)
  • No Movement in Shutdown Standoff (WSJ)
  • Shutdown will not slow Fed nomination, says Obama (FT)
  • Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed (WSJ)
  • Tesla Says Car Fire Began in Battery (AP)
  • China Services Index Increases in Sign of Sustained Rebound (BBG) or sustained data manipulation

Frontrunning: October 2

  • U.S. Government Shut Down With No Quick Resolution Seen (BBG)
  • 12 House Republicans now say they’d back a ‘clean’ CR (WaPo)
  • Republicans’ 2014 Senate Edge Muddied by Shutdown Message (BBG)
  • Obama Shortens Asia Trip Due to Government Shutdown (WSJ)
  • Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley (BBG)
  • Foreign Firms Tap U.S. Gas Bonanza (WSJ)
  • Behind Standoff, a Broken Process in Need of a Broker (WSJ)
  • Japan Awaits Abe’s Third Arrow as Companies Urged to Invest (BBG)
  • Microsoft investors push for chairman Gates to step down (Reuters)

Goldman's Global Leading Indicator Plunges Back To "Slowdown"

Everything looked so good in August. Goldman's global leading indicator (GLI) "swirlogram" had recovered quickly from a 'growth scare' in Q1 and was holding firmly in "expansion" territory. Then reality hit as new-orders-less-inventories worsened, various manufacturing surveys rolled over, industrial metals gave up gains, and Korean exports provided no help. Among the few factors holding up the index from already plunging levels was the Baltic Dry Index (which has collapsed now in the last few days) and Consumer Confidence (which appears to also be rolling over). September's plunge into "slowdown" for the GLI is the biggest drop in 8 months.