St Louis Fed
Next "Subprime Crisis" Expands As Student Loan Defaults Hit $146 Billion, Highest Default Rate Level Since 1995Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/01/2013 08:22 -0500
Almost exactly one year ago we wrote "The Next Subprime Crisis Is Here: Over $120 Billion In Federal Student Loans In Default" in which we took the latest (2009 three year cohort) loan default data on Federal Student Loans released by the Department of Education and applied it to the total amount of student loans outstanding, which back then was $914 billion. Yesterday, ED.gov provided its annual update - this time to the 2010 three year and 2011 two year cohorts - and to nobody's major surprise, learned that things just got even worse. To wit: "The national two-year cohort default rate rose from 9.1 percent for FY 2010 to 10 percent for FY 2011. The three-year cohort default rate rose from 13.4 percent for FY 2009 to 14.7 percent for FY 2010." Putting this in context, according to Bloomberg defaults have risen to the highest level since 1995. The irony that this is happening in the aftermath of Bernanke's disastrous ZIRP policy is not lost on anyone.
In the upcoming week markets will continue to focus on these fiscal issues in the US, now that a temporary Government shutdown past Tuesday is assured. Still on the fiscal side but outside the US, look forward to Prime Minister Abe announcing his final decision on the VAT hike as well as unveiling a widely anticipated economic stimulus package. Finally, fiscal policy also played a role in the Italian political instability with four ministers resigning from the coalition Government. The backdrop to these events is a rapid deterioration of the political climate after former PM Berlusconi was convicted of tax evasion by a High Court.
When even the Fed's personal trusted scribe, the WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath, who at least on one occasion saw substantial editorial influence by the NYFed on his upcoming article (dealing with his "prize winning" investigation into Stephen Friedman), accuses the Fed of failing to communicate, one can imagine just how badly the streams of telegraphing futures step by the Marriner Eccles central planners must have gotten crossed. From Hilsy: "Federal Reserve officials created new uncertainty about how much farther they will push their easy-money policies—and new questions about how effective they are at communicating their thinking—with the decision to stand pat on the pace of their bond purchases for now.... Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke also seemed to walk away from some of the guidance he had given in June on how the bond-buying program would play out over the next year, making it even less clear when the program will end." This is ironic, because it was none other than Hilsenrath back on May 10 who wrote "Fed Maps Exit from Stimulus" in which he first laid out that "Federal Reserve officials have mapped out a strategy for winding down an unprecedented $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program meant to spur the economy—an effort to preserve flexibility and manage highly unpredictable market expectations." How does it feel to have been used Jon?
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a front-page article reporting that the monetary-policy “doves,” who had forecast low inflation in the United States, have gotten the better of the “hawks,” who argued that the Fed’s monthly purchases of long-term securities, or so-called quantitative easing (QE), would unleash faster price growth. The report was correct but misleading, for it failed to mention why there is so little inflation in the US today. Those who believe that inflation will remain low should look more thoroughly and think more clearly. There are plenty of good textbooks that explain what too many policymakers and financial-market participants would rather forget.
Not much in terms of economic data but lots of corporate news with the official Q2 earnings season kick off, as well as a plethora of Fed speakers which in a centrally-planned world, is all that matters.
Barry Ritholtz is convinced that once the current short-term bounce is over with, the recent cyclical bear market in gold will resume. The reality is of course that neither Mr. Ritholtz, nor anyone else actually knows the future. Therefore, he cannot know whether the bear market is or isn't over. However, judging from the remainder of his post, he actually seems to think that the secular bull market in gold is over. In our opinion there is no evidence for that, and we will explain below why we think that he and others in the long term bear camp are wrong. Further below is the evidence marshaled by Mr. Ritholtz (actually, apart from the technical analysis he provides, it isn't really evidence at all – it reads like an unsupported opinion). Sure enough, gold has no yield, no conference calls, and no income statements (paraphrasing Jim Grant). That is actually the beauty of it. But that does not mean it 'has no fundamentals', nor does it means that it 'cannot be an investment'. We comment on his article (and its errors) further below.
From Bill Gross: "In trying to be specific about which conditions would prompt a tapering of QE, the Fed tilted overrisked investors to one side of an overloaded and overlevered boat. Everyone was looking for lifeboats on the starboard side of the ship, and selling begat more selling, even in Treasuries. While the Fed’s move may ultimately be better understood or even praised, it no doubt induced market panic. Without the presence of a “Bernanke Put” or the promise of a continuing program of QE check writing, investors found the lifeboats dysfunctional. They could only sell to themselves and almost all of them had too much risk. A band somewhere on the upper deck began to play “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”"
When it comes to deflation, mainstream economics becomes not the science of common sense, but the science of nonsense. Most economists today are quick to say, “a little inflation is a good thing,” and they fear deflation. Of course, in their personal lives, these same economists hunt the newspapers for the latest sales. The person who epitomizes this fear of deflation best is Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.
In the real economy on Main Street, the circumstances are different. If you want to buy a house in the US and you need a conventional mortgage, and if you are not a speculator and want to live in dwelling, your costs have now risen substantially.
They’re worried the system might break down if the bond bubble were allowed to inflate further only to implode in a “disorderly” manner.
The 'Hilsenramp' is here. As US equities look set to test previous all-time highs and important support (100DMA), the mouthpiece of the Fed proved his worth:
*WSJ's HILSENRATH: Analysis: Overlooked 'Dovish' Signals In Bernanke Press Conference
*WSJ's HILSENRATH - Analysis: Markets Might Be Misreading The Fed's Messages
Apparently, everyone messed up - there is nothing but good news for the money-printing-addicts. Hilsenrath's "New York Fed" sources have yet to leak the 2013 year-end price target for the S&P 500 (though we expect that next).
As noted previously, in the latest FOMC decision the St. Louis Fed's James Bullard joined the ranks of the dissenters currently held only by Kansas Fed's George. Today he explains why: it appears that he had an issue with what most have already pointed out: the Fed's lowering of its economic forecasts, even as it represented a "tapering" of monetary injections. To wit: "The Committee was, through the Summary of Economic Projections process, marking down its assessment of both real GDP growth and inflation for 2013, and yet simultaneously announcing that less accommodative policy may be in store." In other words the debate can end: Bernanke did signal tapering.
Overnight, following the disappointing BOJ announcement which contained none of the Goldman-expected "buy thesis" elements in it, things started going rapidly out of control, and culminated with the USDJPY plunging from 99 to under 96.50 as of minutes ago, which was the equivalent of a 2.3% jump in the Yen, the currency's biggest surge in over three years. Adding insult to injury was finance ministry official Eisuke Sakakibara who said that further weakening of yen "not likely" at the moment, that the currency will hover around 100 (or surge as the case may be) and that 2% inflation is "a dream." Bottom line, NKY225 futures have had one of their trademark 700 points swing days, and are back knocking on the 12-handle door. Once again, the muppets have been slain. Golf clap Goldman.