"If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it." Sadly, that appears to be the approach that the Obama administration and the mainstream media are taking with the U.S. economy. They seem to believe that if they just keep telling the American people over and over that things are getting better, eventually the American people will believe that it is actually true. And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now. Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers. The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics. All of that "stimulus" should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy. Sadly, all of those "emergency measures" do not appear to have done much at all.
The spin does not get any better than this... As they reported they would,
- *LEW SAYS U.S. SOLD ALL REMAINING SHARES OF GENERAL MOTORS RECOUPING $39 BLN OF ORIGINAL GM INVESTMENT
That is a $10.5 Billion loss! But, The Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan nonprofit organization that analyzes auto industry issues, those funds “saved or avoided the loss of $105.3 billion in transfer payments and the loss of personal and social insurance tax collections -- or 768% of the net investment.” We can't wait to hear how much Bill Ackman made or saved on his Herbalife investment...
The Obamacare enrollment portal is the gift that keeps on giving endless examples of government incompetence. The latest comes from Bloomberg which informs us that "there’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have, after about 1 in 4 enrollments sent to insurers from the federal website had garbled included incomplete information." Still that particular glitch was not enough to prevent Obama from taking full credit for a "fixed" website after somehow the White House managed to calculate that sign ups soared to 100,000 people, and have taken off since the "fix."
Just when you thought it was safe to step back into the water of the "fixed" Obamacare website, another glitch, this time in sending data on Medicaid, has The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services writing a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn't being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. Potentially affecting tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients, ABC reports, "Essentially, if you're a consumer on healthcare.gov, it will tell you you're eligible for Medicaid and the state agency will take care of it, but there's no real way for the state Medicaid agency to know anything about it." The information, according to AP, is incomplete with regard to verifying eligibility and as South Carolina's HHS Director notes, "it's going to be a gigantic logistical mess."
As we noted last month, President Obama sat down for an interview with Chuck Todd on November 7 and said: "When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn’t work or it ends up being way over cost." Well, this week we learned that the gap’s been closed. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told us so. In its official report, HHS not only announced that it had “met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users,” but wrote that “the team is operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness.” That sure was quick. Reviewing these facts, we suppose HHS could support their claim to “private sector velocity and effectiveness” with some semantic tricks. If you interpret that phrase as referring to the principle contractors’ adeptness at winning huge, no-bid contracts through personal connections, donations, fund raising and lobbying, then it all adds up.
Pres Obama urges young people to spread the ObamaCare message on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter using #getcovered.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 4, 2013
In the last election it was the Millennials (18-29 year olds) that brough President Obama home on his hope and change miracle tour; but now, just over a year later, a Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds that a stunning 57% of 18-29 year olds disapprove of Obamacare. As we noted before, this is a critical breakdown in making the Affordable Care Act 'affordable' but it seems less healthy customer are more likely to persevere through the techical obstacle to gain coverage than younger, healthier "customers" who feel less need for insurance (never mind the "easy" women and keg-standing men). The poll gets worse with 40% expecting the quality of their coverage to worsen, and as Bloomberg reports, even more troubling for the White House, almost half in that age group say they’re unlikely to enroll in insurance through a government exchange, even if eligible.
Although Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Northeast Asia this week will likely focus on defusing tensions over China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), this is hardly the only issue plaguing the U.S. in Asia. In general, U.S. Asia policy during the second Obama administration has lacked focus as senior officials have been preoccupied with domestic and other international challenges. Moreover, a number of other issues suggest that the administration continues to give inadequate attention to the Asia-Pacific, and the results it is getting reflect this relative neglect.
Something snapped overnight, moments after the EURJPY breached 140.00 for the first time since October 2008 - starting then, the dramatic weakening that the JPY had been undergoing for days ended as if by magic, and the so critical for the E-Mini EURJPY tumbled nearly 100 pips and was trading just over 139.2 at last check, in turn dragging futures materially lower with it. Considering various TV commentators described yesterday's 0.27% decline as a "sharp selloff" we can only imagine the sirens that must be going off across the land as the now generic and unsurprising overnight carry currency meltup is missing. Still, while it is easy to proclaim that today will follow yesterday's trend, and stocks will "selloff sharply", we remind readers that today is yet another infamous double POMO today when the NY Fed will monetize up to a total of $5 billion once at 11am and once at 2 pm.
While it is not a surprise, and had been reported previously, there is a certain dose of humor in Reuters reminding us that Jeffrey Zients, who is currently tasked with fixing Obamacare.gov Healthcare.gov (and which crashed yesterday for CNN when it experiment with the upgraded website), will soon be leaving his post and replace Gene Sperling as Obama's top economic advisor. Surely if anyone can fix the economy, it is the man who has hired every private sector sysadmin genius and managed to expand the 500 million lines of code website to accomodate a few more thousand simultaneous requests.... before it crashes again.
Things are rapidly escalating between the land of rising sun and the sleeping dragon who has now fully woken up...
By any reasonable measure, we think it is safe to say that the last quarter of 2013 has been an insane game of economic Russian Roulette. Even more unsettling is the fact that most of the American population still has little to no clue that the U.S. was on the verge of a catastrophic catalyst event at least three times in the past three months alone, and that we face an even greater acceleration next year. Economic collapse is not necessarily an event, it is a process, the most frightening elements of which usually do not become visible until it is too late for common people to react in a productive way. All of the dangers covered in this article could very well set fires tomorrow, that is how close our nation is to the edge. However, the culmination of events so far seems to be setting the stage for something, an important something, in 2014.
- Winter storm lashes eastern U.S., threatens Thanksgiving travel (Reuters)
- Fed Reveals New Concerns About Long-Term U.S. Slowdown (BBG)
- Private equity keeps $789bn of powder dry (FT) - because they are "selling everything that is not nailed down"
- Merkel and SPD clinch coalition deal two months after vote (Reuters)
- Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks (BBC)
- CLOs are the new black: Volatile Loan Securities Are Luring Fund Managers Again (WSJ)
- Health website deadline nears (WSJ)
- Norway Debates $800 Billion Wealth Fund’s Investment Options (BBG)
- Set of global trade deals stalls (WSJ)
- Berlusconi To Learn Fate In Senate (Sky)
- Silvio Berlusconi withdraws support from Italy’s government (FT)
In a carry-trade driven world in which news and fundamentals no longer matter, the only relevant "variable" is whether the JPY is down (check) and the EUR is up (check) which always results in green equities around the globe and green futures in the US, with yesterday's sudden and sharp selloff on no liquidity and no news long forgotten. The conventional wisdom "reason" for the overnight JPY underperformance against all major FX is once again due to central bank rhetoric, when overnight BOJ's Kiuchi sees high uncertainty whether 2% CPI will be reached in 2 years, Shirai says bank should ease further if growth, CPI diverge from main scenario. Also the BOJ once again hinted at more QE, and since this has proven sufficient to keep the JPY selling momentum, for now, why not continue doing it until like in May it stops working. As a result EURJPY rose above the 4 year high resistance of 138.00, while USDJPY is bordering on 102.00. On the other hand, the EUR gained after German parties strike coalition accord, pushing the EURUSD over 1.36 and further making the ECB's life, now that it has to talk the currency down not up, impossible. This is especially true following reports in the German press that the ECB is looking at introducing an LTRO in order to help promote bank lending. Since that rumor made zero dent on the EUR, expect the ongoing daily litany of ECB rumors that the bank is "technically ready" for negative rates and even QE, although as has been shown in recent months this now has a half-life measured in minutes as the market largely is ignoring whatever "tools" Draghi and company believe they have left.