A few days ago we noted that based on preliminary data, the February budget deficit would hit $229 billion (yes, nearly one quarter of a trillion in one month, about where real Greek GDP is these days) - the largest single monthly deficit in history. Unfortunately, this number was low: the final February deficit was just released and the actual print is $231.7 billion. It also means that in the first 5 months of the fiscal year, the US has raked up $580 billion in deficits, oddly matched by $727 billion in new debt issuance, 25% more new debt issued than needed to fund deficits... And that in itself would not be horrible - February is traditionally the worst month for deficits as the Treasury sees a surge in tax refund issuance - if it wasn't for something even more troubling. As the second chart below shows, through last Friday, and net of tax refunds, total US tax revenues were actually lower in the fiscal 2012 year to date period than compared to 2011, by just under $2 billion, at $625.5 billion. Which is the weakest link for any argument that the US is actually growing: what is growing is America's debt (now almost exponentially), while its revenues are at best unchanged. And the scariest: annualizing net tax revenues brings the number to $1.5 trillion. Which is just 50% more where total US debt interest will be in 2014 when debt is $20 trillion, assuming interest rates are somehow allowed to go back up... to the astronomical level of 5%.
In Greece, only 36% of the population work. And now the system is locking up.
D.C. is fudging the books big time according to the CBO.
For a global economy that is "improving" we sure are getting a whole lot of records in the won't direction in the last two days. Yesterday it was Japan which printed a record current account deficit (yes, the most indebted country in the world was once upon a time supposed to export its way out of debt). Today, we learn that in February the US will report its largest budget deficit in history, as the Keynesian floodgates open full bore, and as Zero Hedge has noted repeatedly, tax revenues just refuse to come in at anything close to the pace of accelerated spending, forcing the US to borrow 54 cents for every dollar it spends (not the often cited 42 cent number which does not take into account tax refunds - see here). We would comment more on this, but frankly the chart speaks for itself. And now that the US has to fund an additional $100 billion due to the taxcut extension this means that things are only going to get worse, fast.
Not many websites, analysts or authors have both the balls/temerity & the analytical honesty to take Goldman on. Well, I say.... Let's dance! This isn't a collection of soundbites from the MSM. This is truly meaty, hard hitting analysis for the big boys and girls. If you're easily offended or need the 6 second preview I suggest you move on.
Dallas Fed's Fisher "Perplexed" By Wall Street "Fetish" With QE3 And Disgusted With The Addiction To "Monetary Morphine"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/05/2012 14:36 -0400
And now for some pure irony, we have a member of the Fed, granted a gold bug, but a Fed member nonetheless, one of the same people who not only enacted ZIRP, but encourage easy money every time there is a downtick in the market, complaining about, get this, Wall Street's "continued preoccupation, bordering upon fetish" with QE3. The irony continues: "Trillions of dollars are lying fallow, not being employed in the real economy. Yet financial market operators keep looking and hoping for more. Why? I think it may be because they have become hooked on the monetary morphine we provided when we performed massive reconstructive surgery, rescuing the economy from the Financial Panic of 2008–09, and then kept the medication in the financial bloodstream to ensure recovery....I believe adding to the accommodative doses we have applied rather than beginning to wean the patient might be the equivalent of medical malpractice." So let's get this straight: these academic titans, who for one reason or another, are given free rein to determine the fate of the once free world with their secret decisions every two or three months, are completely unaware of classical conditioning, discovered by Pavlov nearly 90 years ago, also known as a salivation response. The same Fed is shocked, shocked, that every time the market dips, the red light goes off, and the "balls to the wall" crowd scream for more, more, more free money. Really Fisher? Really? Oh, and let us guess what happens the next time the S&P slides into the tripple digits: will the Fed a) do nothing, thereby letting the market slide to its fair value in the 400 point range, or b) print. Our money, in the form of hard yellow metal, is on the latter, just like we predicted, correctly, back in March 2009 in " Bailoutspotting (Or The Search For The Great Financial Methadone Clinic" that nothing will ever change vis-a-vis the great market junkie until it all comes crashing down.
For those who are in a hurry today, the bottom line is that Japan is in serious trouble right now and is a top candidate to be the next black swan. Here are the elements of difficulty that concern me the most, each one serving to reduce Japan's economic and financial stability:
- The total shutdown of all 54 nuclear plants, leading to an energy insufficiency
- Japan's trade deficit in negative territory for the first time in decades, driven largely by energy imports
- A budget deficit that is now 56% larger than revenues (!!)
- Total debt standing at a whopping 235% of GDP
- A recession shrinking Japan's economy at an annual rate of 2.3%
- Renewed efforts underway to debase the yen
As I wrote a shortly after the earthquake in March 2011, Japan is facing an economic meltdown. If it is not careful, it may well face a currency meltdown, too. These things take time to play out, but now almost exactly a year after the devastating earthquake of 2011, the difficulties for Japan are mounting -- as expected.
- U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut (BBG) -Expect one whopper of a seasonal adjustment to compensate
- European Banks May Tap ECB for $629 Billion Cash (Bloomberg) - EURUSD surging as all ECB easing now priced in; Fed is next
- Madrid presses EU to ease deficit targets (FT)
- Greek Parliament Approves Debt Write-Down (WSJ)
- Mentor of Central Bankers Fischer Rues Complacency as Economy Accelerates (Bloomberg)
- Draghi Takes Tough Line on Austerity (WSJ)
- European Banks Hit by Losses (WSJ)
- Moody's: won't take ratings action on Japan on Friday (Reuters)
- Athens told to change spending and taxes (FT)
After months (it seems like years) of trying to avoid a CDS Credit Event, it looks like one is inevitable. The Greek 5 year CDS is at least 70 bid which may be the highest ever. The game plan seems to be that Greece will put in retroactive CAC laws. The PSI will come in below 100%. Greece will trigger the CAC clauses on the Greek bonds, and we will get 100% participation in all those bonds, and we will get a Credit Event. The interesting part is that depending on what they manage to do with English law bonds, the only bonds outstanding (not in the hands of the central bank only bonds, and troika loans) will be the new bonds. If they start CAC’ing each bond, it is possible that there will be no existing bonds outstanding left. Settlement would be based on the new bond (yes, ISDA has a Sovereign Restructured Deliverable Obligation clause – Section 2.16 of the definitions). With the amortization schedule in place (and not including any value attributable to the GDP strippable warrants), I get that the new bonds would trade at 30% of par with a yield of just over 13%. I would be careful paying up for CDS here, because settlement will be against these new bonds, not existing bonds if every old bond is CAC’d. And given the attitude out of Greece late yesterday, and harsh IMF demands, we may well see that.
While all eyes are on Europe and its Greek farce, Japan is advancing at an inexorable pace...
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
In his best Lewis Black impression, TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman succinctly destroys the 'growth' myth behind Obama's budget plan as nothing but a handout and money-printing exercise in futility and drain-circling. Based on the $3.8tn budget plan, the TrimTabs truth-seeker notes that current government tax revenues are about $2.4tn, and growing at no more than $100bn each year, making the math surprisingly simple - we spend around $300bn per month and receive only $200bn with the missing $100bn to pay for the US government's largesse (income shortfall) coming from - 'printing money'. The spin is, of course, that revenues will somehow magically start to grow faster than spending and shrink the budget deficit. With take home pay at $6.3tn for everyone who pays taxes, up $300-400bn from the 2009 low, but still well below the $7.1tn rate from early 2008; Biderman's consternation at the self-hypnosis that a $200bn tax increase in an economy where take-home pay has been growing by only $100bn per year will somehow create anything other than slow-growth at best (or more likely contraction) is palpable. This slow- or no-growth will mean less tax revenue and more spending on safety-nets and thus the Sausalito-savant factually points out that most people do not realize that government spending is simply giving people money whether they do anything useful with it or not and still the governments of the US, Japan, and Europe want us to believe that our economies will grow faster if we keep taking more money from the workers and give that money to the government.