Budget Deficit

Days After Disclosing Its 2013 "Austerity" Budget, Spain Announces It Will Miss Revised 2012 Budget Target

Remember when last week Spain disclosed the terms of its 2013 Austerity budget, and everyone, literally, came out of the trunk in the ZZ Top wagon, including Olli Rehn who said Spain had done even more than Europe demanded, which led many to believe this was the basis for Spain preparing to announce its bailout request? Well, today Europe is kinda, sorta force to reevaluate said statement, and poor Mr Rehn has to self-flagellate himself in some Helsinki sauna for speaking too fast, because over the weekend Spain preannounced (the first of many) 2012 budget target misses. The Spanish government said the deficit would hit 7.4% of GDP, which misses the 6.3% target set for the year. The 6.3% number in turn, was a "loosened" goal as the original deficit target for the country set by the Commission was 5.3%. What will happen is that at some point, in late December just like in 2011, Spain will say it was only kidding and the real budget deficit will be in the double digits, or about 100% more than the preliminary announced one. But don't worry: in 2013 all shall be well: IMF, ECB, Spain and Princeton economists all over the world promise, so it must be.

Ahead Of Major October Redemptions, Spanish Treasury Cash Slides To Two Year Low

A month ago, when we first presented the dwindling Spanish treasury cash position, we wrote: "once the next Spanish State Liability update is posted, we wouldn't be surprised to see this number plunge to a new post-Lehman low. Yet what is scariest is that all else equal (and it never is), at the current run rate Spain may well run out of cash by the end of the year even assuming it manages to conclude all its remaining auctions through year's end without a glitch." The August cash balance update was just released by the Banco de Espana, and there's good news, unsurprising news and bad news.

Fitch Warns UK Likelihood It Loses AAA Rating Has Increased

One-by-one, the highest quality collateral in the world (according to ratings that is) is disappearing. To wit, Fitch warns that a downgrade of the UK's AAA rating is increasingly likely: "weaker than expected growth and fiscal outturns in 2012 have increased pressure on the UK's 'AAA' rating, which has been on Negative Outlook since March 2012." The Negative Outlook on the UK rating reflects the very limited fiscal space, at the 'AAA' level, to absorb further adverse economic shocks in light of the UK's elevated debt levels and uncertain growth outlook. Global economic headwinds, including those emanating from the on-going eurozone crisis, have compounded the drag on UK growth from private sector deleveraging and fiscal consolidation as well as from depressed business and consumer confidence, weak investment, and constrained credit growth. But no mention of unlimited QE? Fitch expects only a weak recovery beginning in 2013 and output is not expected to surpass its 2007 pre-crisis peak until 2014.

Egan-Jones Downgrades Spain To CC From CC+

"Hoover-esque. Spain's has unemployment near 25% and yet the govt is proposing tax increases and a raiding of social security funds in an effort to rein-in its budget deficit. (The deficit was 4.77% for the first 8 months.) The rub is whether Spain will be able to cut enough to obtain  EU support (probably) and whether there will be an eventual haircut for current debtholders (probably). Catalonia, Valencia and other regions will probably need $20B of aid, the sen. debtholders of the weak banks will be forced to take losses, and there might be some sharing of losses among all banks. An estimated decline in GDP of 1.7% (per the Economy Ministry), the IIF's recent estimate of addl bank loan losses up to EUR260B, and depositor flight hurt. From 2008 to 2011, Spain's debt jumped from EUR436B to EUR735B while its GDP declined from EUR1.09T to EUR1.07T."

'Perception Is Reality' As Mystical Rally 'Shows' Spanish Budget A 'Success'

As the words were spewing from the mouths of Saenz, Montoro, and Guindos - with little to no substance at all, so EURUSD started to push higher - in a hurry. In today's quiet market, the correlated-monkeys took over and US equities - thanks to weakness in the USD - and Gold and Oil spurted higher. AAPL - as the high beta proxy for all things market - surged 2% (we assume as the Spaniards will need to buy more AAPL stock to fund the shortfalls in their pension funds). The bottom-line is we have fallen for a few days and so a bounce is not unlikely but the timing and size smells very fishy and the front-running of quarter-end front-running wind-dressing front-runners remains a quagmire of circular logic to us. The bottom-line is that the media can now say the words "the market seemed to 'like' what Spain was saying - is the bottom in?" despite there being no news at all.

Cashin Concerned On Europe But Egyptian Streets Worry Him More

European riots protests are on UBS' Art Cashin's mind. Furthermore, Art notes that Spain has seen a fifth region (Castilla La Mancha) request a billion-euro-bailout (along with Catalonia's secession concerns) and Greece is hotting up. However, it is Egypt that is becoming an increasing concerning for the avuncular aristocrat of the exchange floor, as he fears the region's growing instability along with its potential need to devalue the pound may see the current 'sporadic outbursts of social unrest' spill over into more broad based protestations on the streets of Cairo.

California Screaming As 4th Muni Bankruptcy Looms in Atwater

Whether Atwater, California will join the prodigious ranks of Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes to become the 4th Muni bankruptcy is up for vote on October 3rd (before a $2mm bond payment in November). As Bloomberg notes, the 28,000-strong Merced county town is suffering under the same weight of public employee costs, lost revenue, and a stagnant economy leaving it with a $3.3 million budget deficit. While some put their hope in the FB IPO, perhaps Bernanke should have mandated investment in AAPL for all these municipal comptrollers? The median income is 19% below the national average as the foreclosure crisis - which saw Atwater's median home price drop by more than half - has depleted property-tax revenues dramatically. "We just started negotiating with our unions and they are going to have to take a major cut," Mayor Joan Faul said. "We hope that once we declare a fiscal emergency, that they will realize that we are definitely in an emergency. If they want to save all the jobs, everyone is going to have to take a cut,"

European Risk Is Back: CDS Surge, Spain 10 Year Back Over 6%, Germany Has Second Uncovered Auction In Three Weeks

Remember when we said two months ago that one way or another the market will need to tumble to enforce the chain of events that lead to Spain demanding the bailout which has long been priced in, and (especially after yesterday's violent protest) Rajoy handing in his resignation? Well, it's "another." After nearly 3 months of suspending reality, in hopes to not "rock the boat" until the US presidential election, reality has made a quick and dramatic appearance in Europe, where after a day in which the EURUSD tumbled, events overnight have finally caught up. What happened? First, ECB's Asmussen said that the central bank would not participate in any debt restructuring, confirming any and all hopes that the ECB would ever be pari passu with regular bondholders were a pipe dream. Second, Plosser in the US said additional QE probably won't boost growth which has reverberated across a globe in which the only recourse left is, well, additional QE. Finally, pictures of tens of thousands rioting unemployed young men and women in Madrid did not help. The result: Spain's 10 Year is over 20 bps wider, and back over 6%, Germany just had a €5 billion 10 Year auction for which it only got €3.95 billion in bids, which means it was technically a failure, and the second uncovered auction in one month, and finally CDS across the continent, not to mention the option value that is the Spanish IBEX which may fall 3% today, have finally realized they are priced far too much to perfection and have, as a result, blown out.

Guest Post: Why Germany Is Going To Exit The Eurozone

It's becoming clear that there is only one sensible solution ahead of us as the Eurozone’s problems evolve: Germany and the other countries suited to a strong currency should leave. If they do, the European Central Bank (ECB) will be free to pursue the easy money policies recommended by Keynesians and monetarists alike. It's increasingly clear that Germany has no option but to behave like any creditor seeking to protect its interests – and do its best to defuse the growing resentment against her from the Eurozone’s debtors. If Germany is to abandon the euro, it has to do so as quickly and elegantly as possible. It must be able to demonstrate that it has no alternative and that it is the best solution for all parties involved. Germany’s politicians know this. For the moment they are frozen in a state of inaction, but there is a general election to concentrate their minds in about a year’s time - and Germany’s electorate is becoming acutely aware of the enormity of the task. It has become obvious to many people from all walks of life in Germany that the euro has done them no good, and, far from reaping benefits, they are actually less wealthy as a result of it.

Spain In A Nutshell

Confused why contrary to all public lies otherwise, Spain is Greece? Here's why

  • TAX RECEIPTS THROUGH AUGUST FELL 4.6% ON YR, SPAIN DATA SHOW: perhaps their tax collectors were also on strike?
  • SPAIN GOVT SPENDING THROUGH AUGUST ROSE 8.9%, BUDGET DATA SHOWS: missed the austerity by just thiiiiiiis much
  • SPAIN JAN-AUG CENTRAL BUDGET DEFICIT 4.77% GDP VS 3.81% YR AGO

Luckily, there is always hope that the magic money tree will bloom eventually

  • SPAIN EXPECTS HIGHER TAX REVENUE IN COMING MONTHS

So, to summarize: revenues down, spending up, budget deficit naturally higher than last year. Oh, stop calculating... and just buy their bonds. The Central Planners will make sure the math is irrelevant always and forever.

Greece Caught Underreporting Its Budget Deficit By Nearly 50%

There was a time about a year ago, before the second Greek bailout was formalized and the haircut on its domestic-law private sector bonds (first 50%, ultimately 80%, soon to be 100%) was yet to be documented, when it was in Greece's interest to misrepresent its economy as being worse than it was in reality. Things got so bad that the former head of the Greek Statistics Bureau Elstat, also a former IMF employee, faced life in prison if convicted of doing precisely this. A year later, the tables have turned, now that Germany is virtually convinced that Europe can pull a Lehman and let Greece leave the Eurozone, and is merely looking for a pretext to sever all ties with the country, whose only benefit for Europe is to be a seller of islands at Blue Aegean water Special prices to assorted Goldman bankers (at least until it renationalizes them back in a few short years). So a year later we are back to a more normal data fudging dynamic, one in which Greece, whose July unemployment soared by one whole percentage point, will do everything in its power to underrepresent its soaring budget deficit. Case in point, on Friday the Finance Ministry proudly announced its budget deficit for the first eight months was "just" €12.5 billion, versus a target of €15.2 billion, leading some to wonder how it was possible that a country that has suffered terminal economic collapse, and in which the tax collectors have now joined everyone in striking and thus not collecting any tax revenue, could have a better than expected budget deficit. Turns out the answer was quite simple. According to Spiegel, Greece was lying about everything all along, and instead of a €12.5 billion deficit, the real revenue shortfall is nearly double this, or €20 billion, a number which will hardly incentivize anyone in Germany to give Greece the benefit of another delay, let along a third bailout as is now speculated.

"What's Next?": Simon Johnson Explains The Doomsday Cycle

There is a common problem underlying the economic troubles of Europe, Japan, and the US: the symbiotic relationship between politicians who heed narrow interests and the growth of a financial sector that has become increasingly opaque (Igan and Mishra 2011). Bailouts have encouraged reckless behaviour in the financial sector, which builds up further risks – and will lead to another round of shocks, collapses, and bailouts. This is what Simon Johnson and Peter Boone have called the ‘doomsday cycle’. The continuing crisis in the Eurozone merely buys time for Japan and the US. Investors are seeking refuge in these two countries only because the dangers are most imminent in the Eurozone. Will these countries take this time to fix their underlying fiscal and financial problems? That seems unlikely. The nature of ‘irresponsible growth’ is different in each country and region – but it is similarly unsustainable and it is still growing. There are more crises to come and they are likely to be worse than the last one.

Frontrunning: September 21

  • Europe’s crisis will be followed by a more devastating one, likely beginning in Japan. (Simon Johnson)
  • Porsche, Daimler Indicate Europe’s Car Crisis Spreading (Bloomberg)
  • No progress in Catalonia-Madrid talks (FT)
  • Hilsenrath speaks: Fed's Kocherlakota Shifts on Unemployment (WSJ) - luckily QEternity made both obsolete
  • Lenders Reportedly Consider New Greek Haircut (Spiegel)
  • Fed Officials Highlight Benefits of Bond-Buying (WSJ)
  • ESM to Launch without Leverage Vehicle Options (WSJ)
  • Japanese companies report China delays (FT)
  • Borg Says Swedish Taxes Can’t Go Into Ill-Managed European Banks (Bloomberg)
  • Greek Leaders Struggle With Spending Reductions (Bloomberg)
  • Asian Stocks Rise as iPhone 5 Debut Boosts Tech Shares (Bloomberg)
  • China government's hand seen in anti-Japan protests (LA Times)

Why The 'Clinton' Recovery Is Unrepeatable

Amidst the debates on what the US should do to re-establish an era of prosperity, there are a lot of references in the media and at political conventions to the "Clinton Recovery". This refers to the period from 1992 to 2000, the best in post-war history: 19% equity returns, 3.8% annualized real GDP growth, monthly payroll gains of 265,000 (adjusted for today’s population) and an average budget deficit of less than 2% of GDP. As Michael Cembalest of JPMorgan notes, applying a President’s name to a recovery or recession always seems to be a case of artistic license; you might as well call it "The Kardashian Recovery" in some cases, given how little Presidential policies had to do with it. Most of the time, domestic and global business cycles, monetary policy and other factors were the primary drivers. However, to recreate the policy conditions which prevailed would require a centrist - who most likely would have been excommunicated by his party for heresy as the political middle ground occupied by the party non-conformists is gone.