Budget Deficit

Moody's Warns On USAAA Rating; IMF Piles On

Moody's has stepped forward with the first warning shot across the bow that:

  • *MOODY'S: MORE MEDIUM TERM ACTIONS MAY BE NEEDED TO SUPPORT Aaa

Has contradicted itself (from September) on the debt-ceiling breach; and warns that while the deal 'mitigates' some fiscal drag, it does not remove it. To wit: the IMF piles on:

  • *IMF SAYS `MORE REMAINS TO BE DONE' ON U.S. PUBLIC FINANCES
  • *IMF SAYS U.S. DEBT CEILING SHOULD BE RAISED `EXPEDITIOUSLY'

Full statements below.

Chart Of The Day: Europe's Resolution To Unpaid Bills? Ignore Them

Curious how Europe's insolvent peripheral countries, where the government is increasingly the only source of demand (if not funding), have managed to avoid falling into a primary budget deficit abyss? Simple: instead of paying their outstanding bills, Europe's insolvent nations are simply not paying them. And with the entire European bond market now a central bank controlled policy mechanism, meaning there are no longer any checks and balances to keep governments honest, there is no pressure on said countries to actually pay. Hopefully those companies on the other end of these unpaid invoices have as generous a benefactor as the ECB to fund their now persistent and growing undercapitalization.

The Cliff Is Dead, Long Live The Cliff: Futures Soar

And so after much pomp and posturing over the past 48 hours, much of which will likely reshape the layout of the GOP in both chambers, both the Senate and the House passed the first concurrent tax hike and permanent tax cuts in about two decades. The net result of this will be a roughly 1% drag on GDP, even as the US budget deficit increases relative to the CBO's old baseline, and the beneficial impact from the tax hikes offsets roughly two weeks of spending. In other words, while addressing the tax part of the equation, politicians delayed the spending part of the problem for exactly 60 days by punting on the expiration of the sequester, or the government spending cuts. They also delayed addressing the debt ceiling, perhaps the most integral part of the Fiscal Cliff, which has now been breached and which as of this moment means the US can't incur one additional dollar in additional debt. So looking forward it means the US now has about 4 separate cliffs: the debt ceiling cliff in February/March, the sequester cliff in March, the farm bill cliff in September and the expiration of jobless benefits on December.But that's all in the future, and it will all be a function of just how quickly the GOP rolls over to once again confirm that when it comes to the stock market, America has just one political party. The party of up at all costs, which in turn is manifested right now in the first futures print of the New Year, with both the S&P and the DJIA futures up nearly 2%, and with the E-Mini up some 50 points, or half a turn of S&P multiple expansion in two trading sessions: a nice rally to show just who Washington truly works for.

Boehner Issues Statement

Moments ago, Boehner voted to enact "Obama's tax cuts", which is the new de facto Bush tax cuts (which expired yesterday), and which will raise the budget deficit over the next decade by $4 trillion, yet which at the same time paradoxically also hiked taxes on nearly three quarters of Americans with an emphasis on the wealthiest 1%. Now, Boehner also issues a statement to advise his constituency just what issue he will cave on next: spending.

CBO Estimates "Obama Tax Cut" To Add $4 Trillion To Deficit Over Next Decade

Two things:

First - it is no longer the "Bush (temporary) tax cut" - it is now the "Obama (permanent) tax cut", with a loophole for the 1%ers (whose big picture "impact" we showed previously)

Second - according to the just released scoring by the CBO, the total impact to the US budget deficit of said permanent tax cuts, will be a $4 trillion increase in the deficit over the next decade. In reality, due to the CBO's perpetual optimistic bias, this number will likely be orders of magnitude lower than what it ends up being.

Maybe the US can just increase the taxes on the uber wealthy some more, and pray that unlike Obelix, they have never heard of Belgium.

Barack Is Back: The 2012 Season Of The Fiscal Cliff Soap Opera Is Finally Concluding

While the market will look with some last trace of hope to Obama's return from Hawaii to D.C. today, the reality is that even the mainstream media, which had so far gotten everything about the cliff spectacularly wrong (proving that sample polling and actual "predicting" are two very different things), is waking up and smelling the coffee. As Politico reports, "nearly all the major players in the fiscal cliff negotiations are starting to agree on one thing: A deal is virtually impossible before the New Year. Unlike the bank bailout in 2008, the tax deal in 2010 and the debt ceiling in 2011, the Senate almost certainly won’t swoop in and help sidestep a potential economic calamity, senior officials in both parties predicted on Wednesday. Hopes of a grand-bargain — to shave trillions of dollars off the deficit by cutting entitlement programs and raising revenue — are shattered. House Republicans already failed to pass their “Plan B” proposal. And now aides and senators say the White House’s smaller, fall-back plan floated last week is a non-starter among Republicans in Senate — much less the House. On top of that, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the nation would hit the debt limit on Dec. 31, and would then have to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid exhausting the government’s borrowing limit in the New Year."

US Treasury "Rises Above" The Debt Ceiling - Now What?

When Tim Geithner announced an hour ago that the US debt ceiling will officially be "risen above" on December 31, he stated that there are approximately two months in which the Treasury can take emergency measures to delay the actual debt ceiling breach, a moment in time which we believe will take place some time in March. Upon further reflection, with the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will take place on January 1, the irony is that the debt ceiling extension may last materially longer due to a substantial reduction in the US budget deficit, potentially pushing the final threshold to as late April or even May which means the political theater is going to last for even longer than we expected - something which both parties now appear set to capitalize on as much as possible. So the question now is what are the options before Tim Geithner and what are the "emergency measures" the Treasury take to delay the inevitable moment when one of three things happens: i) the US hikes its ceiling, ii) the US begins living within its means, iii) the US defaults on its debt. Since the third, and certainly second are impossible, and since the debt ceiling theater is something we all lived through as recently as 2011, here is the article we penned in January 2011, when that long ago debt ceiling of a mere $14.3 trillion was about to be breached, and whose ultimate rise required a 20% market plunge together with an S&P downgrade of the then pristine US AAA rating (an event which Tim Geithner had said shortly prior there is no risk of ever occuring), answering precisely this question.

Sentiment: Listless Traders Looking Forward To Abbreviated Rumor Day

As DB's Jim Reid summarizes, "it is fair to say that newsflow over the next 72 hours will be fairly thin before we head into a tense final few business days of the year." It is also fair to say, that the usual tricks of the new normal trade, such as the EUR and risk ramp as Europe walks in around 3 am, precisely what happened once again overnight to lift futures "off the lows", will continue working until it doesn't. In the meantime, the market is still convinced that some compromise will appear miraculously in the 2 trading sessions remaining until the end of the year, and a recession will be avoided even as talks now appear set to continue as far down as late March when the debt ceiling expiration, not cliff, will become the primary driving power for a resolution. That said, expect to start hearing rumors of a US downgrade by a major rating agency as soon as today: because the agenda is known all too well.

75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

What a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class. Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that we have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

Jeff Gundlach On The Fiscal Cliff Circus And Why Investors Should Hold Cash Through 2013

From the sheer hypocrisy of a fight over a few billion dollars when faced with trillion dollar deficits and the eventual austerity that will be forced upon the US, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach expounds during this excellent Bloomberg TV interview on his growing concerns at markets where fundamentals "are trumped by policy decisions," and while he does not believe that bond markets are bubbly at the moment, the impact of an inevitable recession could be devastating given valuations. His subtle suggestion to keep powder dry through 2013 and into 2014 (as deploying money at that future point will make all the difference), follows from his view that he does not see much value in US equities (people always want investments to go up like a line... That's just not reality) and suggests great care be taken in US bond markets (focusing on low volatility funds) as he looks at Japan's dismal record (and hyperinflationary possibilities) and reflects on the US that "the issue isn't the fiscal cliff. The issue is the fiscal crisis that the United States has been looking at for the past several years." Must watch.

Charting US Debt And Deficit Since Inception

In the recent aftermath of the US just concluding its fourth consecutive fiscal year with a $1 trillion+ deficit, we have been flooded with requests to show how the current fiscal situation stacks up in a big picture context. Very big picture context. For all those requests, we present the following chart showing total US Federal debt/GDP as well as Deficit/(Surplus)/GDP since inception, or in this case as close as feasible, or 1792, which appears to be the first recorded year of historical fiscal data. We can see why readers have been so eager to see the "real big picture" - the chart is nothing short of stunning.

Frontrunning: December 13

  • Bernanke Wields New Tools to Reduce Unemployment Rate (BBG)
  • Home Seizures Rise as Banks Adjust to Foreclosure Flow (BBG)
  • EU Backs Release Of Greek Aid (WSJ)
  • Democrats Confident They Have 'Cliff' Leverage (WSJ)
  • Americans Back Obama Tax-Rate Increase Tied to Entitlement Cuts (BBG)
  • Goldman flexes tentacles: Treasury open to Carney radicalism (FT)
  • Launch Fuels Asia Security Concerns (WSJ)
  • BOJ’s Unlimited Loan Program Seen Open to Use by Hedge Funds (BBG) - there are Japanese hedge funds?
  • Abe Set to Face Manufacturing Gloom as Japan Contracts (BBG)
  • US and UN condemn N Korea rocket launch (Guardian)
  • Eurozone agrees common bank supervisor (FT)
  • Berlusconi Adds to Italy Turmoil by Signaling He’d Step Aside (BBG)

U.S. Rakes Up Nearly $300 Billion Deficit In First Two Months Of Fiscal 2013

To paraphrase Tim Geinter: "Risk of the Fed ever ending its monetization? No risk of that." Why? Because as the FMS just reported, the February budget deficit was $172 billion, up $52 billion from a month ago, and $35 billion from a year ago. In brief: in the first two months of Fiscal 2013, the US accumulated a $292 billion budget deficit (compared to $236 billion a year ago), a number which is simply scary when annualized. What does this mean? That as long as the Treasury runs $1+ trillion budget deficit, the Fed will never, ever be allowed to stop monetizing, especially with China and the other legacy foreign borrowers just saying nein. Which in turn means that it will now be in the Fed's favor to paint the economy with uglier colors (recall that the Fed now needs unemployment deterioration to have infinite free monetization reign). Does this mean that going over the Cliff is now an absolute certainty.

Overnight Sentiment: ZEW Rises, Greek Buyback Scheduled To End

In a session that has been largely quiet there was one notable macro update, and this was the German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey, which after months in negative territory, surprised to the upside in December, printing at 6.9, on expectations of a -11.5 number, and up from -15.7. This was the first positive print since May, and in stark contrast with the dramatic cut of German GDP prospects by the Bundesbank from last Friday, which saw 2013 GDP slashed by 75% from 1.6 to 0.4%. In fact, moments after the ZEW report, which is mostly driven by market-sentiment, in which regard a soaring DAX has been quite helpful, the German RWI Institute cut German 2012 and 2013 GDP forecasts from 0.8% to 0.7% and from 1% to 0.3%. In other words, any "confidence" will have to keep coming on the back of the market, and not the economy, which is set to slow down even further in the coming year. But for a market which will goalseek any and all data to suit the narrative (recall the huge miss in US Michigan consumer confidence which lead to a market rise), this datapoint will undoubtedly serve as merely another reinforecement that all is well, when nothing could be further from reality. Also, since we live in interesting "Baffle with BS" times, expect the far more important IFO index to diverge once again with its leading ZEW indicator (as it did in November) - after all everyone must be constantly confused and live headline to positive headline.