Budget Deficit

S&P Cuts Spain to BBB+, Outlook Negative

UPDATE: *S&P TO ASSESS EFFECTS OF SPAIN DOWNGRADE ON SPANISH ISSUERS

Adding insult to Bayern Munich injury, we just got S&P which did the impossible and cut Spain to BBB+ from A (outlook negative) not on Friday after hours. Kneejerk reaction is a 30 pip drop in EURUSD. Oh, and most amusing, those witches among men, Egan Jones, downgraded Spain from BBB to BBB-.... a week ago. Crush them, destroy them... How dare they be ahead of the pack as usual: after all their NRSRO application was missing a god damn comma.

Gundlach Explains Biflation For The Cheap Seats

Appropos Bernanke's razor's-edge tight-rope-walk fence-sitting as the not-too-cold-not-too-hot economy reduces the Fed's ability to do anything, Jeff Gundlach of Double Line provided a succinct explanation of the the 'uncomfortable position' the place-of-confusion Fed finds itself in. Simplifying the dilemma to: the Fed cannot raise rates as the dramatic implications for the huge debt load (and implictly the interest expense saving the budget deficit) of the US Government are untenable while at the same time inflation (in the things we need - not just want) is rising notably. However the new bond-king notes rather sarcastically, that the Fed can show that there is only modest inflation thanks to housing and wage growth (and herelies 'the biflation'). The old-school-Fed's efforts at pre-emptive strikes against inflation is simply not going to happen, he states, citing an "intentional attempt to suppress national income - an attempt to stop nominal GDP growing too much - simply won't be tolerated until inflation moves into the 4-5% category".

Apple Carries The World On Its Shoulders: Market Snapshot

As we said yesterday, traders could have just slept through the entire day, ignored headlines about mad cows, auctions of European bonds maturing in a few weeks, speculation of Europe's alleged falling out favor with austerity which is very much irrelevant as all that matters is what German taxpayers/voters say, and the SEC's latest laughable scapegoating attempts, and just woken to the 4:30 pm announcement of iPhone sales in China. As expected, the entire world is now reacting. Here is Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid with the global response to the world's ongoing fascination with aspirational cell phones.

The New European Normal... Is Squiggly

Eurostat just updated their statistics for government debt to GDP for 2011, so here is an updated graph over Belgium, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, France, UK, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden and the development of their gross government debt to GDP from 1996 to 2011. Countries not matching the new Merkozy-limit of a maximum of 3% budget deficit were Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and... France. But we can forget the old euro convergence criteria of 2% deficit and at most 60% debt to GDP as instead of working back to the green 'safe' quadrant, the PIGS are heading in the exact opposite direction missing both deficit and debt convergence criteria.

Guest Post: Where’s The Crisis?

The thing about GDP, is that it doesn’t really measure wealth creation, or the size of the economy. It measures a derivative of that: money circulation. If Congress passed a law saying that everyone in America had to smoke meth (hey, if you can mandate the purchase of health insurance, why not mandate drug consumption in the name of increasing GDP?) and gamble all their disposable income on horse racing, GDP would almost certainly improve. And that’s growth, right? Except it isn’t. Real growth comes from innovation, productivity, imagination, and hard work. You can attempt to quantify it, but there is no easy catch-all number that will give you a quick and simple insight.

Dutch Cabinet Resigns

As reported first thing this morning when we discussed the perfect storm in Europe, the Dutch government was expected to resign en masse in the aftermath of this weekend's auterity fiasco. Sure enough, that resignation is now fact.

Overnight Sentiment - Run And Hide

Our equity Bloomberg screens are bright red, as equity markets sell off across the globe. Several reasons are contributing to the market selloff: 1) several firms in Asia posted weaker-than-expected earnings, 2) worries that Europe's debt crisis still threatens global growth, 3) the French elections, and 4) a breakdown of budget talks in the Netherlands.

Guest Post: How Far To The Wall?

Decades of manipulation by the Federal Reserve (through its creation of paper money) and by Congress (through its taxing and spending) have pushed the US economy into a circumstance that can't be sustained but from which there is no graceful exit. With few exceptions, all of the noble souls who chose a career in "public service" and who've advanced to be voting members of Congress are committed to chronic deficits, though they deny it. For political purposes, deficits work. The people whose wishes come true through the spending side of the deficit are happy and vote to reelect. The people on the borrowing side of the deficit aren't complaining, since they willingly buy the Treasury bonds and Treasury bills that fund the deficit. And taxpayers generally tolerate deficits as a lesser evil than a tax hike. So stay up as late as you like on election night to see who wins, but the deficits aren't going to stop anytime soon. The debt mountain will keep growing. The part of it the government acknowledges is now approaching $16 trillion, which is more than the country's gross domestic product for a year. Obviously, the debt can't keep growing faster than the economy forever, but the people in charge do seem determined to find out just how far they can push things.

Guest Post: "All Transactions To Be Conducted In The Presence Of A Tax Collector"

In the terminal collapse of the Roman Empire, there was perhaps no greater burden to the average citizen than the extreme taxes they were forced to pay.  The tax 'reforms' of Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century were so rigid and unwavering that many people were driven to starvation and bankruptcy. The state went so far as to chase around widows and children to collect taxes owed.  By the 4th century, the Roman economy and tax structure were so dismal that many farmers abandoned their lands in order to receive public entitlements.  At this point, the imperial government was spending the majority of the funds it collected on either the military or public entitlements. For a time, according to historian Joseph Tainter, "those who lived off the treasury were more numerous than those paying into it." Sound familiar?