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One of the biggest laughs of the conference came when Smith presented the slide, ‘Emperor … With No Clothes’  which compared how the value of the Roman denarius, silver coin and the U.S. paper dollar have fared during periods of currency debasement. 

The chart shows the silver denarius since Nero and the dollar since Nixon and looked at the level of debasement during the reign of each Roman Emperor and the term of each Presidency.

Someone Is Getting Nervous-est

Another day, another shut government and 1-month T-Bills have surged another 6bps to 18.5bps. Those who read our suggestion from Sept 26 to hedge the political stupidity and debt ceiling debate and put on the 1M1Y flattener have seen the fastest plunge and inversion (to negative!) in the curve since early 2009. Despite the relative calm in repo markets, which is likely due to expectations that any technical default will be for a minim al length, the short-term bills most likely to be affected (the 10/31/13 T-Bills) are seeing the largest daily deterioration yet as traders exit and price in the possibility of missed payment. 1Y USA CDS has spiked by a massive 26bps to 65bps, higher than during the Lehman crisis and second only to Summer 2011.

Frontrunning: October 4

  • Troops Forage for Food While Golfers Play On in Shutdown (BBG)
  • Police suspect dental hygienist Miriam Carey was behind the wheel of Capitol chase (WaPo)
  • Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process (Reuters)
  • Swiss Regulator Probing Banks Over Foreign-Exchange Manipulation (WSJ)
  • GOP Begins Search for Broad Deal on Budget (WSJ)
  • No Jobs Report Means Economists Chew on Football Instead of Data (BBG)
  • U.S. default seems unthinkable but investors have options (Reuters)
  • Citigroup fined $30 million after analyst sent report to SAC, others (Reuters)
  • FBI Snags Silk Road Boss With Own Methods (BBG)
  • Recession Warnings Found in Asset Price Falls (BBG)
  • Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff (Reuters)

No Farm Payrolls

With the government shutdown stretching into an improbable 4th day (and with every additional day added on, the likelihood that the impasse continues even longer and hit the debt ceiling X-Date of October 17 becomes greater), today's monthly Non-Farm Payroll data has quickly become No-Farm Payroll. However, just like on day when Europe is closed we still get a ramp into the European close, expect at least several vacuum tube algos to jump the gun at 8:29:59:999 and try to generate some upward momentum ignition in stocks and downward momentum in gold. In addition to no economic data released in the US, President Obama announced last night he has cancelled his trip to Bali, Indonesia, to attend the APEC conference and instead to focus on budget negotiations back at home - which is ironic because his latest story is that he will not negotiate, so why not just not negotiate from Asia? Ah, the optics of shutdown.

What Will Happen To The US Credit Rating?

With short-term Treasury Bills starting to price in a missed payment possibility and USA CDS surging (though still low), the debt ceiling (and implicit chance of a technical default) is nigh. As we approach yet another debt ceiling showdown (especially in light of the seeming congruence of a CR and debt ceiling debate in an entirely divided Washington), market attention will turn towards a possible US sovereign rating downgrade. In this article, we provide an outline of the likely actions by the three rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s and Fitch).

Government Cutting Benefits For "Generation Screwed"

Youth unemployment around the world is dreadfully high and rising. An entire generation is now coming of age without being able to leave the nest or have any prospect of earning a decent wage in their home country. Young people in particular get the sharp end of the stick - they’re the last to be hired, the first to be fired, the first to be sent off to fight and die in foreign lands, and the first to have their benefits cut; and if they’re ever lucky enough to find meaningful employment, they can count on working their entire lives to pay down the debts of previous generations through higher and higher taxes. But when it comes time to collect... finally... those benefits won’t be there for them. Case in point: the British government has just announced a new push to eliminate benefits for young people. And this is just step 1.

JCPenney Default Risk Spikes To All-Time High; Stock At 30-Year Lows

It would appear that the almost $1bn capital raise secondary that JCPenney successfully completed last week - inspite of the lies - has done absolutely nothing to resolve market fears as JCP 5Y CDS surges 80bps to 1280bps (equivalent), a record high (and 1Y protection at 1210bps) and the stock price falls another 3.6% to $8.40 - the lowest since 1982. Just as Goldman had warned, liquidity remains a major concern and anyone who had bought the protection made up their losses on the stock they bought from Goldman on the secondary. The credit markets imply around a 25% chance of default within the year and 70% within 5 years.

Stocks Jump On NYT Rumor Of Boehner Debt Ceiling Deal

Update: Boehner spox says Boehner "has always said the US will not default on its debt but cuts and reforms" also needed. In other words, nothing new in what appears to be a planted NYT piece designed to reduce Boehner's leverage.

Take the following report from the New York Times with an epic grain of salt, although for the time being, the following unsourced post in the NYT has pushed stocks off their lows. "With a budget deal still elusive and a deadline approaching on raising the debt ceiling, Speaker John A. Boehner has told colleagues that he is determined to prevent a federal default and is willing to pass a measure through a combination of Republican and Democratic votes, according to one House Republican"... Would the anonymous lawmaker happen to be Peter King, one wonders?

Treasury Warns Default Impact Could Last A Generation

The President warned yesterday that "this time is different," and now the Treasury has weighed in with an even more ominous warning. In their statement, they note:

*TREASURY OFFICIAL: CONGRESS ACTION ONLY WAY TO AVOID DEFAULT
*TREASURY SEES `TENTATIVE' SIGNS IMPASSE AFFECTING MARKETS
*TREASURY SAYS BILL YIELDS MAY REFLECT `NASCENT CONCERNS'
*TREASURY: DEFAULT IMPACT COULD BE PROFOUND, LAST A GENERATION

And so it seems not only are they looking at the same indicators as the smart money in the markets but it is clear that the rhetoric will be increased until the equity market cracks and the politicians get their catalyst to act.

Meet The Monster Of The Housing Market: Presenting "Vampire REOs" Where Half Of Americans Live Mortgage-Free

Over a year ago, in addition to the money-laundering aspect (confirmed previously) and the REO-To-Rent scramble by PE firms and hedge funds (which is now over as PE become active sellers of apartment rental properties), we highlighted the third implicit subsidy to the housing non-recovery: Foreclosure stuffing. We explained this scheme by banks to limit the amount of available for sale inventory as follows: "since the properties not entering the foreclosure pipeline are effectively kept out of inventory, even shadow inventory, and thus the distressed end market, the monthly drop in foreclosures has acted as a form of subsidy to the housing market, as month after month less inventory than otherwise should, enters the market.... What this has resulted in is a logical increase in prices of the properties that are on the market." Today, the mainstream has finally caught on, and courtesy of RealtyTrac has come up with its own name for this subsidy: Vampire REOs.

Someone Is Getting Nervous-er

It would appear that Warren Buffett's reassurance this morning that crossing the debt ceiling won't be so bad (trumpeted by any and all equity pitch men since) is being entirely ignored by the bond market. 1-month Treasury bill yields are soaring this morning - up 5bps at 12.5bps now (having touched 16bps - the highest yield in almost 3 years and notably higher than during the 2011 debt ceiling debacle). 1Y USA CDS are also up 3bps at 38.5bps this morning - notably inverted still. Of course, equity markets are surging back to open green for retail investors ignoring Obama's warning last night and Lew's "default has potential to be catastrophic" note this morning. In the meantime, the 1M1Y flattener trade we suggested goes from strength to strength as an indicator of market stress.

Frontrunning: October 3

  • Mounting Wall Street fears of US default (FT)
  • This is what the US government does when it is "shut down" - CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels (WaPo)
  • SEC Weighs Overhaul of Exchanges’ Self-Regulatory System (WSJ) - just let Goldman and JPM do all the policing; not like anyone cares anymore
  • Reid Sets Tone for Democrats in Shutdown Fight (WSJ)
  • No Movement in Shutdown Standoff (WSJ)
  • Shutdown will not slow Fed nomination, says Obama (FT)
  • Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed (WSJ)
  • Tesla Says Car Fire Began in Battery (AP)
  • China Services Index Increases in Sign of Sustained Rebound (BBG) or sustained data manipulation

Obama Issues Statement, "Not Going To Negotiate" After All

Earlier, on CNBC, Obama said he is "prepared to negotiate." As it turns out, he may have been confused about the meaning of the bolded word because less than four hours later, the White House issued a statement in which "The President made clear to the Leaders that he is not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government."

Obama "Prepared To Negotiate" (After Government Reopens), Says This Time "Wall Street Should Be Concerned"

In an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Obama once again shows why the polarization in Congress is at record levels. In a brief: he said he is "exasperated", and that the shutdown is "entirely unncessary" but adds that he is (finally?) prepared to negotiate, however only after he gets his way namely after the government is reopened. And another important talking point: Obama added that while gridlock in D.C. is nothing new, "this time I think Wall Street should be concerned." It is unclear how that statement makes any sense in light of Obama's right hand senator Chuck Schumer telling the man who is really in charge, Ben Bernanke, to get to work. Unless of course, Obama is now angling for a "concerning" market crash, which sends the Dow down by 20% like in the summer of 2011, and Obama can tell the stunned public "I told you so."