If the constitutional scholar was hoping he would quietly avoid a major showdown over the constitutionality of the biggest spying scandal since Nixon (whether legal or not remains to be determined) and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican, the ACLU just slammed the door shut on the possibility. Moments ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its "dragnet" collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. And, as the NYT reports, "the lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test." Only once that happens it will be too bad that InTrade is no longer available, to take the other side of a trade that believes the SCOTUS will for once do the right thing and preserve the constitution when everyone knows the decision to formally enact a Big Brother state will pass along political party lines and America will officially become the country that for 5 decades, at least superficially, it was waging "cold war" against.
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
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With polls blacked out in Italy, the hope and hype is that Berlusconi doesn't get in, banish austerity, and bring the European OMT-inspired 'confidence' party crashing to the ground. While extremely low volume - and famously entirely wrong about Obamacare - the current Intrade odds favor Bersani massively at an 85% probability of becoming PM with comedian Beppe a mere 0.3% - even though it is somewhat ironic that he can still muster such support (for someone with a criminal record... umm Berlusconi?).
European officials have impressed upon investors that the tail risks of a EMU break up have receded markedly. Some officials talk even that the crisis is over. The premium Italy, and to a less extent, Spain, pay over Germany have narrowed to levels that had previously thought possible only if the ECB were to make good on its promise of unlimited (ex ante) purchases. There have been some signs that foreign investors are participating in the primary and secondary sovereign European bond market. Ireland is returning to the capital markets.
To be sure, challenges remain. Greece's will and ability to impose more austerity is questioned. Spain has relied on cuts in public investment over the last several years while other spending has actually risen. With high issuance this year than last, apparently without the help of another LTRO (with some borrowing, perhaps around 100 bln euros expected to be paid back early--beginning as soon as the end of Jan), Spain's funding challenges are likely to resurface. Italy's elections next month could still result in a hung parliament, with Monti's centrist movement seemingly contributing to the fragmentation. However, it is Cyprus that may be the most pressing issue. Yes it is small and few international investors have any exposure. Its significance extends beyond its size.
It's the last trading day of the year, nothing has been resolved on the Cliff, the perpetually wrong media has now decided to change its tune and is spin the Wile E. Coyote plunge as a "good thing" (just as we expected), Congress is nowhere, the Senate failed to reach any resolution last night and is resuming the "negotiations" farce at the bright and early hour of 11 am, and yet somehow, in spite of everything, the strong bid under the futures refuses to go away (thank you Kevin Henry). This despite what is becoming clear to even this broken market (InTrade odds of a debt ceiling deal by the end of today are still a substantial 2.3%) that there will likely be no deal until some time in February or March when the debt ceiling extensions expire by which point the only question is how deep the US recession will be. And still everyone will be shocked, shocked, when nothing is done today either. Why? Because the market continues to price in an outcome which demands that it crash for it to be achieved. That so few grasp this is frankly, disturbing. Also, everything else is perfectly enjoyable theatrical noise. And just to keep the excitement factor really high, most rates and FX markets close early today, with rates and FX futures markets close at 1pm New York time while cash bond trading at 2pm.
While EURUSD is flat, there is one market open (free of manipulation - perhaps) that offers some insights into traders' perceptions of reality - however 'cautiously', 'modestly', 'surreally' optimistic the powers that be proclaim. InTrade's "debt ceiling by Dec. 31st" odds have plunged to around 2%. A week ago, when we continued to urge readers to short the contract, it was at 10% (and at 30% when we initialy said on Novermber 13th no deal would occur) - even as everyone and their pet rabbit was convinced a deal was going to be cobbled together. The 'debt ceiling' odds are implicitly the 'fiscal cliff' odds given Harry Reid's insistence of the 'bundling' to remove every possible point of leverage from the Republicans:
“We would be somewhat foolish to work out something on stopping us from going over the cliff and then a month or six weeks later Republicans pull the same game they did before and say, 'We're not going to do anything — unless this happens, we're not going to agree to increasing the debt ceiling,’ ” Reid said.
“I agree with the president, it has to be a package deal,” he added.
At around 2% odds, this still seems like money good for shorts...
Aside from the occasional deranged FX algo which today has decided to take out all its pent up binary anger on the GBPUSD, everything else today is closed. Everything, except, of course, for InTrade which come holiday, rain or apocalypse, is a true OTC market and is open all the time 24/7, non stop. Of particular interest is InTrade's market on "The US debt limit to be raised before midnight ET 31 Dec 2012" which moments ago once again came closer to reflecting reality and not the clueless gibberish of "expert" political pundits, and plunged to a contract low 10.1% probability (and price) which considering the late stage in the game, and that at this point the Fiscal Cliff is beyond any 2012 resolution, let alone the debt ceiling, is 10.1% too high (as forecast here nearly two months ago). And like a true market, one can naked short on InTrade. So for all the habitual gamblers out there just itching for some global futures market to reopen somewhere: have at it (but mind the brief squeeze at the next appearance of the "we have a deal" rumor, only to be refuted by the sad political reality of this country moments later).
InTrade may have gotten the Obamacare outcome horribly wrong, but it was spot on in predicting the Obama presidential victory. And if it has continued its accurately predictive ways, it will mean a lot of pain is in store for the market (if not so much the President) very shortly, because the online betting service, now only accessible to offshore based US residents just saw odds on a debt ceiling deal plunge to all time lows of 10% earlier today, before rebounding weakly to 16%. As a reminder, Harry Reid has said on numerous occasions that there will be no Fiscal Cliff resolution without a favorable debt ceiling outcome, which therefore means that according to InTrade the odds of a Fiscal Cliff getting done in 2012 have plunged to 16%, and the probability of a market tumble, as the cliff moving over to 2013 means a cornucopia of unintended consequences, is logically (1-16%).
From the moment the polls closed around 7ET, S&P 500 futures have been leaking lower. At 1417, S&P futures are now over 11 points off the post-Ohio-rumor spike highs having given all of that spike back. Treasury yields are down 3bps or so and commodities are bleeding back lower (Gold $1707). The USD is strengthening too as AUD weakens. Interestingly things seems to be going Obama's way broadly in the polls (even though Intrade is falling) which also lends credence to the spike in stocks earlier when it appeared things were going Romney's way...
As the first exit polls start trickling in, readers can keep track of the live action with the following handy maps, selected from various websites. As a reminder, exit polls are about as predictable as any other polling 'data point' based on +/-4% error margin sampling, which in turn is virtually every data point used to feed Garbage In, Garbage Out "predictors", "simulators" and other "black boxes" which forecast the future with triple digit "accuracy." Simply said, in an election in which the margin of difference in the key electoral states (not to mention the popular vote) is far narrower than the error rate, take everything you have heard about the final outcome and burn it, or sell it and buy several Stat 101 credits at the local community college.
Predictions regarding the election outcome are all over the place. Dennis Gartman for instance thinks that 'Romney will win quite handily'. While this opinion may be largely informed by wishful thinking in this case, there are two interesting points made by Gartman. One concerns poll errors, and the other the Bradley (or Wilder) effect (or 'political correctness effect' - i.e., it is not motivated by racism, but by the fear of people that they might be seen as racist). Jim Cramer is taking the exact opposite view from Gartman's, expecting a 'landslide' victory for Obama. Of course Cramer wouldn't be Cramer if his forecast didn't stand out for being a bit extreme. The Princeton election consortium's latest update of the meta-analysis of the electoral vote count on the eve of the election continues to predict an Obama victory as well, but clearly the race is getting tighter. However, across the pond, it is clear that the Europeans see the election (and indeed any election it seems) very differently, highlighting their ignorance of the difference between 'total capitalism' and 'crony capitalism'.
There is one thing that is certain come Wednesday morning; there will be just as many losers as winners and as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, while the main-event remains too close to call, the psychology of 'losing' will become a critical part of the domestic political process from November 7th onwards. We suggest the Post-Election Stress Syndrome (PESS) will follow the Kubler-Ross model - which means initially 'Denial' and 'Anger' will dominate people's deeds and words. None of this is good news for an efficient resolution to the political Gordian Knot know as the 'fiscal cliff' or to the stability of capital markets going into year-end as politicians and plebeians alike will be PESS'd off - and as a sad reminder, a loss in a sporting contest doesn’t just sting the losing players – it lowers the testosterone levels of male fans that back the unhappy team.
Frequent readers know that in addition of any "data" and "numbers" out of Larry Yun's National Association of Realtors, which we openly boycott as these are consistently manipulated (recall the massive historical December 2011 revision), slanted and conflicted, the second dataset which we have mocked with a passion is anything coming out of the ADP, which every month releases its "Private Jobs" number a day before the official BLS Non-farm Payroll data. Today, our mockeries have been proven 100% spot on. The reason? A week ago, ADP announced that going forward it would coordinate with Moody's (yes, that Moody's), and especially its chief economist, SecTres hopeful (InTrade odds of actually attain that post: 0.00) Mark Zandi, to fudge adjust its data going forward. The data revision was supposed to be publicly disclosed tomorrow when the official October ADP number was released. Well, just like today's Chicago PMI, and so many other data points recently, this too was released early. What the early release allowed us to promptly calculate is that using the historically revised numbers, and comparing those based on the original methodology, in 2012 alone, the US would have lost a whopping... 365,000 private jobs! Putting thus number in context, according to the revised methodology, the US has generated only 1.172MM jobs in 2012 through September, or in other words, a statistical "fix" magically eliminated over 30% of what the market had previously expected were job gains, a number which the incumbent president has certain taken advantage of on more than one occasions while campaigning.
If Obama Wins, Buy IT, Telecom, Sell Materials, Healthcare; If Romey: Buy Staples, Healthcare, Fins, Sell MaterialsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2012 10:51 -0400
While the much anticipated ramp into the elections has so far failed to materialize (confirming yet another "technical pattern" of the New Normal, namely that whatever most expect to happen, never happens), it is time to consider what impact a given administration - either Republican or Democrat - would have on the stock market. Fiscal cliff aside, whose overcoming will be very problematic in either case and will likely necessitate a market plunge a la August 2011 to be fully implemented, although more likely if Romney wins the presidency or there is a Democratic sweep, both outcomes which according to popular conventional wisdom and various online polling services have a less than 50% chance of occurring, it turns out that at the macro level there is absolutely no difference for the market whether the president is a republican or a democrat for stock returns one year after the election. As Goldman observes: "Since 1976, the S&P 500 has offered approximately 10% total returns in the twelve months following a presidential election, regardless of which party wins that election. Performance is also very similar over shorter three and six month windows. However, median returns are slightly better early in Republican administrations, while during an entire four year term the equity market has somewhat higher returns under Democrats." In other words, those who are unsure if to invest in the broad market based on who wins, should not have the party affiliation of the winner as a consideration, at least not as a key issue. Where there are, however, nuances is at the sector level, which is where those seeing to generate "presidential beta" should consider trading on.