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.
It’s Not a Tax or Spending Problem … It’s a Devolution Into Lawlessness
The Christmas Eve classic rinsed, lathered, washed and repeated...just like the real world.
The collapse of the Fiscal Cliff talks should come as no surprise to anyone (except, of course, for all those "expert" political commentators virtually all of whom saw a deal by December 31: a full list of names is forthcoming). The reason: a simple one - a House torn, polarized to a record extreme, and a political environment in which the two parties, in the aftermath of a presidential election humiliating to the GOP, reached unseen before antagonism toward each other. In this context, it was absolutely inevitable that America would see a replica of last summer's debt ceiling collapse, which mandated a market intervention, in the form of a crash, and the wipeout of hundreds of billions in wealth - sadly the only catalyst that both parties and their electorate, understand. We had prefaced this explicitly in early November when we said that "the lame duck congress will posture, prance and pout. And it is a certainty that in the [time] remaining it will get nothing done. Which means, that once again, it will be up to the market, just like last August, just like October of 2008, to implode and to shock Congress into awakening and coming up with a compromise of sorts." Which of course brought us to Thursday night's mini-TARP moment. With all that said, there are those forensic detectives who are addicted to every single political twist and turn, and who are curious just where and when the Fiscal Cliff talks broke down in the past week. In this regard, the WSJ provides a useful timeline.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Forget the Fiscal Cliff: it is merely a much needed economic distraction for the next 3-4 months (distracting from what? Why Europe of course). Yes, it will be resolved, and yes taxes will go up, and yes, debates over it will most likely be carried over into 2013 and nothing will be compromised until the ultimate debt ceiling deadline (because it is really a Fiscal Cliff-Debt Ceiling package deal) is hit some time in March 2013, but eventually one or both parties will cave, right after the market plunges to put it all into the proper perspective as it did around the time of TARP and the August 2011 debt ceiling debate, and a resolution will materialize. The bigger issue has nothing to do with the Fiscal Cliff, which is indeed a sideshow. The bigger issue, as Art Cashin explains, has everything to do with a secular decline in the US economy, where a 1% growth rate will soon be the "New Killing It", where millions more (in part-time workers) will soon be let go, and where businesses no longer generate the cash flows needed to stay open. Art Cashin explains.
It seems like it was only 24 hours ago that Europe bailed out Greece for the third time and everything was "fixed", with a resultant desperate attempt to validate this by pushing the EURUSD above 1.3000. Sadly, as always happens, Europe, and especially Greece, refuses to be fixed, because as we will not tire of saying: you can't fix debt with i) more debt, ii) hockeystick projections or iii) soothing words of platitude and an outright bankruptcy, just like that which Argentina is about to undergo, will be needed. If that means the end of the EUR and the delusion that the Eurozone is a viable monument to the egos of a few technocratic career politicians, so be it. As a result, this time around the halflife of the latest bailout was precisely zero, as was that of the latest Japanese QE episode, as the entire world is now habituated to the lies emanating from Europe, and demands details, which in turn are sorely lacking, especially as relates to the question of just where will Greece get the money desperately needed to fund the Greek bond buyback. But at least Kathimerini was kind enough to advise readers that said buyback must take place by December 7 in time for the euroarea finmins to approve the payment of the next Greek loan tranche at the December 13 meeting, something which will likely not happen, especially if Germany's SPD party delays the vote on the Greek bailout until the end of December as was reported yesterday. We can't wait to learn the details of the buyback package, which will come in the "next few days" per ANA, and especially where the buyback money will come from, especially with the FT reporting that various European countries will already lose money next year on the latest Greek bailout.
Government Spends Tens of Trillions On Unnecessary, Harmful Projects … But Won’t Spend $100 Million to Prevent the Greatest Threat
Despite the hope of the last day or two, policymakers remain, we suggest, as far apart as they ever have, with 'no news' simply that. An oversold bounce does not a fiscal cliff fix, and as BofAML's Michael Hanson suggests in his 'brief history of brinksmanship': "one lesson from the recent past is that market reaction has been an important mechanism to reaching compromise and forcing action." Unfortunately, he adds, as we have been quite vociferous about, that "history also shows that the equity markets have to sell off sharply before policy makers listen to the 'stock market vigilantes'." With some politicians still thinking going over the cliff might be their best strategy, it could once again take a sharp market sell-off to focus the minds of the negotiating parties. If we actually manage to go over the cliff, even if only for a brief period of time, a repeat of the TARP sell-off seems only too probable.
- Israel Ready to Invade Gaza If Cease-Fire Efforts Fail (Bloomberg)
- Petraeus: A Phony Hero for a Phony War (NYT)
- IMF'S Lagarde says Greek deal should be "rooted in reality" (Reuters) "rooted" or "roofied"? And where was it until now?
- ECB's Asmussen says Greece to need aid beyond 2014 (AP)
- EU makes budget plans without (FT)
- Japanese Poll Shows LDP Advantage Ahead of Election (WSJ)
- Shanghai Composite Dips Below, Regains 2,000 Level (Bloomberg)
- Bond investor takes big punt on Ireland (FT)
- Noda defends BoJ’s independence (FT) Indewhatnow?
- Inaba Says BOJ Could Ease More If Government Reins in Debt (Bloomberg) Actually it's the other way around
- Miles Says Bank of England Can Do More If U.K. Slump Persists (Bloomberg) So much for the end of QE
- US tax breaks worth $150bn face axe (FT)
In the past it has been the bond market whose vigilantes had rampaged across the fields to keep policymakers honest - but something has changed with the Fed's boot on the bond market. As BofAML notes, when the Fed was too soft on inflation or the fiscal deficit was out of control, interest rates spiked higher. In our view, this has changed and today the stock market is the disciplining force for Washington. We have argued this perspective for a while - that nothing will be done until we get a stock market crash - but the press will continue to make molehills out of mountains it seems as BofAML adds, the most obvious lesson of the last week is that when Washington approaches a policy impasse, the financial press tends to signal a resolution of the crisis many times before it happens. Don’t believe it. After elections there is always conciliatory talk: no one wants to be seen as a sore loser or a gloating winner. The risk remains huge and the four hurdles to a grand bargain seem to be getting larger - no matter what the press wants us to think - investors should look past reassuring rhetoric and focus on the underlying reality.
- Israel Mobilizes Troops as Hostilities Escalate (WSJ)
- FHA Sets Stage for Taxpayer Subsidy With 2012 Deficit (Bloomberg)
- On eve of fiscal cliff talks, positions harden (Reuters)
- Japan PM Noda contradicts challenger Abe on BOJ (Reuters)
- Regulators cut JPMorgan's ability to trade power (Reuters)
- EU Should Reach Agreement on Greek Aid Next Week, Grilli Says (BBG)
- Moscovici rejects talk of French crisis (FT)
- Egypt Urges Push for Gaza Peace as Rockets Hit Israel (BBG)
- Leading Japan politicians draw election battle lines (Reuters)
- Fed Push to Tie Zero-Rate to Economic Goals Faces Doubts (BBG)
- China’s commerce minister voted out in rare congress snub (Reuters)
- China’s new leaders could have reform thrust upon them (Reuters)
- Both Sides of Gaza Border Brace for Further Conflict (WSJ)
- Fed Sees Hurdles in Housing Rebound (Hilsenrath)
- The Complete 2012 Business Schools Ranking (Bloomberg)
- Wal-Mart misses topline expectations: Revenue $113.93bn, Exp $114.89bn, Sees full year EPS $4.88-$4.93, Exp. $4.94, Unveils new FCPA allegations; Stock down nearly 4%
- China chooses conservative new leaders (FT)
- Eurozone falls back into recession (FT)
- Moody’s to Assess U.K.’s Aaa Rating in 2013 Amid Slowing Economy (Bloomberg)
- Another bailout is imminent: FHA Nears Need for Taxpayer Funds (WSJ)
- Hamas chief vows to keep up "resistance" after Jaabari killed (Reuters)
- Obama calls for rich to pay more, keep middle-class cuts (Reuters)
- Obama Undecided on FBI's Petraeus Probe (WSJ)
- Battle lines drawn over “growth revenue” in fiscal cliff talks (Reuters)
- Rajoy’s Path to Bailout Clears as EU Endorses Austerity (Bloomberg)
- Zhou Seen Leaving PBOC as China Picks New Economic Chiefs (Bloomberg)
- Russia warns of tough response to U.S. human rights bill (Reuters)
- Japan Opposition Leader Ups Pressure on Central Bank (WSJ)
- Zhou Seen Leaving PBOC as China Picks New Economic Chiefs (Bloomberg)
If the citizenry cannot dislodge a parasitic, predatory financial Aristocracy via elections, then "democracy" is merely a public-relations facade, a simulacra designed to create the illusion that the citizenry "have a voice" when in fact they are debt-serfs in a neofeudal State. When the Status Quo remains the same no matter who gets elected, democracy is a sham. The U.S. Status Quo is also like an iceberg: the visible 10% is what we're reassured "we" control, but the 90% that is completely out of our control is what matters. There is another dynamic in a facsimile democracy: the Tyranny of the Majority. When the Central State issues enough promises to enough people, the majority concludes that supporting the Status Quo, no matter how corrupt, venal, parasitic, unsustainable and dysfunctional it might be, is in their personal interests. In this facsimile democracy, citizenship has devolved to advocacy for a larger share of Federal government swag. Is Democracy Possible in a Corrupt Society? No, it is not. Our democracy is a PR sham.
A three year project revisited every TBTF Halloween...