The market may have found itself in the purgatory of the summer doldrums, where unlike last year this time, not only are volumes over 50% lower, but volatility is non-existent, but that doesn't mean that investors are sleeping easy. In fact, quite the opposite because as the following chart from MS confirms, the lack of market volatility merely mimics the complete chaos and lack of decisiveness in Congress, where each passing day brings America not only closer to the most contentious presidential election in ages, but to another debt ceiling hike debate, and, of course, the fiscal cliff. All of these combined have brought US policy uncertainty to the third all time highest level, on par with September 11 and the collapse of Lehman/TARP, and just short of last year's imminent European collapse, which was only staved off courtesy of the coordinated global central bank intervention on November 30.
Many folks were surprised Friday night as rumors began leaking that Romney tapped Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, for the prestigious VP slot. The surprise came largely because many were expecting a more mundane pick like Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman. The reactions from the GOP base is positive overall, although the story is still fresh and drawing conclusions is difficult. The reactions from the Democrat/Liberal base are predictable and we are guessing that the Obama campaign is licking its lips over the prospect of skewering Ryan like a kabob. We have a slightly different take, my feeling is that this pick is an indication that the Romney team is struggling and sees the prospect of winning in November diminishing with each passing day. People like Pawlenty and Portman is the equivalent of swinging for a base hit - the selection of Ryan is swinging for the fences. It is desperation and an attempt to shake things up substantially in the hopes of energizing a splintered and unimpressed Conservative base. However we prefer to focus on the economics of politics, not the politics of politics - so lets take a look at what exactly makes Ryan such a risk.
When we wrote Part I of this paper in June 2009, the total U.S. public debt was just north of $10 trillion. Since then, that figure has increased by more than 50% to almost $16 trillion, thanks largely to unprecedented levels of government intervention. Once the exclusive domain of central bankers and policy makers, acronyms such as QE, LTRO, SMP, TWIST, TARP, TALF have found their way into the mainstream. With the aim of providing stimulus to the economy, central planners of all stripes have both increased spending and reduced taxes in most rich countries. But do these fiscal and monetary measures really increase economic activity or do they have other perverse effects?... The politically favoured option of financial repression and negative real interest rates has important implications. Negative real interest rates are basically a thinly disguised tax on savers and a subsidy to profligate borrowers. By definition, taxes distort incentives and, as discussed earlier, discourage savings.... The current misconception that our economic salvation lies with more stimulus is both treacherous and self-defeating. As long as we continue down this path, the “solution” will continue to be the problem. There is no miracle cure to our current woes and recent proposals by central planners risk worsening the economic outlook for decades to come.
The idea of “collapse”, social and financial, comes with an incredible array of hypothetical consequences ranging from public dissent and martial law, to the complete disintegration of infrastructure and the devolution of mankind into a swarm of mindless arm chewing cannibals. In an age of television nirvana and cinema overload, I have found that the collective unconscious of our culture has now defined what collapse is based only on the most narrow of extremes. If they aren’t being hunted down by machete wielding looters or swastika wearing jackboots, then the average American dupe figures that the country is not in much danger. Hollywood fantasy has blinded us to the tangible crises at our doorstep. In 2012, we still await that trigger event, which I believe will be the announcement of QE3 (or any unlimited stimulus program regardless of title), and the final debasement of the dollar. At the beginning of this year, I pointed out that we were likely to see such an announcement before 2012 was out, and it would seem that the private Federal Reserve is right on track. Last month, the Fed announced that it was formulating a plan to “expand its tool kit”.
In an administration that has completely lost its mind, and in which the solution to every problem is the forgiveness of debt to those who lived beyond their means, FHFA's Ed DeMarco is a lone voice of sanity. In a letter to Tim Geithner, the FHFA has the temerity to tell the truth and say that "after extensive analysis of the revised [Principal Reduction Act]...FHFA has concluded that the anticipated benefits do not outweigh the costs and risks... FHFA concluded that HAMP PRA did not clearly improve foreclosure avoidance while reducing costs to taxpayers relative to the approaches in place today."Via Bloomberg:
- *FANNIE MAE, FREDDIE MAC WON'T WRITE DOWN LOANS, DEMARCO SAYS
- *FHFA'S DEMARCO SAYS PRINCIPAL REDUCTION WON'T BENEFIT TAXPAYERS
Needless to say, when presented with a minority opinion that socialism just may not be the answer, Geithner was not happy and penned his own response. Both are presented below.
Pushing them to build up more debt to push additional debt on over-indebted nations who clearly can't pay back their current debt is quite foolish. Recession and depression looms everywhere.
Those who Benefited from Wall Street Fraud Must be Prosecuted … Including Rogue Government Officials who Aided and Abetted the Crimes
Independent from Congress … or from the American People?
The three "de's:" deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization.
Sigtarp: “Americans Should Lose Faith In Their Government ... Only With This Appropriate and Justified Rage Can We HopeSubmitted by George Washington on 07/23/2012 18:23 -0400
High-Level Government Insider Speaks Truth to Power ...
Too Big Leads To Destruction of the Rule of Law
Ultimately, we should not be doing business with businesses that are repeat offenders; it's kind of like Stockholm syndrome. We keep on allowing ourselves to be abused and even protect our abuser. Unless and until the business changes their ways and assists in the prosecution of White collar criminals, we're going to keep on having problems in how our society functions. Why our local governments continue to do business with the big Wall Street banks is beyond me. In many cases, it appears that the management decided to incorporate fraud into their business models. No reasonable person would knowingly do business with the Mob, but we continue to do business with these banks which have been run just like organized crime. We can either live by the rule of law or the law of the jungle. I prefer the former.
Stunned at the sheer ineptness and lack of due diligence in the Libor-rigging details that are being uncovered specific to Geithner's Treasury and Bernanke's Fed, CNBC's Rick Santelli reflects on just how unbelievable TARP was in this context. "Hurry up, let's spend three quarters of a trillion dollars; how much due diligence did they do for our role as taxpayers in basically bailing out the banking system? Obviously zero!" and this as they knew these very-same banks were manipulating rates. Opining on the un-Americanism of jet-skis and outsourcing, Rick states unequivocally "what's un-American is we now have the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Treasury taking heightened importance in regulating us in the future through Dodd/Frank. Shame on their legislation!" Meanwhile, those very same un-American Treasury staff (who we are supposed to trust with the future of our banking system and implicitly the economy we pre-suppose) have just been caught soliciting prostitutes and breaking conflict-of-interest rules.
Local Governments Which Entered Into Interest Rate Swaps Got Scalped
In a detailed discussion with Bloomberg TV's Tom Keene, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg addresses everything from Europe's "inability to grow its way out of the problem" amid its 'existential moment', Asian 'trade shock' and commodity contagion, and US housing, saving, and fiscal uncertainty. He believes we are far from a bottom in housing, despite all the rapacious calls for it from everyone, as the over-supply overhang remains far too high. "The last six quarters of US GDP growth are running below two percent" he notes that given the past sixty years of experience this is stall speed, and inevitably you slip into recession". He is back to his new normal of 'frugality' and bearishness on the possibilities of any solution for Europe but, most disconcertingly he advises Keene that "when you model fiscal uncertainty into any sort of economic scenario in the U.S., what it means is that businesses raise their liquidity ratios and households build up their savings rates. This comes out of spending growth. And that's the problem - you've got the fiscal uncertainty coupled with a US export 'trade shock'."