Quiet session so far, with a notable move higher in the last block of trading in China pushing the SHCOMP for its first gain in 6 days, and off post-2008 lows. What precipitated the buying is irrelevant, although we got a good glimpse into the state of the Chinese economy thanks to Australia prior where the RBA cut rates by 25 bps to a historic low 3.00% (a move that sent the AUD higher), a level last seen during the financial crisis, and confirming that not all is well for the Chinese derivative economy despite loud promises from the Chinese politburo that growth is back. Bypassing the bullish propaganda were Renault Nissan's Chinese car sales for November which fell by 29.8% Y/Y. Some "recovery" there too. In Europe, the status quo continues, with chatter out of Germany's Merkel who begins her 2013 election campaign today, that Germany wants a strong Eurozone (it doesn't), and a strong Euro (it doesn't), but that nobody can predict when the Eurozone crisis will end (not even Hollande or Monti who did just that yesterday?). Otherwise sentiment there is still driven by the formal Spanish re-request of aid (and imminent receipt of €39.5bn in bank recap funds) from the EU by mid-December. As a reminder Spain did this originally in June but the algos were so confused yesterday they thought this was an official sovereign bail out request sending risk soaring only to tumble later (only in the New Normal is admission of sovereign insolvency a "good thing"). Nonetheless, despite the massive overvaluation of European markets (more on that later), the EURUSD continues to the upward momentum (in the process further curbing German exports and assuring the German recession), and was last seen trading up to 1.3075, about 30 pips higher.
There is little detail (more to come) but Boehner's office has just released his rebuttal to Obama's so-called 'un-serious' offer. These numbers do not appear like any change - just as Obama's was no change - so much for compromise. It seems politicians now have zero-beta for the algos - who have given up now the month-end is over...
- *BOEHNER DESCRIBES WHITE HOUSE PLAN LAST WEEK AS `LA-LA LAND'
- *BOEHNER SAYS HE'S OFFERING `CREDIBLE PLAN' ON FISCAL CLIFF
- *BOEHNER SAYS PLAN DESERVES `SERIOUS CONSIDERATION' BY OBAMA
- *HOUSE REPUBLICANS PROPOSE $1.4 TRILLION IN SPENDING CUTS
- *REPUBLICAN PLAN INCLUDES $800 BILLION IN NEW REVENUE
Full letter below
The natural reaction from policy makers, so far, has not surprised us. Rather than addressing the source of the problem, they have and continue to attack the symptoms. The problem, simply, is that governments have coerced financial institutions and pension plans to hold sovereign debt at a zero risk-weight, assuming it is risk-free... and just like since the beginning of the 17th century almost every serious intellectual advance had to begin with an attack on some Aristotelian doctrine, I fear that in the 21st century, we too will have to begin attacking anything supporting the belief that the issuer of the world’s reserve currency cannot default, if we are ever to free ourselves from this sad state of affairs. This problem truly brings western civilization back to the time of Plato, when there was nothing “…worthy to be called knowledge that could be derived from the senses…” and when “…the only real knowledge had to do with concepts…”. Policy makers then believe in recapitalization and coercive smooth unwinds. With regards to recapitalization, I will just say that we are not facing a “stock”, but a “flow” problem. With regards to smooth unwinds, I think it is obvious by now that the unwind of a levered position cannot be anything but violent, like any other lie that is exposed by truth. Establishing restrictions to delay the unmasking would only make the unwinds even more violent and self-fulfilling. But these considerations, again, are foreign the metaphysics of policy making in the 21st century.
Regardless if the Fiscal Cliff is resolved tomorrow (impossible), on December 31 (unlikely), or in tandem with the debt ceiling hike some time in March 2013, after all the government fund buffers have been soaked dry as they were back in August 2011 (most likely), one thing is certain: America's wealthiest are about to see their taxes soar - that's more or less a given. The question is what happens then. Will, the wealthiest - those who have access to and can buy banking, incorporation, citizenship and legal services in any global jurisdiction in a world that has never been this decentralized and this , take it all quietly up until that point on the Laffer curve says they will commit mass suicide, or maybe, just maybe, because they don't feel like being force to pay uncle Sam even more than they currently do with the proceeds not used for something constructive like paying down debt, but instead to fund government corruption and inefficiency, they will pick up and leave without saying goodbye or even looking back, and in the process crush future US government tax revenues even more and send the deficit soaring more. "No risk in that", many will say - after all where can they go? Well, apparently many places. Because if the UK, where as the Telegraph reports a stunning two-thirds of domestic millionaires opted to leave the country than pay a "punitive" 50% tax, is any indication it is possible that the imminent tax hike on America's wealthiest is going to be one of the most destructive things that can happen to America's already unsustainable budget deficit.
We are all now members of the Permanent No-growth Club. And the United States has just re-elected a president who seems determined to sign up too. No government in what used to be called “the free world” seems prepared to take the steps that can stop this inexorable decline. They are all busily telling their electorates that austerity is for other people (France), or that the piddling attempts they have made at it will solve the problem (Britain), or that taxing “the rich” will make it unnecessary for government to cut back its own spending (America). So here we all are. Like us, the member nations of the European single currency have embarked on their very own double (or is it triple?) dip recession. This is the future: the long, meandering “zig-zag” recovery to which the politicians and heads of central banks allude is just a euphemism for the end of economic life as we have known it. Democratic socialism with its “soft redistribution” and exponential growth of government spending will have paved the way for the hard redistribution of diminished resources under economic dictatorship.
The JPY dropped 1.3% against the USD this week for a greater-than-6% drop since its late-September highs as it appears the market is content pricing Abe's dream of a higher inflation-expectation through the currency devaluation route (and not - for now - through nominal bond yields - implicitly signaling 'real' deflationary expectations). In a 'normal' environment, Barclays quantified the impact of a 1ppt shift in inflation expectations from 1% to 2% will create a 'permanent inflation tax' of around 18% (which will be shared between JPY and JGB channels). However, as we discussed in detail in March (and Kyle Bass confirmed and extended recently), the current 'Rubicon-crossing' nature of Japan's trade balance and debt-load (interest-expense-constraint) mean things could become highly unstable and contagious in a hurry. When the upside of your policy plans is an 18% loss of global purchasing power, we hope Abe knows what he is doing (but suspect not).
You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France. Since the answer to the question of Who will ultimately pick up the tab? when a Eurozone member defaults or leaves is not at all clear, every player there is eyeing the others suspiciously. In fact, the "stability" of Europe right now hinges completely on no one making a move. What odds do you give that Mexican standoff of lasting? Time is working against all countries in the Eurozone because the good are being dragged down by the bad.
In 1936, the US government began circulating a series of pamphlets to explain its brand new Social Security program, plus the associated taxes. Initially, the Social Security tax was set at 2%. The government promised it would rise to 3% in 1949, with no additional increases EVER: "[F]inally, beginning in 1949. . . you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. That is the most you will ever pay." In 1949, the tax rose to 3% as scheduled. But it only took five years for the government to break its promise. Politicians routinely make bold promises about tax policy... and they almost always end up being lies. Perhaps most dangerously, politicians fail to understand that raising tax rates does NOT actually increase government tax revenue.
Kyle Bass: Fallacies Such As MMT Are "Leading The Sheep To Slaughter" And "We Believe War Is Inevitable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 13:58 -0500
"Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation."
In his farewell address to Congress yesterday, Ron Paul blasted the dangers of what he called 'Economic Ignorance'. He's dead right. Around the world, economic ignorance abounds. And perhaps nowhere is this more obvious today than in the senseless prattling over the US 'Fiscal Cliff'. US government spending falls into three categories: Discretionary, Mandatory, and Interest on Debt. The only thing Congress has a say over is Discretionary Spending. But here's the problem - the US fiscal situation is so untenable that the government fails to collect enough tax revenue to cover mandatory spending and debt interest alone. This means that they could cut the ENTIRE discretionary budget and still be in the hole by $251 billion. This is why the Fiscal Cliff is irrelevant. Increasing taxes won't increase their total tax revenue. Politicians have tried this for decades. It doesn't work. Bottom line-- the Fiscal Cliff doesn't matter. The US passed the point of no return a long time ago.
- Don't jump to conclusions over general, Pentagon chief says (Reuters)
- Bad times for generals: Pentagon demotes 4-star General Ward (Reuters)
- Investors Pay to Lend Germany Money (WSJ)
- Noda will no longer be watching... watching: Japan PM honors pledge with December 16 vote date, to lose job (Reuters)
- New China leadership takes shape (FT)
- Hispanic Workers Lack Education as Numbers Grow in U.S. (Bloomberg)
- Quest for EU single bank supervisor stumbles (FT)
- Anti-austerity strikes sweep Europe (Reuters)
- Amazon faces new obstacles in fight for holiday dollars (Reuters)
- SEC Expands Knight Probe (WSJ)
- Singapore’s Casinos Lose Luster as Gaming Revenue Decline (Bloomberg)
- Amid Petraeus sex scandal, Air Force to release abuse report (Reuters)
- Geithner’s Money Fund Overhaul Push Sparks New Opposition (Bloomberg)
If May Day is when Europe celebrates labor and jobs (if any), November 14 is its opposite, bizarro cousin as today Europe wakes up to a dead(er than usual) economy. The reason: virtually every European country is on strike. From BusinessWeek: "Spanish workers staged a second general strike this year as unions across Europe prepared the biggest coordinated protests yet against budget cuts that policy makers say are needed to end the region’s debt crisis. In Spain, unions said most auto and metal workers joined the strike, even as power demand was just 13 percent below usual. One of Portugal’s two biggest labor groups also called a strike, partial walkouts are planned in Greece and Italy, and French unions are urging workers to join protest marches. “This is a strike against the suicidal economic policies of the government,” Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, head of Spain’s CCOO union, told supporters late yesterday." In other words, Europe's economy which is already doing swimmingly, is about to see 1/60th of its Q4 GDP removed as virtually no economic goods or services are produced today.
If the Fiscal Cliff negotiations are supposed to result in a bipartisan compromise, it is safe that the initial shots fired so far are about as extreme as can possibly be. As per our previous assessment of the status quo, with the GOP firmly against any tax hike, many were expecting the first olive branch to come from the generous victor - Barack Obama. Yet on the contrary, the WSJ reports, Obama's gambit will be to ask for double what the preliminary negotiations from the "debt deficit" summer of 2011 indicated would be the Democrats demand for tax revenue increase. To wit: "President Barack Obama will begin budget negotiations with congressional leaders Friday by calling for $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue over the next decade, far more than Republicans are likely to accept and double the $800 billion discussed in talks with GOP leaders during the summer of 2011. Mr. Obama, in a meeting Tuesday with union leaders and other liberal activists, also pledged to hang tough in seeking tax increases on wealthy Americans." Granted, there was a tiny conciliation loophole still open, after he made no specific commitment to leave unscathed domestic programs such as Medicare, yet this is one program that the GOP will likely not find much solace in cutting. In other words, all the preliminary talk of one party being open to this or that, was, naturally, just that, with a whole lot of theatrics, politics and teleprompting thrown into the mix. The one hope is that the initial demands are so ludicrous on both sides, that some leeway may be seen as a victory by a given party's constituents. Yet that is unlikely: as we have noted on many occasions in the past, any compromise will result in swift condemnation in a congress that has never been as more polarized in history.
The much anticipated Greek vote on "self-imposed" austerity came, saw and passed... and nothing: the EURUSD is now well lower than before the vote for one simple reason - the vote was merely a placeholder to test the resiliency of the government, which following numerous MP terminations, has seen its overall majority drop to 168 of 300, which includes the members of the Democratic Left who voted against the Troika proposal. Which means any more votes on anything split along austerity party lines and the vote will likely no longer pass. And, as expected, Germany already picked up the baton on kicking the can on funding the Greek €31.5 billion payment (due originally many months ago) when Schauble said that it will still be too early to make a Greek decision net week. Market-wise, Europe is limping into the US open, with the EUR weaker again due to a report that Spain may not seek an ECB bailout this year (as said here over and over, Spain will not seek a bailout until the 10 Year SPGB is back at or above 7%). Paradoxically, Spain also sold €4.76 billion in 2015, 2018 and 2032 debt (more than the expected €4.5 billion) at muted conditions, thereby the market continues to encourage Spain not to request a bailout, although this may not last, as promptly after the bond auction Spanish debt tailed off, the 2Y and 10Y both sold off, and the Spain-Bund spread is back to 445 bps, the widest since October, and means Spain can finally be getting back in selloff play: and probably not at the best possible time just as everything else, which was in suspended animation until the Obama reelection, also hits the tape. Today we get two key, if largely irrelevant, central bank decisions come from the BOE and ECB, both of which are expected to do nothing much. Finally, the most important event going on right now, is the Chinese Congress. For those who missed it, our previews are here: The Far More Important 'Election' Part 1: China's Political Process and The Far More Important 'Election' Part 2: China's Market Implications.