Treasury Admits It Underestimated Debt Needs, Predicts Ceiling Breach In 2012; $600 Billion More Debt In Second HalfSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/30/2012 15:15 -0500
Back on April 30, when the US Treasury, together with the TBAC chaired by Matt Zames (who as everyone knows is being groomed to take over JPMorgan after Jamie gracefully steps down) sat down put together its latest debt funding needs projection, we openly mocked the numbers when we said "Now obviously we are all for the US needing less debt, however we wonder: did the US discover some magical source of tax revenue: last we checked the companies with $100+ billion in cash were paying virtually zero taxes, and US workers were making less and less courtesy of more and more jobs being converted into temp jobs with lower wages, and less withheld tax as a result." Sure enough, minutes ago the Treasury just admitted what we and our readers knew all along: in its quarterly Treasury refunding appetizer, it noted that during the "September 2012 quarter, Treasury expects to issue $276 billion in net marketable debt, assuming an end-of-September cash balance of $60 billion. This borrowing estimate is $12 billion higher than announced in April 2012. The increase is primarily due to lower receipts, higher outlays, redemptions of portfolio holdings by the Federal Reserve System, and higher issuances of State and Local Government securities." In other words: if only it wasn't for that pesky lack of revenue and excess spending our mocking would have been for nothing. Alas, it was spot on, and as a result instead of needing $253 billion in fiscal Q4, the US will need $272 billion (after having a $5 greater financing need in Q3 as also expected).
Economic and business growth is a complex and multi-dimensional thing, driven by the complex relationship between both supply and demand. To claim that those who put the legwork into building a business - whether that is the owners, or workers - “didn’t build” the business is totally false and absurd. And even if Obama was talking about infrastructure and the wider economic system (which I suspect was the case) it is taxpayers who fund infrastructure creation, and the overwhelming majority of businesses and business owners (other than the bailed-out financial institutions and similar) contribute heavily to tax revenue.
"This market isn't real. The two percent on the ten-year, the ninety basis points on the five-year, thirty basis points on a one-year – those are medicated, pegged rates created by the Fed and which fast-money traders trade against as long as they are confident the Fed can keep the whole market rigged. Nobody in their right mind wants to own the ten-year bond at a two percent interest rate. But they're doing it because they can borrow overnight money for free, ten basis points, put it on repo, collect 190 basis points a spread, and laugh all the way to the bank. And they will keep laughing all the way to the bank on Wall Street until they lose confidence in the Fed's ability to keep the yield curve pegged where it is today. If the bond ever starts falling in price, they unwind the carry trade. Then you get a message, "Do not pass go." Sell your bonds, unwind your overnight debt, your repo positions. And the system then begins to contract... The Fed has destroyed the money market. It has destroyed the capital markets. They have something that you can see on the screen called an "interest rate." That isn't a market price of money or a market price of five-year debt capital. That is an administered price that the Fed has set and that every trader watches by the minute to make sure that he's still in a positive spread. And you can't have capitalism if the capital markets are dead, if the capital markets are simply a branch office – branch casino – of the central bank. That's essentially what we have today."
In a first for Moody's, the rating agency, traditionally about a month after Egan Jones (whose rationale and burdensharing text was virtually copied by Moody's: here and here), has decided to cut Europe's untouchable core, while still at Aaa, to Outlook negative, in the process implicitly downgrading Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, and putting them in line with Austria and France which have been on a negative outlook since February 13, 2012.The only good news goes to Finland, whose outlook is kept at stable for one simple reason: the country's attempts to collateralize its European bailout exposure, a move which will now be copied by all the suddenly more precarious core European countries.
The effect on the USA of its casually wandering over the Fiscal Cliff will be catastrophic; adding approximately $607bln to the US deficit which in turn would sap anywhere up to 4% (according to the CBO) or possibly even 5% (if Chairman Bernanke—in full-on ‘scare Congress’ mode—is to be believed) from US GDP and send the country crashing into outright recession (or further into recession depending on how things continue to deteriorate in the coming months). “That we cannot have” was the opinion of Erskine Bowles who, along with former Sen. Alan Simpson, devised a debt reduction plan last year to prevent this doomsday scenario.... According to the OMB estimates, any attempt to do something remotely meaningful will result in at least a percentage point reduction in US GDP, which is fine in a world of 3% growth, but today that 1% is not something these guys have to play around with. In the run-up to December 31, you can guarantee that the issue of the US Fiscal Cliff will replace Europe as the major concern facing the world in general and the US in particular and, if things continue to deteriorate at their current pace, anything that will lead to even a 0.5% cut inGDP will be seen as a disaster.
There are a number of cultural and governmental impediments to prosecuting WCCs. One of which is the corrupting influence of money to neuter regulations and to co-opt politically appointed regulators and prosecutors. Another is perception. Wealth in our country is equated with royalty or a high station in society, so people have a hard time seeing the white collar criminal as the deviant that he is. People have a hard time wanting to punish someone who looks nice, has nice clothes, drives a nice car, lives in a good neighborhood, went to a prestigious school, belongs to exclusive clubs, etc. vs. someone who does not have those things. If you're poor in this country, that's almost a crime in and of itself to some people. Conversely, rich people have all sorts of credibility, whether its deserved or not. Why should I listen to an actor about a topic that's not related to acting? Sure, he may have some interesting things to say, but he shouldn't be given automatic credibility on the subject and yet many people do just that. Romney became rich bankrupting companies and selling their assets and yet people look to him to "run our economy"? What politician can ever say that they can run an economy? The Soviets tried to do just that and look what happened to them.
Another reason WCCs may not be prosecuted is that individuals, organizations, governments, and even society at large may be vested in the criminal activity either wittingly or unwittingly.
The health of the economy is driven by after tax income. We need a big tax increase that does not reduce current income. My plan.
The strawmen are coming thick and fast from the EU Summit as they break for an evening snack. Between banking union 'plans' by year-end and ESM credit seniority exemptions for Spain, the Finnish Minister for European Union Affairs, Alexander Stubb, just suggested that EU rescue funds (ESM/EFSF) could potentially partly guarantee Italy's and Spain's bonds if the two countries provide collateral. Such 'covered bonds' reduced his country's borrowing costs during an economic crisis in the 1990s, and now "could be a solution which would bring down the interest rates of Spain and Italy." As Bloomberg notes, the proposal was "a halfway house" between no help at all for weaker eurozone members and full debt mutualization, and a response to those "trying to say that governments such as Finland, Germany and the Netherlands keep on (only) saying no." Unfortunately, as we are all too well aware, despite this being a "constructive proposal from the Finnish government", there is no quality collateral (and certainly trusting earmarks on tax revenue is unlikely to spur demand) leaving the only government asset worth thinking about - Gold - which leads us back to Germany's uber-solution the whole time. "At the end of the day, EU Summits are always some kind of compromise" Stubb added, by which we assume the periphery compromises its sovereignty (and gold) and the Core compromises its taxpayers.
Traversing roads that seem like roads in some third world countries, I have to ask where is all the money going?
In about an hour, the US Supreme Court, three years after Chrysler, is about to have a profound impact on Wall Street one more time. As Goldman explains, the court is expected to release some of the final opinions of the current session, which ends this week. Rulings on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as the Arizona immigration law are likely to capture the greatest amount of attention. With a number of opinions to get out, it is possible the court could wait until later this week (possibly Thursday, June 28) to release some of the remaining rulings for this term, though the court has not yet announced any additional dates for the release of opinions. Trading in the online prediction market intrade.com implies a 74% probability that the court will find the mandate unconstitutional; prior to the oral arguments in March, it implied only around a 35% probability the court would rule against the mandate. Goldman believes that the outcome is fairly unpredictable and that many market participants probably are relying too heavily on the oral arguments in trying to predict the outcome of the case.
Imagine a ship with 100 passengers and crew drifting down a river that eventually cascades over a 1,000 foot waterfall. It's easy to plot the ship's course and the waterfall ahead. You might think 100% of those onboard would agree that something drastic must be done to either reverse course or abandon ship, but before we jump to any conclusion we must first identify what each of the 100 people perceive as serving their self-interest. If life onboard is good for 55 of the 100, they may well rationalize away the waterfall dead ahead. Indeed, they might vote to maintain the current course, thus dooming the 45 others who can hear the thundering cascade ahead but who are powerless to change course in a democracy. This is the "tyranny of the majority" feared by some of the American Founding Fathers. I cannot locate reliable statistics on what percentage of the Greek population is dependent on the State for a paycheck, entitlement, retirement, disability, unemployment, etc., but I suspect the number exceeds the full-time private payroll of that nation. It seems likely that the number of voters in Greece who draw a check or benefit from the State exceeds the number of privately employed voters whose perception of self-interest is radically at odds with continuing State borrowing to fund the Status Quo. If 55% of the voting public is dependent on government spending, then they will vote to continue that spending regardless of its unsustainability.
Shifting away from the theatrical travesty for a moment, we move to the other such travesty: Europe, where while nothing has been fixed, despite what the BIS is trying to do with the EURUSD which is now up 100 pips in a straight line since the Dimon testimony started, we find that while the world is concerned about Greek elections, the real gamechanger may be the old and known one: Greek cash, or the lack thereof, and more specifically yet another bailout for the country. RTE reports that as of today Greece has about €2 billion in cash left, pro forma for the recent cliffhanger cash infusion from Europe which almost did not come, which is expected to last the country for just about one more month.
One of the great absurdities of our modern financial system is that a nation living within its means, i.e. spending less than what it confiscates in tax revenue, is no longer the norm. Living within your means is now considered ‘austerity’. And unfair. Whether in the UK, Europe, or North America, many voters have become so accustomed to the government’s massive role in the economy, they can’t begin to imagine how it could be scaled back. The more insolvent governments become, the more they’re going to be forced to axe all the things they can’t afford. We’re already starting to see this in places from California to England that can no longer hide from their fiscal reality. With the government monopoly out of the way, the private sector will mop up every service that it can turn a profit on– trash collection, security, fire, prisons, libraries, etc. This forces competition, higher quality service, and lower prices for everyone. The people who protest against austerity, or think it’s a tragedy when a courthouse closes down due to budget constraints, are really missing the larger point: the sooner this corrupt house of cards collapses, the better off we’ll all be.
Greece Gets "Corzined" In Its Fruitless Pursuit of Euro Unity, Sans Its Own Sovereignty As Simple Arithmetic Sets In AgainSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/06/2012 09:57 -0500
The PIIGS will pop! I directly & explicitly compared the plights of Greece vs Spain 2 1/2 yrs ago before anyone even publicly admitted Greece would have to default, not to mention Spain!!!