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 14:58 -0400
"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.
It’s really hard to ignore what’s happening today; the election phenomenon is global. The entire world seems fixated on this belief that it actually matters who becomes the President of the United States anymore... or that one of these two guys is going to ‘fix’ things. Fact is, it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. And we’ll show you why mathematically... This is not a political problem, it’s a mathematical one. Facts are facts, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Today’s election is merely a choice of who is going to captain the sinking Titanic.
"Capitalists seem almost uninterested in Capitalism" is how Clayton Christensen describes the paradox of our recovery-less recovery. In an excellent NYTimes Op-ed, the father of the Innovator's Dilemma comments that "America today is in a macroeconomic paradox that we might call the capitalist’s dilemma." Business and investors are drowning in Fed-sponsored liquidity (theoretically, capital fuels capitalism) but are endowed with what he calls the Doctrine of New Finance - where short-termist profitability guides entrepreneurs away from investments that can create real economic growth. We are trying to solve the wrong problem. Our approach to higher education is exacerbating our problems. There is a solution, it's complicated, but Christensen offers three ideas to seed the discussion.
Just over 400-years ago today, a group of 13 conspirators was caught trying to assassinate King James I of England and blow up the House of Lords in what became known as the Gunpowder Treason. If you’ve ever seen the movie V for Vendetta, you know the story. The plot of 1605 may have been a failure for the conspirators, but given enough time, a system so screwed up, so unsustainable, was destined to collapse on itself. Curiously, we’re not so different in the west today; just like the English monarchs, we have a tiny elite that controls absolutely everything about our economy– taxation, regulation, and the supply of money. Needless to say, this is also unsustainable. And history shows that these types of unsustainable systems will always collapse under their own weight.
The center cannot hold because it has failed the nation by defending the Status Quo kleptocracy. As a case study, let's look at Greece, a nation that is the leading-edge of Status Quo delegitimization and destabilization. As the Status Quo fails to protect the national interests and the citizenry from the neofeudal kleptocracy, faith in the political center fades. What happens when people lose faith in the financial institutions and their coercive "fixes"? They move their capital to less-risky, more productive climes. In other words, capital flight is another positive feedback: as people move their capital out of the country, then there is less available per capita for productive investment. The same holds true for every nation ruled by kleptocratic Elites that has attempted to "grow our way out of debt" by piling debt on debt. Doesn't that include Spain, Italy, China, the U.S. and a host of other nations?
As we warned here first, and as the sellside crew finally caught on, while the key macro event this week is the US presidential election, the one most "under the radar" catalyst will take place in Greece (currently on strike for the next 48 hours, or, "as usual") on Wednesday, when a vote to pass the latest round of Troika mandated austerity (too bad there is no vote to cut corruption and to actually collect taxes) takes place even as the government coalition has now torn, and there is a high probability the ruling coalition may not have the required majority to pass the vote, which would send Greece into limbo, and move up right back from the naive concept of Grimbo and right back into Grexit. Which is why the market's attention is slowly shifting to Europe once more, and perhaps not at the best time, as news out of the old continent was anything but good: Spain's October jobless claims rose by 128,242, higher than the estimated 110,000 and the biggest jump in 9 months, bringing the total number of unemployed to 4,833,521, a rise of 2.7%, according to official statistics released Monday. This means broad Spanish unemployment is now well above 25%. In the UK, the Services PMI plunged from 52.2 to 50.6, which was the lowest print in nearly two years or since December 2010, and proved that the Olympics-driven bump of the past few months is not only over, but the vicious snapback has begun.
What is really causing the economic malaise that the U.S. faces today? Most economists believe that it is the lack of aggregate demand that is causing the problem which can be rectified by continued deficit spending. The current Administration believes that it is simply the lack of the "rich" not paying their "fair share" and that a redistribution of wealth will solve the issue. Romney believes that his 5-point plan will create 12 million jobs in the near future. All are wrong.
Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside. Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.