Today there is a great sense of relief that has swept the nation as news flowed through the media that the government shutdown had come to an end. After all, during the 16 days of the shutdown, there was great hardship inflicted on the average American as the stock market rose by 2.4%, government workers that were furloughed received a 2+ week paid vacation and interest rates fell from a peak of 2.65% on October 1st to 2.59% on October 17th. Outside of the financial markets, which were never concerned of a "default," the reality is that the government shutdown did likely clip up to 0.5% off of 4th quarter's GDP. While that clip to economic growth created by the government standoff is temporary - the ongoing persistant weakness of economic growth is another issue entirely. This is the focus of this discussion. The most disturbing sentence uttered during the debt ceiling debate/government shut down, that should raise some concerns by both political parties, is: "We must increase our debt limit so that we can pay our bills."
Legitimate revolution takes time, patience and fortitude. Unfortunately, this is a strategic concept that is lost on many Americans today who suffer from a now common ailment of attention deficit disorder and an obsession with immediate gratification. Even some who have their hearts in the right place and who work to defend and resurrect our nation’s founding ideals seem to believe that any action to defeat corrupt oligarchy must be effective immediately, otherwise, it’s not worth the attempt. History, of course, teaches us the opposite. As things stand at this moment, though, the death of the system is not something to cheer, no matter how much we might wish it to crumble under the weight of its own criminality. The collapse of the existing system will not be the end of our troubles, only the beginning. Chaos always opens doors for evil men, and they will certainly take full advantage of the chaos triggered by shutdown, default or continued inflationary debt spending. We must make ourselves ready to resist by making ourselves separate from the monster we plan to fight. Crisis waits for no one, and on the path our nation now walks, crisis is assured.
Apparently the IRS has fallen on hard times in light of all this government shutdown and sequestration nonsense. Too bad. According to a recent report from the Treasury Department, ‘enforcement revenue’ at the IRS has fallen for the second straight year. Tax enforcement is one of the only ‘money makers’ for the US government; according to the IRS, every dollar spent on tax enforcement generates six dollars in additional tax revenue. Unfortunately for the IRS, though, the agency’s head count has been thinning. They no longer have enough people, and enforcement revenue has been declining. Ordinarily the IRS supplements its ranks with legions of unpaid spies in the financial sector. Starting July 1, 2014, though, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) will give the IRS a new addition in its ever-growing list of unpaid spies. You.
It’s obvious that we might sometimes have the impression the freedom has no price on it. But, think again.
It’s become almost cliche these days to point out how many governments are broke beyond belief. The theater playing out in the US right now is irrelevant. America’s debt challenge is not a political problem. It’s an arithmetic problem. Same in Japan and most of Europe. However, most of these ‘rich’ western nations aren’t doing anything about it. It’s business as usual, and their debts are only getting bigger. Poorer countries don’t have this luxury of kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable. They must face their financial reckoning now... and they are finding increasingly unique ways to encourage 'revenues'.
Markets are so obsessed by developments with the US debt ceiling, that absolutely nobody noticed that the Japanese Current Account (JPY152Bn, Exp. JPY520bn), Industrial Outuput in Spain (-2.0%, Exp. -1.6%), Factory Orders in Germany (-0.3%, Exp. +1.2%), Trade Balance in Germany (€13.1bn, Exp. €15.0 bn) and that the Jan-Aug tax revenue in Greece below expectations by 5.7%, all missed horribly, and that for all the talk of a European recovery (which was merely driven by a brief surge in Chinese credit spending making its way into the European pipeline) is once again fully and entirely premature. But with Congress on everyone's mind, even increasingly China and Japan, who cares about fundamentals: after all there is a Federal Reserve to mask the fact that nothing but liquidity injections matters. Even if that means a complete collapse in the actual economy as those separated from the Fed by one or more layers of banks, crash and burn.
We strongly suspect that both government debt growth and money supply inflation will continue unabated – any pause will immediately bring about the kind of short term economic pain these policies have explicitly sought to prevent and will therefore be quickly reversed. It is not unlike the situation the revolutionary assembly of France found itself in during the late 18th century: when it issued new money, industry seemed to revive. As soon as it stopped, industry slumped again. And so it was decided to issue ever more money, until the entire scheme blew up. There can be little doubt that modern-day governments are on the road to a similar date with destiny – and lately the speed at which they travel toward it has increased markedly.
One of the most frequent questions related to the debt limit is whether the Treasury could prioritize payments in order to remain below the debt limit while continuing to make what it deems to be essential payments. As Goldman explains below, technical complexities and legal uncertainties might prevent a full prioritization of all payments, but they do believe (trillion-dollar-coin idiocy aside) that the Treasury could ensure that enough cash is available to make interest payments on Treasury securities.
The major headline of the day is the pending government shutdown in the Land of the Free. This is nothing more than an obvious symptom that they have passed the point of no return. As we have routinely discussed, the US government now fails to collect enough tax revenue to pay interest on the debt and cover mandatory entitlement spending. They’re already in the hole before they write a single check for anything we consider ‘government’, from national parks to the Internal Revenue Service. Basically all the stuff that will be shut down now. Unless you missed your IRS agent today, it should be clear that all this stuff they waste money on is completely... unnecessary. Or can/should be privatized.
This morning we received a research note from a private bank. Buried in the text was a call for lower gold prices, and the analysts listed five reasons why they think gold prices will decline. Our analysis? These guys are completely missing the point. Precious metals are like an insurance policy. It’s a policy you hope you’ll never need to cash in. But if the need ever arises, it’ll probably be because the financial system has collapsed. If that day ever comes, you’ll be thankful that you had the foresight to trade away some paper currency for real savings.
"A Scam Of Unmatchable Balls And Cruelty" - Matt Taibbi On Wall Street's "Triple-Fucking Of Ordinary People"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/27/2013 09:29 -0400
"This is the third act in an improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.... It's a scam of almost unmatchable balls and cruelty, accomplished with the aid of some singularly spineless politicians. And it hasn't happened overnight. This has been in the works for decades, and the fighting has been dirty all the way."
“Truth. noun. The quality of state of being in accordance with fact or reality.” This is how the dictionary defines truth: it can be ‘fact’. But it can also mean ‘reality’. The people who control the system have figured this out - if they can change someone’s reality, they control the truth. This is also the case in finance and economics. For example, I heard the following statements just in the last 48-hours while visiting the Land of the Free: “America will never default on its debt.” , “The debt doesn’t matter because we owe it to ourselves.” Again, these statements are totally unsupported by the facts. The notion that the US government won’t default on its debt is simply historically inaccurate. Such close-mindedness is dangerous, especially in economics. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on an objective understanding of the facts, not this altered reality.
In mathematics, the term ‘linearity’ describes a relationship in which the rate of change for a variable is constant. However, just like the erosion of civil liberties, the destruction of financial privacy, the growth in world population, the expansion of the money supply, and the demand/depletion of natural resources, debt is an exponential challenge. The danger with exponential problems is that they can really sneak up on you. The numbers do not lie. Debt grows exponentially. Tax revenue grows linearly. So the only question is – what time would you leave?
Financial circles in Hong Kong are buzzing today on the new Goldman Sachs projection that gold may drop below $1,000 an ounce. The central thess: since the US economy is out of the woods, there’s no longer a need for gold as a risk hedge. But as one senior-level manager at a major investment bank noted, "Nobody knows what the f**k is going on..." However, this mentality entirely misses the point of precious metals. When the hopes and dreams of the entire global financial system rest on the lies of politicians, the whims of central bankers, and the mountains of debt they have all accumulated, things could turn on a dime... tomorrow. Gold is an insurance policy. It’s a form of money that you might never need to use. But should that need ever arise, you’ll be so much better off for owning it.
Asia is a damned excited part of the world. And Singapore is the financial epicenter of all of it. For the last 24-hours, banker and fund manager friends of mine have been telling me stories about oil refinery deals in North Korea, their crazy investments in Myanmar, and the utter exodus of global wealth that is finding its way to Singapore. In the last few weeks we are seeing two new groups moving serious money into Singapore - customers from Japan and India. The contrast is very interesting. From Japan, people who see the writing on the wall just want to be prepared with a sensible solution. They’re taking action before anything happens. From India, though, people are in a panicked frenzy. They waited until AFTER the crisis began to start taking any of these steps. As a result, they’re suffering heavy losses and taking substantial risks... some wealthy Indians are trying to smuggle out diamonds... anything they can do to skirt the government's capital controls.