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What Will Markets Do if Congress Pushes US into Default? And “Trump Nationalism” Faces the Globalist System

What Will Markets Do if Congress Pushes US into Default? And “Trump Nationalism” Faces the Globalist System

Here I am with radio host Jim Goddard on This Week in Money, holding forth on the chances that Congress won’t raise the debt ceiling in time and will push the US into default — if it does, “curl up into a fetal position and wait till the dust settles.”

And Jim asked if “Trump nationalism” would be better than the globalist system in place now. Better for whom? And what are the forces lined up against him on this? Sparks fly.

This is how monetary policies have crushed the value of labor. Read…  The US Cities with the Biggest Housing Bubbles

USA Is Now Twice As Likely To ‘Default’ Than Germany

USA Is Now Twice As Likely To ‘Default’ Than Germany

While the market turmoil (stocks down a few percentage points from all-time record highs) is being pinned on various factors (from North Korea, Trump, & Cohn to terrible retailer earnings and J-Hole anxiety), we suspect the real cause of market uncertainty is starting to peak through – the looming debt ceiling crisis that has now become too big and too imminent to ignore.

Of course, uncertainty in The White House is starting to make investors realize the chance of successfully navigating the debt ceiling crisis without a government shutdown are dwindling…

With the T-Bill market pricing in serious disruption at the end of September, the risk of a technical default for US Treasury debt is starting to rise and is now spiking relative to Germany.

In fact, as the chart above shows, the current ‘risk’ in USA debt/devaluation markets is twice that of Germany’s – worse than at the peak of the shutdown in 2013 and worse than the shutdown debacle in 2015.

USA Default Risk premium has not been this high since Lehman.

Eric Peters: If Rates Ever Rise Above 3.5% “It Would Spark Massive Defaults”

Eric Peters: If Rates Ever Rise Above 3.5% “It Would Spark Massive Defaults”

Earlier today in his weekly note, One River CIO Eric Peters explained that in their attempt to overturn the natural order of the global economic “ecosystem”, what central banks have done is “stunning, unprecedented… and arrogant”, and as a result it is only a matter of time before another “peak instability” moment emerges as “it stands to reason that our volatility-selling machine will break one day. We saw a glimpse of this in 2008-09.”

And yet, as Peters concedes in a follow up note, those same central bankers don’t have any other option but to kick the can because as the CIO notes, any attempt to break the current ultra-low rate regime would “spark massive defaults.”

Incidentally, those are the same defaults that should have happened during the “near systemic reset” of 2008/2009 but the Fed, in all its wisdom, decided to kick the can at the cost of trillions in global excess liquidity, and while it bought itself some time – in the process unleashing a global deflation wave thanks to zombie companies that should not exist yet do, and every day try to undercut each other on pricing – nearly ten years later it has discovered that it has no way out, for one simple reason: there is now too accumulated debt.

Here is Peters “modelling” out why the Fed is stuck with no way out:

When debt expands constantly relative to GDP, there’s a limit to how high interest rates can rise without causing massive defaults,” said the Model. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with defaults, they can cleanse a system, but a rise in US defaults from today’s 2.5% to 6.0% would boost unemployment by 3%.

America’s economy is leveraged to the financial system, which includes non-capitalized liabilities; entitlements, pensions, healthcare. “US total debt/GDP is 300%, but if you include these non-capitalized liabilities, it’s more like 800%.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

March to Default

March to Default 

“May you live in interesting times,” says the ancient Chinese curse.  No doubt about it, we live in interesting times.  Hardly a day goes by that we’re not aghast and astounded by a series of grotesque caricatures of the world as at devolves towards vulgarity. Just this week, for instance, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters tweeted, “Get ready for impeachment.”

Well, Maxine Waters is obviously right – impeaching the president is an urgent task of the utmost importance. As everybody knows, he is best friends with Vladimir Putin, the shirtless barbarian who rules the Evil Russian Empire (they were seen drinking kompromat together in Moscow, a vile Russian liquor that reportedly tastes a bit like urine. Senator McCain has the details on that story). And as Maxine Waters has just disclosed, Putin’s armies are recently advancing into Korea! We cannot let this stand, or he’ll invade Kekistan next (note that he already controls Limpopo and Gabon). Who knows where it will end?

 

We assume this was directed at President Trump.  But what Waters meant by this was sufficiently vague.  There was no guidance as to how President Trump should be getting ready.

Should he pack his bags?  Should he double knot his shoelaces?  Should he say a prayer? Naturally, the specifics don’t matter in the darnedest.  Rather, these days, it’s style over substance in just about everything.  This is why Waters – a committed moron – rises to the top of class in the lost republic of the early 21st century.

At the same time, the individual has been displaced by the almighty aggregate.  Economists pencil out the unemployment rate, with certain omissions, as if it represents something meaningful.  Then lunkheads like Waters repeat it as if it’s the gospel truth.

Somehow, through all of this, our representatives are oblivious to what’s really going on; that the U.S. government is just months away from a possible default.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Beware the Debt Ceiling

Euphoria has been pervasive in the stock market since the election. But investors seem to be overlooking the risk of a U.S. government default resulting from a failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The possibility is greater than anyone seems to realize, even with a supposedly unified government.

In particular, the markets seem to be ignoring two vital numbers, which together could have profound consequences for global markets: 218 and $189 billion. In order to raise or suspend the debt ceiling (which will technically be reinstated on March 16), 218 votes are needed in the House of Representatives. The Treasury’s cash balance will need to last until this happens, or the U.S. will default.

The opening cash balance this month was $189 billion, and Treasury is burning an average of $2 billion per day – with the ability to issue new debt. Net redemptions of existing debt not held by the government are running north of $100 billion a month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has acknowledged the coming deadline, encouraging Congress last week to raise the limit immediately.

Reaching 218 votes in favor of raising or suspending the debt ceiling might be harder than in any previous fiscal showdown. President Donald Trump almost certainly wants to raise the ceiling, but he may not have the votes. While Republicans control 237 seats in the House, the Tea Party wing of the party has in the past has steadfastly refused to go along with increases.

The Republican Party is already facing a revolt on its right flank over its failure to offer a clean repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Many members of this resistance constitute the ultra-right “Freedom Caucus,” which was willing to stand its ground during previous debt ceiling showdowns. The Freedom Caucus has 29 members, which means there might be only 208 votes to raise the ceiling. (It’s interesting to recall that, in 2013, President Trump himself tweeted that he was “embarrassed” that Republicans had voted to extend the ceiling.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why the Coming Wave of Defaults Will Be Devastating

Why the Coming Wave of Defaults Will Be Devastating

Without the stimulus of ever-rising credit, the global economy craters in a self-reinforcing cycle of defaults, deleveraging and collapsing debt-based consumption.
In an economy based on borrowing, i.e. credit a.k.a. debt, loan defaults and deleveraging (reducing leverage and debt loads) matter. Consider this chart of total credit in the U.S. Note that the relatively tiny decline in total credit in 2008 caused by subprime mortgage defaults (a.k.a. deleveraging) very nearly collapsed not just the U.S. financial system but the entire global financial system.
Every credit boom is followed by a credit bust, as uncreditworthy borrowers and highly leveraged speculators inevitably default. Homeowners with 3% down payment mortgages default when one wage earner loses their job, companies that are sliding into bankruptcy default on their bonds, and so on. This is the normal healthy credit cycle.
Bad debt is like dead wood piling up in the forest. Eventually it starts choking off new growth, and Nature’s solution is a conflagration–a raging forest fire that turns all the dead wood into ash. The fire of defaults and deleveraging is the only way to open up new areas for future growth.
Unfortunately, central banks have attempted to outlaw the healthy credit cycle.In effect, central banks have piled up dead wood (debt that will never be paid back) to the tops of the trees, and this is one fundamental reason why global growth is stagnant.
The central banks put out the default/deleveraging forest fire in 2008 with a tsunami of cheap new credit. Central banks created trillions of dollars, euros, yen and yuan and flooded the major economies with this cheap credit.
They also lowered yields on savings to zero so banks could pocket profits rather than pay depositors interest. This enabled the banks to rebuild their cash and balance sheets– at the expense of everyone with cash, of course.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Puerto Rico Defaults On $2 Billion In Debt Payments

Puerto Rico Defaults On $2 Billion In Debt Payments

As expected, Puerto Rico will default on about $2 billion in debt payments Friday, including $780 million in constitutionally-backed general obligation bonds, as governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has issued an executive order authorizing the suspension of payments. In addition, Garcia Padilla also declared states of emergency at the island’s biggest public pension – the Commonwealth’s Employee Retirement System – which is more than 99% underfunded, as well as the University of Puerto Rico and other agencies Reuters reports. The default will mark the first time a US territory has failed to pay on its general obligation bonds.

Under these circumstances, these executive orders protect the limited resources available to the agencies listed in these orders and prevents that these can be seized by creditors, leaving Puerto Ricans without basic services,” Garcia Padilla’s administration said in a statement.

The suspension of payments comes just as the Senate rushed a bill to President Obama that was signed on Thursday, and the bill will now allow Puerto Rico to access a bankruptcy-like debt restructuring process for its roughly $70 billion in debt. As Bloombergexplains, the next phase will now be for the US appointed control board to begin the restructuring negotiation process. The step allows Garcia Padilla to use cash that would otherwise go to investors to avert cuts to schools, policing and health care that Garcia Padilla said would extract a heavy toll on the island where nearly half of the 3.5 million residents live in poverty.

While creditors will now be left to battle it out in the courts, the default will leave large insurers of Puerto Rico’s bonds on the hook for payments. As CNBC reportsAssured Guaranty, Ambac and National, a wholly owned subsidiary of MBIA, collectively have more than $800 million in exposure to the total payments due Friday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2008 All Over Again

2008 All Over Again 

   Financial markets in the United States and worldwide face uncertainty and potential crisis after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (Sparkx 11)

Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has wiped out many bankers and global speculators. They will turn, as they did in 2008, to governments to rescue them from default. Most governments, including ours, will probably comply.

Will the American public passively permit another massive bailout of the banks? Will it accept more punishing programs of austerity to pay for this bailout? Will a viable socialism rise out of the economic chaos to halt further looting of the U.S. Treasury and the continued reconfiguration of the economy into neofeudalism? Or will a right-wing populism, with heavy undertones of fascism, ascend to power because of a failure on the part of the left to defend a population once again betrayed?

Whatever happens next will be chaotic. Global financial markets, which lost heavily on derivatives, are already in free fall. The value of the British pound has dropped by over 9 percent and British bank stock prices by over 25 percent. This decline has wiped out the net worth of many Wall Street brokerage houses and banks, leaving them with negative equity. The Brexit vote severely cripples and perhaps kills the eurozone and, happily, stymies trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It throws the viability of NATO and American imperial designs in Eastern Europe and the Middle East into question. The British public’s repudiation of neoliberal economics also has the potential to upend the presidential elections. The Democratic Party will orchestrate a rescue of Wall Street if there is a call for a bailout. Donald Trump and the Republicans, by opposing a bailout, can ride popular revulsion to power.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chinese Bankruptcies Surge More Than 50% In Q1; Worse To Come

Chinese Bankruptcies Surge More Than 50% In Q1; Worse To Come

Two months ago, when looking at the soaring number of bond issuance cancellations and postponements as calculated by BofA, we commented that it was only a matter of time before the long overdue tide of corporate defaults, held by for so many years by the Chinese government which would do anything to delay the inevitable, was about to be unleashed.

This prediction has indeed been validated and as the FT reports overnight, Chinese bankruptcies have surged this year “as the government uses the legal system to deal with “zombie” companies and reduce industrial overcapacity as part of a broader effort to restructure the economy.” In just the first quarter of 2016, Chinese courts have accepted 1,028 bankruptcy cases, up a whopping 52.5% from a year earlier, according to the Supreme People’s Court. Just under 20,000 cases were accepted in total between 2008 and 2015.

This is surprising because while China’s legislature had approved a modern bankruptcy law in 2007 it had barely been used for years, with debt disputes often handled through backroom negotiations involving local governments.  “Bankruptcy isn’t just about creditor-borrower relations. It also touches on social issues like unemployment,” said Wang Xinxin, director of the bankruptcy research centre at Renmin University law school in Beijing. “For a long time many local courts weren’t willing to accept them, or local governments didn’t let them accept.”

However, following the dramatic collapse of global commodity prices, which as we showed last October meant that more than half of local companies could not afford to even make one coupon payment with cash from operations, Beijing had no choice but to throw in the towel. And as the FT adds, “bankruptcy courts have been recruited into China’s drive for “supply-side reform”, which centres on reduction of overcapacity in sectors such as steel, coal and cement.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NY Fed Warns about Booming Subprime Mortgages, now Insured by the Government

NY Fed Warns about Booming Subprime Mortgages, now Insured by the Government

“Astronomical” default rates and losses.

The New York Fed just warned about the ticking mortgage subprime time bombs once again being amassed, and what happens to them when home prices decline. But unlike during the last housing bust, a large portion of these time bombs are now guaranteed by the government.

Subprime mortgages are what everyone still remembers about the Financial Crisis. They blew up has home prices fell. Folks who thought they were “owners with equity” found out that they were just “renters with debt.”

And they dealt with it the best they could: forget the debt and the rent and stay until kicked out. Cumulative default rates on subprime mortgages spiked to 25% in 2007, according to the report. Banks ended up with the properties and collapsed. Mortgage backed securities based on these subprime mortgages imploded. Bond funds that held them imploded. All kinds of fireworks began. While subprime mortgages didn’t cause the Financial Crisis by themselves, they were an essential cog in a crazy machinery.

Now, the machinery is even crazier, subprime mortgages are even bigger, and mortgage-backed securities, chock-full with subprime, are hotter than ever. Only this time, the taxpayer is on the hook.

During the prior housing boom, from 2000 through 2005, government mortgage insurance programs covered less than 3% of all subprime mortgage originations, while private mortgage insurers covered over 20%.

But during the housing bust, private insurance of subprime mortgages dropped to essentially zero. And the government – through various programs by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) – stepped in to pick up the baton, plus some, insuring subprime mortgages with a vengeance. By 2009, the government insured nearly 35% of new subprime mortgages. More recently, it still insured about 22% of new subprime mortgages.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bondholders Stunned As Puerto Rico Finds $4.4 Billion In Outstanding Debt “Unconstitutional”

Bondholders Stunned As Puerto Rico Finds $4.4 Billion In Outstanding Debt “Unconstitutional”

After Puerto Rico defaulted on its $422 million debt payment in May, governor Padilla begged congress to step in and help out, which happened shortly thereafter when a House committee cleared legislation that provided Puerto Rico with a way forward on restructuring its debt.

As it turns out, on the day the House announced that it planned on taking up the Puerto Rico bill next week, a 17 member audit commission found that two debt issues worth $4.4 billion of the $72 billion in debt outstanding were unconstitutional.

Said otherwise, the government may now just declare the bonds invalid. It’s a handy development for governor Padilla, since the two debt issues were expected to default on July 1. Also helpful is the fact that it would be one less item for Padilla to worry about since he proposed a budget for 2016-2017 that provides for only $209 million of the $1.4 billion in current debt service cost.

As MarketWatch explains

An audit report published on Thursday suggests that debt-laden Puerto Rico may be able to void some of its borrowing because politicians exceeded constitutional debt limits and their own authority.

The report, shared with MarketWatch, states that some of Puerto Rico’s debt may have been issued illegally, allowing the government to potentially declare the bonds invalid and courts to then decide that creditors’ claims are unenforceable. The scope of the audit report, issued by the island’s Public Credit Comprehensive Audit Commission, covers the two most recent full-faith-and-credit debt issues of the commonwealth: Puerto Rico’s 2014 $3.5 billion general-obligation bond offering and a $900 million issuance in 2015 of Tax Refund Anticipation Notes to a syndicate of banks led by J.P Morgan.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Heretical Thoughts And Doing The Unthinkable

Heretical Thoughts And Doing The Unthinkable

Heresy!

The Dow rose 222 points on Tuesday – or just over 1% – and everyone was exuberant…but things have not turned out well since. We agree with hedge-fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller: This is not a good time to be a U.S. stock market bull.

Druckenmiller

Legendary former hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller at the Ira Sohn conference – not an optimist at present, to put it mildly.

Speaking at an investment conference in New York last week, George Soros’ former partner warned that…

“…higher valuations, three more years of unproductive corporate behavior, limits to further easing, and excessive borrowing from the future suggest that the bull market is exhausting itself.” 

But we promised to return to the scene of our crime today. In these pages, we recently committed heterodoxy… even heresy! We don’t know what got into us and we are deeply sorry for our misdoings, the remembrance of which is grievous unto us…

… but in a moment of weakness (oh, ye gods of democracy, why have you forsaken us?) we dared to question whether voting makes any damned sense. We concluded that it didn’t.

We don’t know the candidates well enough to know who is really better. We don’t have any idea what challenges the next president will face, nor which candidate would be better equipped to deal with them. We don’t know if the candidates believe what they say they believe or whether they will do what they promise to do.

We only know our vote, statistically, won’t make a bit of difference. And that we don’t want the “lesser of two evils.” And that we don’t feel any obligation to play this game! Dear readers canceled their subscriptions… and heated up their irons.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The real oil limits story; what other researchers missed

The real oil limits story; what other researchers missed

The underlying assumption in these models is that scarcity would appear before the final cutoff of consumption. Hubbert looked at the situation from a geologist’s point of view in the 1950s to 1980s, without an understanding of the extent to which geological availability could change with higher price and improved technology. Harold Hotelling’s work came out of the conservationist movement of 1890 to 1920, which was concerned about running out of non-renewable resources. Those using supply and demand models have equivalent concerns–too little fossil fuel supply relative to demand, especially when environmental considerations are included.

Virtually no one realizes that the economy is a self-organized networked system. There are many interconnections within the system. The real situation is that as prices rise, supply tends to rise as well, because new sources of production become available at the higher price. At the same time, demand tends to fall for a variety of reasons:

  • Lower affordability
  • Lower productivity growth
  • Falling relative wages of non-elite workers

The potential mismatch between amount of supply and demand is exacerbated by the oversized role that debt plays in determining the level of commodity prices. Because the oil problem is one of diminishing returns, adding debt becomes less and less profitable over time. There is a potential for a sharp decrease in debt from a combination of defaults and planned debt reductions, leading to very much lower oil prices, and severe problems for oil producers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Puerto Rico Says Will Default Tomorrow, Begs Congress For Help “Or Else Crisis Will Get Worse”

Puerto Rico Says Will Default Tomorrow, Begs Congress For Help “Or Else Crisis Will Get Worse”

Update: PR Governor Padilla has spoken…
  • *PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR SAYS WON’T PAY DEBT TOMORROW
  • *PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR SAYS ISLAND WON’T PAY DEBT MONDAY
  • *PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: GOVERNMENT SIGNED MORATORIUM BILL YESTERD
  • *PUERTO RICO NEEDS DEAL W/ CREDITORS AND/OR CONGRESS: GARCIA

And of course, demands a bailout…

  • *PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR CALLS ON U.S. CONGRESS, PAUL RYAN FOR HELP

And then threatens…

  • *CRISIS WILL GET WORSE IF U.S. CONGRESS DOESN’T HELP: GARCIA
  • *PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR CONCLUDES REMARKS TO COMMONWEALTH

As we detailed earlier, It’s D-Day in Puerto Rico.As Bloomberg reports, investors are finding little comfort in the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank’s efforts to strike a last-ditch agreement with creditors to soften the blow of a default this weekend. The bonds that mature today (May 1st) have crashed to just 20c (disastrously below the 36-cent recovery rate the commonwealth proposed in March).

It appears investors are not buying what Puerto Rico is selling and prefer to dump the bonds than hold out in hope of a ‘deal’…

A default on the $422 million due today is “virtually certain,” S&P Global Ratings said April 11.

No matter which route Puerto Rico takes, credit-rating companies see a default as inevitable. Moody’s Investors Service analysts said last week that any non-payment, even if it’s agreed to by creditors, constitutes a default in their eyes. S&P Global Ratings said a distressed-debt exchange or temporarily withholding interest is synonymous to default.
But as Bloomberg reports, Puerto Rico said its Government Development Bank, which is operating in a state of emergency to preserve its dwindling cash, reached an agreement with some credit unions to delay $33 million of bond payments as the commonwealth rushes toward a potential historic default.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Corporate Debt Defaults - Public DomainThe Dow closed above 18,000 on Monday for the first time since July.  Isn’t that great news?  I truly wish that it was.  If the Dow actually reflected economic reality, I could stop writing about “economic collapse” and start blogging about cats or football.  Unfortunately, the stock market and the economy are moving in two completely different directions right now.  Even as stock prices soar, big corporations are defaulting on their debts at a level that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  In fact, this wave of debt defaults have become so dramatic that even USA Today is reporting on it

Get ready to step over some landmines, investors. The number of companies defaulting on their debt is hitting levels not seen since the financial crisis, and it’s not just a problem for bondholders.

So far this year, 46 companies have defaulted on their debt, the highest level since 2009, according to S&P Ratings Services. Five companies defaulted this week, based on the latest data available from S&P Ratings Services. That includes New Jersey-based specialty chemical company Vertellus Specialties and Ohio-based iron ore producer Cliffs Natural. Of the world’s defaults this year, 37 are of companies based in the U.S.

Meanwhile, coal producer Peabody Energy (BTU) and surfwear seller Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) this week filed plans for bankruptcy protection. Shares of Peabody have dropped 97% over the past year to $2 a share and Pacific Sunwear stock is off 98% to 4 cents a share.

A lot of big companies in this country have fallen on hard times, and it looks like bankruptcy attorneys are going to be absolutely swamped with work for the foreseeable future.

So why are stock prices soaring right now?  After all, it doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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