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Screwed

Screwed

James Madison: “We are free today substantially but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few.” 

The tax cut has now been shown the very scam I outlined it to be in 2017. Debt is soaring and so are debt financing obligations. The CBO estimated that the US will have to add $12 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. As growth estimates for GDP keep being revised downward into 2019 and 2020 there is zero evidence that the tax cut has added anything but a 2 quarter temporary bump to GDP, but the financial consequences will linger for years to come. The promises of resulting investments were of course lies:

“The Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion cut tax package appeared to have no major impact on businesses’ capital investment or hiring plans, according to a survey released a year after the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.

The National Association of Business Economics’ (NABE) quarterly business conditions poll published on Monday found that while some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, 84 percent of respondents said they had not changed plans. That compares to 81 percent in the previous survey published in October.

The White House had predicted that the massive fiscal stimulus package, marked by the reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, would boost business spending and job growth. The tax cuts came into effect in January 2018.”

So horrific is the debt explosion that “deficits continue to blow out,” said Brian Edmonds, head of interest-rates trading at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. “We are going to see more and more supply.”

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

Corporate Credit – A Chasm Between Risk Perceptions and Actual Risk

Corporate Credit – A Chasm Between Risk Perceptions and Actual Risk

Shifts in Credit-Land: Repatriation Hurts Small Corporate Borrowers

A recent Bloomberg article informs us that US companies with large cash hoards (such as AAPL and ORCL) were sizable players in corporate debt markets, supplying plenty of funds to borrowers in need of US dollars. Ever since US tax cuts have prompted repatriation flows, a “$300 billion-per-year hole” has been left in the market, as Bloomberg puts it. The chart below depicts the situation as of the end of August (not much has changed since then).

Short term (1-3 year) yields have risen strongly as a handful of cash-rich tech companies have begun to repatriate funds to the US.

Now these borrowers find it harder to get hold of funding. This in turn is putting additional pressure on their borrowing costs. At the same time, the cash-rich companies no longer need to fund share buybacks and dividends by issuing bonds themselves.

The upshot is that the financially strongest companies no longer issue new short term debt, while smaller and financially weaker companies are scrambling for funding and are faced with soaring interest rate expenses – which makes them even weaker.

As Bloomberg writes:

What is really noteworthy about this is that as these corporate middlemen are getting out, the quality of fixed-rate securities available to the rest of the investoriat continues to deteriorate in the aggregate.

Risk Perceptions vs. Risk

Meanwhile, despite the fact that euro-denominated corporate debt is reportedly still selling like hot cakes, both spreads and absolute yields have increased markedly in euro as well since late 2017 (as yields on German government debt are used as sovereign benchmarks for the euro area and remain stubbornly low, credit spreads on corporate and financial debt have increased almost in tandem with nominal yields).

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

More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

“Financial-market and economic prospects remain far shy of the hype and headlines, amidst tanking consumer optimism and negative revisions to recent reporting.” – John Williams, Shadowstats.com

The economy may seem like it’s doing well if you are part of the upper 10% demographic. Though, in reality, for most of the upper 10%, doing “well” has been a function of having easy access to credit. NASA Federal Credit Union is offering 0% down, 0% mortgage insurance for mortgages up to $2.5 million.

Someone I know suggested the tax cut stimulus had run its course. But the narrative that the tax cuts would stimulate economic activity was pure propaganda. The tax cuts stimulated $1 trillion in expected share buybacks and put more money in the pockets of corporate insiders and billionaires. The average middle class household spent its tax cut money on more expensive gasoline and food. Since the tax cut took effect, auto sales and home sales have declined. Retail sales have been mixed. However, it’s difficult to distinguish between statistical manipulation and inflation. I would argue that, net of real inflation and Census Bureau statistical games, real retail sales have been declining.

As an example, last week Black Box Intelligence released July restaurant sales. While comparable store sales were up 0.54% over July 2017, comparable restaurant traffic was down 1.8%. On a rolling three months, comp sales are up 0.46% but comparable traffic is down nearly 2%. With traffic declining, especially a faster rate relative to the small increase in sales, it means the sales “growth” is entirely a function of price inflation. If Black Box Intelligence could control it’s data for price increases, it would show that there is no question that real sales are declining. I have been loathe to recommend shorting restaurant stocks because, for some reason, the hedge funds love them.

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

Ben Bernanke: The US Economy Is Going To Go Off The Cliff In 2020

It looks like Ben Bernanke is a Bridgewater client.

Recall that earlier this week we reported that in the May 31 “Daily Observations” letter to select clients, authored by Bridgewater co-CIO Greg Jensen, the world’s biggest hedge had an ominous, if not dire appraisal of the current economic and financial situation facing the US, and concluded that “We Are Bearish On Almost All Financial Assets

While Ray Dalio’s co-Chief Investment Officer listed several specific reasons for his unprecedented bearishness, noting that “markets are already vulnerable as the Fed is pulling back liquidity and raising rates, making cash scarcer and more attractive”, pointing out that “options pricing reflects little investor demand for protection against the potential for the economy to bubble over and also shows virtually no chance of deflation, which is a high likelihood in the next downturn”, what really spooked Bridgewater is what happens in 2020 when the impact from the Trump stimulus peaks, and goes into reverse. This is what Jensen wrote:

while such strong conditions would call for further Fed tightening, there’s almost no further tightening priced in beyond the end of 2019. Bond yields are not priced in to rise much, implying that the yield curve will continue to flatten. This seems to imply an unsustainable set of conditions, given that government deficits will continue growing even after the peak of fiscal stimulation and the Fed is scheduled to continue unwinding is balance sheet, it is difficult to imagine attracting sufficient bond buyers with the yield curve continuing to flatten.”

The result was the hedge fund’s now infamous conclusion:

We are bearish on financial assets as the US economy progresses toward the late cycle, liquidity has been removed, and the markets are pricing in a continuation of recent conditions despite the changing backdrop.”

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

Trump Trade Wars A Perfect Smokescreen For A Market Crash

Trump Trade Wars A Perfect Smokescreen For A Market Crash

First, I would like to say that the timing of Donald Trump’s announcement on expansive trade tariffs is unusual if not impeccable. I say this only IF Trump’s plan was to benefit establishment globalists by giving them perfect cover for their continued demolition of the market bubbles that they have engineered since the crash of 2008.

If this was not his plan, then I am a bit bewildered by what he hopes to accomplish. It is certainly not the end of trade deficits and the return of American industry. But let’s explore the situation for a moment…

Trump is in my view a modern day Herbert Hoover. One of Hoover’s first actions as president in response to the crash of 1929 was to support increased tax cuts, primarily for corporations (this was then followed in 1932 by extensive tax increases in the midst of the depression, so let’s see what Trump does in the next couple of years).  Then, he instituted tariffs through the Smoot-Hawley Act.  His hyperfocus on massive infrastructure spending resulted in U.S. debt expansion and did nothing to dig the U.S. out of its unemployment abyss. In fact, infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam, which were launched in 1931, were not paid off for over 50 years. Hoover oversaw the beginning of the Great Depression and ended up as a single-term Republican president who paved the way socially for Franklin D. Roosevelt, an essential communist and perhaps the worst president in American history.

This is not to say Hoover was responsible for the Great Depression.  That distinction goes to the Federal Reserve, which had artificially lowered interest rates and then suddenly raised them going into the economic downturn causing an aggressive bubble implosion (just like the central bank is doing right now).

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

Albert Edwards on Trump’s Legacy:15% Deficits then a Deflationary Bust

Albert Edwards at Society General does not have kind words for Trump’s stimulus package.

In his latest Email, Albert Edwards at Society General fires a shot at Trump’s tax cut.

Edwards says the “fiscal expansion is probably the most foolhardy escapade in modern economic policy, and the timing of the fiscal stimulus that is utterly ridiculous and will only accelerate the collapse of US financial markets as the Fed hikes rates even more quickly.”

I doubt this is the most foolhardy expansion in history, but it is reckless and ill-timed.

Here are a few clips from Edwards.

After some eighteen months of surprising to the downside, US wage and price inflation are rising briskly, putting intense downward pressure on financial markets. Yet another Fed-inspired financial Ponzi scheme now looks set to collapse into the deflationary dust. But the post-mortem will identify President Trump’s ludicrously timed fiscal stimulus as a key trigger for the collapse. A 15% deficit will be his legacy.

Whatever the arguments are in favour of tax reform in the US (and there are many), this is probably the singularly most irresponsible macro-stimulus seen in US history. To say it is ill-timed and ill-judged would be a massive understatement.

The outcome of this front-end loaded stimulus package is patently obvious. It will rapidly accelerate the end of the economic cycle.

Tim Lee of pi Economics opined recently on why the VIX will struggle to regain the very low levels of a couple of weeks back. “We are much further into the cycle of what might be thought of as an underlying tightening of monetary conditions. The Fed is contracting its balance sheet and raising interest rates. On top of that … US imbalances are worsening with the personal savings rate set to fall to a new low while US government finances deteriorate further. Nominal and real bond yields are rising.”

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

Is Washington tacitly operating under a new monetary theory?

Is Washington tacitly operating under a new monetary theory?

In 2002 when soon-to-be-dismissed U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill warned then Vice President Dick Cheney that the Bush administration’s tax cuts would drive up deficits and threaten the health of the economy, Cheney famously answered: “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

In the wake of the recently approved federal tax cut,voices concerned about the damage that deficits will do are rising again.

What’s curious is that since Cheney’s rebuke of O’Neill, growing federal government deficits seem not of have mattered. In fact, the largest deficits ever boosted the economy after the 2008-09 recession, exceeding $1 trillion annually for four years.

All of this suggests that the federal government has for a long time been operating under an unspoken monetary theory, namely, that government spending does not need to be backed by revenues and that the debt issued to fill the gap between spending and revenues will have little effect now or in the future.

But isn’t there some level of federal debt which would cripple the federal government and the U.S. economy?  A common metric for measuring this debt is the ratio of federal debt to annual gross domestic product (GDP). When one looks at a graph of this, the growth in debt seems perilous, rising from a low of around 30 percent of GDP in the early 1980s to more than 100 percent of GDP today.

Seemingly more perilous is the rapid growth in Japanese government debt. That debt has soared from a low of around 40 percent of GDP in 1990 to almost 200 percent of GDP now. Yet, the oft-prophesied demise of Japanese government finance has not occurred.

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

Get Ready To Party Like It’s 2008

Get Ready To Party Like It’s 2008

Apparently Treasury Secretary, ex-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, has threatened Congress with stock crash if Congress doesn’t pass a tax reform Bill.  His reason is that the stock market surge since the election was based on the hopes of a big tax cut.  This reminds me of 2008, when then-Treasury Secretary, ex-Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry Paulson, and Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, paraded in front of Congress and threatened a complete systemic collapse if Congress didn’t authorize an $800 billion bailout of the biggest banks.

The U.S. financial system is experiencing an asset “bubble” that is unprecedented in history. This is a bubble that has been fueled by an unprecedented amount of Central Bank money printing and credit creation. As you are well aware, the Fed printed more than $4 trillion dollars of currency that was used to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities. But it has also enabled an unprecedented amount of credit creation. This credit availability has further fueled the rampant inflation in asset prices – specifically stocks, bonds and housing, the price of which now exceeds the levels seen in 2008 right before the great financial crisis.

However, you might not be aware that Central Banks outside of the U.S. continue printing money that is being used to buy stocks and risky bonds. The Bank of Japan now owns more than 75% of that nation’s stock ETFs. The Swiss National Bank holds over $80 billion worth of U.S. stocks, $17 billion of which were purchased in 2017. The European Central Bank, in addition to buying member country sovereign-issued debt is now buying corporate bonds, some of which are non-investment grade.

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

The Horror! The Horror! (Part Two)

THE HORROR! THE HORROR! (PART TWO)

In Part One of this article I detailed how propaganda has been utilized by the Deep State for decades to control the minds of the masses and allow those in control to reap the benefits of never ending war. In Part Two I will discuss recent events, false flags, and propaganda campaigns utilized by the Deep State to push the world to the brink of war.

“We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness”Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

The use of graphic images, electronically transmitted across the world in an instant, along with a consistent false narrative promoted by the captured corporate media, is the preferred means of appealing to the emotions of those who want to believe atrocity propaganda. Instigating a march to war through the use of unfounded fear, misinformation, staged photo ops, and appealing to passions and prejudices was as revolting to Albert Einstein  in the 1930s as it is today to normal thinking individuals.

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” – Albert Einstein

It seems the level and intensity of the propaganda campaigns has ratcheted up dramatically in the last half dozen years and appears to be reaching a crescendo as we speak.

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

Reagan Adviser: Why Trump Won’t Cut Taxes

The mules of Wall Street were back at it again, buying the dips after the overnight whoosh downward in the futures market. Apparently, it will take an actual two-by-four between the eyes to break a habit that has been working for 96 months now since the March 2009 post-crisis bottom.

We think it is plain as day, however, that we are in a new ball game that the “stimulus-blinded” mules don’t see coming at all. To wit, they have been juiced for eight years running by the Keynesian apparatchiks at the Fed who needed permission from exactly no one to run the printing presses full tilt or to rescue the market with a new round of QE or an extension of ZIRP whenever the indices began to wobble.

But now, even the money printers have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they are done for this cycle, anyway, and that they will be belatedly but consistently raising interest rates for what ought to be a truly scary reason.

That is, the denizens of the Eccles Building have finally realized that they have not outlawed the business cycle after all and need to raise rates toward 2-3% so that they have headroom to “cut” the next time the economy slides into the ditch.

In effect, the Fed is saying to Wall Street: “Price in” a recession because we are!

After all, our monetary central planners are not reluctantly allowing interest rates to lift off the zero bound because they have become converts to the cause of honest price discovery—-nor are they fixing to liberate money rates, debt yields, and the prices of stocks and other financial assets to clear on the free market.

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

States Consider Increasing Taxes for the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent

States Consider Increasing Taxes for the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent

A number of Republican-led states are considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor.

Conservatives are known for hating taxes but particularly hate income taxes, which they say have a greater dampening effect on growth. Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich.

Favorite targets for the new taxes include gas, e-cigarettes, and goods and services in general. Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine, who wants to start taxing movie tickets and haircuts, is also proposing a tax break for the lowest-income families to relieve some of the pressure.

At the same time, some of those governors — most notably Mr. LePage, Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and John R. Kasich of Ohio — have proposed significant cuts to their state income tax. They say that tax policies that encourage business growth provide more jobs and economic benefits for everyone.

new report suggests that these states could be creating financial problems down the road. The strategy of shifting from income taxes to consumption taxes has caused huge budget shortfalls in Kansas and, more recently, North Carolina, which announced a budget shortfall of nearly half a billion dollars.

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

 

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