• Category Archives Fiscal Policies
  • How Tax Reform Can Still Blow Up: A Side-By-Side Comparison Of The House And Senate Tax Plans

    To much fanfare, mostly out of president Trump, on Thursday the House passed their version of the tax bill 227-205 along party lines, with 13 Republicans opposing. The passage of the House bill was met with muted market reaction. The Senate version of the tax reform is currently going through the Senate Finance Committee for additional amendments and should be ready for a full floor debate in a few weeks. While some, like Goldman, give corporate tax cuts (if not broad tax reform), an 80% chance of eventually becoming law in the first quarter of 2018, others like UBS and various prominent skeptics, do not see the House and Senate plans coherently merging into a survivable proposal.
    Indeed, while momentum seemingly is building for the tax plan, some prominent analysts believe there are several issues down the road that could trip up or even stall a comprehensive tax plan from passing the Congress, the chief of which is how to combine the House and Senate plans into one viable bill.
    How are the two plans different?
    Below we present a side by side comparison of the two plans from Bank of America, which notes that the House and the Senate are likely to pass different tax plans with areas of disagreement (see table below). This means that the two chambers will need to form a conference committee to hash out the differences. There are three major friction points:
    the repeal of the state and local tax deductions (SALT), capping mortgage interest deductions and the delay in the corporate tax cut. The House seems strongly opposed to fully repealing SALT and delaying the corporate tax cuts and the Senate could push back on changing the mortgage interest deductions. Finding compromise on these issues without disturbing other parts of the plan while keeping the price tag under the $1.5tn over 10 years could be challenging.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Business Cycles and Inflation – Part I

    Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting Q4 2017 – Special Guest Ben Hunt, Author and Editor of Epsilon Theory
    The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Fund’s Advisory Board took place on October 10 and we had the great pleasure to be joined by special guest Ben Hunt this time, who is probably known to many of our readers as the main author and editor of Epsilon Theory. He is also chief risk officer at investment management firm Salient Partners. As always, a transcript of the discussion is available for download below.
    As usual, we will add a few words here to expand a little on the discussion. A wide range of issues relevant to the markets was debated at the conference call, but we want to focus on just one particular point here that we only briefly mentioned in the discussion. In fact, as you will see we are about to go off on quite a tangent (note: Part II will be posted shortly as well).
    Among the things Ben Hunt specializes in are the narratives accompanying economic and financial trends, and not to forget, economic and monetary policy, which inform the ‘Common Knowledge Game’ (in his introductory remarks, Ronald Stoeferle provides this brief definition: ‘It’s not what the crowd believes that’s important; it’s what the crowd believes that the crowd believes’). This reminded us of something George Soros first mentioned in a speech he delivered in the early 1990s:
    Economic history is a never-ending series of episodes based on falsehoods and lies, not truths. It represents the path to big money. The object is to recognize the trend whose premise is false, ride that trend, and step off before it is discredited.

    This post was published at Acting-Man on November 17, 2017.


  • Reality On So-Called ‘Tax Cuts’

    Let’s cut the crap, shall we?
    Tax cuts have never resulted in any sort of material improvement in the living standard of the ordinary America — which I define as everyone other than the top 1% of earners.
    It has simply never happened.
    The last time the tax code was “reorganized” you got more buy-backs and stock options issued to executives.
    The same thing happened with all the other tax cut packages since.
    Further, when we had the so-called “Reagan Tax Reform” Tipper promised to cut spending in order to make them deficit neutral. He did not do so; no reduction in spending was ever delivered.
    This will be no different. In fact, unlike the Reagan-era game nobody is even claiming to intend to reduce spending.
    The chimera of “tax cuts” being “good for business” is nonsense as well. Almost no corporation actually pays the tax rate claimed, especially large firms. They all cheat — Apple has been caught in the “Paradise Papers” and others have as well. The claim of “repatriation” leading to some sort of boom in investment and wages is nonsense as well.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-11-17.


  • Draghi Speech: Everything Is Awesome In Europe, No Signs Of Systemic Risks

    Mario Draghi gave the keynote speech at the Frankfurt European Banking Congress this morning in which he focused on the strong outlook for the Eurozone economy and how his monetary policy is playing a vital role. The speech was peppered with upbeat phrases and adjectives like solid, robust, unabated, endogenous propagation, resilient, remarkable and ongoing. According to Draghi.
    The euro area is in the midst of a solid economic expansion. GDP has risen for 18 straight quarters, with the latest data and surveys pointing to unabated growth momentum in the period ahead. From the ECB’s perspective, we have increasing confidence that the recovery is robust and that this momentum will continue going forward. Draghi is confident that future growth will be unabated for three reasons.
    Previous headwinds have dissipated; Drivers of growth are increasingly endogenous rather than exogenous; and The Eurozone economy is more resilient to new shocks. In terms of previous headwinds, Draghi notes that global growth and trade have recovered, while the eurozone has de-leveraged.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Hayek on Good and Bad Unemployment Policies

    In 1944 Professor Hayek emphasised that sustainable employment de pends on an appropriate distribution of labour among the different lines of production. This distribution must change as circumstances change. Sustain able employment thus depends on appropriate changes in relative real wage-rates. If established producers – both unions and capitalists – prevent such relative changes from becoming effective, there follows an unnecessary rise in unemployment. Sustainable employment now depends on successfully tackling these established labour and capital monopolies. – Sudha R. Shenoy
    One of the obstacles to a successful employment policy is, paradoxically enough, that it is so comparatively easy quickly to reduce unemployment, or even almost to extinguish it, for the time being. There is always ready at hand a way of rapidly bringing large numbers of people back to the kind of employment they are used to, at no greater immediate cost than the printing and spending of a few extra millions. In countries with a disturbed monetary history this has long been known, but it has not made the remedy much more popular. In England the recent discovery of this drug has produced a somewhat intoxicating effect; and the present tendency to place exclusive reliance on its use is not without danger.
    Though monetary expansion can afford quick relief, it can produce a lasting cure only to a limited extent. Few people will deny that monetary policy can successfully counteract the deflationary spiral into which every minor decline of activity tends to degenerate. This does not mean, however, that it is desirable that we should normally strain the instrument of monetary expansion to create the maximum amount of employment which it can produce in the short run. The trouble with such a policy is that it would be almost certain to aggravate the more fundamental or structural causes of unemployment and leave us in the end in a position worse than that from which we started.

    This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 11/16/2017.


  • UBS Reveals The Stunning Reason Behind The 2017 Stock Market Rally

    It’s 2018 forecast time for the big banks. With Goldman unveiling its seven Top Trades for 2018 earlier, overnight it was also UBS’ turn to reveal its price targets for the S&P in the coming year, and not surprisingly, the largest Swiss bank was extremely bullish, so much so in fact that its base case is roughly where Goldman expects the S&P to be some time in the 2020s (at least until David Kostin revises his price forecast shortly).
    So what does UBS expect? The bank’s S&P “base case” is 2900, and notes that its upside target of 3,300 assumes a tax cut is passed, while its downside forecast of 2,200 assumes Fed hikes in the face of slowing growth:
    We target 2900 for the S&P 500 at 2018 YE, based on EPS of $141 (+8%) and modest P/E expansion to 20.6x.
    Our upside case of S&P 500 at 3300 assumes EPS gets a further 10% boost driven by a 25% tax rate (+6.5%), repatriation (+2%) and a GDP lift (+1.6%), while the P/E rises by 1.0x. Downside of 2200 assumes the Fed hikes as growth slows, the P/E contracts by 3x and EPS falls 3%. Congress is motivated to act before midterm elections while the Fed usually reacts to slower growth; so we think our upside case is more likely.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • Another Step Forward for Sound Money: Location Picked for Texas Gold Depository

    The Texas Bullion Depository took a step closer becoming operational earlier this month when officials announced the location of the new facility. The creation of a state bullion depository in Texas represents a power shift away from the federal government to the state, and it provides a blueprint that could ultimately end the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
    Gov. Greg Abbot signed legislation creating the state gold bullion and precious metal depository in June of 2015. The facility will not only provide a secure place for individuals, business, cities, counties, government agencies and even other countries to store gold and other precious metals, the law also creates a mechanism to facilitate the everyday use of gold and silver in business transactions. In short, a person will be able to deposit gold or silver in the depository and pay other people through electronic means or checks – in sound money.
    Earlier this summer, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Austin-based Lone Star Tangible Assets will build and operate the Texas Bullion Depository. On Nov. 3, the company announced it will construct the facility in the city of Leander, located about 30 miles northwest of Austin. According to the Community Impact Newspaper, the Leander City Council has approved an economic development agreement with Lone Star. Construction of the depository is expected to begin in early 2018. Lone Star officials say it will take about a year to complete construction of the 60,000-square-foot secure facility located on a 10-acre campus.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 16, 2017.


  • Thompson Reuters GFMS Outlook: Gold Above $1,400 in 2018

    Analysts at Thomson Reuters expect the price of gold to push back over $1,300 and then continue to rise above $1,400 through next year, primarily driven by overvalued stock markets, according to the GFMS Gold Survey 2017 Q3 Update and Outlook.
    Gold briefly broke through the key $1,300 level in late August. Safe-haven buying served as a key driver, as heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea was at a peak late last summer. But gold fell back below $1,300 and has traded within a tight range over the last few weeks as investors mull future Federal Reserve moves and the impact of GOP tax reform – if Congress can get it done. Lackluster investment demand in the West, particularly North America, has also led to a supply surplus.
    Thompson Reuters analysts say the initial push above $1,300 was an overextension of the price at the time, and they call the drop back below that level ‘a healthy correction for the price that has formed a base for a more sustainable move above $1,300 later this year.’

    This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 16, 2017.


  • Goldman Reveals Its Top Trade Recommendations For 2018

    It’s that time of the year again when with just a few weeks left in the year, Goldman unveils its top trade recommendations for the year ahead. And while Goldman’s Top trades for 2016 was an abysmal disaster, with the bank getting stopped out with a loss on virtually all trade recos within weeks after the infamous China crash in early 2016, its 2017 “top trade” recos did far better. Which brings us to Thursday morning, when Goldman just unveiled the first seven of its recommended Top Trades for 2018 which “represent some of the highest conviction market expressions of our economic outlook.”
    Without further ado, here are the initial 7 trades (on which Goldman :
    Top Trade #1: Position for more Fed hikes and a rebuild of term premium by shorting 10-year US Treasuries. Top Trade #2: Go long EUR/JPY for continued rotation around a flat Dollar. Top Trade #3: Go long the EM growth cycle via the MSCI EM stock market index. Top Trade #4: Go long inflation risk premium in the Euro area via EUR 5-year 5-year forward inflation. Top Trade #5: Position for ‘early vs. late’ cycle in EM vs the US by going long the EMBI Global Index against short the US High Yield iBoxx Index. Top Trade #6: Own diversifed Asian growth, and the hedge interest rate risk via FX relative value (Long INR, IDR, KRW vs. short SGD and JPY). Top Trade #7: Go long the global growth and non-oil commodity beta through long BRL, CLP, PEN vs. short USD.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • Retail Sales (US) Are Exhibit #1

    In January 2016, everything came to a head. The oil price crash (2nd time), currency chaos, global turmoil, and even a second stock market liquidation were all being absorbed by the global economy. The disruptions were far worse overseas, thus the global part of global turmoil, but the US economy, too, was showing clear signs of distress. A manufacturing recession had emerged which would only ever be the case on weak demand.
    But the Fed just the month before had finally ‘raised rates’ for the first time in a decade, though after procrastinating all through 2015. Still, surely these wise, proficient technocrats wouldn’t be so careless and clueless as to act in this way during a serious downturn. After all, what are ‘rate hikes’ but the central bank’s shifting concerns toward a faster economy perhaps reaching the proportions of overheating.
    The dissonance was striking, nowhere more so than at the Federal Reserve itself. On the day the FOMC voted for the first of what was supposed to be (by now) ten to fifteen increases (not just four) the central bank also released estimates on US Industrial Production that were negative year-over-year, a condition that just doesn’t happen outside of either a recession or a condition very close to one.
    The mainstream sided easily and eagerly with the technocrats. Even as the Fed failed to act month after month, the word ‘transitory’ printed prominently in each article rationalizing why a manufacturing recession just wouldn’t matter, the media would claim how ‘strong’ and ‘resilient’ especially US consumers were.

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on November 15, 2017.


  • House Set To Pass GOP Tax-Reform This Afternoon

    Last night, Sen. Ron Johnson surprised the GOP Senate leadership by coming out against the republican tax plan “in its current form”, the latest sign that the Republican push to pass comprehensive tax reform by New Year’s will struggle in the Senate. Still, that won’t stop the more Trump-friendly House of Representatives from passing their version of the bill, which they’re expected to do this afternoon following a meeting with the president.
    While the vote totals are expected to be tight, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady both said the bill will likely pass, and they wouldn’t be pushing for a vote unless they had it in the bag. President Trump will visit Capitol Hill ahead of the vote to rally support, but, according to the Hill, it appears there will be little need to twist arms. All three of the House’s major Republican factions have given the bill the green light.
    Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and fellow leaders have been in a buoyant mood all week, signaling they have the 217 votes needed to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
    And the days leading up to the vote have been relatively drama-free, as the three main House GOP factions – the far-right Freedom Caucus, conservative Republican Study Committee and moderate Tuesday Group – have either backed the bill or stayed on the sidelines.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • BoE Deputy Governor Gives Crazy Speech Warning Markets Have Underestimated Rate Rises

    On 2 November 2017, the Bank of England raised rates for the first time in a decade and Sterling’s initial rise was promptly sold off by forex traders as we discussed.
    The 7-2 vote by the Monetary Policy Committee was not the unanimous decision some had expected, while Cunliffe and Ramsden saw insufficient evidence that wage growth would pick up in line with the BoE’s projections from just over 2% to 3% in a year’s time. Ben Broadbent, MPC member, deputy governor and known to be a close confidant of Governor Carney, gave a speech today at the London School of Economics (LSE) in which he warned markets that Brexit issues didn’t necessarily mean that interest rates have to remain low.
    Bloomberg reports that Broadbent stated that the Brexit impact on monetary policy depends on how it affects demand, supply and the exchange rate.
    “There are feasible combinations of the three that might require looser policy, others that lead to tighter policy.”
    Which sounds alot like he doesn’t know, although he stuck to the central bankers trusty tool, reassuring LSE students the Phillips Curve “still seems to have a slope”.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • The Fed’s Bubblenomics

    The Following is adapted from a preface to a new report by Murray Sabrin, featured in his November 15 presentation, “Bubblenomics” at Ramapo College.]
    If you Google ‘dot com bubble,’ you will get nearly 1.2 million hits, and 3.3 million hits if you Google ‘tech bubble.’ A Google search of ‘housing bubble’ will return nearly 11 million hits. (The searches were conducted on March 29, 2017). And if you search Amazon books for financial crisis 2008 you will get more than 1200 hits.
    Given all the books, monographs, essays, articles, and editorials that have been written about back-to-back bubbles that occurred within two decades, one would think there would be nothing else to write about.
    The purpose of this book is to present to the general public, my fellow academicians and policymakers with an brief account and review of one of the most turbulent periods in United States history without the usual jargon academics are noted for.
    As the two quotes from the Federal Reserve’s website above reveal, the Fed has been given the responsibility by the Congress of the United States to essentially promote sustainable prosperity, stabilize prices and maximize employment. During the past 100 years of the Federal Reserve’s operations, the economy has grown substantially (see Figure 1 for data since 1929), but the path to higher living standards have been interrupted by depressions/ recessions, a few bouts with double-digit price inflation and occasionally widespread unemployment. Although the Congress has expected the Federal Reserve to be a wise and prescient ‘helmsman,’ navigating the economy from becoming overheated or plunging into a recession or worse, the Fed’s track record belies its mandates.

    This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 11/15/2017.


  • Why Core Inflation is Rising & What it Means for Fed Rate Hikes

    Yellen was right to brush off ‘transitory’ factors of ‘low’ inflation.
    Consumer prices, as measured by CPI for October, rose 2.0% year-over-year. A month ago, CPI increased 2.2%. The Fed’s inflation target is 2%, but it doesn’t use CPI, or even ‘Core CPI’ – which excludes the volatile food and energy items. It uses ‘Core PCE,’ which usually runs lower than CPI, and if there were an accepted measure that shows even less inflation, it would use that. But it does look at CPI, and there was nothing in today’s data to stop the Fed from raising its target rate in December.
    The Core CPI rose 1.8%, up a tad from September’s 1.7% increase. Core CPI has been above 2% for all of 2016 and through March 2017. In the history of the data going back to the 1960s, Core CPI had never experienced ‘deflation.’ But when Core CPI rates retreated in the spring through August, along with other inflation measures, a sort of panic broke out in the media:

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 15, 2017.


  • Desperately Seeking 1995

    The year 1995 wasn’t exact a good year to remember. There was the Oklahoma City bombing, the San Diego tank rampage, the New Jersey Devils winning the Stanley Cup in a lockout shortened NHL season, and some former Buffalo Bills running back named OJ getting into trouble out in LA. Steve Forbes would announce his candidacy to challenge President Clinton that September.
    Despite all that, in 2017 both the bond and stock markets are almost desperate to repeat the year, at least its financial and economic characteristics. To be more precise, it is stock investors who are betting on a 1995 while bond investors are holding out against that scenario – leaving Economists and the media to openly cheer for it and directly against them.
    Though it started in late ’94, the bond ‘massacre’ that year still stings in bond traders’ collective memories. Alan Greenspan’s Fed has begun to raise interest rates after several years of very low federal funds, ‘stimulus’ the central bank judged necessary because of a sluggish, almost jobless recovery (just ask President George H. W. Bush who Clinton defeated on ‘it’s the economy stupid’). That for many people is as compelling a setup as there may ever be.

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on November 13, 2017.


  • The Moment Gary Cohn Realized His Entire Economic Policy Is A Disaster

    Ever since 2012 (see “How The Fed’s Visible Hand Is Forcing Corporate Cash Mismanagement“) we have warned that as a result of the Fed’s flawed monetary policy and record low rates, corporations have been incentivized not to invest in growth and allocate funds to capital spending (the result has been an unprecedented decline in capex), but to engage in the quickest, and most effective – if only in the short run – shareholder friendly actions possible, namely stock buybacks.
    We got a vivid confirmation of that recently when Credit Suisse showed that the only buyer of stock since the financial crisis has been the corporate sector’, i.e. companies repurchasing their own shares…

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.


  • “We Have Reached A Turning Point”: Trader Explains Why Today’s CPI Could Send Equities Reeling

    From the latest Macro View by Bloomberg commentator and former Lehman trader, Mark Cudmore
    Equities Must Fear CPI Now the Fed Put Era Is Over
    A surprise in either direction from today’s U. S. consumer price index print is likely to hurt global stocks.
    For many years, in the wake of QE, we became used to markets where ‘good data is good for equities and bad data is good for equities.’ The logic was that bad data implied a greater likelihood more liquidity would be pumped into the system, whereas good data inspired confidence that the economic recovery was on track.
    Today might mark a turning point where we more frequently trade the opposite dynamic. The Fed has fought so hard to convince investors that the economy can cope with hikes and balance-sheet reduction that it may have boxed itself into a corner. It can’t retreat from its policy path without seriously undermining its credibility.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.


  • Sweden: The World’s Biggest Housing Bubble Cracks

    Sweden’s property bubble is probably the world’s biggest, despite which it gets relatively little coverage in the mainstream financial media – although that might be about to change. Warnings about this bubble are not new. In March 2016, Moody’s issued a very explicit warning that Sweden’s negative interest rates were propagating an unsustainable housing bubble.
    The central banks of Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden (all rated Aaa stable) have been among the first to push policy rates into negative territory. A year into this novel experience, Moody’s Investors Service concludes that, from among the three countries, Sweden is most at risk of an – ultimately unsustainable – asset bubble…
    “The Riksbank has not been successful in engineering higher inflation, while Sweden’s GDP growth continues to be among the strongest in the advanced economies,” says Kathrin Muehlbronner, a Senior Vice President at Moody’s.
    “At the same time, the unintended consequences of the ultra-loose monetary policy are becoming increasingly apparent – in the form of rapidly rising house prices and persistently strong growth in mortgage credit”, adds Ms Muehlbronner. In Moody’s view, these trends will likely continue as interest rates will remain low, raising the risk of a house price bubble, with potentially adverse effects on financial stability as and when house prices reverse trends.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.


  • Auto-Loan Subprime Blows Up Lehman-Moment-Like

    But there is no Financial Crisis. These are the boom times. Given Americans’ ceaseless urge to borrow and spend, household debt in the third quarter surged by $610 billion, or 5%, from the third quarter last year, to a new record of $13 trillion, according to the New York Fed. If the word ‘surged’ appears a lot, it’s because that’s the kind of debt environment we now have:
    Mortgage debt surged 4.2% year-over-year, to $9.19 trillion, still shy of the all-time record of $10 trillion in 2008 before it all collapsed. Student loans surged by 6.25% year-over-year to a record of $1.36 trillion. Credit card debt surged 8% to $810 billion. ‘Other’ surged 5.4% to $390 billion. And auto loans surged 6.1% to a record $1.21 trillion. And given how the US economy depends on consumer borrowing for life support, that’s all good.
    However, there are some big ugly flies in that ointment: Delinquencies – not everywhere, but in credit cards, and particularly in subprime auto loans, where serious delinquencies have reached Lehman Moment proportions.

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 14, 2017.