“Suspense Mounts” – Timing Of Tax-Reform Votes In Limbo As More Senators Get Cold Feet

With Bloomberg writing this morning that “Mystery, Suspense Mount” two days after President Donald Trump told the American public that Congress was ‘just days away’ on tax reform, two more senators – including one-time Trump rival – Marco Rubio appear to be getting cold feet – much to the market’s chagrin. Yesterday afternoon, stocks dropped and the VIX jumped above 10 as Rubio and Utah’s Mike Lee said they had reservations about the draft bill being put together by the conference committee.
Worries about the bill’s impact on the deficit have persisted, and if anything, they only intensified after the Treasury Department released a laughable one-page report about the tax plan’s impact on GDP and revenue that was widely ridiculed.
As the fast-moving Republican tax package has evolved, it has tilted increasingly toward benefiting businesses and wealthy taxpayers, a trend that aides were saying privately is a growing concern for some lawmakers. Provisions for offsetting the revenue costs of last-minute changes also were becoming worrisomely unclear, they said.

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

Tax-Reform Opponents Blast Treasury Report As “Nothing More Than One Page Of Fake Math”

Yesterday, we highlighted a one-page report prepared by the Treasury Department which claimed that – in what was perhaps one of the most unrealistically optimistic budget projections to ever be produced by the US government agency – the Senate’s version of the Republican tax plan would, somehow, bolster GDP to a 2.9% real growth rate over 10 years.
The report – a transparent attempt to distract from the plan’s elimination of more than $1.5 trillion in total receipts, while emphasizing its potential pro-growth aspects – relies on a scenario where the economy achieves a baseline of 2.9% GDP growth over the coming decade, compared with the Treasury’s previous projection of 2.2%.
This additional 0.7 percentage point of annual growth, the report claims, will lead to an increase in tax revenue of $1.8 trillion. Treasury “expects approximately half of this 0.7% increase in growth to come from changes to corporate taxation, while the other half is expected to come from changes to pass-through taxation and individual tax reform, as well as from a combination of regulatory reform, infrastructure development, and welfare reform as proposed in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

U.S. Treasury Becomes a Laughing Stock

U. S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears to have inaugurated a perpetual bring your wife to work day. It’s become so farcical that it frequently feels like the United States Treasury Department has morphed into a low-budget, badly scripted reality TV show where the female star is so out-of-touch that she must continually scurry about in her haute couture erasing the haughty things she has written about the little people on multiple continents. We’ll get to that shortly, but first some background:
It all started back on January 19 when actress and then fiance Louise Linton sat by her man during his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to become U. S. Treasury Secretary. At the hearing, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon had this to say about his repugnance to see Mnuchin fill the post as U. S. Treasury Secretary:
‘Mr. Mnuchin’s career began in trading the financial products that brought on the housing crash and the Great Recession. After nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs, he left in 2002 and joined a hedge fund. In 2004, he spun off a hedge fund of his own, Dune Capital. It was only a few lackluster years before Dune began to wind down its investments in 2008.
‘In early 2009, Mr. Mnuchin led a group of investors that purchased a bank called IndyMac, renaming it OneWest. OneWest was truly unique. While Mr. Mnuchin was CEO, the bank proved it could put more vulnerable people on the street faster than just about anybody else around.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

It Begins: Pension Bailout Bill To Be Introduced This Week

Over the past year we have provided extensive coverage of what will likely be the biggest, most politically charged, and most significant financial crisis facing the aging U. S. population: a multi-trillion pension storm, which was recently dubbed “one of the most heated battles of a lifetime” by John Mauldin. The reason, in a nutshell, why the US public pension problem has stumped so many professionals is simple: for lack of a better word, it is an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, in which satisfying accrued pension and retirement obligations requires not only a constant inflow of new money, but also fixed income returns, typically in the 6%+ range, which are virtually unfeasible in a world where global debt/GDP is in the 300%+ range. Which is why we, and many others, have long speculated that it is only a matter of time before the matter receives political attention, and ultimately, a taxpayer bailout.
That moment may be imminent. According to Pensions and Investments magazine, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio plans to introduce legislation that would allow struggling multiemployer pension funds to borrow from the U. S. Treasury to remain solvent.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by another Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan, also of Ohio, could be introduced as soon as this week or shortly after. It would create a new office within the Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration. The funds would come from the sale of Treasury-issued bonds to financial institutions. The pension funds could borrow for 30 years at low interest rates. The one, and painfully amusing, restriction for borrowers is “they could not make risky investments”, which of course will be promptly circumvented in hopes of generating outsized returns and repaying the Treasury’s “bailout” loan, ultimately leading to massive losses on what is effectively a taxpayer-funded pension bailout.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 9, 2017.

Choosing the Fed Chairman

Many expect Mr. Jerome H. Powell to be President Trump pick for Fed Chairman. Trump is resisting pressure by conservatives to make a larger change at the Fed. Many conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence, preferred John B. Taylor, who is an economist at Stanford and an outspoken critic of the Fed’s monetary policy. Taylor previously served in the Treasury Department during the Bush administration. However, he is best known as an academic economist with no real experience hands-on. He wrote an approach to monetary policy, known as the ‘Taylor Rule,’ where he suggested that the Fed should be raising rates more quickly. That was obviously based on the economic theory of the Quantity of Money leads to inflation. He also has closely advised House Republicans on legislation that would require the Fed to adopt such a policy rule taking a hawkish approach to monetary policy.
Representative Warren Davidson, a Republican on the House Financial Services Committee’s monetary policy panel, is one of the people who want a change in policy toward more conservative and austerity. He is circulating a letter opposing Yellen’s reappointment. Personally, I believe Yellen has done a good job. She has been under international pressure not to raise rates from the IMF and just about everyone else because Europe is still floundering and higher rates would be expected to push the ECB and emerging markets off into the deep-end of the pool.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Nov 3, 2017.

President Trump Announces Jerome ‘Jay’ Powell As Fed Chair

Having been leaked to most major news organizations last night, President Trump is fully expected to announce that Fed governor Jerome “Jay” Powell is Janet Yellen’s replacement as the next bank-friendly Fed chair.
Live Feed (due to begin at 1500ET)..

Jerome Powell will be the first former investment banker to become Fed Chair (and first non-economics PhD in 40 years).
Powell, a Princeton graduate, was a lawyer in New York before he joined the investment bank Dillon Reed & Co. in 1984. He stayed there until he joined the Treasury Department in 1990. After he left Treasury, he became a partner in 1997 at The Carlyle Group (CG), the private equity and asset management giant. He left Carlyle in 2005.
He will also likely be the richest Fed head ever – Powell’s assets are worth between $21 million and $61 million, according to financial disclosures which require officials to give a range in the value of their various holdings.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 2, 2017.

Treasurys Gain, Curve Flattens After Refunding Auction Sizes Remain Unchanged

When previewing today’s FOMC announcement, we said that at least according to some, this morning’s refunding announcement may have a bigger impact on the market as there is less consensus (and more confusion) about what would be unveiled. As JPM analyst Jay Barry told Bloomberg, the quarterly refunding announcement at 8:30am ET Wednesday ‘has the possibility to be a bigger event for markets in the morning than the Fed statement in the afternoon’ as participants are divided on whether the Treasury will announce increases to coupon auction sizes Wednesday, or wait until the 1Q refunding announcement in February:
‘There’s a dispersion of views because of the pivot the Treasury Department has had over last few years,’ specifically toward portfolio metrics and aiming to extend the weighted average maturity of the portfolio. Merely reversing the cuts that have been made to 2Y and 3Y auctions since 2013 wouldn’t serve that objective. ‘If they don’t get announced tomorrow, it’s a muted rally, and if they do, it’s a muted steepening.’
Furthermore, as Bloomberg summarizes, going into today’s announcement, market participants were divided leading into the announcement with most seeing no increase immediately to auction sizes just yet, seeing only bill auction changes for now: Barclays, NatWest, Bank of America, Credit Agricole, Jefferies, Stone & McCarthy Research Associates and Citigroup all saw no change; JPMorgan Chase, among other, looked for small increases across maturities.
Well, moments ago the US Treasury reported the breakdown of the refunding auctions, which led to Treasuries promptly paring some early losses (and leading to the predicted muted curve flattening) after the Treasury Department maintained its coupon auction sizes over the next three months, while the refunding statement did not comment on ultra-long issuance.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2017.

Previewing Today’s Fed Policy Decision

While normally Wednesday’s Fed meeting would be the week’s biggest market-moving event, this time – smack in the middle of the busiest earnings week of the year – it may not even make the top three, buried ahead of the coming news of the next Fed Chair (in which Trump is set to unveil Jerome Powell on Thursday), and the GOP tax bill (which just saw its Wednesday release delayed by one day). One can make the argument that tomorrow’s fully priced in FOMC announcement is also secondary to not only Friday’s jobs report, which may help decide who is right, the Fed’s “dots” or the market, but also to tomorrow’s Treasury refunding announcement.
In fact, the latter is precisely what JPM analyst Jay Barry claimed earlier today, saying the “quarterly refunding announcement at 8:30am ET Wednesday ‘has the possibility to be a bigger event for markets in the morning than the Fed statement in the afternoon’ and since market are ‘priced for a December hike,’ the FOMC meeting isn’t likely to alter expectations in a way that would move the market. Where there is confusion is in the Treasury market, where market participants are divided on whether the Treasury will announce increases to coupon auction sizes Wednesday, or wait until the 1Q refunding announcement in February: ‘There’s a dispersion of views because of the pivot the Treasury Department has had over last few years,’ specifically toward portfolio metrics and aiming to extend the weighted average maturity of the portfolio. Merely reversing the cuts that have been made to 2Y and 3Y auctions since 2013 wouldn’t serve that objective.
‘If they don’t get announced tomorrow, it’s a muted rally, and if they do, it’s a muted steepening, but I think it’s all small because the numbers we’re talking about are only $1 billion month, and because Treasury has been clear in communicating that financing needs are moving higher over the medium term’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2017.

The US government quietly added $200+ billion to the debt this month alone.

There’s been something happening this month that very few people have noticed.
It’s been lost beneath all the other headline-dominating news, from the Las Vegas shooting to Harvey Weinstein to the Mueller investigation.
But very quietly behind the scenes there’s been an extremely rapid uptick in the US national debt.
In the month of October alone, the US national debt has soared by nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.
This is pretty astonishing given that October is supposed to be a ‘good’ month for the US Treasury Department. The tax extension deadline means that October is usually quite strong for federal tax receipts.
And it has been – taxpayers have written checks totaling $190 billion to Uncle Sam so far this month.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on October 30, 2017.

Gary Cohn is Concerned about Wall Street Clearinghouses – Blockchain is Already Fixing it

Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to the President, voiced concern over the weekend about risk posed by Wall Street clearinghouses that became systemically important following the 2008 financial crisis.
As Bloomberg reported:
As ‘we get less transparency, we get less liquid assets in the clearinghouse, it does start to resonate to me to be a new systemic problem in the system,’ Cohn, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said at a banking conference in Washington on Sunday.
Cohn isn’t the first to raise the risk. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BlackRock Inc. have argued for years that clearinghouses pose their own threats, shifting risk to just a handful of entities. The Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research has warned that clearinghouses used for derivatives trades can be vulnerable and potentially spread risks through the financial system.
While it is worth noting that this is another example of how the government’s response to a crisis they created made the economy as a whole more fragile, the good news for Mr. Cohn is that there is an exciting technological breakthrough that allows people to transparently move money without relying upon third parties to guard against shady counterparties: blockchain.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 17, 2017.

Where US Stocks Are Traded Today

Last week, the US Treasury Department issued its second of four reports related to President Trump’s Executive Order 13772 (on regulation in alignment with the Core Principles). The first report was on Banking, this report is on the Capital Markets, and other reports will follow over the coming months (including on asset management, insurance, products, vehicles, non-bank financial institutions, financial technology, financial innovation, and others).
As BofA notes, the main recommendation in this report was to foster growth in-line with the Core Principles. Specifically, the biggest focus was to enhance access to capital and investment opportunities, i.e. increase the number of IPOs. Indeed, the US Treasury recommended changes to encourage companies towards public ownership (particularly given that the number of public companies in the U. S. is down 50% over the past 20 year ), which would create more investment opportunities. In addition, other recommendations including helping entrepreneurs, reviewing proxy advisory firms, and revisiting the accredited investor definition to open private market investment opportunities to more investors.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.

Government Nearing Default on Debt to Russia

The government in question is that of Venezuela, which is nearing default as it is running out of resources to pay back the money it owes to its Russian creditors according to the terms it accepted when it chose to borrow money from them.
MOSCOW, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters on Friday that Venezuela is having problems with fulfilling its obligations on its debt to Russia.
‘We have a request from our colleagues in Venezuela to do a restructuring,’ Siluanov said.
Venezuela owed Russia $2.84 billion as of September last year.
The Venezuelan government is now scrambling to restructure its foreign-held liabilities following sanctions put on the country’s President Nicolas Maduro and 20 other individuals, and also the Venezuelan government-owned oil company by the US Treasury Department after Maduro rigged an election to select representatives to rewrite the country’s constitution in his favor.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 09/15/2017.

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

Late yesterday afternoon the federal government of the United States announced that the national debt had finally breached the inevitable $20 trillion mark.
This was a long time coming. It should have happened back in March, except that a new debt ceiling was put in place, freezing the national debt.
For the last six months it was essentially illegal for the government to increase the debt.
This is pretty brutal for Uncle Sam. The US government hasn’t run a budget surplus in two decades; they depend on debt in order to keep everything running.
And without the ability to ‘officially’ borrow money, they’ve basically spent the last six months ‘unofficially’ borrowing money by plundering federal pension funds and resorting to what the Treasury Department itself calls ‘extraordinary measures’ to keep the government running.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on September 12, 2017.

Markets Throw Hissy-Fit about US Default

With peculiar consequences.
Today the bond market had its second bout of nervousness about a US default. It showed up at a ‘dismal’ auction by the US Treasury Department of four-week bills. And the one-month yield shot up to 1.30% from 0.96% on Friday. That’s a huge one-day move. These bills mature on October 5 – after the official out-of-money date on September 29, that the Treasury department has announced to Congress.
September 29 is the official deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling so that the Treasury can borrow more so that it can spend the money that Congress ordered it to spend.
If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, and if the US Treasury runs out of ‘extraordinary means’ with which it has been scrounging up money from other internal sources, and if it then decides to default on its debt service, rather than on payment obligations such as Congressional salaries and the like, the Treasury would then not redeem those one-month bills or any other maturing debt on October 5, and investors would have to wait for their money until Congress gets it act together.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Sep 5, 2017.

Trump Reverts To Populist Roots In “Tax Plan” Speech; Sets Up Congress For Another Epic Fail

Update: Following Trump’s Springfield, MO speech, Treasury Secratary Steve Mnuchin issued the following statement which, much like the Presidnet’s speech, calls for more jobs, higher wages, higher GDP growth, sugar, spice and everything nice….yet provides absolutely no details on how to accomplish any of it.
‘Today President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to deliver meaningful tax reform to the American people that is focused on growing the economy, stimulating job creation, increasing wages, revitalizing small businesses, and expanding economic opportunity for all Americans. ‘As the president explained, his vision of tax reform creates good paying jobs, grows wages for workers, focuses on tax relief for hard working, middle income families, and makes American businesses more competitive.
‘Historically, members of both parties have understood that the tax code is too complicated, creating a rigged system that only benefits wealthy special interests. We must make it fairer by leveling the playing field for American workers and job creators, in order to grow the economy and reinvest trillions of dollars back into our country.
‘Americans understand that middle income taxpayers and their families need tax relief and a simple tax code so they keep more of their paycheck and spend less time filling out their taxes.
‘At the Treasury Department, we are committed to continuing to advance the President’s vision on tax reform while working with Congress to pass a plan that will lead to economic growth and job creation to benefit all Americans.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 30, 2017.

The fiscal benefits of free trade

Western governments have an overriding problem, and that is they have reached or exceeded the bounds of taxation, at a time when legally mandated welfare costs are accelerating. Treasury departments in all the welfare nations are acutely aware of this problem, to which there’s no apparent solution. The economic recovery, so consistently forecast since the great financial crisis, has hardly materialised and has added to the problem.
There is, if treasury economists could only understand it, a solution in free trade.
One of the UK’s leading economists and Brexiteers, Patrick Minfordi, produced an interesting paper, which brought up this subject. It got little coverage in the press, and even that was extremely negative. Trading on the Future was the only economic modelling exercise that showed significant benefits for Britain from free trade.ii
This is the headline from the Independent (19 April): ‘Only economic study showing benefits of Brexit debunked as ‘doubly misleading’.’ The establishment, which is not attuned to free trade, strongly disagreed and presumably felt bound to protect its position.

This post was published at GoldMoney on August 17, 2017.

Raising the Debt Ceiling Means Jacking Up Future Inflation

The dramatic failure of the U. S. Senate’s last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort leaves Republicans so far without a major legislative win since Donald Trump took office. No healthcare reform. No tax reform. No monetary reform. No budgetary reform.
The more things change in Washington… the more they stay the same.
Despite an unconventional outsider in the White House, it’s business as usual for entrenched incumbents of both parties. The next major order of business for the bipartisan establishment is to raise the debt ceiling above $20 trillion.
Since March, the Treasury Department has been relying on ‘extraordinary measures’ to pay the government’s bills without breaching the statutory debt limit.
By October, according to Treasury officials, the government could begin defaulting on debt if Congress doesn’t approve additional borrowing authority.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants Congress to pass a ‘clean’ debt limit increase. That would entail just signing off on more debt without putting any restraints whatsoever on government spending.
Fiscal conservatives hope to tie the debt ceiling hike to at least some budgetary reforms. But even relatively minor spending concessions will be difficult to obtain from the bipartisan establishment.

This post was published at GoldSilverWorlds on August 2, 2017.

Treasury To Issue Half A Trillion Dollars In Debt In Q4

In the first warning sign that the US Treasury is burning through more cash than previously expected, at 3pm today the Treasury Department announced that in its latest forecast of end-of-September cash balance it anticipated only $60 billion of cash on hand, nearly half the $115 billion it forecast in its previous report in May, according to the Department’s marketable borrowing estimates. The treasury also expects to borrow $96 billion in net marketable debt in the current quarter, down from $98 billion forecast previously.
This drawdown in cash, and jump in government outlays, was to be expected following the latest Monthly Statement from the Treasury which showed a surge in government outlays, which hit a record high $429 billion in June, for reasons discussed previously.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 31, 2017.

Will Trump Use Obama’s “Secret Debt Ceiling Plan” To Avoid A U.S. Treasury Default?

After voting to repeal and replace Obamacare 60 times under the Obama administration, Senate Republicans, now that it counts, are locked in a heated civil war over how or if they should even modify the controversial legislation. As proven time and again, despite sharing a common party, conservative and moderate republicans have very little else in common.
So, while many may think that a repeat of the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 is unlikely while a single a party controls all three branches of government in Washington D. C., we suspect it may not be quite as simple as that. Without a budget in place that truly balances, conservative republicans will most likely be unwilling to approve debt ceiling increases no matter who is sitting in the White House.
While republicans have attempted to get ahead of the game by passing a debt ceiling increase well in advance of a breach, efforts so far have failed. And while it may seem far away, the U. S. government will reach its statutory limit on borrowing some time in October. So how will Mnuchin handle the Treasury Department if Republicans fail to act and Democrats refuse to play ball? Turns out Obama had a plan for that. Per Bloomberg:
When the nation almost breached its debt ceiling six years ago, the Federal Reserve and Treasury drew up contingency plans that were kept secret until January, when transcripts of an Aug. 1, 2011 conference call at the central bank were released after a customary five-year lag.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 14, 2017.