Tag Archives: debt ceiling

Why Even Pretend There’s A Debt Ceiling Limit?

The current “debt ceiling” has been suspended until March 2019. The current amount of Treasury debt outstanding is $20.681 trillion. It has been estimated that the amount of Treasury outstanding by March 2019 will be as high as $22 trillion. U.S. Government has, for all intents and purposes, operated without a constraint on debt issuance since 2013:

Beginning in 2013, Congress has taken to temporarily suspending the debt limit, rather than raising it directly. The debt limit has now been suspended on five occasions, most recently as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which suspends the debt limit through March 1, 2019. When that suspension expires, the debt limit will be reinstated at a new, higher level.Bipartisan Policy Center

Note that the estimate of $22 trillion in Treasury debt outstanding by March 2019 is just an estimate from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. But the suspension of the debt ceiling gives the Government carte blanche to spend as much as it wants without restraint. In theory, the amount of Treasury debt could me much higher than $22 trillion by March 2019.

Furthermore, based on the track record of Congress and the President since 2013, the debt ceiling will likely be waived once again. Why even bother playing this game? The Treasury debt doubled under Bush II from $5.7 trillion to $11.2 trillion. Under Obama the debt outstanding nearly doubled again. If this pattern simply repeats, the debt will double again under Trump or under Trump + Trump’s successor after four years.

But it will likely more than double. The cost of interest on the Treasury debt in 2017 was $458 billion. This was 11.5% of the Government’s total expenditures in FY 2017. Already in the first four quarters of FY 2018, the Government has spent $174.8 billion in interest expense – a run-rate of $524.4 billio – 12.8% of the Government’s FY 2018 budget . By the end of FY 2018, the total interest expense will be even higher because the amount of debt outstanding will be have increased over the year by at least $1 trillion and probably more.

The question, then, is why even bother with the debt ceiling?  What’s the point of pretending?  The debt ceiling was meant to act as a “brake” on the Government’s fiscal recklessness.  But now it’s so easy to suspend the ceiling it makes no sense to waste time going through the formality of suspending it.  The U.S. is on debt-driven suicide path anyway.

Money that is borrowed behaves exactly like money created (printed) until the borrowed money is repaid and the debt is extinguished.  But the Federal Government, for all intents and purposes has not repaid a dime of the amount borrowed for many decades.  In effect, in addition to the money that has been printed by the Fed, there is another $20.6 trillion of money that has been created by debt issuance and spent just like actual currency printed.

At some point, this de facto dollar devaluation is going to exert brutal and inexorable downward pressure on the value of the US dollar.  Furthermore, at some point, the U.S.’ biggest creditors – like China – are going to say “no mas” to participating in Treasury debt issuance.   That’s when the real fun will begin, especially for those long gold and silver.

Insanity Prevails In The Stock Market

The Dow and the S&P 500 stock indices are emblematic for the degree to which the U.S. economic, financial, political and social system has dislocated from reality.  Insanity prevails in a system that is corrupted to the core.   “Going down the rabbit hole” is a popular allusion in reference to the surrealism that has enveloped the American system.   I’d hazard to assert that it would take a few tabs of LSD to make today’s world believable. The fact that Donald Trump is President says it all…

With regard to the stock market, if you studied finance anytime from the 1950’s until the mid-1990’s, fell asleep for 20 years and woke up to today, you would conclude that the opposite of everything you learned is now the truth. It started in the late 1990’s when Greenspan coined the “new economy” mantra and scam artists like Henry Blodget got everyone to believe that “new economy” stock valuations could be derived from the number of “clicks and eyeballs” received by a company’s website. And I thought that was insane.

The market has never been more dislocated from fundamentals than now. Since when do stocks spike up on the threat of a rate hike?  Pretend rate hikes are now great for stocks and bad for gold even though historical evidence suggests that actual rate hikes have just the opposite effect on both asset classes.

I’m wondering if the hedge fund algos are already pricing in the move higher in stocks that occurs when the Fed fails to follow-thru on rate hike threats…While the Dow hits a new record every day, the amount of Government spending and debt hits a new record every 60 seconds. The rate of debt creation, public and private, dwarfs the rate of appreciation in general stock prices.

At the risk of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist,” it’s quite probable that the inside elite are gunning this stock market in order to bail out. Evidence? Insider selling has reached epic proportions. At some companies I analyze, the insider sell to buy ratio is over 1000:1. But the “purchases” are stock options exercised and then later sold. The purchases from cash out of pocket tend to be directors buying the gratuitous odd lot for sake of appearance.

One of my subscribers commented that, “I heard a guy on Fox Business say that Macy’s was a real estate play. As if re-purposing their real estate would happen and all would be wonderful.”  That’s the classic apology for a company sitting on a plethora of empty mall anchor space when big retailers start collapsing. Macy’s has been called a “real estate play” since the 1990’s. What is the actual value of empty mall anchor retail space? What do you put in there? Eventually they’ll be converted to homeless shelters and those are worth nothing other than “good will.”  Even this stock market doesn’t believe that one.  Here’s Macy’s stock:

Based on the graph above, the value of Macy’s “real estate” is about the same as the previous peak in real estate prices in 2007.   But real estate prices have been inflated to all-time highs on top of a helium-filled bubble of debt.  Macy’s certainly has more than its fair share of debt.  If this buffoon on Fox is correct, how come Macy’s stock is not at an all-time high?

A lot of eyeballs are fixated on March 15th, when the Treasury’s $20 trillion debt-ceiling limit becomes law.  But no one seems concerned other than those waiting for a Black Swan to appear and reset the system.  The reason no one on Wall Street or DC cares is that the solution simple.  Trump will sign an Executive Order mandating more Government borrowing.  With the stroke of a pen, Trump will obliterate the law.  Executive Orders will become the new de facto fiat currency that “backs” Treasury bonds and the dollar. Certainly a Trump EO is not any different than the current “full faith and credit” of the U.S. Government supported by the Fed’s de facto negative net worth.

The stock market is going parabolic on the back of the ideas Trump presented for making America great again.  Or at least so it seems.  But Trump’s plans do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever actually being implemented.  The country is already hopelessly broke – even pension funds are now starting to collapse (link) – and I doubt the entities designated to fulfill Trump’s spending dreams will accept Trump Executive Orders as payment in kind.

The entire system needs to be reset. The political system needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt starting with the original Bill of Rights.  A good friend of mine told me that he was not buying stocks because the “forward ROR” when you buy stocks at a 30 p/e is 2%. But what is he using for “e” in the “p/e” equation:  adjusted-GAAP, non-GAAP or today’s fantasy GAAP?  The forward ROR for a system as corrupted and broke as the current one is zero.

When the elitists are done picking meat off the carcass, when the last crumbs of citizen wealth has been swept off the table, the  financial system will be reset and everyone will be starting from “ground zero.”    Until then, it’s unfortunate that only a few can see down into the deep abyss that has formed beneath the United States.  The rest have crawled down into that abyss and accept it as reality.

This Is Why A Gold Standard Is Required

(Treasury Secretary) Lew to Congress: US hits debt limit on March 16, needs to be raised ASAP (LINK)

Obama has made the claim that the U.S. Government spending deficit “narrowed” from about $1 trillion to $483 billion in the Government’s 2014 Fiscal Year (Oct – Sept).   But this is not possible.  Why?   Because the amount of Treasury debt outstanding increased from $16.74 trillion to $17.82 trillion during the Government’s 2014 fiscal year (LINK).   Once again, Obama has lied blatantly to the public.    Based on the amount the Treasury debt load increased, the true spending deficit in FY 2014 remained at around $1.1 trillion.

The debt ceiling has been raised 13 time since 2000.  It’s been raised 6 times since Obama took office and suspended twice.  “Suspended” meaning that the debt ceiling was removed temporarily.  In February 2014, Congress voted to waive the debt ceiling limit, which had been set at $17.2 trillion.  The current amount of debt outstanding is $18.14 trillion (LINK).  This “auto reset” expires on March 15, 2015.   Once again the public is going to have endure the absurdity of the Kabuki Theatrics conducted by Congress as they “debate” the issue of raising the ceiling.   We can be guaranteed it will happen at the very least to ensure Congressional paychecks and perks continue flow uninterrupted.

The U.S. Government prints and issues Treasury certificates just like the Fed prints dollars. When QE began, the Fed started with buying the garbage mortgage paper from the big banks.   In November 2010 it began to print money used to finance new Treasury issuance. Between that time and October 15, 2013 – when QE formally “ended” – The Fed was the biggest source of funding for new Treasury issuance.  It bought over two-thirds of all new Treasury debt.   Since then, Japan and the EU countries – U.S. lapdog countries – have been the primary suppliers of green heroin to the U.S. Government.

And now the Obama Administration, led by Jacob “Jack” Lew, are back to feeding at the hog trough by asking for even more debt.  This is debt that will never be paid back.  Debt issuance like this is also unsustainable.   Either the Fed/Treasury dynamic duo will eventually be forced to engage in hyperbolic money printing or let the Government financially collapse.  I don’t see the latter happening, which is why the former seems inevitable.

Perhaps this is why Alan Greenspan, in a continuance of his endeavor to salvage his legacy as “The Maestro,”  has admitted that the U.S. is on the verge of “explosive inflation”  (LINK).

All of the above would not be possible in a world in which the money supply is anchored by a gold standard.  Humans, especially politicians –  Fed members are ambiguously yet unequivocally politicians – can not be trusted to manage the money supply on their own.  Gold provides the requisite guard rails.