The fiscal crisis came and went and yet the Potemkin village remains. So much was made about the looming fiscal calamity and its dire consequences that the probabilities of a compromise were overwhelming. Not only did fiscal sanity fail to show, the final package was beyond my comprehension. As the nation’s focus was supposedly on Congress, these purveyors of fiscal rectitude passed a BILL that was laden with pork. NASCAR, Hollywood, alternative energy et. al. were the recipients of CONGRESSIONAL LARGESSE IN THE TIME OF FISCAL AUSTERITY. There is no shame in the payment of political favors even in the full view of the MIDDLE CLASS.
Posts Tagged ‘fiscal cliff’
The ideas CNBC is spreading about the FISCAL CLIFF is just absurd. The addiction to higher stock prices has meant that a failure to get the equity market to rally due to falling off the “CLIFF” prevents quality policy from being attained. Going over the “CLIFF” will at least put spending front and center for we are all sure that taxes are going higher so the discussion must get to a genuine discussion about spending, and yes, that means serious cuts in the bloated defense sector. The FED‘s policy means that monetary policy will support the economy into the medium term and alleviate some of the pain from government spending cuts. It’s not drastic austerity but a realistic plan for dealing with rampant profligacy.
Mario Monti upset the Italian credit markets as he announced his early resignation over the weekend. In an apparent fit of rage after Silvio Berlusconi (aka Captain Viagra) pulled his political support from the sitting prime minister, Mario Monti headed off to the opera in Milan and apparently he was the fat lady that sang. It was a Wagner Opera that Mr. Monti saw so it seems that the political drama playing out in Rome is going to be a long, drawn out affair. I believe that the present Italian PM played a political gambit by announcing his early resignation in an effort to reveal the markets lack of support for the return of Berlusconi. As the Italian bond markets sold off and yields on 10- and TWO-YEAR NOTES increased by more than 25 basis points. It seems that there is little support from the financial markets for a return to the buffoonery of a Berlusconi-led government.
The world awaits a resolution from the fog of U.S. budget battles. The negotiating table was left in a further haze by Secretary Geithner’s comments. In no uncertain terms, the point man for the Obama administration made it “clear” that the White House will let the economy go over the proverbial cliff if tax rates are not increased on the nation’s wealthiest two percent. It is not a good negotiating tactic to back your opponent into a corner from which there is no escape. Immediately after the Geithner comments to CNBC’S Steve Liesman, legislative Republicans responded in a very negative fashion. If the negotiations are mere theater then let the economy feel the brunt of mandated austerity and the STOCK MARKET BE DAMNED. Best economic and budgetary policy cannot be made solely for the sake of saving the equity markets. Bad fiscal policy destroys wealth and jobs anyway so it may be better to push an economic downturn to finally get everybody focused on a genuine long-term reform.
The weekend news was rather sparse as the Greeks got their trust fund check from the overlords in Brussels. The Greeks need to be leery of Eurocrats bearing gifts. The Sunday news shows in the U.S. highlighted the vast chasm between Speaker Boehner and Secretary Geithner. There was finger-pointing all around about as to which group was holding up the negotiations as to affect genuine compromise and a resolution to the fiscal cliff. As the rhetoric heats up, the S&Ps and global stock indices all closed higher on the week, showing that the price action speaks louder than words. The market has fears that failure to resolve the fiscal crisis will result in a new U.S. recession and will also undermine the global economic recovery, but yet the COPPER closed above the 200-day moving average for the first time in many weeks. Other industrial metals also performed well last week making me wonder if all the fiscal cliff rhetoric is missing some larger picture. We will watch to see if the COPPER can sustain its recent strength or whether we are in the midst of a short covering rally.
In his speech at the Economic Club of New York, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said: “Monetary policy can do little to reverse the effects that the financial crisis may have had on the economy’s productive potential. However, it has been able to provide an important offset to the headwinds that have slowed the cyclical recovery.” While Mr. Bernanke stayed quiet about Washington’s role in easing the potential fallout from the “fiscal cliff” during the election, he was very direct in letting the administration and Congress know that they are now the most important “game in town.” The Fed chairman was very clear about the potential economic drag that will result from the Congress letting previously enacted stimulus programs lapse. Bernanke voiced concerns about the impact of cuts in local and state spending and the massive job layoffs at the local government level–600,000 jobs were supposedly lost by cuts in state and local budgets. If the Federal government goes over the fiscal cliff, the unemployment impact will even be more dramatic.
The election is over. It’s time for leadership and decisive action. Yes, there are winners and losers and promises to be kept. Six billion dollars was spent on elections in total and the money given to support candidates is not charity but an effort to purchase some modicum of influence. No problem with that for that has been the game since the birth of the republic and long before that in other political entities. If the “fiscal cliff” and its potential impact is as serious as some opine then leadership is needed to set the course of real action. President Obama, if you believe that the fiscal crisis is the most urgent problem, you will choose Erskine Bowles as your Secretary of Treasury because he has the ability to reach across party lines and get to rational levels of compromise. Mr. Bowles has the respect of party leaders and, most importantly, his plainspokenness is needed to get the American people to understand the rudiments of the looming financial debacle.
The key policy maker who raised the issue of the fiscal cliff back in April 2012 has been missing in action from the discussion. It is widely understood that the FED is not supposed to involve itself with fiscal policy, but that proposition was violated when the FED chairman voiced great concern about the failure of Congress to halt the potential drag on the economy. The FED has continually supplied the liquidity as the “only game in town” but it seems obvious that the great enabler of Congressional “benign neglect” should offer some guidance while not overstepping its mandate. More members of the G-20 were out over the weekend warning about the potential disastrous effects of a fiscal calamity in the U.S. on a very fragile global economy. What will it be Ben? I say yes, you say no. Bonds say buy and stocks say sell. Congress says goodbye. Will the FED say hello?