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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This and That

 

Question for Bernanke

 

Two charts from the CBO, then a question.

 

44134-land-UnauthForeignBorn

 

No surprise in this chart.  11m people are in the US illegally. 8.5m are from Mexico or Central America. This one was a surprise:

 

44134-land-UnemploymentRate

 

Looking at this chart I concluded that the unemployment rate at the end of 2012 for the native born population was very close to 6.5%. Based on what has happened so far in 2013, I would expect that the rate today is less than the YE level.

The 6.5% number is significant because Bernanke has set this level as a line in the sand. If the overall unemployment rate falls to this magic level, then the Fed has promised it will back off on the insanity that is now US monetary policy. Now the question:

Mr. Bernanke,  are you running monetary policy to achieve a significantly lower rate of unemployment for undocumented workers? If so, please tell us why this is in the best interest of the country.

 

 

How Much Did Paulson Buy??

 

I’ve been following the Fannie/Freddie Pref story for a long time. My first article (July 2009) asked the question:

 

Agency Preferred Stock – Who’s Buying?

 

To some extent, that question has now been answered. It’s hedge funds, apparently lead by none other than John Paulson.

 

Paulson

 

The confirmation that Paulson has been leading the charge, comes from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). His words:

 

“There are funds that have taken very large positions, large hedge funds, and they are lobbying heavily”

 

So good old JP, who just got his faced ripped off in a gold play, is now making a come back with a bet on busted Preferred stock?

I didn’t make too much of the Bloomberg story, and neither has the market. The price of the Agency Pref has drifted sideways since this story broke. I was beginning to wonder if Paulson’s involvement with the Pref was not just another kiss of death. “If JP’s long – then maybe I should be out”; did cross my mind. But in the last 48 hours there has been an interesting development. Somebody bought a boatload of junk.

Yesterday, 21m shares of FNMAS crossed  in just two transactions. Today another 39.6m shares (10 times average volume) went through in big block trades. Add to this, another block of 10m of the FMCKJ (Freddie Pref) and it comes to 75m shares – A total of $350,000,000 of buy-side demand.

All that money being put up for swill. That is a bet worth noting. Either something is brewing in this goofy story, of JP has bet the farm.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Setting Priorities

 

An interesting new law has been offered up by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA). The Bill has come from the House Ways and Means Committee and is working its way through Congress.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.42.47 PM

 

Simple stuff. In the event that Congress could not agree on a debt limit extension, there would be a new carve-out of what would get paid. Principal and interest on the national debt that is held by the public, and the debt held by the Social Security Trust Fund would be honored. Everything else would be at risk.

To me, this sounds like some Republicans are preparing for a debt limit fight. The theoretical debt-limit deadline is in May, but the issue can fester for another three months. The Bill to allow for payments of debts to SS and bond holders would limit the consequences of a deadlock, so the law has a thread of logic to it.

My problem is that once something has been granted senor status, then everything else immediately becomes subordinated. No one likes to be forced onto the back of the bus. In this case, those that would be subordinated include all retired Military and Federal workers, the entire military (and all of the contractors),  food stamps and Medicare payments to doctors/hospitals. Any government guaranties that were not funded by debt to the public would also be on the “B” list.

I’m thinking of the old couple down in Boca, who get checks, and the generals, lieutenants and sergeants who don’t. Social Security checks are more important than Food Stamps? Who says?

The real insanity here is that there is even a discussion (much less new legislation) of the “proper” way to default. Should this legislation pass, it would go a long way toward insuring that there is no resolution of the debt ceiling by the end of the summer. There would be less incentive for D.C. to come to terms with the debt limit. H.R. 807 would minimize the consequences of of a debt limit crisis, but it would split the country apart. Like I said, no one likes to forced to set in the back of the bus.

 

 

Just Silly

 

I’m sure there is some intelligent explanation for this proposed new law; just reading the words makes me laugh. What are these people thinking about?

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.38.53 PM

 

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Reader Question

 

Who’s the lady in the Pic.?

 

-1

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. “Social Security checks are more important than Food Stamps? Who says?”

    Reality says. Older people vote in large numbers and with dedication. No sane politician anywhere will cross them, not even Tea Party loons. Lower income folks on Food Stamps are far less likely to vote, so they will go to the back of the bus.

    What it will come down to is the argument that people on Social Security paid into the system and deserve to collect the benefits owed to them from a lifetime of contribution. People on Food Stamps haven’t contributed into the system and are just sponging off the taxpayer. Just watch – this is exactly how Fox News will play it.

    Normally, it’s women and children into the lifeboats first, but not in today’s political climate. It’s banks and Social Security recipients into the lifeboats first.

  2. Here is DeMarco of FHFA on the current state of the enterprises and housing mortgage credit markets.

    April 18, presentation to Senate committee. 18 pages some most interesting pages at the end.

    http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/25114/DeMarcoSenateBankingTestimony41813.pdf

  3. Bruce, you are normally a little more on top of politics than this … you are slipping.

    While the Social Security crowd and the food stamp crowd fight it out for money that does not exist, another group is being paid in *CASH* not junk debt.

    The wealthiest counties in the country are the ones surrounding Washington DC. An urban area overflowing with PhDs and other know-it-alls that have zero real world experience. While the average stupid voter makes $70,000 per year, the average federal bureaucrat gets more than double as much. While private pensions get canceled and/or have annuity “caps” proposed on them by corrupt members of Congress — the federal bureaucrats pension’s are still considered sacrosanct. Military personnel might have their benefits cut, but not the bureaucrats in Washington. Not the lobbyists. And sure as hell not the criminals in office.

    The political class isn’t worrying about debt seniority — they are paying themselves in cash, taken out of taxpayer’s wallets.

  4. As the entitlement system devolves, it is going to pit one group against another for the last of the crumbs. But answer me this:
    1) When the SNAP cards don’t get recharged at the beginning of the month, what will happen?
    2) If the checks to former military members, what will they do?
    3) If old non-military retirees in Florida don’t get that check each month, what then?

    Or, more importantly, they all get paid but their checks buy a single loaf of bread, then what?

    In any of these events, society will rip itself apart.

  5. Employing EMS alone is not a replacement for weight-lifting.
    But, do not get as well enthusiastic only yet.