At $1 per day Contra Corner is an absolute bargain.
It’s the only place you can get a fiercely independent, totally original and fact-based take on the sheer insanity of today’s contretemps on Wall Street and in Washington alike. And as it happens. Every day.
We spent 40 years at the highest levels in both places and do not believe for a moment that this is just more of the same----another business/stock market cycle, another outbreak of partisan bickering and dysfunction.
To the contrary, this is sui generis—a crisis without historical precedent. And you can start right at the top.
Donald Trump was not elected President because he had a coherent or comprehendible agenda or because he was an appealing candidate or because he was an astute political strategist. In fact, he was an ill-informed, egomaniacal bundle of whims, bluster, bile and baloney.
But he got elected anyway because the Wall Street/Washington/media ruling elites have failed miserably and left much of Flyover America high and dry.
So now that---contrary to every pundit, poll and prognostication----the Great Disrupter is actually in the Oval Office, the crisis is accelerating rapidly. The Donald is literally monkey-hammering his own fragile GOP majority and turning the Imperial City into a Gong Show.
Indeed, Trump went to Washington with virtually no friends, and is burning bridges so rapidly that they will soon need pontoon boats to get him across the Potomac!
Even then, the assembled powers of the Deep State, the corporate media and the GOP establishment are lying in wait for the right moment and the toxic misstep that will enable them to put the Donald on the Dick Nixon Memorial Helicopter for his final ride to Gonesville.
In the coming months it’s all going to unwind----both politically and economically.
In part, that’s because the fiscal situation is already dire. Indeed, temporarily obfuscated by the Donald’s tweet-storms and resulting media frenzies over NFL kneelers, gold star mothers, RussiaGate, the DNC financed dossier dirt, the Uranium One/Clinton corruption scandal, the Fire and Fury/Bannon controversy and much else, Uncle Sam’s fiscal accounts have been gushing red ink.
Since Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017, the US treasury has been borrowing $2.8 billion per day, which is quickly adding up to real money----$1.2 trillion of red ink so far.
Then throw on top of that the $100 billion cost of disaster relief and the Donald’s stepped-up spending for foreign military operations and defense, border control, veterans and law enforcement etc. All these budget busters caused Congress to recently repeal the discretionary spending caps that have been in place since 2012, paving the way for a $300 billion spending surge over the next two years alone.
And that doesn't include the $2.5 trillion annual cost of entitlements, which are growing rapidly due to baby boom retirements and exploding Medicaid/Medicare costs. Nor does it include the rapidly weakening pace of treasury revenue collections owing to the tax bill, which will add $425 billion to the deficit in FY 2018 and FY 2019 alone
Overall, the Federal deficit will be back into the $1 trillion per year zone shortly; and it will hit upwards of $1.2 trillion in FY 2019 starting next October. That's 6% of GDP and it's happening not at the bottom of a recession but after what will be ten-years of the so-called recovery.
Needless to say, the delusion of the great Trump Reflation will soon give way to an acrimonious, politically fractured struggle to keep the government open and the US Treasury solvent.
Yet there is no visible majority in the Imperial City capable of stemming the tide with spending cuts or tax increases, or with the fortitude to drastically increase the debt ceiling in order to pay the bills. Instead, there will be endless short term debt ceiling increases or temporary suspensions that will amount to a permanent, rolling fiscal crisis.
And when it happens, the day traders and robo-machines on Wall Street will finally panic.
But this time when the selling waves commence-----aggravated by $4 trillion in ETFs and quant hedge funds and a massive short on the volatility index----there will be no Washington fiscal and monetary fire brigades standing at the ready like in September 2008.
But that’s not all. On top of Uncle Sam’s soaring debt our Keynesian monetary central planners at the Fed have finally realized that they are out of dry powder and that this so-called “recovery” is exceedingly long-in-the-tooth at 105 months.
So they are now desperately scrambling to get ready for the next recession----albeit very belatedly---by shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet and allowing interest rates to begin the path toward “normalization”.
For the first time in 30 years, in fact, the Fed’s balance sheet will shrink by $20 billion per month in the first quarter and then ramp-up steadily until it hits a $600 billion annual run rate in October 2018. What that means is that the central bank will be effectively selling massive amounts of government debt and inviting Wall Street front-runners to pile on by doing the same.
The resulting flood of government debt paper will hammer the bond trading pits. Between Uncle Sam's new debt issuance at the aforementioned $1.2 trillion per year rate and the Fed's dumping of old bonds to shrink its balance sheet, upwards of $1.8 trillion of government debt will be looking for a home in the year ahead.
So the supply and demand balance will be shifting adversely, causing bond yields to soar from the current 2.8% level on the 10-year treasury note to 4% and beyond. In turn, this "bond shock" will pummel the equity markets, which are predicated on cheap debt forever.
Moreover, this time there will be no debt market bailout by foreign central banks, either.The ECB just announced that come next December its printing press---which only a few months ago was buying bonds at a blistering $90 billion monthly rate---will also be shut down.
Likewise, now that Xi Jinping has been officially coronated as the second coming of Mao and made Emperor for life, the People’s Printing Press of China is throwing on the monetary brakes, as well. Even the Red Suzerains of Beijing recognize that they are sitting on a $40 trillion volcano of debt, speculation and monumental malinvestment.
In short, the proverbial brown stuff is fixing to hit the fan. After thirty years of fiscal profligacy, reckless money printing, soaring public and private debt which has now reached $68 trillion or 350% of GDP, massive Wall Street bubbles and diminishing jobs, wages and living standards in Flyover America, the Imperial City has run out of tricks, gimmicks and dodges.
In the context of these baleful and unprecedented developments, Contra Corner’s only purpose is to help subscribers make sense of the unfolding economic, financial and political crises and to provide the best insights we can as to what might be coming down this uncharted road next.
As we said at the beginning, $1 per day is a bargain for the unique angle we bring to the table after four decades at the intersection of Wall Street and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Nevertheless, we are prepared to make subscribing extra easy by offering three pricing options: monthly automatic renewal for $39/month, a quarterly automatic renewal at $99 or an annual subscription at $365.
The choice of subscription option is yours, but in all humility, we don’t think you can afford to go without Contra Corner any longer as we plunge into the truly perilous times ahead.
So we hope to be sending you Contra Corner on a daily basis very soon.
David A. Stockman