June 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015, according to a Treasury Department report to Congress.
The report that was sent to lawmakers Friday night with no fanfare said the ratio of debt to the gross domestic product would rise to 102 percent by 2015 from 93 percent this year.
“The president’s economic experts say a 1 percent increase in GDP can create almost 1 million jobs, and that 1 percent is what experts think we are losing because of the debt’s massive drag on our economy,” said Republican Representative Dave Camp, who publicized the report.
He was referring to recent testimony by University of Maryland Professor Carmen Reinhart to the bipartisan fiscal commission, which was created by President Barack Obama to recommend ways to reduce the deficit, which said debt topping 90 percent of GDP could slow economic growth.
The U.S. debt has grown rapidly with the economic downturn and government spending for the Wall Street bailout, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the economic stimulus. The rising debt is contributing to voter unrest ahead of the November congressional elections in which Republicans hope to regain control of Congress.
The total U.S. debt includes obligations to the Social Security retirement program and other government trust funds. The amount of debt held by investors, which include China and other countries as well as individuals and pension funds, will rise to an estimated $9.1 trillion this year from $7.5 trillion last year.
A memo sent out to vice-presidents and higher-level employees at Barclays Capital provides a rare glimpse into how Wall Street flexes its political muscles around election times.
While Wall Street has traditionally been regarded as a bastion of free-market Republicanism, this impression has largely been disproved in recent years. Wall Street invested far more in Democratic candidates and campaigns in the 2008 election cycle, when Barack Obama was elected president.
Goldman Sachs [GS 169.20 -1.87 (-1.09%) ], for instance, saw 75 percent of its donations go to the Democratic political machinery in 2008. And in this cycle, the latest figures available show 54 percent of Wall Street contributions going to Democrats. The political action committee money is even more skewed toward Democrats, with 57 percent hitting in that direction. (Those numbers don’t include the third-quarter contributions, which may have balanced out the numbers a bit.) (more…)
As if uncontrollable economic contagion was not enough for the administration, Obama is now willing to add geopolitical risk to the current extremely precarious economic and financial situation. Over at Debkafile we read that the president has decided to “boost US military strength in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions in the short term with an extra air and naval strike forces and 6,000 Marine and sea combatants.” With just one aircraft carrier in proximity to Iran, the Nobel peace prize winner has decided to send a clear message that peace will no longer be tolerated, and has decided to increase the US aircraft carrier presence in the region by a 400-500% CAGR.
Carrier Strike Group 10, headed by the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, sails out of the US Navy base at Norfolk, Virginia Friday, May 21. On arrival, it will raise the number of US carriers off Iranian shores to two. Up until now, President Barack Obama kept just one aircraft carrier stationed off the coast of Iran, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea, in pursuit of his policy of diplomatic engagement with Tehran. (more…)
The headlines shout that Japan is back. Shinzo Abe has returned the country to centre stage after more than a decade in the wings. This week’s turbulence aside, the stock market has boomed, consumers have been spending and growth looks like picking up. Abroad, Japan is commanding attention. There are three things to say about this reversal: two are mostly positive and the third seriously negative.
When the Japanese prime minister tips up at next month’s meeting of the Group of Eight advanced industrial nations, it is a fair bet his fellow summiteers will want to get to know him. The same could not have been said of his recent predecessors.
The prime minister’s office has had a fast revolving door. Between 2006 and Mr Abe’s election victory in 2012 there were as many occupants as years. Other world leaders would shake hands with their Japanese counterpart in the near certain knowledge that he would be gone before their next big gathering. America’s Barack Obama was said to be especially irritated by the time wasted in these fleeting encounters.
Mr Abe, of course, was one of those who passed through the revolving door – presiding over a failed administration between 2006 and 2007. His political prospects now, however, are better than any since Junichiro Koizumi’s premiership in the opening years of the century.
Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic party faces elections to the upper house in July, but if the polls are any guide it is heading for a comfortable majority. Barring any accidents, that would leave Mr Abe with a clear run until the next poll for the lower house in 2017. (more…)
Jeffrey A. Hirsch is best known as the editor-in-chief of the Stock Trader’s Almanac. He draws on the extensive research behind that yearly publication for The Little Book of Stock Market Cycles: How to Take Advantage of Time-Proven Market Patterns (Wiley, 2012).
Let’s get Hirsch’s most controversial call—that the Dow will reach 38,820 by the year 2025—out of the way right at the beginning. He claims that this “is not a market forecast; it is an expectation that human ingenuity will overcome adversity, just as it has on countless past occasions.” (p. 66) The operative equation is “War and Peace + Inflation + Secular Bull Market + Enabling Technology = 500% Super Boom Move.” (p. 67) But don’t buy that magnificent villa overlooking the Pacific or the Ferrari you’ve been coveting just yet. “[A]fter stalling near 14,000-resistance in 2012-2013, Dow 8,000 is likely to come under fire in 2013-2014 as we withdraw from Afghanistan. Resistance will likely be met in 2015-2017 near 13,000 to 14,000. Another test of 8,000-support in 2017-2018 is expected as inflation begins to level off and the next super boom commences. By 2020, we should be testing 15,000 and after a brief pullback be on our way to 25,000 in 2022. A bear market in midterm 2022 should be followed by a three- to four-year tear toward Dow 40,000.” (pp. 67-68) In brief, if Hirsch’s scenario plays out, we’ve got quite a wait for the market to catch up with our dreams.
The bulk of Hirsch’s book describes the most effective market seasonalities. Take, for instance, the presidential election cycle. Since 1913, from the post-election year high to the midterm low the Dow has lost 20.9% on average. By contrast, from the midterm low to the preelection high, the Dow has gained nearly 50% on average since 1914. (more…)