Morning Report – 11/19/13 – Fedspeak

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1787.7 -1.0 -0.06%
Eurostoxx Index 3059.2 -22.1 -0.72%
Oil (WTI) 92.83 -0.2 -0.21%
LIBOR 0.239 0.002 0.74%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 80.73 -0.098 -0.12%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.69% 0.03%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 106.1 0.0
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 105 -0.1
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.33

Markets are lower this morning on no real news. The employment cost index rose .4% in the third quarter, lower than expected. Bonds and MBS are down small.

Yesterday we had some Fed-speak with Philly Fed Head Charles Plosser urging the Fed to stop playing “this bond buying game by ear” and to tell the markets how much the Fed intends to buy and then to stop once it gets to that level. Plosser also claimed that the recent low inflation numbers were transitory due to lower government spending on things like Medicare. Separately, New York Federal Reserve Chairman William Dudley said he is becoming more optimistic that 2014 and 2015 will be much stronger than 2013. He said the “fiscal drag” of the sequester is abating. Pet peeve – the Fed goes out of its way to say that reducing tapering is not “tightening,” yet refers to a tiny reduction in unprecedented postwar fiscal stimulus as “fiscal drag.” Even with the sequester, fiscal policy is still highly, highly accommodative and looks miserly only if you compare it to 2009 or 2010.
Good story out of Bloomberg on the pickle the Fed is in with respect to QE.  How to reduce tapering without increasing interest rates. The Fed would really, really like to avoid a repeat of last summer where the 10 year bond increased by 100 basis points. Yellen said in her testimony that the answer was better communication, however as everyone has acknowledged, we are in uncharted territory here. Separately, the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to vote on Yellen Thursday, which will set the stage for a full Senate vote later this year.Tomorrow starts the big data dump for the week with a slew of economic reports. We will get the minutes from the October FOMC meeting, existing home sales, retail sales and the consumer price index.

Speaking of retail sales, the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be on the weak side. We have already seen two warnings out of Wal Mart this year, and now Best Buy is saying that promotional activity is going to hurt margins. I keep hearing anecdotal evidence that the retailers are getting promotional already, which is a bad sign ahead of Thanksgiving. On the other hand, the Despot reported better than expected 3rd quarter earnings as people are taking advantage of the increase in house prices to do some remodeling.

Remember the 2012 jobs report ahead of the election where Jack Welch tweeted “”Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers,” He was fired from Fortune over that. Well, it turns out that he may have been correct. Census may have been doing some monkey business with the report.

Small banks asked for some temporary relief from some of the new edicts coming out of CFPB and were given the Heisman. CFPB has said that they will take into account good faith efforts to comply with the rules, but as Rob Chrisman points out, the plaintiffs’ attorneys definitely will not.

33 Responses

  1. Good example of actual rate increases from Wonkblog.

    Opps. Looks like Troll corked me yesterday on this.


  2. Barometer for Congressional Democratic fear and anger:

    Look for comparisons in the press where Obama sticking with his healthcare team is compared to Bush sticking with Rumsfeld before the midterms.


  3. Funny.

    @jimgeraghty: It really says something that one of Arne Duncan’s concerns about U.S. schools is the unreasonable expectations of “white suburban moms.”


  4. This is pretty horrible. He was the Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor in 2009 who lost to McDonnell.

    “Deeds critically wounded; son dead from gunshot
    Richmond Times-Dispatch”


  5. From trade press regarding what AHIP has been up to. QHP = qualified health plan:

    The risk corridor program lasts for three years and is designed to insulate qualified health plans in the individual and small group markets from large gains or losses due to inaccurate rate setting. Under the current formula, if QHPs’ costs exceed their spending targets by a certain percentage, HHS is responsible for paying the plans 2.5 percent of the medical loss ratio outlined in their bids plus 80 percent of excess costs. But sources say AHIP wants HHS to revise that figure to 100 percent for some time, which in effect would make HHS take on the additional risk if rates are set too low, insulating the plans from the losses. AHIP would not respond to requests for comment


  6. Nova, you heard about this?

    “REP. CORY GARDNER: Well how much do we have to build today, still? What do we need to build? 50 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?
    HENRY CHAO: I think it’s, uh, just an approximation, we’re probably sitting somewhere between 60 and 70 percent because we still have to build…

    GARDNER: Wait, 60 or 70 percent that needs to be built, still?

    CHAO: Because we still have to build the payment systems to make payments to insurers in January.

    GARDNER: Let me get this correct. Sixty to 70 percent of still needs to be built?

    CHAO: It’s not really about — it’s the federally-facilitated marketplace.

    GARDNER: The entire system that the American people are being required to rely upon…

    CHAO: — the online application, verification, determination, plan compare, getting enrolled, generating the enrollment transaction — that’s 100 percent there.

    GARDNER: But the entire system is 60 to 70 percent away from being complete.

    CHAO: There’s the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems…they still need to be done. “


  7. He later changed it to 30-40% unbuilt. Of course, 0% actually works so…


  8. Interesting update an Deeds story.

    @BrettLoGiurato: Wow. Creigh Deeds’ son was being evaluated Monday, was released because “no psychiatric bed was available.”


  9. Pro tip: Women LOVE to be told to “calm down.”

    but a study of hot marital fights indicates that when the wife calms down, the couples are more happy.


  10. Yeah, but not directly from CMS. They are in bunker mentality. I have a pretty good contact in CCIIO ( who basically said “i can’t say anything, i’ll catch up with you sometime next year.”

    The rosy scenario coming from the left-side of the internet is delusional. This isn’t getting fixed anytime soon, and if It stopped being a website problem about a week ago. It’s a political one. You saw POTUS’ numbers? He’s in danger of becoming permanently toxic. And it’s not the website that caused it .. people on the Hill know that will get resolved. it’s the “if you like your plan” that’s really causing the problems.

    When Ds in marginal districts don’t have him on the campaign trail, that will be the tell.


  11. Yes, but if they don’t even have the payment system finished being coded and in testing mode right now, the upcoming disaster is going to make the web site rollout look great.

    I’m cynical, but even I can’t believe this. It’s the Republican caricature of Democrats come to life.


    • As a more than 3 decade computer programmer… my 2 cents… the website is working.. it worked fine for me… and based on what Chao said was left to be done…most of that is automatically in place, you know, accounting systems… what has to happen are the interfaces between and all the accounting systems in place. The most difficult to code was the website…it isn’t the interfaces because there are already interfaces… a batch data extraction, from databases., designed to match existing interface data files with key codes (which all interface files should have) within the extracted data, tells the existing accounting systems how to process the data….it should be a piece of cake…key word “should”… as I am not one of the programmers.

      The ACA’s online and batch problems will go away and at some point everyone will be wondering why America got so up in arms about it.

      And as far as insurance plans being cancelled being a talking point….insurance plans have been cancelled for many for decades and decades… why is it now a problem? Only because it’s a talking point for the GOP talking heads all because President Obama did erroneously explain this portion of ACA…. big deal…it’s not like he led us into an UNFUNDED war by stating untruths or implemented the ACA unfunded as Medicare Part-D was… Ten years ago this week, Republicans enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state since the creation of Medicare in 1965 by adding a huge UNFUNDED program providing coverage for prescription drugs to the Medicare program. See how easy it is to forget?


  12. ” but if they don’t even have the payment system finished”

    oh, I have a hard time with that one too. just because that’s what CMS does. it pays bills. that should have been the easy lift.


  13. Geanie… did you still want those names/number for your congressional delegation?


    • Nova, I contacted Congressman Bridenstein… that’s what our OK legislators site tells me I should contact based on my zip code. Once I am off here, I will be signing and scanning the privacy release form his office emailed me so they can see what they can do to help expedite my case. I will be logging off soon, my neck and shoulders are so sore and my arms are feeling quite heavy…pain in hands will appear shortly.


  14. From McArdle’s piece: “To return to what I said earlier, this is no longer mostly a policy story; it’s a political story. ”



  15. okay. here’s the contact info Inhofe and Coburn.
    for wouldn’t hurt to loop them in as well. Bridenstine is freshman. the senators have been around. i’d start with Bridenstine though.

    Here’s the district info for Inhofe

    Tulsa 1924 South Utica Avenue, Suite 530
    Tulsa, OK 74104
    (918) 748-5111

    and Coburn

    Tulsa 1800 South Baltimore, Suite 800
    Tulsa, OK 74119 (918) 581-7651




    Guess that settles that!


  17. Greanie, my incredulity is based on the idea that if they have a go live date of 1/1/2014 or 12/15/2013 if some reports are to be believed, all of the base code should have been done and they should be in testing and bug fix mode now.


    • Jnc… I can’t agree with you more on that point. I can honestly say that not a single project I ever worked on was late or over budget…AND..everything I developed did not have any major problems at all…I was one of the most respected in my field. I’d like to say NO problems at all…but there were times when people did not get what they wanted because they didn’t ask for what they wanted. The fact there were so many problems and still coding and testing to do should be an absolute embarrassment to any and everyone who worked on this project for the past 3 years.

      But let me share some IT experience with everyone. Not all projects are successful, it happens a lot (sadly), but these projects aren’t in the public eye. For example, I worked for Club Corp (at that time it was the world leader in owning and managing Golf resorts) from 1999-2002. We were using the “legacy” IBM mainframe and all worked just fine. Then some accountant decided Club Corp needed to update all it’s IT processing, ah, to stay competitive. Soooo, upper management fell for it. The initial quote for Oracle to come in and create all new systems was 3 years and $5mil. Even though I had already left before all was completed, 5 years and $70mil later, Club Corp was finally able to run it’s first payroll. On the mainframe, total processing time was 3 hours, under the new Oracle system, it took just over 72 hours. W2s at the end of the year were over a month beyond the time limit. Club Corp paid HUGE penalties for it. Another example, Frito Lay was one of the first to switch from mainframe to Oracle… after 3 years of horrors, they threw away Oracle and all they spent on it and reverted back to mainframe. So not all projects go as they should. I’m glad I was never part of a failed project.

      But bottom line, a system as crucial as a Federal system should not go wrong. This is a huge black eye not only on our administration, but all programmers everywhere and I personally take offense to it. I do hope heads roll. But in the end, over time, this will be no more than a bump in our history.


  18. I’m sorry, I have to log off now, I’ve already pushed myself much further than I should have. Time for pills and pillows.


  19. Florida Republican Congressman Trey Radel is now the new face of the Republican Party.


  20. Sounds like the got a handle on handle on the website now.

    Sebelius visited Florida Technical College in Orlando before stopping at a Miami hospital where a handful of “navigators” were trying to enroll consumers on the website, but were plagued by embarrassing messages showing the website was stalled even as Sebelius stopped and chatted with them.

    Heck, it’s not like they’d know in advance that she’d be there.

    Give me a reason to trust her judgement.

    Asked about those concerns, Sebelius said: “I feel like it’s safe. Absolutely,” adding, “when there have been issues identified or flagged, it’s immediately fixed.”–finance.html


  21. Hill Piece is good:

    “Is he even more unpopular than George W. Bush? I think that’s already happened,” said one Democratic chief of staff.”

    Nova, you were prescient:

    “When Ds in marginal districts don’t have him on the campaign trail, that will be the tell.”

    “The view among those in the Senate is that it would be helpful to have the ability to vote on a healthcare fix.

    “People here want to be on the record showing support for fixing the problem,” the senior Senate aide said. “He should understand that. For someone who served in Congress, people are surprised how little he understands Congress.”

    The White House hasn’t indicated just how much Obama will help campaign for those who are up for reelection next year. The president, who has been attending a string of fundraisers in recent days — including a West Coast check-collecting trip this weekend — is expected to help lawmakers and both campaign committees throughout 2014.

    But as the healthcare problems continue to persist, lawmakers in swing districts aren’t sure that’s the best idea, especially because, according to one Democrat, “systemically you have what is a long-term problem.”

    “It wouldn’t be helpful,” the Senate aide said. “Maybe he can help raise some money for Democrats, but that’s the extent of it.””


  22. “Nova, you were prescient:”

    He shoots and scores!

    but really, that one was into an empty net. Obama’s numbers suck. And House Ds (well, all House members) are gearing up for next year. and the problem just isn’t that Obama’s numbers will drag them down, it’s that K-street money is going to see how that plays out before cutting the big checks.


  23. The submarine quote should be message of the day.


  24. 400 meters and sinking.

    Udall Barely Ahead in Colorado
    A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) just ahead of Ken Buck (R) in a possible re-election match up, 45% to 42%.

    Udall holds slim leads over five other possible GOP challengers as well.

    Said pollster Tim Malloy: “Though running even or ahead of six possible Republican challengers, Sen. Mark Udall must be pulling for a quick fix of the Obamacare website and a change of heart by Coloradans who dislike the Affordable Care Act by a wide margin.”


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