Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy

Andrew Scurria and Heather Gillers have a piece in The Wall Street Journal that discusses various considerations now that the story of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy is “just beginning for investors.”  One remark in particular caught my eye.

Complicating matters, Puerto Rico hasn’t yet decided which creditors have priority in a restructuring.

This lack of forethought, even of understanding, is illustrative of how Puerto Rico got into this mess in the first place.

The question shouldn’t center on creditors; the order of priority of debt type should be the primary criterion, with creditors within each type treated equally.  This prioritization should have been defined long ago, too.

Long Maturity Debt Instruments

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is kicking around the idea of instituting long-maturity debt instruments, specifically, 50-year and 100-year US bonds.

Treasury’s Borrowing Advisory Committee, though, demurs.  This committee, made of movers and shakers of financial institutions that are themselves movers and shakers in the bond market,

does not see evidence of strong or sustainable demand for maturities beyond 30 years.

They ask a not unreasonable question, too:

what types of investors would buy ultralong bonds….

On that, the US has tried long(er) maturity bonds before—50-year instruments to finance the Panama Canal and 40-year instruments in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations to, in Eisenhower’s words, stretch out the national debt, for instance.

A Timid Administration

Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

And in response, President Barack Obama (D) once again bowed to Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who personally delivered the threat, and virtually to King Salman bin Abdulaziz.  Obama then responded to the Saudi threat, meekly.  He

Debt Risk

The PRC’s debt, at various levels, is a well-known risk to the country’s economic health. Existing loans to companies and households amounted to 207% of GDP at the start of this summer. Households had in the region of 38% of that debt as of last year. Municipal debt is approaching $25 trillion yuan ($3.9 trillion).

Now the People’s Bank of China is moving to cut the down payment required to get a loan to buy a house. The public claim the PBOC is making is that this is supposed to spur house buying and through that the economy. While it’s true enough that the cut—from 30% down to 25% down—seems like small potatoes, it still will result in an increase in household debt.

Even the AP Is Catching On

They fact-checked President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, and they found these things.

OBAMA: At this moment—with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production—we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.

THE FACTS: Job growth has been…fueled in part by lower-paying jobs…which have replaced many higher-paying positions…. Part-time jobs also remain elevated: there are still 1.7 million fewer workers with full-time jobs than when the recession began in December 2007.

Never Met a Tax Increase

…he didn’t like, this Progressive. President Barack Obama wants $320 billion in tax increases over the next 10 years in order to give tax credits to his version of “the middle class.”

This is rank, stinking wealth transfer. Nothing else. He doesn’t even intend to use the revenue to pay down the national debt he’s exploded over the last six years. The worst part of this is that Obama and his Democratic Party accomplices actually think this is right. The rich should “pay their fair share,” and government needs to spend the money. Never mind that “the rich” already pay 70% of the US’ income tax bill, while the bottom half(!) pay 3%-4%. Conveniently, these…Democrats…never get around to specifying what a “fair” share might be. Meanwhile, the debt keeps growing.

Another Argument for Disbanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Monday announced details of a controversial plan to allow some first-time homeowners to obtain a mortgage while putting down just 3% of the price of the home.

We’ve not finished recovering from the Panic of 2008, and these entities want to resume an underlying component of the last housing bubble and burst that contributed so heavily to that.

But wait:

Fannie Mae said the loans that allow for 3% down payments will be held to the same eligibility requirements as other Fannie loans, including underwriting, income documentation and risk management standards.

A Political Party’s Fiscal Philosophy in Microcosm

The Wall Street Journal has the tale.

Today, a year and a half after the 2012 elections, the Democratic National Committee owes its creditors $15 million.  It closed out the 2012 election season owing $22 million, and after all this time, it’s only paid down a third of that debt.

Today, a year and a half after the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee owes its creditors…zip.  Nada.  The RNC has no debt.  It also closed out the 2012 election season with…wait for it…no debt.  The RNC, in fact, had $3 million cash on hand.

Really, What Default?

President Barack Obama and his…colleagues…in the Senate keep threatening national default if those Evil, Anarchist, Terrorist Jihadi Republicans don’t promptly shape up and pass a budget, raise the debt ceiling, and otherwise give him a blank check.  One of his more recent threats is this:

…if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting.

Let’s look at some numbers:

A Thought on Government Spending

I’m prompted by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s testimony before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal paraphrased him, in part, with this:

Given current spending and tax levels, the government would probably have to cut spending by at least 30%—or $100 billion—a month if the borrowing limit wasn’t increased.