Senate Rolls Out of Bed
The upper chamber gaveled to order at the crack of 11 am today, with hours upon hours left to get done what they've shown no capacity to do over the last 18 months. They plan to debate into the wee minutes of the afternoon, so we should see a deal take shape any time now.
Live coverage of the Senate floor at C-SPAN.
Update: Obama to give a speech flanked by "regular folk" human props. We're saved.
Chart of the Night (the Mayans Were Right)
Fiscal Cliff: Endgame (ahead of schedule!)
Are we set to arrive at a true stalemate on December 20?
That wouldn't be "good" per se, but at least it would give the markets an opportunity to unglue their eyes from Beltway podia for a few ticks as we careen into year-end. Although with any deal prospects extinguished, I'm not sure what'll be left to do other than mash the sell button.
Anything going on in Europe or at the Fed?
Standard Follow-up For a Case Of the Dizzies: A Week Of Bedrest and No Testifying Before Congress
Bummer. I'll bet she'd been looking forward to it.
The U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who skipped an overseas trip this past week because of a stomach virus, sustained a concussion after fainting.
She's now recovering at home and being monitored by doctors.
An aide, Philippe Reines, says Clinton will work from home next week, at the recommendation of doctors.
Congressional aides do not expect her to testify as scheduled at congressional hearings on Thursday into the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
"Something Bad Happened In November"
No, not Sandy.
Something else happened that caused small business optimism to plummet back to recessionary levels.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index dropped 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5. The two major events in November were the national elections and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the East Coast. To disentangle these, the results for the states impacted by Sandy were excluded from the computation for comparison. When separating the hurricane-impacted states from the remainder, the data makes clear that the election was the primary cause of the decline in owner optimism.
“Something bad happened in November—and based on the NFIB survey data, it wasn’t merely Hurricane Sandy. The storm had a significant impact on the economy, no doubt, but it is very clear that a stunning number of owners who expect worse business conditions in six months had far more to do with the decline in small-business confidence. Nearly half of owners are now certain that things will be worse next year than they are now. Washington does not have the needs of small business in mind. Between the looming ‘fiscal cliff,’ the promise of higher healthcare costs and the endless onslaught of new regulations, owners have found themselves in a state of pessimism. We are forced to ask: is this the new normal?” -- NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg
Best Indication Latest Obama-Boehner Meeting Was Constructive: No One's Rushing To Cameras To Deem it "Constructive""
Uncharacteristic silence following yesterday's White House sit-down. Does that suggest the two sides actually made modest headway (doomed to be mutually misconstrued and fully walked back with redoubled resentment, naturally, but momentary headway nonetheless)?
President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) met at the White House on Sunday. By now, virtually everyone watching the “fiscal cliff” process unfold knows that. But what very few people know is what actually happened. That’s because both sides are being unusually tight-lipped after several weeks of public posturing.
What does this all mean?
Update: The two sides seem to be getting louder in their silence, with both now unequivocally confirming that the well-publicized meeting that everyone knows took place did indeed take place.
Largely Worthless Jobs Report Pick'em
This is going to be the noisiest employment report we've seen in a while, not only due to post-Sandy and ante-cliff effects, but also because it's based on an earlier-than-normal reference week (due to the early Thanksgiving), so who knows how well the adjustment factor captures the slightly different seasonality.
My boldly noncommittal prediction is that the consensus estimates (90k jobs created, unemployment ticks up to 8.0%) will be meaningfully off, but that the field of asterisks will render the actual data less than hugely useful. Pressed for specifics, I'd say we're more likely to come in meaningfully weaker than meaningfully stronger. Let's say +50k payrolls and 8.2%.
But I won't be floored to see a crazy high-side number either (nor something closer to zero). In the end, it's probably garbage. But it's something to gawk at, nonetheless.
Update: ZeroHedge with more on the quantitiative noisiness, but qualitative ugliness.
Update: Yep, garbage. +146k, unemplyoment 7.7%. The seasonal adjustment czar just got a big holiday bonus.
Jobs Indicator With Little Predictive Value Shows Little Change
ADP says 118,000 private sector jobs were created in November, down from 157,000 in October and just under the consensus estimate of 125,000.
Even without superstorm Sandy gumming up the works, ADP's track record at predicting the subsequent government data (due out Friday) is mixed at best. Still, a fiscal-cliff-headline-weary investing public showed a little love by dutifully trimming gains (slightly) in pre-market trading.