US Daily Cash Deficit 10/21/2014

The US Daily Cash Deficit for Tuesday 10/21/2014 was $2.0B bringing the October 2014 deficit through 21 days to $50B and the 2014 YTD through 295 days to $484B.

2014-10-21B USDD

Very little YOY change on the day, so let’s take a look at our new charts….the YTD charts on the bottom. What we are doing is comparing 2006-2014 revenues, outlays, and deficit through the same number of days….in this case 295. The charts used to only go back to 2009…I’ve added in 2006-2008..interesting times if I recall.


Revenues are obviously on track to hit a new record, but looking back to 2006 gives us a good reference. Over the 8 year period, we look like we are averaging about 3% annual growth in revenues….though obviously there we had a large range of change…from ~-10% to the +~15% we saw in 2013. ~3% is a long term # I can believe in…moderate growth in GDP, plus population growth and inflation.


Our chart clearly shows the huge spike in outlays from 2008-2009, followed by going on 6 years of more or less flat outlays. I tend to think 2015 will be the year we start heading back up, but it’s not likely to be a spike…just a resumption of 2-3% growth.


If you pull 2006-2008 out….you could have a graphic for a democratic campaign poster….not that it would help :) (contact me for licencing info…cash only please :)) This is pretty much the story of the last 8 years…a huge spike followed by annual improvement..but still at a pretty high rate. The question is…..where are we headed? Clearly if the trend continues, we’ll be deficit free in 3-5 years, but I wouldn’t bet on that horse. I’ve been wrong before, but my guess is that we are fairly close to a plateau. Over the next 12 months or so revenue gains will slow and cost pressures will mount resulting in a plateau around the $500B range (annual…charts above are through 295 days). For reference, the TTM deficit through September was at $616B. After that…it will turn around and start heading up at a moderate rate. Of course that assumes no shocks….I can’t forecast those, so I haven’t even tried. Looking back to the last recession…TTM revenues peaked in 4/2008 before falling 17% and bottoming out in 11/2009….lets hope we don’t get another one of those.

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US Daily Cash Deficit 10/20/2014

The US Daily Cash Surplus for Monday 10/20/2014 was $15.2B bringing the October 2014 deficit through 20 days back down to $48B. There was a surprise for the day…an $8.2B remittance from Justice. I’ve long since lost track of all of the banking fines, but I’d have to assume this is one of the latest. It’s an $8B pickup….that’s definitely going to help the month. Just for reference, last Octobers total revenues were $223B, so if everything else ended up exactly equal, just this one item gets us up to almost +4%….so we can all breathe a sigh of relief…well at least until next October when we come up $8B short, but these are good problems to have….we’ll take it.

Now…on to our charts….

2014-10-20 USDD

Big changes….what do you think? I’m not committed to it yet…just trying it out. I do fully realize that charts that look great on my 27″ monitor might not look so great on your old razor flip phone, so feel free to email me for an informal survey. I can’t promise I’ll change anything, but I am interested in feedback. My recommendation would be to click on the chart for a much better view than what you get embedded in the post.

So, as much fun as tracking the daily and monthly deficit is, the truth is that what really matters is the YOY. I’ve been tracking this on the side since the beginning and updating periodically, but have decided to add charts for the YTD Revenue/Outlays/Deficit. Remaining are the MTD charts, but gone is the namesake daily deficit :(.

Finally, some changes in methodology. My original methodology was quite simple. From the DTS, we took took total deposits and total outlays, and adjusted for tax refunds (which I view as negative revenue rather than outlays) and debt issuance/repayment. This makes sense to me…issuing say $200B of debt (and increasing cash $200B) has no affect on the deficit….until I spend it….you know a few days later.

However, there was just one problem….debt outstanding seemed to be increasing faster than my math would suggest. While it fluctuated, the average was a little over 4B per month…$50B per year. It’s not a huge number in relation to the 3.8T annual outlays, but at heart, I’m an accountant, and it bugs the crap out of me when numbers don’t tie. So I started digging and the conclusion i have come to is that this amount is primarily related to amortized interest and how it is accounted for on the DTS.

For example, when you generally think of a a US bond, you probably think ok…I’ll lend ol’ Uncle Sam $100, he will pay me lets say 3% interest for the next 30 years, then in 30 years I’m sure he’ll borrow money from some other sap and give me back my severely depreciated $100…with which I’ll go get a package of go-go squeeze or something. However, what if prevailing rates are at 3.5%. What will happen is that to essentially balance it out, the price of the bond will come down a bit to bump up the effective yield to prevailing. For most of you…this isn’t a new concept, but for the record….this little thing creates a 30 year pain in the ass for the accounting crew….well at least it does for public companies.

Say that the price of the bond comes down to $98. You show up, give Uncle Sam $98, and he gives you a $100 bond. When you check the DTS later that afternoon, you will see cash in from “Public Debt Cash Issues” at $98, but debt outstanding will have increased by $100. So…what to do with the $2 difference. Well…for your financial reporting you probably whip up a whiz bang spreadsheet and figure out how to recognize that $2 as interest expense over the next 30 years….hence the pain in the ass. But the DTS is a cash flow statement. What I incorrectly assumed several years back when I kicked off this project was that when that $100 came due, they would list it as “Public Debt Cash Redemption $98, and interest expense $2…thus bringing everything back into balance. WRONG!!! What they actually do is just book the $100 to “Public Cash Debt Redemption”…which i suppose is fine, but due to the way I was calculating the deficit caused me to permanently miss capturing amortized interest to the tune of ~$50B per year. Doh!!

So the new methodology fixes that by recognizing amortized interest as an outlay upon issuance. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than how I was handling it, and over time it should more or less even out.

Looking back…this change in methodolgy pushes the 2013 deficit up from the $660B I initially reported to $704B. For 2014, As of September the YTD deficit I reported was $388B. Now I have it at $434B…$46B higher. Looking at September only, I previously reported a $63B Surplus…now i have it at $57B.

So…there you have it…a lot of changes, and I don’t even have time to review the charts. I’ll give some commentary on the charts tomorrow after we get the Tuesday DTS….and I have time to field all of the complaints about the new charts :) Enjoy!!

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US Daily Cash Deficit 10/16/2014

The US Daily Cash Surplus for Thursday 10/16/2014 was $7.9B bringing the October 2014 deficit through 16 days to $61B.

2014-10-16 USDD

Revenue had a big day gaining nearly $8B YOY and pulling back to even. Perhaps some timing event I am unaware of changed YOY and has now caught back up??? Who knows, but it’s good news…on a normal day a $1B or $2B pickup would be a healthy pickup.

Outlays continue to trend up and are now at +$5B despite being down a day.


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US Daily Cash Deficit 10/15/2014

The US Daily Cash Deficit for Wednesday 10/15/2014 was $6.5B bringing the October deficit through 15 days to $69B halfway through the month.

2014-10-15 USDD


We are now more or less back in sync for revenues as $9B of corporate taxes came through for the day putting us on pace to beat 2013 in that category by 10%. It’s not on par with last month’s 29% YOY gain, and it’s only about $1B, but hey…we’ll take it.

Sitting here at the midpoint, October revenues don’t impress at $-7B. Sure…2013 has an extra Tuesday….so pulling that out they are more or less even. But we are shooting for +5% at a minimum to keep the deficit shrinking at a noticeable pace, so let’s hope we see an uptick in the second half of the month….it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Outlays, on the other hand, despite being down a day, are up $4B over 2013 and trending up. Ignoring the month end timing event we should see….we are on pace for about 3% YOY increase in outlays….quick math says to keep the deficit constant…we need about 4% revenue growth to stay even.

Other than that, there is something that looks odd in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cash outlays. They sit at $3.8B through 15 days. What’s odd is that looking back over the last few years, the average cash spend in this DTS bucket is only about $320M. Now to be honest, the $320M always seemed very low to me so I just assumed that the cash outlays for this program were somehow being dumped into another category…probably what they label “Food and Nutrition Service (misc)” (FNS) which averages about $8.4B per month. What I suspect is simply a change in accounting…things that had been coming out FNS’s piggy bank are now coming out of SNAP’s piggy bank. It should all net out…but nuke the category trends in the process….thanks!!


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US Daily Cash Deficit 10/14/2014

The US Daily Cash Surplus for Tuesday 10/14/2014 was 6.4B bringing the October 2014 deficit to $62B through 14 days.

2014-10-14 USDD

YOY revenue continues to deteriorate, but a lot of that is related to timing….Last month 10/15 was on a Tuesday….there are generally a lot of things going on on the 15th of a month from debt issuance and payment, military active duty pay, and tax deposits to name a few. We should more or less catch up tomorrow and have a better idea of where we really stand at the halfway point.

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