Category Archives: Bonds

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

https://whiskeytangotexas.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/abyss.jpg?w=625&zoom=2

Après moi, le déluge

~ King Louis XV of France

A hard rain’s a-gonna fall

~ Bob Dylan (the first)

As the Federal Reserve kicked off its second round of quantitative easing in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, hedge fund manager David Tepper predicted that nearly all assets would rise tremendously in response. “The Fed just announced: We want economic growth, and we don’t care if there’s inflation… have they ever said that before?” He then famously uttered the line “You gotta love a put”, referring to the Fed’s declared willingness to print $trillions to backstop the economy and financial markets. Nine years later we see that Tepper was right, likely even more so than he realized at the time.

The other world central banks followed the Fed’s lead. Mario Draghi of the ECB declared a similar “whatever it takes” policy and has printed nearly $3.5 trillion in just the past three years alone. The Bank of Japan has intervened so much that it now owns over 40% of its country’s entire bond market. And no central bank has printed more than the People’s Bank of China.

It has been an unprecedented force feeding of stimulus into the global system. And, contrary to what most people realize, it hasn’t diminished over the years since the Great Recession. In fact, the most recent wave from 2015-2018 has seen the highest amount of injected ‘thin-air’ money ever:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/6/17/saupload_Central_bank_global_QE_flows_-_6.14.18.png

In response, equities have long since rocketed past their pre-crisis highs, bonds continued rising as interest rates stayed at historic lows, and many real estate markets are now back in bubble territory. As Tepper predicted, financial and other risk assets have shot the moon. And everyone learned to love the ‘Fed put’ and stop worrying.

But as King Louis XV and Bob Dylan both warned us, what’s coming next will change everything.

The Deluge Approaches

This halcyon era of ever-higher prices and consequence-free backstopping by the central banks is ending. The central banks, desperate to give themselves some slack (any slack!) to maneuver when the next recession arrives, have publicly committed to ‘tightening monetary policy’ and ‘unwinding their balance sheets’, which is wonk-speak for ‘reversing what they’ve done’ over the past decade.

Most general investors today just don’t appreciate how gargantuanly significant this is. For the past 9 years, we’ve become accustomed to a volatility-free one-way trip higher in asset prices. It’s been all-glory with no risk while the ‘Fed put’ has had our backs (along with the ‘EBC put’, the ‘BOJ’ put, the ‘PBoC put’, etc). Anybody going long, buying the (few, minor) dips along the way, has felt like a genius. That’s all over.

Based on current guidance from the central banks, “global QE” is expected to drop precipitously from here:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/6/17/saupload_liquidity_20supernova_201.jpg

With just the relatively tiny amount of QE tapering so far, 2018 has already seen more market price volatility than any year since 2009. But we’ve seen nothing so far compared to the volatility that’s coming later this year when QE starts declining in earnest. In parallel with this tightening, global interest rates are rising after years of flat lining at all-time lows. And it’s important to note that our recent 0% (or negative) yields came at the end of a 35-year secular cycle of declining interest rates that began in the early 1980s.

Are we seeing a secular cycle turn now that rates are creeping back up? Will rising interest rates be the norm for the foreseeable future? If so, the world is woefully unprepared for it. Countries and companies are carrying unprecedented levels of debt, as are many households. Rising interest rates increases the cost of servicing that debt, leaving less behind to invest or to meet basic operating needs.

Simon Black reminds us that, mathematically, rising interest rates result in lower valuations for stocks, bonds and housing. But so far, Wall Street hasn’t gotten the message (chart courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith):

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/1/15/saupload_DJIA1-18a.jpg(Source)

So we’re presented with a simple question: What happens when the QE that’s grossly-inflating markets stops at the same time that interest rates rise? The answer is simple, too: Prices fall.

They fall commensurate with the distortion within the system. Which is unprecendented at this stage.

But Wait, There’s More!

So the situation is dire. But it gets worse. Our debt that’s getting more expensive to service? Well, not only are we (in the US) adding to it at a faster rate with our newly-declared horizon of $1+ trillion annual deficits, but we’re increasingly antagonizing the largest buyers of our debt.

This is most notable with China (the #1 Treasury buyer), whom we’ve dragged into a trade war and just announced $50 billion in tariffs against. But Japan (the #2 buyer) is also materially reducing its Treasury purchases. And not to be outdone, Russia recently dumped half of its Treasury holdings, $47 billion worth, in a single fell swoop. Should this trend lead, understandably, to lower demand for US Treasures in the future, that only will put further pressure on interest rates to move higher.

And this is all happening at a time when the stability of the rest of the world is fast deteriorating. Developing (EM) countries are getting destroyed as central bank liquidity flows slow and reverse — as higher interest rates strengthen the USD against their home currencies, their debts (mostly denominated in USD) become more costly while their revenues (denominated in local currency) lose purchasing power. Fault lines are fracturing across Europe as protectionist, populist candidates are threatening the long-standing EU power structure. Italy’s economy is struggling to remain afloat and could take the entire European banking system down with it. The new tit-for-tat tariffs with the US aren’t helping matters. And China, trade war aside, is seeing its fabled economic momentum slow to multi-decade lows.

All players on the chessboard are weakening.

The Timing Is Becoming Clear

Yes, the financial markets are currently still near all-time highs (or at the high, in the case of the NASDAQ). And yes, expected Q2 US GDP has jumped to a blistering 4.8%. But the writing is increasingly on the wall that these rosy heights won’t last for much longer.

These next three charts from Palisade Research, combined with the above forecast of the drop-off in global QE, paint a stark picture for the rest of 2018 and beyond. The first shows that as the G-3 central banks have started their initial (and still small) efforts to withdraw QE, the Global Financial Stress Indicator is spiking worrisomely:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/6/17/saupload_GlobalStressIndicator.png

Next, one of the best predictors of global corporate earnings now forecasts an imminent collapse. As go earnings, so go stock prices:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/6/17/saupload_SKEG.png

And looking at trade flows — which track the movement of ‘real stuff’ like air and shipping freights — we see clear signs that the global economy is slowing down (a trend that will be exacerbated if oil prices rise as geologist Art Berman predicts):

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/6/17/saupload_Alt_MeasuresofWorldTrade.png

The end of QE, higher interest rates, trade wars at a time of slowing global trade, China/Europe weakening, EM carnage — it’s like both legs of the ladder you’re standing on being sawed off, as well all of the rungs underneath you.

Conclusion: a major decline in the financial markets is due for the second half of 2018/first half of 2019.

Actions To Take

Gathering clouds deliver a valuable message: Seek shelter before the storm.

Specifically, it’s time to:

  • Get liquid. When the rug gets pulled out from under today’s asset prices, ‘flat’ will be the new ‘up’. Simply not losing money will make you wealthier on a relative basis — it’s the easiest, least-risky strategy for most investors to prepare for what’s coming. “Cash is king” in the aftermath of a deflationary downdraft, when your dry power can be then used to purchase high-quality income-producing assets at excellent value — fractions of their current prices. And in the interim, the returns on cash are getting better for investors who know where to look. We’ve recently explained how you can now get 2%+ interest on cash stored in short-term T-bills (that’s 30x more than most banks will pay on cash savings). If you’re sitting on cash and haven’t looked seriously yet at that program, you really should review our report. With more Fed tightening expected in the future, T-bill rates are likely headed even higher.
  • Get your plan for the correction into place now. In addition to your cash, how is the rest of your portfolio positioned? Do you have suitable hedges in place to mitigate your risk? Does your financial advisor even acknowledge the risks detailed in the above article? The last thing you want to do in a market downdraft is make panicked decisions.
  • Nibble into commodities. The commodities/equities price ratio is the lowest it has been in 47 years. That ratio has to correct some point soon. Much of that correction will be due to stocks dropping; but the rest will be by commodities holding their own or appreciating. While it’s true that commodities could indeed fall as well during a general deflationary rout, that’s not a guarantee — especially given that many commodities are now selling at prices close to — or in some cases, below — their marginal cost of production. The easiest commodities to own yourself, the precious metals, are ‘dirt cheap’ right now (especially silver), as explained in our recent podcast with Ronald Stoeferle. And with Friday’s bloodbath, they just got even cheaper.
  • Assess and address your biggest vulnerabilities before the next crisis hits. Are you worried about the security of your current job when the next recession hits? Are rising interest rates causing you to struggle in deciding whether to buy or sell a home? Are you trying to come up with a plan for a resilient retirement? Are you assessing the pros and cons of relocating? Do you have homesteading questions? Are you trying to create new streams of income?

We’re lurching through the final steps of familiar territory as the status quo we’ve known for the past near-decade is ending. The mind-mindbogglingly massive central bank stimulus supporting asset prices are disappearing. Interest rates are rising. It’s hard to overemphasize how seismic these changes will be to world markets and the global economy. The coming years are going to be completely different than what society is conditioned for. Time is running short to get prepared. Because when today’s Everything Bubble bursts, the effect will be nothing short of catastrophic as 50 years of excessive debt accumulation suddenly deflates.

A hard rain indeed is gonna fall.

Source: by Chris Martenson | Seeking Alpha

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US Budget Deficit Hits $530 Billion In 8 Months, As Spending On Interest Explodes

The US is starting to admit that it has a spending problem.

According to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement, in May, the US collected $217BN in receipts – consisting of $93BN in individual income tax, $103BN in social security and payroll tax, $3BN in corporate tax and $18BN in other taxes and duties- a drop of 9.7% from the $240.4BN collected last March and a clear reversal from the recent increasing trend…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/receipts%20may%202018.jpg?itok=rEuJVtdq

… even as Federal spending surged, rising 10.7% from $328.8BN last March to $363.9BN last month.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/outlays%20may%202018.jpg?itok=HWulNcBr

… where the money was spent on social security ($83BN), defense ($56BN), Medicare ($53BN), Interest on Debt ($32BN), and Other ($141BN).

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/MTS%20may%202018.jpg?itok=hsSikeNj(click here for larger image)

The surge in spending led to a May budget deficit of $146.8 billion, above the consensus estimate of $144BN, a swing from a surplus of $214.3 billion in April and far larger than the deficit of $88.4 billion recorded in May of 2017. This was the biggest March budget deficit since the financial crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/us%20budget%20deficit%20may%202018.jpg?itok=8rJNKZPj

The May deficit brought the cumulative 2018F budget deficit to over $531bn during the first eight month of the fiscal year; as a reminder the deficit is expect to increase further amid the tax and spending measures, and rise above $1 trillion.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/budget%20deficit%206.12.jpg?itok=cziKJhqI

The red ink for May deficit brought the deficit for the year to-date to $532.2 billion. Most Wall Street firms forecast a deficit for fiscal 2018 of about $850 billion, at which point things get… worse. As we showed In a recent report, CBO has also significantly raised its deficit projection over the 2018-2028 period.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-04-09_11-13-25.jpg

But while out of control government spending is clearly a concern, an even bigger problem is what happens to not only the US debt, which recently surpassed $21 trillion, but to the interest on that debt, in a time of rising interest rates.

As the following chart shows, US government Interest Payments are already rising rapidly, and just hit an all time high in Q1 2018. 

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/interest%20expenditures.jpg?itok=BuGbNIs6

Interest costs are increasing due to three factors: an increase in the amount of outstanding debt, higher interest rates and higher inflation. A rise in the inflation rate boosts the upward adjustment to the principal of TIPS, increasing the amount of debt on which the Treasury pays interest. For fiscal 2018 to-date, TIPS’ principal has been increased by boosted by $25.8 billion, an increase of 54.9% over the comparable period in 2017.

The bigger question is with short-term rates still in the mid-1% range, what happens when they reach 3% as the Fed’s dot plot suggests it will?

* * *

In a note released by Goldman after the blowout in the deficit was revealed, the bank once again revised its 2018 deficit forecast higher, and now expect the federal deficit to reach $825bn (4.1% of GDP) in FY2018 and to continue to rise, reaching $1050bn (5.0%) in FY2019, $1125bn (5.4%) in FY2020, and $1250bn (5.5%) in FY2021.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/exhibit_1.img%20%284%29.png

Goldman also notes that it expects that on its current financing schedule the Treasury still faces a financing gap of around $300bn in FY2019, rising to around $750bn by FY2021, and will thus need to raise auction sizes substantially over the next couple of years to accommodate higher deficits.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/exhibit_3.img%20%283%29.png

What does this mean for interest rates? The bank’s economic team explains:

The increase in Treasury issuance and the ongoing unwind of QE should put upward pressure on long-term interest rates. On issuance, the economic research literature suggests as a rule-of-thumb that a 1pp increase in the deficit/GDP ratio raises 10-year Treasury yields by 10-25bp. Multiplying the midpoint of this range by the roughly 1.5pp increase in the deficit due to the recent tax and spending bills implies a 25bp increase in the 10-year yield. On the Fed’s balance sheet reduction, our estimates suggest that about 40-45bp of upward pressure on the 10-year term premium remains.

And here a problem emerges, because while Goldman claims that “the deficit path is known to markets, but academic research suggests these effects might not be fully priced immediately… the balance sheet normalization plan is known too, but portfolio balance effect models imply that its impact should be gradual” the bank also admits that “the precise timing of these effects is uncertain.”

What this means is that it is quite likely that Treasurys fail to slide until well after they should only to plunge orders of magnitude more than they are expected to, in the process launching the biggest VaR shock in world history, because as a reminder, as of mid-2016, a 1% increase in rates would result in a $2.1 trillion loss to government bond P&L.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/04/bond%20market%20exposure_0.png

Meanwhile, as rates blow out, US debt is expected to keep rising, and somehow hit $30 trillion by 2028

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/debt%20budget%20trump%202019.jpg

… without launching a debt crisis in the process.

Source: ZeroHedge

Bond Yields And Barbarians

I know Kung Foo, Karate, Bond Yields and forty-seven other dangerous words.

– The Wizard

For forty-four years I have trafficked in the bond markets. I have seen massive inflation, Treasury yields in the stratosphere and risk asset spreads that could barely be included on a chart. At four investment banks I ran Capital Markets, and was on the Board of Directors of those companies, and I have witnessed both extreme anger and one fist fight. It is funny, you know, how people behave when money is sitting there on the table.

One of the things rarely discussed in the Press are the mandates of money managers. Almost no one is unconstrained and virtually everyone is bound by regulations, the tax laws and FINRA and SEC stipulations. Life insurance companies and casualty companies and money managers and Trust Departments and everyone is sidled with something. There are no escapes from the dilemmas.

The markets are a random lottery of meaningless tragedies, a couple of wins and a series of near escapes. So, I sit here and I smoke my cigars, staring raptly at it all. Paying very close attention.

There are two issues, in my mind, to be considered carefully when assessing future interest rates. The first is supply, especially the forward borrowing by the U.S. government. “It’s supply,” Michael Schumacher, head of rate strategy at Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), told CNBC’s Futures Now. “When you think about the enormous amount of debt that U.S. Treasury’s got to issue over not just this year, frankly, but next year, it’s staggering,” he said.

Using Michael’s calculations, the Treasury will issue more than $500 billion in notes and bonds in the second to the fourth quarter, pushing the total to around $650 billion for the year. Last year, the total came to just $420 billion. That is approximately a 35% increase in issuance. This raises a fundamental question, who are going to be the buyers and at what levels?

The second issue centers on the Fed and what they might do. They keep calling for rate hikes, like it is a new central bank mantra, and they are increasing the borrowing costs of the nation, corporations and individuals, as a result. I often wonder, in their continual clamor for independence, just who they represent.

You might think that the ongoing demand for higher yields does not exactly help the Treasury’s or the President’s desire to grow the economy as the Fed moves in the opposite direction and tries to slow it down by raising rates. I have often speculated that there might be some private tap on the shoulder, at some point, but no such “tap” seems to have taken place or, if it has occurred, it is certainly being ignored, at least in public.

Here are some interesting questions to ponder:

How much of our U.S. and global growth is real?

How much of it, RIGHT NOW, is still being manufactured by the Fed’s, and the other central banks’, “Pixie Dust” money?

Does the world seem honestly ready to economically walk on its own two feet?

If you answered “No,” to the last question, how do you believe the financial markets will react when they realize that the Central Banks are trying to take away the safety net for the global economies?

Are you really worried about inflation running away from us?

Do you believe that a flat/inverted yield curve has been an accurate predictor of events to come, historically?

Have you run the numbers, can the world’s sovereign nations even afford 4% rates, as predicted by many?

If you answered “No,” do you believe that these nations will suppress yields for as long as they can to push back the “end game?”

Across the pond Reuters states,

Italy’s two anti-establishment parties agreed the basis for a governing accord on Thursday that would slash taxes, ramp up welfare spending and pose the biggest challenge to the European Union since Britain voted to leave the bloc two years ago.

That is quite a strong statement, in my opinion. There are plenty of reasons to be worried about Italy and the European Union now, in my view.

A draft of the accord, reviewed by Reuters, lays out a plan to cut taxes, increase welfare payments and rescind the recent pension reforms. To me, this seems incompatible with the EU’s rules and regulations. These new policies would cost billions of euros and would certainly raise Italy’s debt to GDP ratio, which already stands at approximately 132%.
Reuters also states,

The plan promised to introduce a 15 percent flat tax rate for businesses and two tax rates of 15 and 20 percent for individuals – a reform long promoted by the League. Economists say this would cost well over 50 billion euros in lost revenues.

Ratings agency DBRS has already warned that this new proposal could threaten Italy’s sovereign credit rating. If you have been to Rome, you probably visited the Coliseum. I make an observation today:

The Barbarians are at the Gates!
– Mark J. Grant

Source: by Mark J. Grant | Seeking Alpha

Bond Bear Stops Here: Bill Gross Warns Economy Can’t Support Higher Rates

Having thrown in the towel on his bond bear market call two weeks ago, Janus Henderson’s billionaire bond investor Bill Gross now believes that the most recent bearish bond price (rise in yields) will stop here as the economy cannot support higher yields.

As Gross said two weeks ago, yields won’t see a substantial move from here.

“Supply from the Treasury is a factor in addition to what the Fed might do in terms of a mild, bearish tone for U.S. Treasury bonds,” Gross told Bloomberg TV.

“I would expect the 10-year to basically meander around 2.80 to perhaps 3.10 or 3.15 for the balance of the year. It’s a hibernating bear market, which means the bear is awake but not really growling.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-03_7-29-30.jpg

Since then, yields have tested the upper-end of his channel and are breaking out today to their highest since 2011 (10Y)…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-15_5-48-50_1.jpg?itok=fFNyLeBx

and back to their critical resistance levels (30Y)…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-15_5-50-55_0.jpg?itok=s6Hc1rhv

And now Gross is out with a pair of tweets (here and here) saying that the record bond shorts should not get too excited here…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-13_9-26-13.jpg?itok=hqAROAA1

Bill Gross thinks they won’t be right. He highlights the long-term downtrend over the past 30-years, which comes in a 3.22%.

“30yr Tsy long-term downward yield trend line for the past 3 decades now at  3.22%, only ~4bps higher than today’s yield.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-15_8-39-58.jpg?itok=aNdSRwTH

“Will 3.22% be broken to upside?” he asks.

“I don’t think so. The economy can’t support yields higher than 3.25% for 30s and 10s, nor 3% for 5s.

Continuing hibernating bond bear market is best forecast.”

Asa ForexLive also notes, if he’s right it doesn’t necessarily mean the US dollar will reverse right away but it would be a good sign for stocks and would limit how far the US dollar might run.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-15_8-44-38.jpg?itok=MS3UBYGJ

So, will Gross be right? Is this latest spike all rate-locks on upcoming IG issuance? And will this leave speculators with a record short position now wondering who will be the one holding the greatest fool bag by the end of the year…

Well worth your time to hear what geo-economic consultant Martin Armstrong has to say.

Source: ZeroHedge

T-Minus… Prepare For Much Higher Long-Term Rates

It is late.  We have been crunching data for three days, and won’t bore you with too much prose.

We will be back to fill in the blanks in the next few days but will leave you with some nice charts and data to contemplate.  They may help explain why the stock market is trading so poorly even with, what appears, to be stellar earnings.

Determination Of The 10-year Yield

There will be many posts to come on this topic as we believe it is the most critical issue investors need to grapple with and get right over the next year.

What is the right price for the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield?

Moreover,  how is the yield determined, and how has it been distorted over the past 20 years by central banks, both foreign and the Federal Reserve?

What does the future hold?

Capital Flows

We agree that inflation, growth expectations, and other fundamental factors weigh heavily on determining bond yields but we always maintain, first, and foremost,

“asset prices are always and everywhere determined by capital flows.” 

New Issuance,  Foreign, and Fed Flows Into The Treasury Market

The following table illustrates the new issuance of marketable Treasury securities held by the public and net purchases by foreign investors, including central banks, and the Federal Reserve over various periods.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_flow-tables.png?itok=3SjVchCQ(larger image)

The data show since the beginning of the century, foreign investors, mainly central banks, and the Federal Reserve net purchase of Treasury securities, those which trade in the secondary market, is equivalent to 60 percent of all new marketable debt issued by the Treasury since 2000.

We do not suggest all these purchases were made directly in Treasury auctions, though many of the foreign buys certainly were.

From 2000-2010, foreign central banks were recycling their massive build of foreign exchange reserves back into the Treasury market.  During this period, the foreign central banks bought the equivalent of 50 percent of the new issuance.  Add foreign private investors and the Fed’s primary open market operations, and the total equated to 70 percent of the debt increase over the period.

Alan Greenspan blames the foreign inflows into the Treasury market during this period for Fed losing control of the yield curve, a major factor and cause of the housing bubble, and not excessively loose monetary policy.

Given the decoupling of monetary policy from long-term mortgage rates, accelerating the path of monetary tightening that the Fed pursued in 2004-2005 could not have “prevented” the housing bubble. – Alan Greenspan, March 2009

Greenspan raised the Fed Funds rate 425 bps from June 2004 to June 2006 and the 10-year barely budged, rising only 52 bps.  More on this later.

Fed Plus Total Foreign Purchases

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_fed_totalforeign_treasuryborrowings.png?itok=9f8p2oHc(larger image)

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_fed_cenbank_treasuryborrowings.png?itok=-BvhQgmP(larger image)

During the Fed’s QE period,  2010-2015,  foreign investors and the Fed took down the equivalent of 80 percent of  the new debt issuance.

The charts also illustrate that for several of the 3-month rolling periods, net purchases were significantly higher than 100 percent of new supply, distorting not only the 10-year yield, but the valuation of all other asset prices.

Interest rate repression also cause economic distortions, which have political consequences.  Most notably, wealth and income disparities.

Rapid Technical Deterioration

Since 2015, flows into the Treasury market have deteriorated markedly, and the timing could not be worse as new Treasury issuance is ballooning with skyrocketing budget deficits.

During the past twelve months, for example,  net foreign and Fed flows collapsed to just 17.6 percent of new borrowings.  Even worse, the net flows were negative (we estimated March international flows) during the first quarter during a record new issuance of Treasury securities of almost $500 billion.

Can we say, “Gulp”?

Stock Of Outstanding Treasury Securities

Given the rapidly deteriorating technicals and fundamentals — rising inflation –, we believe the 10-year yield should be and will be much higher sometime soon.

That is we are looking for a “super spike” in bond yields, and expect the 10-year to finish the year between 4-5 percent.   The term premium, which has been repressed due to all of the above,  should begin to normalize.

Why is taking so long?

Aside from the record shorts and natural inertia of markets, the stock of Treasury securities remains favorable, as the bulk is still held by the Fed and foreign central banks, who are not price sensitive.

Debt Stock Shortage,  Debt Flow Surplus 

Ironically,  there remains an artificial shortage of the stock of  Treasuries but now a huge glut in the flow.   See here for a must read.

The Bund And JGB Anchor?

Treasuries are at almost at record spreads on some  maturities vis-à-vis the German bund, and foreigners are on a buying strike as the above data show.

How can an anchor be an anchor if there are no buyers?   One asset arbitrage?

It is also not normal for the 10-year to be trading in such a tight range with a record short position in the futures market.  The average daily move in the VIX has increased from 0.20 percent in 2016, to 1.37 percent in 2017, and shorts are now hardly spooked by a 500 point flop in the Dow.

Something must be going on beneath the earth’s crust.  We have our ideas.

Dollar Strength

The recent dollar strength may be a signal foreigners are getting yield-hungry again, however.   We are not so sure the rally has legs.

Market concerns over the political stability of the U.S may trump yield-seeking for the rest of the year.

How Foreign Flows Contributed To The Housing Bubble

We are not going to spend much time here but we are starting coming around to Mr. Greenspan’s reasoning.  The lack of response of long-term yields to a 425 bps increase in the Fed Funds rate from 2004-2006  greatly contributed to the housing bubble.  The 10-year yield only moved up 52 bps from when the Fed started their tightening to when they paused.

Take a look at the chart.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_mortgage-debt_gdp.png?itok=yzXhWh6T

The Fed’s interest rate hikes didn’t even put a dent in the momentum of the housing bubble. Household mortgage debt continued to rise from 60 to 72 percent of GDP from the first interest rate hike before the market collapsed on itself.

Bubbles are hard to pop.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_phases-of-housing-bubble1.png?itok=a2Dis-7Z

Why Long-Term Yields Didn’t Respond

Simple.

As, always and everywhere, capital flows or the recycling thereof.

The biggest economic event in the past 25 years, in our opinion, is the exchange rate regime shift that took place in the emerging markets in the late 1990’s.  These countries now refuse to allow their currencies to appreciate in any significant magnitude as the result of capital inflows.

They learned some hard lessons in the mid-1990’s with Mexican Peso and Asian Financial Crisis, and the Russian Debt Default.

Balance of payments surpluses are now reconciled with dirty float currency regimes, where central banks intermittently intervene if their currency becomes too strong.

The result was a massive build of global currency reserves, much of which were recycled back into the U.S. Treasury market in the mid-2000’s.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/may2_cenbank_treasury_purchases.png?itok=imSym7al(larger image)

The chart illustrates that foreign central bank net purchases of Treasury securities, alone, were equivalent to the over 66 percent of net Treasury issuance during the Fed 2004-2006 tightening cycle.

International  Reserves Drive Gold

The gold price also ramped with international reserves during this period.

We believe the global monetary base, mainly international reserves,  is the main driver of gold.  See here.

Reserves have not been growing witness the punk trading range in gold.  This may change as the U.S. current account blows out again.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/gold-and-monetary-base.jpg?itok=USqHmoCM(larger image)

Current Account And Trade Deficits

The Mnuchin crowd are wasting their time in China trying to negotiate lower trade deficits.  Trade deficits are the result of internal imbalances where investment exceeds savings.  See here for another must read.

Introducing trade distortions to artificially lower the external deficit will only accelerate stagflaton, which is already starting to take hold.  Then we will all be worse off.   See here.

Besides, where is Mr. Mnuchin going to obtain the financing for his proliferating budget deficits if his goal is to run trade surplus or balances with our trading partners?

We are all for better terms of trade and protecting are intellectual property rights,  but know and understand thy national income accounting before starting trade wars.

Upshot

We have laid out why we believe, and we could be wrong, long-term yields are unlikely to behave as they did during the last monetary tightening.   That is the a further collapse in Treasury term premia and a yield curve inversion until something breaks.

Unless the U.S. blows up its current account again,  credit expansion accelerates significantly, creating another blast of capital flows into the emerging markets, to be recycled back to the U.S,,  the foreign and Fed financing of the U.S. budget deficit is over.  Punto!

We are preparing for a significant move higher in bond yields.

What Is The Right Real Yield?

Do you really think with the deteriorating flows in the bond market, coupled with rising inflation warrant a 0.5 percent real 10-year yield?

Au contraire!   We believe a 2-3 percent real yield is closer to fair value.

Tack on another 2.5 percent for inflation,  generous as shortages seem to be breaking out everywhere,  and that gets the 10-year to at least 4 1/2 percent.

Timing

A little CYA.   Yields could move a little lower, maybe to 2.80 percent (a stretch),  given the dollar strength as Europe slows, and shorts get spooked.

Our suspicions, however, it is going to be a hot summer.  Higher interest rates and lower stock prices.

Disclaimer

Now let us add our disclaimer.

Even if all our facts are correct,  our conclusions may be completely wrong.

If you have been reading the Global Macro Monitor over the years, you have probably seen it several times.

To illustrate our point, we like to tell the story Abraham Lincoln used to persuade juries when he was an Illinois circuit court lawyer.

The story goes that Lawyer Lincoln was worried he had not convinced the jury during the closing argument of a civil case against a railroad.   The jurors had gone to lunch to deliberate.  Lincoln followed them and interrupted their dessert with a story about a farmer’s son gripped by panic,

“Pa, Pa, the hired man and sis are in the hay mow and she’s lifting up her skirt and he’s letting down his pants and they’re a fixin’ to pee on the hay.” “Son, you got your facts absolutely right, but you’re drawing the wrong conclusion.”

The jury ruled in Lincoln’s favor.

Stay Frosty, Oscar Mike!

Source: ZeroHedge

“How Wrong I Was, My Reputation For Calling Stocks Is In Tatters”

SocGen’s permabear skeptic Albert Edwards is best known for one thing: predicting that the financial world will end in a deflationary singularity, one which will send yields in the US deep in the negative, and which he first dubbed two decades ago as the “Ice Age.” He is also known for casually and periodically forecasting – as he did a few weeks ago in an interview with Barrons – that the S&P will suffer a historic crash, one which will send it back under the March 2009 low of 666.

In this context, a couple of recent events caught Edwards’ attention.

First, speaking of the above mentioned Barron’s interview, Edwards was taken aback by one commentator who took the SocGen strategist to task for his relentless bearishness. Indirectly responding to the reader, in his latest letter to clients Edwards writes that “it’s good to have a little humility in this business because it’s so darn humiliating when forecasts are proved wrong. And the bolder the forecast, the more humiliating it is!” He continues:

That is one reason why most commentators on the sell-side never stray too far from consensus. When I was an avid consumer of sell-side research some 30 years ago, there was one  thing about the macro sell-side that I truly marvelled at – namely the analysts’ ability to totally reverse a view and pretend that had been their view all along! In the days before the internet and email, I had to rifle through our storage cupboards to find the evidence of what were often 180 degree handbrake turns. In the internet age, there is no hiding any more. 

One of the most leveling experiences at the end of an article or interview about my thoughts is to scroll down and read some of the readers’ comments. In my case, they often marvel that I am still in any sort of employment at all! Some are witty and make me smile -– like the one below in response to a recent interview I did with Barron’s.

Edwards refers to the comment titled “‘Prescient as a Broken Clock?” authored by one Gordon Gould from Boulder, Colorado who writes:

“Barron’s notes that Société Générale’s Albert Edwards is a permabear (“S&P 500 Could Still Test 2009 Lows,” Interview, April 7). However, your readers would surely like to know how some of his previous calls have turned out. A quick Google search revealed that nearly five years ago, Edwards called for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to hit 450 and gold to exceed $10,000. While even a broken clock is correct twice a day, perhaps in Edwards’ case, we’re talking about a broken calendar on Saturn, which takes about 29 years to orbit the sun.”

Albert summarizes his response to this comment eloquently, using just one word: “ouch.” Hit to his pride aside, Albert asks rhetorically “Where did it all go so wrong?” and explains that in the Barron’s interview, “I explain why in my Ice Age thesis I still expect US equity prices to fall to new lows in the next recession.” To be sure, this is familiar to ZH readers, as we highlight every incremental piece from Edwards, because no matter if one agrees or disagrees, he always provides the factual backing to justify his outlook, gloomy as it may be. 

He explains as much:

I always expected the equity market’s day of reckoning to come in a recession with equity valuations falling to lower lows than in the two previous cyclical bear market bottoms in 2001 and 2009. If I am right, the next recession will see a lower level than the forward PE of 10.5x in March 2009. A forward PE of 7x and a 30% decline in forward earnings would take the market to new lows as part of a long-term secular valuation bear market (which began in 2001). Then the stratospheric rise in the market over the past few years will be seen as just a temporary aberration fuelled by QE.

The moment of truth for my strategic Ice Age view will come when we know how far the equity bear market will fall in the next recession, or conversely whether the bond bull market will continue with 10y US yields, for example, falling into negative territory.

And yet, here we are a decade into central planning, and global stocks are just shy of all time highs. How come?

If I were to identify the major error that led me to be too bearish on equities, it would not be the inflationary impact of QE on asset prices. What I got wrong is that after the end of the Great Moderation, which saw an extended period of economic expansion from Dec 2001 to Dec 2007 – as well as low financial volatility, triggering rampant credit growth – I expected economic volatility to return to normal. The lesson from Japan I told clients was that once their Great Moderation died in 1990, the economic cycle returned to normal amplitude as private credit growth could no longer be induced to keep it going. Thus I expected that after the 2008 economic debacle the US economic cycle would return to normality and for recessions to become much more frequent events – as they were in Japan after 1990. And as in Japan, I expected each rapidly arriving recession would take equity valuations down to new lower lows. After 2008, I expected the US economic recovery to quickly fall back into recession and the cyclical bull run in equities to be surprisingly short-lived. How wrong I was!

Indeed, because as Bank of America observed recently, every time the stock market threatened to tumble, central banks would step in: that, if anything, is what Edwards failed to anticipate. The rest is merely noise:

Despite the economy flirting with outright recession on a couple of occasions, this current recovery has endured to the point where we now have enjoyed the second longest economic cycle in US history. We have not returned to ‘normal’ economic cycles as I had expected. QE has helped this, one of the most feeble economic recoveries in history, to also hobble into the record books for its length!

To be sure, Edwards will eventually get the last laugh as the constant, artificial interventions assure that the (final) crash will be unlike anything ever experienced: “a recession delayed is ultimately a recession deepened as more and more credit excesses have built up, Minsky-like, in the system.”

Then again, will it be worth having a final laugh if the S&P is hovering near zero, the fiat system has been crushed, modern economics discredited, and life as we know it overturned? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, for now however, Edwards has to bear the cross of his own forecasting indignities:

… having stepped away from the crazed run-up in equity prices, my reputation for calling the equity market correctly has been severely dented, if it is not actually in tatters. I know that.

Still, it’s not just Edwards. As the strategist notes, increasingly wiser heads than I, who did not leave the equity party early, are suggesting a top might be close. He then goes on to quote Mark Mobious who we first referenced earlier this week:

The renowned investor Mark Mobius is also getting nervous. The Financial Express reports that “After Jim Rogers recently warned of the ‘biggest crash in our lifetimes,’ veteran investor and emerging markets champion Mark Mobius warns of a severe stock market correction. “I can see a 30% drop. The market looks to me to be waiting for a trigger to tumble.” He then goes on in the article to cite some possible triggers.

To be fair, there are plenty of others who have recently and not so recently joined Edwards in the increasingly bearish camp (among them not only billionaire traders but economists and pundits like David Rosenberg and John Authers), although one thing missing so far has been the catalyst that will push the world out of its centrally-planned hypnosis and into outright chaos. Now, Edwards believes that this all important trigger has finally emerged:

Perhaps the greatest near-term threat to the stability of the equity markets is seen as the recent surge in bond yields, which are now testing the critical 3% technical level.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/edwards%20breach%203.jpg?itok=zXmjbaG5

As this is so important, I want to repeat verbatim what our own Stephanie Aymes says on this point. She says, referring to the front page chart, the “10Y UST is marching towards the major support (price) of 3.00%/3.05% consisting of the multi-decade channel, 2013-2014 lows, and the 61.8% retracement of the 2009-2016 uptrend. Moreover, this is also the confirmation level of the multi-year Double Top, which if confirmed, would act as a  catapult towards the 2-year channel limit at 3.33%/3.43%, and perhaps even towards 2009-2011 levels of 3.77%/4.00%, also the 50% retracement of the 2007-2016 up-cycle. The Monthly Stochastic indicator continues to withstand a pivotal decadal floor (blue line in chart) which emphasizes the relevance of the  3.00%/3.05% support.”

So with everyone chiming in on the significance of the 3% breach in the 10Y, here is Edwards:

Let me translate: 3% resistance is very strong but if broken, there is big trouble afoot!

The irony, of course, is that yields blowing out is precisely the opposite of an Ice Age, although to Edwards the implication is simple: once stocks tumble, it will force the Fed to return to active management of markets and risk, and launch the next Fed debt monetization program which will culminate with the end of the current economic paradigm, and Edwards’ long anticipated collapse in risk assets coupled with the long-overdue arrival of the Ice Age.

Or maybe not, as Edwards’ parting words suggest:

I think, like Mark Mobius, that equities are looking for an excuse to sell off and the current rally may abruptly end for any number of reasons. Although I personally do not think it likely that US bonds can break much above 3%, if at all, I discount nothing given the clear ‘end of cycle’ cyclical pressures that have built up. But if I am wrong on bonds and we have seen the end of the bond bull market, after having been wrong on equities, maybe it is time to think hard on what the Barron’s correspondent said and take a sabbatical – maybe on Saturn.

And while we commiserate with Albert’s lament, it could certainly be worse: have you heard of Dennis Gartman?

Source: ZeroHedge

US Budget Deficit Hits $600 Billion In 6 Months, As .Gov Spending On Interest Explodes

The US is starting to admit they have a terminal spending problem.

According to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement, in March, the US collected $210.8BN in receipts – consisting of $88BN in individual income tax, $98BN in social security and payroll tax, $5BN in corporate tax and $20BN in other taxes and duties- a drop of 2.7% from the $216.6BN collected last March and a clear reversal from the recent increasing trend…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/receipts.jpg?itok=wXopHgAK

… even as Federal spending surged, rising 7% from $392.8BN last March to $420BN last month, the second highest monthly government outlay on record

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/outlays.jpg?itok=k4bcxNEK

… where the money was spent on social security ($85BN), defense ($58BN), Medicare ($75BN), Interest on Debt ($33BN), and Other ($170BN).

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/govt%20spending%20outlays.jpg?itok=Ki61K6ob(click for larger image)

The resulting surge in spending led to a March budget deficit of $208.7 billion, far above the consensus estimate of $186BN, and over 18% higher than $176.2BN deficit recorded a year ago. This was the biggest March budget deficit in US history.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/budget%20deficit%20march%202018.jpg?itok=dnX_MyMQ

The March deficit brought the cumulative 2018F budget deficit to over $600bn during the first six month of the fiscal year, or roughly $100 billion per month; as a reminder the deficit is expect to rise further amid the tax and spending measures, and rise above $1 trillion, although at the current run rate it is expected to hit $1.2 trillion. As we showed In a recent report, CBO has also significantly raised its deficit projection over the 2018-2028 period.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-04-09_11-13-25.jpg

But while out of control government spending is clearly a concern, an even bigger problem is what happens to not only the US debt, which recently surpassed $21 trillion, but to the interest on that debt, in a time of rising interest rates.

As the following chart shows, US government Interest Payments are already rising rapidly, and just hit an all time high in Q4 2017. That’s when Fed Funds was still in the low 1%’s. What happens when it reaches 3% as the Fed’s dot plot suggests it will?

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/interest%20payments.jpg?itok=eiIWpM6S

In a note released by Goldman after the blowout in the deficit was revealed, the bank once again revised its 2018 deficit forecast higher, and now expect the federal deficit to reach $825bn (4.1% of GDP) in FY2018 and to continue to rise, reaching $1050bn (5.0%) in FY2019, $1125bn (5.4%) in FY2020, and $1250bn (5.5%) in FY2021.

Revising Our Deficit and Debt Forecasts

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/exhibit_1.img%20%284%29.png?itok=IJpTHVaa

Goldman also notes that it expects that on its current financing schedule the Treasury still faces a financing gap of around $300bn in FY2019, rising to around $750bn by FY2021, and will thus need to raise auction sizes substantially over the next couple of years to accommodate higher deficits.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/exhibit_3.img%20%283%29.png?itok=8PKwva3S

What does this mean for interest rates? The bank’s economic team explains:

The increase in Treasury issuance and the ongoing unwind of QE should put upward pressure on long-term interest rates. On issuance, the economic research literature suggests as a rule-of-thumb that a 1pp increase in the deficit/GDP ratio raises 10-year Treasury yields by 10-25bp. Multiplying the midpoint of this range by the roughly 1.5pp increase in the deficit due to the recent tax and spending bills implies a 25bp increase in the 10-year yield. On the Fed’s balance sheet reduction, our estimates suggest that about 40-45bp of upward pressure on the 10-year term premium remains.

And here a problem emerges, because while Goldman claims that “the deficit path is known to markets, but academic research suggests these effects might not be fully priced immediately… the balance sheet normalization plan is known too, but portfolio balance effect models imply that its impact should be gradual” the bank also admits that “the precise timing of these effects is uncertain.”

What this means is that it is quite likely that Treasurys fail to slide until well after they should only to plunge orders of magnitude more than they are expected to, in the process launching the biggest VaR shock in world history, because as a reminder, as of mid-2016, a 1% increase in rates would result in an estimated $2.1 trillion loss to government bond P&L.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/04/bond%20market%20exposure_0.png

Meanwhile, as rates blow out, US debt is expected to keep rising, and somehow hit $30 trillion by 2028

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/debt%20budget%20trump%202019.jpg

… all without launching a debt crisis in the process.

Source: ZeroHedge