Category Archives: Bonds

Are Bonds Sending A Signal?

Michael Lebowitz previously penned an article entitled “Face Off” discussing the message from the bond market as it relates to the stock market and the economy. To wit:

“There is a healthy debate between those who work in fixed-income markets and those in the equity markets about who is better at assessing markets. The skepticism of bond guys and gals seems to help them identify turning points. The optimism of equity pros lends to catching the full run of a rally. As an ex-bond trader, I have a hunch but refuse to risk offending our equity-oriented clients by disclosing it. In all seriousness, both professions require similar skill sets to determine an asset’s fair value with the appropriate acknowledgment of inherent risks. More often than not, bond traders and stock traders are on the same page with regard to the economic outlook. However, when they disagree, it is important to take notice.”

This is an interesting point given that despite the ending parade of calls for substantially higher interest rates, due to rising inflationary pressures and stronger economic growth, yields have stubbornly remained below 3% on the 10-year Treasury.

In this past weekend’s newsletter, we discussed the current “bullish optimism” prevailing in the market and that “all-time” highs are now within reach for investors.

“Currently, the “bulls” remain clearly in charge of the market…for now. While it seems as if much of the “tariff talk” has been priced into stocks, what likely hasn’t as of yet is rising evidence of weakening economic data (ISM, employment, etc.), weakening consumer demand, and the impact of higher rates.

While on an intermediate-term basis these macro issues will matter, it is primarily just sentiment that matters in the short-term. From that perspective, the market retested the previous breakout above the March highs last week (the Maginot line)which keeps Pathway #1 intact. It also suggests that next weekwill likely see a test of the January highs.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/SP500-Chart3-080318%20%281%29.png?itok=aOPYMJ1K

“With moving averages rising, this shifts Pathway #2a and #2b further out into the August and September time frames. The potential for a correction back to support before a second attempt at all-time highs would align with normal seasonal weakness heading into the Fall. “

One would suspect with the amount of optimism toward the equity side of the ledger, and with the Federal Reserve on firm footing for further rate increases at a time where the U.S. Government is about to issue a record amount of new debt, interest rates, in theory, should be rising.

But they aren’t.

As Mike noted previously:

“Given our opinions on the severe economic headwinds facing economic growth and steep equity valuations, we believe this divergence poses a potential warning for equity holders. Accordingly, we thought it appropriate to provide a few graphs to demonstrate the ‘smarter’ guys are not on board the growth and reflation train.”

In today’s missive, we will focus on the “price” and “yield” of the 10-year Treasury from a strictly “technical”perspective with respect to the signal the bond market may be sending with respect to the stock market. Given that “credit” is the “lifeblood” of the Government, corporate and consumer markets, it should not be surprising the bond market tends to tell the economic story over time.

We can prove this in the following chart of interest rates versus the economic composite of GDP, inflation, and wages.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-GDP-Composite-080618.png?itok=lcRcPHyd

Despite hopes of surging economic growth, the economic composite has remained in an elongated nominal range between 40 and 60 since 2011. This stagnation has never occurred in history and is a function of the massive interventions by the Government and the Federal Reserve to support economic growth. However, now those supports are being removed as the Federal Reserve lifts short-term borrowing costs and reduces liquidity support through their balance sheet reinvestments.

As I said, credit is the “lifeblood” of the economy. Think about all the ways that higher rates impact economic activity in the economy:

1) Rising interest rates raise the debt servicing requirements which reduces future productive investment.

2) Rising interest rates will immediately slow the housing market taking that small contribution to the economy away. People buy payments, not houses, and rising rates mean higher payments.

3) An increase in interest rates means higher borrowing costs which leads to lower profit margins for corporations. 

4) The “stocks are cheap based on low interest rates” argument is being removed.

5) The massive derivatives and credit markets are at risk. Much of the recovery to date has been based on suppressing interest rates to spur growth.

6) As rates increase so does the variable rate interest payments on credit cards. 

7) Rising defaults on debt service will negatively impact banks.

8) Many corporate share buyback plans and dividend issuances have been done through the use of cheap debt, which has led to increases corporate balance sheet leverage.

9) Corporate capital expenditures are dependent on borrowing costs. Higher borrowing costs lead to lower CapEx.

10) The deficit/GDP ratio will begin to soar as borrowing costs rise sharply. The many forecasts for lower future deficits will crumble as new forecasts begin to propel higher.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, with the Fed hiking rates, surging bankruptcies for older Americans who are under-saved and over-indebted, stumbling home sales, inflationary prices rising from surging energy costs, what is the 10-year Treasury telling us now.

Short-Term

On a very short-term basis, the 10-year Treasury yield has started a potential-topping process. Given that “yield” is the inverse of the “price” of bonds, the “buy” and “sell” signals are also reversed. As shown below, the 10-year yield appears to be forming the “right shoulder” of a “head and shoulder” topping formation and is currently on a short-term “buy” signal. Such would suggest lower yields over the next couple of months.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-Weekly-080618.png?itok=astGcYCm

The two signals above aren’t a rarity. The chart below expands this view back to 1970. There have only been a few times historically that yields have been this overbought and trading at 3 to 4 standard deviations above their one-year average.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-Weekly-Crisis-080618.png?itok=8OuknfhB

The outcome for investors was never ideal.

Longer-Term

Even using monthly closing data, which smooths out volatility to a greater degree, the same message appears. The chart below goes back to 1994. Each time yields have been this overbought (remember since yield is the inverse of price, this means bonds are very oversold) it is has signaled an issue with both the economy and the markets.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-Monthly-SP500-080618-Crashes.png?itok=8bs9_JzH

Again, we see the same issue going back historically. Also, notice that yields are currently not only extremely overbought, they are also at the top of the long-term downtrend that started back in 1980.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-Monthly-SP500-080618.png?itok=gJpuxCHG

Even Longer Term

Okay, let’s smooth this even more by using quarterly data closes. again, the picture doesn’t change.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Rates-Quarterly-SP500-080618-Crashes.png?itok=32JtcmDe

As I noted yesterday, the economic cycle is extremely advanced and both stocks and bonds are slaves to the full market cycle.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Historical-Recoveries-Declines-080518.png?itok=qWOsFTAd

“The “full market cycle” will complete itself in due time to the detriment of those who fail to heed history, valuations, and psychology.”

Of course, during the late stage of any market advance, there is always the argument which suggests “this time is different.” Mike made an excellent point in this regard previously:

“Given the divergences shown between bond and equity markets, logic says somebody’s wrong. Another possibility is that neither market is sending completely accurate signals about the future state of the economy and inflation. It is clear that bond traders do not buy into this latest growth narrative. Conversely, equity investors are buying the growth and reflation narrative lock, stock and barrel. To be blunt, with global central banks buying both bonds and stocks, the integrity of the playing field as well as normally reliable barometers of market conditions, are compromised.

This divergence between bond and equity traders could prove meaningless, or it may be a prescient warning for one or both of these markets. Either way, investors should be aware of the divergence as such a wide gap in economic opinions is unusual and may portend increased volatility in one or both markets.”

While anything is certainly possible, historical probabilities suggest that not only is “this time NOT different,” it will likely end the same way it always has for investors who fail to heed to bond markets warnings.

Source: ZeroHedge

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The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind

Mopping up liquidity.

The Fed’s QE Unwind – “balance sheet normalization,” as it calls this – is accelerating toward cruising speed. The first 12 months of the QE unwind, which started in October 2017, are the ramp-up period – just like there was the “Taper” during the final 12 months of QE. The plan calls for shedding up to $420 billion in securities in 2018 and up to $600 billion a year in each of the following years until the balance sheet is sufficiently “normalized” – or until something big breaks.

Treasuries

In July, the QE Unwind accelerated sharply. According to the plan, the Fed was supposed to shed up to $24 billion in Treasury Securities in July, up from $18 billion a month in the prior three months. And? The Fed released its weekly balance sheet Thursday afternoon. Over the four weeks ending August 1, the balance of Treasury securities fell by $23.5 billion to $2,337 billion, the lowest since April 16, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $129 billion in Treasuries.

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/US-Fed-Balance-sheet-2018-08-02-Treasuries.png

The step-pattern in the chart above is a result of how the Fed sheds Treasury securities. It doesn’t sell them outright but allows them to “roll off” when they mature. Treasuries only mature mid-month or at the end of the month. Hence the stair-steps.

In mid-July, no Treasuries matured. But on July 31, $28.4 billion matured. The Fed replaced about $4 billion of them with new Treasury securities directly via its arrangement with the Treasury Department that cuts out Walls Street (its “primary dealers”) with which the Fed normally does business. Those $4 billion in securities, to use the jargon, were “rolled over.” But it did not replace about $24 billion of maturing Treasuries. They “rolled off.”

Mortgage-Backed Securities

Under QE, the Fed also bought mortgage-backed securities, which were issued and guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Holders of residential MBS receive principal payments as the underlying mortgages are paid down or are paid off. At maturity, the remaining principal is paid off.  So, to keep the MBS balance from declining on the Fed’s balance sheet after QE ended, the New York Fed’s Open Market Operations (OMO) kept buying MBS.

Settlement of those trades occurs two to three months later. Since the Fed books the trades at settlement, there’s a lag of two to three months between the date of the trade and when the trade appears on the Fed’s balance sheet [here’s my detailed explanation]. This is why it took a few months before the QE unwind in MBS showed up distinctively on the balance sheet.

The current changes of MBS on the balance sheet reflect trades from about two months ago. At the time, the cap for shedding MBS was $12 billion a month. And? Over the past four weeks, the balance of MBS fell by $11.8 billion, to $1,710 billion as of August 1, the lowest since October 8, 2014. In total, $61 billion in MBS have been shed since the beginning of the QE unwind:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/US-Fed-Balance-sheet-2018-08-02-MBS.png

Total Assets on the Balance Sheet

QE only involved Treasuries and MBS. And so the QE unwind only involves Treasuries and MBS. Since the beginning of the QE Unwind, Treasuries dropped by $129 billion and MBS by $61 billion, for a combined decline of $190 billion.

But the balance sheet of the Fed also reflects the Fed’s other functions and activities. And the decline in the overall balance sheet is not going to reflect exactly the amounts shed in Treasuries and MBS.

Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet for the four weeks ending August 1 dropped by $34.1 billion. This brought the drop since October, when the QE unwind began, to $205 billion. At $4,256 billion, total assets are now at the lowest level since April 9, 2014, during the middle of the “taper.” It took the Fed about six years to pile on these securities, and now it’s going to take years to shed them:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/US-Fed-Balance-sheet-2018-08-02-overall.png

So the pace of the QE Unwind has accelerated in July, as planned. The Fed has not blinked during the sell-offs in the market, and it’s not going to. It is targeting “elevated” asset prices and financial conditions. Asset prices remain elevated and financial conditions remain ultra-loose. Markets have essentially brushed off the Fed so far. And that only acts as an encouragement for the Fed to proceed.

The FOMC, in its August 1 statement, mentioned “strong” five times in describing various aspects of the economy and the labor market – the most hawkish statement in a long time. Rate hikes will continue, and the pace might pick up. And the QE unwind will accelerate to final cruising speed and proceed as planned. The Fed stopped flip-flopping in the fall of 2016 and hasn’t looked back since.

When the economy eventually slows down enough to where the Fed feels like it needs to act, it will cut rates, but it will let the QE unwind proceed on automatic pilot toward “normalization,” whatever that will mean. That’s the stated plan. And the Fed will stick to it – unless something big breaks, such as credit freezing up again in the credit-dependent US economy, at which point all bets are off.

Source: by Wolf Richter | Wolf Street

Why You Should Care About The Narrowest Yield Curve Since 2007

Money manager Michael Pento is sounding the alarm because we are getting very close to something called a “yield curve inversion.” Pento explains, “Why do I care if the yield curve inverts? Because 9 out of the last 10 times the yield curve inverted, we had a recession… The spread with the yield curve is the narrowest it has been since outside of the start of the Great Recession that commenced in December of 2007… The last two times the yield curve inverted, we had a stock market drop of 50%. The market dropped, and the S&P 500 lost 50% of its value.”

For those who don’t have enough money to require professional management, consider storing water and food because that will never go out of style.

Source: by Greg Hunter | USAWatchdog.com

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

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