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The Delta variant of the virus has emerged as an important economic force, just as more countries appeared to adopt the attitude that we should now live with it like we do with the flu, which kills hundreds of thousands every year.  While the existing…

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The Delta variant of the virus has emerged as an important economic force, just as more countries appeared to adopt the attitude that we should now live with it like we do with the flu, which kills hundreds of thousands every year.  While the existing vaccines seem to have lost some of their ability to prevent the illness, they remain a power prophylactic against hospitalization and death.  Nevertheless, new social restrictions have been introduced in some high-income countries, even those like Israel, that have been fairly successful in vaccinating a large part of their population.  

The virus is once again raising the prospects of slowing the economic recovery that was unevenly unfolding.  The preliminary July PMI for Australia, UK, France, and the US disappointed. Expectations for the trajectory of monetary policy are being impacted.  Consider that the implied yield of the December 2022 Eurodollar futures fell to 40 bp in the middle of last week from 55 bp on July 1.  A similar futures contract in the UK, the December 2022 short-sterling implied yield fell from 58 bp in mid-July to almost 40 bp on "Freedom Day" as the UK dropped all social restrictions and mask requirements.  The implied yield of the December 2022 Bank Acceptances in Canada fell 20 basis points from July 14 to nearly 105 bp ahead of the weekend.   In Australia, the December 2022 bill futures contract's implied yield fell a little over 60 bp on July 6 to 36 bp last week.  

The December 2022 Euribor futures contract has been considerably steadier as it is widely accepted that the European Central Bank will not lift rates until after 2023.  The implied yield has been confined to a -42 bp to - 50 bp trading range since the end of April.  The yield finished last week at -49 bp, falling about five basis points since the ECB meeting.  The ECB's new forward guidance signaled that bond purchases and low rates will prevail until the staff forecasts that the 2% target can be sustained.  In June, the staff forecasts projected 2023 CPI at 1.4%.  

The signal of lower for longer helped drive European bond yields to new 3-4 month lows. The French 10-year bond yield had been offering a positive yield since the second half of April but recently moved back below zero.  One has to pay Greece 50 bp to lend to it for two years, which is a little more than one would pay to Italy for the same maturity.  Greece takes about 15 bp a year from those lending to it for five years, while Italy's five-year yield has dipped below zero for the first time since early April.  The amount of negative-yielding bonds in the world has increased to almost $16 trillion from below $13 trillion in late June, and that does not include Japan's 10-year bond, where the benchmark yield is less than a basis point. 

The ECB's dovishness likely minimizes the impact of the preliminary July CPI figures.  In July 2020, the eurozone saw consumer prices fall by 0.4% on the month and again in August.  This speaks to a likely acceleration of the year-over-year pace from 1.9% in June.  Also, note that since at least 2000, prices gained less in July than in June (and consistently rose more in August than July).  The monthly increase in June was 0.3%.  The Bloomberg survey shows economists anticipate sharp month-over-month declines in Italian and Spanish prices.   French CPI is also expected to have fallen slightly in July.  German inflation may have ticked up. These considerations suggest the year-over-year rate may have edged above 2%.  

The eurozone will provide its first estimate of Q1 GDP at the same time as the CPI figures on July 30. Recall that in Q4 19, before the pandemic struck, the eurozone economy was stagnant.  Last year contracted in H1 before recovering in Q3.  However, unlike the US experience, the eurozone economy contracted against in Q4 20 and Q1 21.  Despite the spread of the Delta mutation and the floods in parts of Europe, including Germany, the recovery now appears to be on more solid footing, and the EU Recovery Funds are at hand.   The regional economy likely expanded around 1.4%-1.5% in Q2 and is poised to accelerate further here in Q3. 

The highly contagious, though less lethal mutation (if vaccinated), has pushed investors to reconsider the recovery theme that had two drivers last November, the US election and the vaccine announcement.  Of course, this does not mean that it is the only development in the market, but it seems to be a relatively new and powerful one.  The US dollar rallied as the pandemic first struck, partly as a safe haven as US Treasuries were bought and partly as a function of the unwinding of dollar-funded purchases of risk assets (e.g., emerging markets).  

When things began to stabilize at the end of last March 2020, and the NBER now dates the end of the US recession as April 2020, the dollar trended lower and accelerated into the end of the year and began to recover in early January.   From the end of March through December last year, the Antipodeans and Scandis led the move against the greenback and appreciated roughly 20%-25% against the US dollar.  These currencies are often perceived to be levered to world growth and are often more volatile than the other majors.  Over the past three months, they have been the weakest, losing 3.0-6.50%.  

The opposite is also true in the sense that the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, other currencies often used for funding, hence the appearance of safe-haven appeal, were the worst performers against the dollar in the last nine months of 2020 (rising about 8.25% and 4.5% respectively). However, over the past three months, they have been among the most resilient in the face of the dollar's surge.  The Swiss franc is off less than three-quarters of a percent, while the yen is off by about 2.4%.  

A challenge for investors and policymakers is the evolution of the virus that renders some of the high-frequency data rather dated and arguably less impactful outside of the headline risk posed.  The Federal Reserve has succeeded in securing for itself much room to maneuver and is not tied to a particular time series, like the monthly jobs report or data point.  The FOMC statement is likely to hardly change from the previous one.

Discussions about the pace and composition of the Fed's bond-buying will continue.  Still, Fed Chair Powell was speaking for the central bank when he told Congress recently that the bar to adjust the purchases (substantial further progress toward the Fed's targets) has not been met.  The Jackson Hole symposium at the end of August has long been seen as the first realistic window of opportunity for the Fed to signal its intention to slow, possibly alter the composition of its bond purchase, and shape it more formally at the September FOMC meeting.  Ahead of Jackson Hole, there is one more jobs report, and the early call is for around a 750k increase.   

Reporters may try to draw Powell out but are unlikely to have much more success than the US Senators and Representatives.  There is ongoing interest in the size of the reverse repo facility, for which the Fed now pays five basis points at an annualized rate, the same as a six-month bill. In addition, Powell pushed back against suggestions by some officials that the central bank's MBS purchases are lifting house prices beyond the access of many American families.  Will reporters press him on this or the buying of inflation-protected securities that arguably distort the price discovery process and the break-even metric?  

Stable coins' regulatory framework may be questioned.  Recall that just before Biden took office, the Comptroller of the Currency allowed federally chartered banks to used distributed ledgers (blockchain) and conduct business with stable coins.  There is a push to treat stable coins as securities for regulatory purposes.  While the ECB recently announced it was going forward with a research and design phase of its development of a digital euro, the Federal Reserve's report is expected in September.  Powell said what many officials seem to believe that the introduction of a digital dollar would likely dry up demand for stable coins and crypto.  

The day after the FOMC meeting concludes, the US reports its first estimate of Q2 GDP.  The median forecast in Blomberg's survey has crept up in recent days to 8.5% at an annualized pace, up from 6.4% in Q1.  The NY Fed's GDPNow model puts growth at 3.2%, while the Atlanta Fed's model is closer to the market at 7.6%, while the St. Loius Fed Nowcast stands at 9%.  

Even before this surge in the virus in the US, where about half of the adult population is fully vaccinated, we suggested there was a reasonable chance that Q2 marks the peak in growth.  Fiscal policy will increasingly be a drag, pent-up consumer demand will be satiated. Monetary policy is near a peak. Perhaps the recent increase in the rate paid on deposits at the Fed and on the reverse repo facility and the recent sales of corporate bonds bought in 2020 mark the end of the easing cycle.   We have also underscored the restrictive impact of doubling the oil price since the end of last October.  

While there does not appear to be an iron law, it would not be surprising to see price pressures peak with a bit of a lag.  This dovetails with the timeframe suggested by both Powell and Yellen. Some recent industry data suggests that the US used car market (accounting for around a third of the recent monthly increases in CPI) is normalizing in terms of inventory, and prices have softened in the wholesale markets.  We note that input prices and prices paid components Markit PMI have fallen in June, and the preliminary report suggests a further decline is taking place this month.  Airfare and the price of hotel accommodations, and food out of the house, appear to be a one-off adjustment rather than persistent increases.  

The US will report June personal income and consumption figures ahead of the weekend, but the data will already be embedded in the GDP estimate.  On the other hand, the PCE deflator, which the Fed targets rather than the CPI, may draw attention.  It is expected to post a sharp 0.7% increase on the month for around a 4.2% year-over-year.  It rose by 0.4% in May and a 3.9% year-over-year rate. The core rate, which the Fed does not target but makes references from time to time, is expected to accelerate to 3.7% from 3.4%.   

Lastly, the infrastructure debate in the US Senate looks to come to a head in the days ahead.  It could, in turn, shape the political climate until next year's midterm elections. The latest wrinkle is that what might serve as the basis of a compromise in the Senate may be rejected by a number of Democrats in the House.  The failure to find a bipartisan solution for even the physical infrastructure components will not defeat the Biden administration but force it to rely on the reconciliation mechanism, which is confined to fiscal policy.  It would likely hamper the administration on non-budgetary fiscal issues.  The debt ceiling looms.  The Congressional Budget Office sees the Treasury running out of room to maneuver in October or November.  Biden's spearheading of a 15% minimum corporate tax rate might not need their approval, but the approval of 60 Senators may be needed for the other component of the global tax reform, the agreement to link the sales and taxes for the largest companies.     


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Stock Market News For Today September 22, 2021

Investors await Fed’s monetary policy update and new economic projections in the stock market today.
The post Stock Market News For Today September 22, 2021 appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket…

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Stock Market Futures Edge Higher As Evergrande Bankruptcy Fears Ease

Stock market futures are on the rise early on Wednesday morning. This came after China’s Evergrande said it would make its interest payment on schedule, offering some relief to the jittery markets. Some investors are also expecting the Chinese government to step in to mitigate potential spillover effects that could weigh on global economic recovery. For example, the short-term cash injection from China’s central bank has helped soothe the nerves of the stock market. While there has been speculation that this could be China’s ‘Lehman moment’, many experts believe the comparison is unjustified.

There’s been a fair bit of concern about the possibility of contagion,” analysts at New York-based Bespoke wrote in a research note on Tuesday. “But so far that concern isn’t showing up in parts of the credit markets that have served well as red flags for broader credit crunches in the past.

Investors are also awaiting an update to the Fed’s monetary policy and economic projections. Jerome Powell is expected to speak to the media at 2.30 p.m. ET today. Investors could expect the Fed to lay the groundwork for a near-term announcement and when the tapering would take place. Recall that Powell previously said it could begin as soon as this year. But some investors are now speculating that it won’t happen this soon. As of 6:45 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq are up by 0.64%, 0.58%, and 0.34% respectively.

[Read More] What Stocks To Buy Today? 5 Tech Stocks To Watch

Marin Software (MRIN) Stock Surges On New Google Agreement 

Marin Software (NASDAQ: MRIN) stock is spiking higher in pre-market trading today. This came after the announcement that the company entered into a revenue share agreement with Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) to develop its enterprise tech platform and software products. The revenue share agreement will take effect on October 1. For some context, the company provides marketing software to advertising agencies. Its MarinOne product is an e-commerce advertising platform, and its Marin Search is for managing advertising campaigns.

top tech stocks (MRIN stock)

Last month, the company revealed that its system is now integrated into Criteo’s Commerce Media Platform. Essentially, that opens up the option of wider use of the company’s MarinOne platform.

Chris Lien, CEO of Marin Software, is also highly optimistic about the news. In his own words, “Commerce media is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing areas of digital marketing. With this integration, we can tap into Criteo’s commerce data and intelligence to further our mission of providing advertisers with seamless access to customers across their customer journey, from the top of the funnel to the point of purchase.

[Read More] Best Lithium Battery Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Know

Adobe (ADBE) Stock Falls As Recurring Revenue Barely Top Estimates

Adobe’s (NASDAQ: ADBE) fiscal third-quarter earnings and sales beat expectations, but the results weren’t enough to lift ADBE stock in the extended trading. From its quarterly report, revenue came in 22% higher year-over-year to $3.94 billion. In fact, it was a quarterly sales record for Adobe, topping Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $3.89 billion, according to FactSet. 

top software stocks to buy (ADBE stock)

On top of that, Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen also pitched new creative software tools to continue Adobe’s steady 20% revenue growth. As part of that effort, Adobe said last month it would acquire Frame.io, a startup that makes video collaboration software, for $1.3 billion. By and large, the current tailwinds behind Adobe’s core offerings persist along with the pandemic. With all this in mind, the real question is whether or not Adobe can maintain its current momentum.

On Monday, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) reiterated its Overweight rating on ADBE stock ahead of its earnings call. The firm even hailed Adobe as “one of the crown jewels of software”, citing solid core positioning and industry tailwinds as major growth factors. Wells Fargo recommends Adobe “as a long-term core holding in any large-cap tech portfolio“. Last week, the company also announced a partnership with PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL). This partnership aims to add more payment services to its e-commerce platform. Thus, merchants will be able to accept credit cards and other ways of paying. Considering all these, would the current dip in ADBE stock present an opportunity for bargain hunters?

[Read More] Top Stocks To Buy Now? 4 Renewable Energy Stocks For Your Watchlist

BlackBerry Set To Report Earnings After The Stock Market Closes Today

Gone were the days when BlackBerry (NYSE: BB) tops the global smartphone market. But that doesn’t keep investors away from investing in this well-respected software security company. The company is set to report its earnings after the stock market closes today. Naturally, a lot of the attention will be on BlackBerry stock today. Many investors and analysts are highly bullish on the company’s untapped potential in the cybersecurity space. If you have been following Reddit’s chatter, you would also know that’s a meme stock that gets speculated on by investors.

communication stocks to buy now (BB stock)

The company provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world. As you may be aware, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) participated in a meeting at the White House last month regarding the need to address cybersecurity threats as a country. With BlackBerry as a partner, a lot of focus will be on BB stock moving forward. 

Other positive catalysts include the increased proliferation of BlackBerry’s systems in China’s automotive space. On August 26, the company announced that Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors would use an advanced digital cockpit controller platform developed by BlackBerry and its partner Nobo. If anything, it shows that BlackBerry and its partner continue to be making progress in the huge Chinese auto market. With all that in mind, is BB stock a buy ahead of its earnings report?

Other Notable Earnings On Tap Today

Not to mention, several other major companies are looking to report their earnings today. For those looking to jump on some pre-market earnings action, we have General Mills (NYSE: GIS) and Gaotu Techedu (NYSE: GOTU) on tap.

Alternatively, in case you are keener on earnings after the closing bell, there is a good mix of names to consider as well. Namely, Blackberry, KB Home (NYSE: KBH), and H.B. Fuller (NYSE: FUL) among others would be in focus. Whether you are anticipating the Fed’s announcement or keeping up with earnings, one thing remains. There is no shortage of exciting news to note in the stock market now.

The post Stock Market News For Today September 22, 2021 appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

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Spread & Containment

Evergrande’s Impact On The Broader Junk Bond Market

Evergrande’s Impact On The Broader Junk Bond Market

Ahead of China’s reopening on Wednesday after a two-day holiday which has seen property stocks traded in Hong Kong tumble on fears that the Evergrande default will spark contagion both domes

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Evergrande's Impact On The Broader Junk Bond Market

Ahead of China's reopening on Wednesday after a two-day holiday which has seen property stocks traded in Hong Kong tumble on fears that the Evergrande default will spark contagion both domestically and internationally, investors are closely watching what - if anything - Beijing will announce to ease investor nerves (they are also watching the first People’s Bank of China policy operation since the country’s holiday break). Meanwhile, international investors are just as closely tracking developments in China bond markets, not just the High Yield market where yields have soared to the highest level in 10 years, but also the investment grade sector, which is where the country's banks reside. The good news here is that so far China's IG market has barely budged, and as Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid notes, "if  Chinese IG doesn't care, the world shouldn't. However, if that starts to widen we know the impact is starting to spread. Definitely one to watch."

And while traders wait to see if new developments impact China's IG market, Deutsche Bank has released a detailed look at how Evergrande could impact the broader high yield market, where it is a dominant player, with estimates of Evergrande's bonds ranging anywhere between 10% and 16% of total market size...

Or, as Deutsche Bank puts it, "Evergrande is the largest corporate in the largest sector of the second-largest economy in the world" and as such the fact that this crisis has become a much wider global macro story shouldn't be a surprise. To this end, in his note published this morning DB's Craig Nicol seeks to answer some of the questions posed by investors in recent days, including scale and scope of contagion within HY, exposure to China risk within indices, and the ultimate end game.

Starting with the topic of contagion, the first question to ask is why have we not seen any wider scale contagion within HY or even China $IG?

As detailed in the chart below, which shows cumulative year-to-date total returns across HY markets as well as China $HY and $IG markets, the obvious point to make is that, while we've seen a significant decline in performance in China $HY, the wider impact on credit markets has been negligible. China $HY has seen YTD performance of nearly -18% which compares to returns of +3% to +5% across
broader HY markets and +1% for China $IG.

The next two charts show the scale of the spread moves for context. The first two charts focus on the China $ markets only.

As we have observed recently, China's dollar HY market has seen spreads widen back to the pandemic wides of last year at ~1600bps - and clearly very distressed levels - and recently even rose to decade wides from 2011. Spreads are 326bps wider MTD alone. In contrast, and as noted above although yesterday was the first real weak day for China $IG, spreads are only 7bps wider MTD and 10bps tighter versus the end of Q2. The chart with spreads tracked back to 2010 on the right hand side shows that there has been a clear dislocation between China $ IG and HY risk in recent weeks as the Evergrande situation has developed compared to what has historically been a tight correlation between the two markets.

Chart 3 shows spreads for $HY and €HY only. Spreads were notably wider yesterday, particularly in $HY, however in the context of YTD spread performance we are still near the tights not only this year but also historically over the last decade. Most importantly, China $HY spreads have been widening for the best part of 4 months now but in that time we've seen $HY and €HY trade in a narrow range at historically tight levels with all-time low volatility. So, as Nicol notes, "whilst yesterday's price action was eye-catching the broader spread moves since China $HY started widening aggressively has been anything but that. So, contagion has been incredibly limited and virtually non-existent so far at least."

One reason for the lack of contagion within the bond market is the relatively low exposure: according to DB, global HY has only 5% exposure to China, while €HY less than 1% and $HY no exposure, and as Nicol notes, "the fact that we've seen spreads remain so resolute in $HY and €HY in the face of China weakness is supported by the lack of direct China risk. In Figure 4, we show the breakdown of the main ICE HY indices with a focus on China country of risk and also Asia and broader EM exposure."

As shown above, given that $HY is a DM-only index, there is no exposure to corporates with a China country of risk whatsoever whilst €HY has minimal exposure at just 0.3% of the index notional spread across 2 issuers. Where there is greater exposure is within global HY funds where around ~5% of the index is directly China country of risk (excluded here are issuers that don't have a China country of risk but may have significant revenue, earnings or even asset exposure to China. This will be more significant but requires more of a subjective overlay.)

DB has also included distress ratios as an additional information point across all markets. Distress ratios are at historically low levels across HY markets (to be expected in a world that has injected $40 trillion in liquidity since Covid); however, unsurprisingly for China $HY, the distress ratio is alarmingly high at over 57%, although one should highlight that this is very much a real estate story.

According to DB calculations, China's real estate sector comprises over 80% of China $HY and has a distress ratio of 69%. In contrast, all other sectors combined have a distress ratio of just 6% and only just above that of the wider global HY market. This is further evidence that the contagion has been incredibly limited so far with China HY real estate really the only sector under any kind of distress, although when one considers the outsized impact of China real estate on China's economy - 30% of GDP and 70% of household wealth are tied up in property - this should not be discounted.

Uncertainty is high, contagion risks should not be discounted.

While one could be tempted to discount the risk of contagion, Deutsche Bank cautions that "the sheer scale and complexity of Evergrande and the potential for contagion in a sector like real estate that provides core collateral for financial intermediation and complex webs and interlinkages between institutions rightly means markets are sensitive about the potential fallout." Indeed, in recent days, the scale of concern has even ignited debate about Evergrande being "China's Lehman" moment.

That said, to counter some of the more extreme concerns, DB notes that the first important point to make is that the Evergrande situation has not happened overnight and it is a story that has been developing for some time now. Indeed, the $ bonds have been in what is a relatively steady decline since the end of May now as opposed to crashing in a matter of days (as was the case with Lehman, although there the stock did collapse heading into Sept 15, 2008). So, as Deutsche notes, "investors have had some time to digest the potential knock-on risks, price the risks and consider the wider ramifications for more domestic markets and sectors. That is considerably different to the global financial crisis over a decade ago where broader markets ultimately were unable to reprice quickly enough" (or rather they simply refused to accept the Lehman bankruptcy as a viable outcome until the actual bankruptcy filing itself).

The second point is that we have seen little to no fallout beyond the real estate sector in China HY. As stated earlier, the non-real estate distress ratio in China $HY is just 6% and only slightly above broader global HY while there is no stress at all in China $IG. The latter is the next market to watch especially given exposure to banks, however here DB argues that a combination of stronger balance sheets and a level of state or local government backing does somewhat mitigate the risks.

The third point and, where there appears to be some level of consensus, is that a wide-scale systemic issue is unlikely. Historically, there has been some level of belief that China's government would not let a financial shock event unfold especially before contagion. However, as many have noted in recent weeks, it is not nearly as clear how much of a China “policy put” exists to support sectors, unless contagion gets much worse. This is especially the case given policy makers' greater focus on reducing moral hazard. Ultimately, authorities have the tools to contain this, are incentivised to prevent this becoming a wider systemic issue and will likely prevent this being systemic, especially if market turmoil gets worse. If nothing else, the argument goes, problems have been too obvious for too long and the Evergrande shock is mostly policy-induced so all things equal policy makers should be more in control than a decade ago. While this may come via a managed restructuring of Evergrande’s debt as opposed to a direct bailout, the bigger unknown is how much longer are authorities willing to tolerate and the likelihood of a policy error going up.

That all being said, Deutsche ultimately agrees with Goldman that whatever the ultimate timeline is on some level of policy support to prevent this becoming more widespread, it's hard to argue against there being a further shift lower in growth expectations in China, especially when it comes to the slowdown in the property sector adversely impacting GDP (for those who missed it yesterday, the chart below shows Goldman's three cases how significantly the property market slowdown will impact China's GDP).

Here DB's China economists have also noted that the property sector is now in a cyclical downturn and that if the downturn this time were to follow historical patterns, the trough for property sales will likely be in end-2021 or early 2022. The bank also notes, similarly to Goldman, that previous downturns resulted in a negative impact on real GDP of ~1-2% and closer to ~5% during the GFC.

As Deutsche Bank concludes, "much depends on contagion knock-on risks to other sectors; however, we should note that this is all coming as China also shifts to living with COVID and potential further waves, and smoothing trade relations with the US."

One final point: DB's chief credit strategist Jim Reid held a flash poll asking clients' opinion of what Evergrande will mean for global markets in a month had over 700 response in two hours. The result: only 8% felt it would be significantly impacting global financial markets by then with a combined 68% expecting limited or no impact.

Bottom line: markets are fully of the view that contagion is virtually unlikely. Or as Jim Cramer would say, "Evergrande is fine."

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 21:05

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Does The Fed Really Want A “Bond Market Tantrum”?

Does The Fed Really Want A "Bond Market Tantrum"?

Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,

A Reuters article by Stefano Rebaudo argued that the Federal Reserve might welcome a “bond market tantrum” that pushes bond yields…

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Does The Fed Really Want A "Bond Market Tantrum"?

Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,

Reuters article by Stefano Rebaudo argued that the Federal Reserve might welcome a “bond market tantrum” that pushes bond yields higher. But does the Fed really want higher interest rates? And what would that mean for the economy?

Despite the post-pandemic economic improvement and wide expectations that the Fed will begin tapering quantitative easing in the near future, bond yields have remained stubbornly low. Ten-year Treasury yields remain stuck just above 1.3%.

Analysts cited in the Reuters report said the Fed “needs bonds to respond to the end of the pandemic-linked recession.”

ING Bank research analyst Padhraic Garvey told Reuters higher yields would align markets more with the signals coming from central banks.

“To facilitate that, we argue that there needs to be a tantrum. If the Fed has a taper announcement … and there is no tantrum at all, that in fact is a problem for the Fed,” he said.

Analysts say a bond market tantrum would involve yields rising 75-100 basis points (bps) within a couple of months.

What Would It Mean in Practice?

This isn’t just a wonky discussion about interest rates. What we’re really talking about here is a big sell-off in the bond market.

Bond yields move inversely with bond prices. As the price of bonds drops, interest rates rise. Bond prices and yields move in response to supply and demand. Higher supply and lower demand will push the price down and yields up to stimulate buying. Conversely, a lower supply of bonds, or higher demand, will drive the price up and yields will fall.

So, when analysts talk about a bond market tantrum, they mean a bond sell-off that will flood the market with excess Treasuries, drive the price down and push interest rates up.

According to the Reuters article, the Fed not only wants higher yields to “better reflect” economic growth; it also wants to “recoup some ammunition to counter future economic reversals.”

But this analysis completely ignores the elephant in the room – debt – specifically the federal debt.

Why Are Yields So Low to Begin With?

This is a key question the Reuters article never takes on. But it’s the key to understand what is actually going on in the bond market.

The answer is simple. Yields are low because the Fed continues to create artificial demand in the Treasury market by purchasing some $80 billion in bonds every month. It launched this massive QE program at the onset of the pandemic and it continues today unabated. The Fed literally has its big fat thumb on the bond market.

Why?

Because the US government needs the central bank to buy Treasuries to support the bond market in order to finance its multi-trillion budget deficit. Without Fed intervention, the flood of borrowing would tank the bond market and send interest rates soaring.

In a nutshell, the central bank facilitates the federal government’s excessive borrowing and spending by creating artificial demand in the bond market. The Federal Reserve buys Treasuries on the open market with money created out of thin air. This supports bond prices and keeps interest rates artificially low. Without this central bank intervention, there wouldn’t be enough demand in foreign and domestic markets to absorb all of the bonds the US Treasury needs to sell. Interest rates would skyrocket and make the cost of borrowing prohibitive.

Between March 2020 and May 2021, the federal government has added $4.7 trillion to the national debt. In roughly that same time period, the Federal Reserve purchased a staggering $2.44 trillion in US government bonds. In other words, the Fed monetized more than half of the US debt accrued during the first year of the pandemic. No other entity bought more US bonds than the Fed – not foreign investors, not US banks, and not even US corporations and individuals.

The Question Reuters Never Asks

Debt monetization never comes up in Reuters' analysis. But this is a significant question: how would a bond market tantrum impact US government borrowing and spending? And will the Fed really let this happen?

A bond market selloff would make it more difficult for the US Treasury to sell bonds. Remember, the Fed’s thumb on the market helps make the borrowing spree possible.

And the borrowing and spending are not about to end any time soon. Congress is working to pass a massive infrastructure bill. Along with Biden’s proposed budget, we’re looking at some $6 trillion in spending in 2022. To put that into perspective, total federal spending for fiscal 2021 stands at $6.3 trillion with one month remaining. In other words, the Federal government wants to spend almost as much next year as it did this year.

This means the US Treasury will have to continue selling bonds at a torrid rate. How will it do this if the Fed pulls the plug on QE? How will it continue to borrow if interest rates spike? A bond market tantrum is a nightmare scenario for the US government. This is precisely why Peter Schiff says even if the Fed starts to taper, it will ultimately expand QE.

Last summer, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell claimed the central bank isn’t monetizing the debt. During testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs back in June, Powell flatly denied the central bank is buying assets in order to facilitate the Treasury’s sale of debt. “That certainly is not our intention,” Powell said.

It wasn’t in any way about meeting Treasury supply, and it continues not to be. We really don’t think about it.”

Powell then claimed that the demand for Treasuries was “robust.”

But as already discussed, the demand for Treasuries was only robust because the Fed was buying Treasuries.

As far as Powell’s claim that the Fed doesn’t “think about” the ramifications of its monetary policy on government financing, I call BS.

The glib assessment of a “bond market tantrum” by Reuters only shows part of the picture. Sure, in some ways, the Fed bankers would like to see bond yields increase. They would like to taper asset purchases. But they haven’t and there’s a reason for it. They have to know the ramification of rising interest rates in a world buried by debt. They have to know the US government needs the central bank’s thumb on the bond market.

The Fed is between a rock and a hard place. Reuters identifies the rock but ignores the hard place.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:51

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