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Treasury Keeps Quarterly Debt Sales Unchanged Amid Debt-Limit Fiasco, Is Still Considering Buyback Program

Treasury Keeps Quarterly Debt Sales Unchanged Amid Debt-Limit Fiasco, Is Still Considering Buyback Program

Amid the escalating debt ceiling…



Treasury Keeps Quarterly Debt Sales Unchanged Amid Debt-Limit Fiasco, Is Still Considering Buyback Program

Amid the escalating debt ceiling standoff which is sure to culminate with fireworks some time in September, the Treasury announced on Wednesday morning that it would offer $96 billion of Treasury securities to refund approximately $67.1 billion of privately-held Treasury notes and bonds maturing on February 15, 2023. The amount was inline with expectations and was unchanged from last month. This issuance will raise new cash from private investors of approximately $28.9 billion. Issuance plans for Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, were also kept unchanged compared with sizes over the prior quarter.  The securities to be issued are:

  • 3-year note in the amount of $40 billion, to be sold on Feb 7 and maturing February 15, 2026;

  • 10-year note in the amount of $35 billion, to be sold on Feb 8 and maturing February 15, 2033

  • 30-year bond in the amount of $21 billion, to be sold on Feb 9 and maturing February 15, 2053.

Explaining the unchanged auction size, the Treasury said it "believes that current issuance sizes leave it well-positioned to address a range of potential borrowing needs, and as such, does not anticipate making any changes to nominal coupon and FRN new issue or reopening auction sizes over the upcoming February 2023 – April 2023 quarter."

The balance of Treasury financing requirements over the quarter will be met with regular weekly bill auctions, cash management bills (CMBs), and monthly note, bond, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), and 2-year Floating Rate Note (FRN) auctions.

While there were no surprises in the refunding amounts, the elephant in the room, of course, is that the department is now operating under the constraints of the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, having hit the level last month and begun using special accounting maneuvers to help preserve borrowing room.

Last month, Janet Yellen outlined in letters to Congress, that the period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a variety of factors, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future.  While Treasury is not currently able to provide an estimate of how long extraordinary measures will enable us to continue to pay the government’s obligations, it is unlikely that cash and extraordinary measures will be exhausted before early June.

“Until the debt limit is suspended or increased, debt limit-related constraints will lead to greater-than-normal variability” in the issuance of bills, as well as significant usage of CMBs the department advised. Dealers have pointed to the importance of tax receipts in coming months as a key variable for the Treasury’s borrowing needs.

Separately, as Bloomberg notes, at some point the Federal Reserve’s continuing QT - or active shrinkage of its portfolio of Treasuries - is expected to force the Treasury to boost issuance of coupons. That’s after the department steadily scaled back sales from November 2021 through last August, as pandemic-relief spending was phased out.

“Eventually, coupon auctions should start to rise again, but we doubt that this will occur until after the debt ceiling is increased or suspended,” Wells Fargo economists Michael Pugliese and Angelo Manolatos wrote in a note before Wednesday’s release. The bank currently sees auctions rising starting with the November refunding. Furthermore, as noted earlier this week and previously, the Treasury will instead drain its cash holdings at an accelerated pace as it struggles to keep the government working without a debt ceiling deal.

The Treasury on Monday estimated its cash balance at $500 billion for the end of March, slightly below where it is now, but caveated that this number assumes a debt deal is in place, which is not the case, and is also why the cash level will be drained much faster than the TSY forecasts. It also lifted its projections for federal borrowing for the current quarter to $932 billion.

Separately, Bloomberg noted that T-bills are currently hovering near the bottom of the recommended 15% to 20% share of total debt, as specified by the TBAC (aka the shadow group that runs the world).

Also on Wednesday, the Treasury highlighted that it’s continuing to examine the idea of launching a buyback program, something that, in October, it asked dealers their views on when illiquidity in the Treasury market prompted some to evaluate Treasury or Fed intervention to unfreeze the bond market (since then a surge in foreign demand has helped alleviate much of the lack of liquidity).

Buying back less-traded securities and selling more of the current benchmarks could be one way to address continuing concerns about illiquidity in the Treasuries market. TBAC in a statement Wednesday said the Treasury “should consider buybacks to provide liquidity support to the overall Treasury market and to achieve cash management goals.” “Treasury expects to share its findings on buybacks as part of future quarterly refundings,” the department said.

Treasury continues to study a potential buyback program.  Over the last quarter, Treasury has conducted further outreach with a broad variety of market participants in order to assess the costs and benefits associated with several potential uses for buybacks, including liquidity support and cash and maturity management.  In addition, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee provided additional analysis on buybacks at yesterday’s meeting.  Treasury expects to share its findings on buybacks as part of future quarterly refundings.  Treasury has not made any decision on whether or how to implement a buyback program but will provide ample notice to the public on any decisions.

Some more details from the TBAC Executive Summary on the TSY buyback charge:

Committee presented on considerations for designing a “regular and predictable” Treasury buyback program.

Presenting member proposed a series of guiding principles, noting they should be used “mainly for liquidity support and cash management purposes, but are not intended to mitigate episodes of acute market stress.” Here is the full list:

  • Operate within the “regular and predictable" framework to minimize negative externalities.

  • Main purposes are liquidity support and cash management.

  • Maintain neutrality to the maturity structure of marketable debt outstanding

  • Be accretive to the taxpayer, through direct or indirect benefits

  • Do no harm: mitigate uncertainties by approaching gradually and analyzing carefully.

  • Treasury buybacks are intended to support healthy market functioning but not mitigate episodes of acute stress in markets

The TBAC recommended that if the Treasury moves forward with a buyback program that it start small and “expand cautiously”

  • “Additionally, any program should be undertaken deliberately and dynamically with frequent monitoring of the impact to ensure Treasury’s objectives are being met,” they wrote adding that the Treasury should also “carefully consider” many issues before deciding to move forward. Those include:

    • Short-end buybacks could provide a beneficial cash-management tool to be used on an “as-needed basis”

    • Whether a buyback program could provide direct liquidity to specific securities and sectors, but the ultimate benefit should be enhanced overall market functioning

    • Program should be at least large enough to have some “observable impact on liquidity conditions or cash management” yet shouldn’t be so large as to overwhelm new issue demand and “materially erode the on-the-run liquidity premium”

    • Treasury could monitor several quantitative and qualitative measures to assess the impact of a potential buyback program, including bid/offer spreads, auction tails, trading volumes and dispersion of off-the-run spreads

The presentation then reviewed potential use cases, discussed a framework to size buyback operations, and ended with several considerations for structuring a buyback program.

  • Presenting member concluded Treasury buybacks “should result in both direct and indirect benefits for the taxpayer, with the indirect benefits potentially outweighing the direct benefits”

  • Another presenting member emphasized designing and executing a buyback program would be “highly complex and would require Treasury to conduct additional analysis”

  • Committee noted Treasury could announce buyback amounts within the context of quarterly refundings, but there was debate about the importance for the department to retain flexibility regarding operations, such as times when the market didn’t require liquidity support.

  • Members generally agreed flexibility could be achieved in a manner consistent with Treasury’s regular and predictable issuance framework

  • Regarding financing for upcoming quarters, TBAC recommended Treasury maintain nominal coupon auction sizes at current levels and noted “there is ample scope to increase bill supply”

  • TBAC noted in the future it may be appropriate to consider increases to nominal coupon auction sizes in order to maintain T-bills’ share of total debt within the committee’s recommended range of 15%-20%; it also said it was important to monitor how borrowing needs would evolve, given significant uncertainty related to the economic outlook and SOMA redemptions

  • TBAC also discussed capacity to increase TIPS issuance and recommended “modest” increases focused in the 5-year tenor to support their share as a percentage of total debt outstanding

The conclusion to the buyback discussion:

And the full presentation is below (pdf link).

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 09:30

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As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

One of Biden’s answers to combating…



As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

One of Biden's answers to combating higher gas prices has been to tap into America's oil reserves. While I was never a fan of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) program, it does have a place in our toolbox of weapons. We can use the reserve to keep the country running if outside oil supplies are cut off. Still, considering how out of touch with reality Washington has become, we can only imagine the insane types of services it would deem essential next time an oil shortage occurs.

Sadly, some of these reserves found their way into the export market and ended up in China. We now have proof that the President's son Hunter had a Chinese Communist Party member as his assistant while dealing with the Chinese. Apparently, he played a role in the shipping of American natural gas to China in 2017. It seems the Biden family was promising business associates that they would be rewarded once Biden became president. Biden's actions could be viewed as those of a traitor or at least disqualify him from being President.

The following information was contained in a letter from House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky. to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dated Sept. 20. 

"The President has not only misled the American public about his past foreign business transactions, but he also failed to disclose that he played a critical role in arranging a business deal to sell American natural resources to the Chinese while planning to run for President.”

Joe Biden, Comer said, was a business partner in the arrangement and had office space to work on the deal, and a firm he managed received millions from his Chinese partners ahead of the anticipated venture. While part of what Comer stated had previously been reported in the news, the letter, cited whistleblower testimonies, as well as emails, a corporate PowerPoint presentation, and a screenshot of encrypted messages. These as well as  bank documents that committee Republicans obtained suggest Biden’s knowledge and involvement in the plan dated back to at least 2017.

The big point here is;

  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was established in 1975 due to the 1973 oil embargo, is now at its lowest level since December 1983.

In December 1975, with memories of gas lines fresh on the minds of Americans following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, Congress established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It was designed “to reduce the impact of severe energy supply interruptions.” What are the implications of depleting the SPR and is it still important?

The U.S. government began to fill the reserve and it hit its high point in 2010 at around 726.6 million barrels. Since December 1984, this is the first time the level has been lower than 450 million barrels. Draining the SPR has been a powerful tool for the administration in its effort to tame the price of gasoline. It also signaled a "new era" of intervention on the part of the White House. 

This brings front-and-center questions concerning the motivation of those behind this action. One of the implications of Biden's war on high oil prices is that it has short-circuited the fossil investment/supply development process.  Capital expenditures among the five largest oil and gas companies have fallen as the price of oil has come under fire. The current under-investment in this sector is one of the reasons oil prices are likely to take a big jump in a few years. Production from existing wells is expected to rapidly fall.

The Supply Of Oil Is Far More Constant And Inelastic Than Demand

It is important to remember when it comes to oil, the supply is far more constant and inelastic than the demand. This means that it takes time and investment to bring new wells online while demand can rapidly change. This happened during the pandemic when countries locked down and told their populations and told them to stay at home. This resulted in the price of oil temporarily going negative because there was nowhere to store it.

Draining oil from the strategic reserve is a short-sighted and dangerous choice that will impact America's energy security at times of global uncertainty. In an effort to halt inflationary forces, Biden released a huge amount of crude oil from the SPR to artificially suppress fuel prices ahead of the midterm elections. 

To date, Biden has dumped more SPR on the market than all previous presidents combined reducing the reserves to levels not seen since the early 1980s. In spite of how I feel about the inefficiencies of this program, it does serve a vital role. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of a country's ability to rapidly increase its domestic flow of oil. This defensive action protects its economy and adds to its resilience. 

Biden's actions have put the whole country at risk. Critics of his policy pointed out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was designed for use in an emergency not as a tool to manipulate elections. Another one of Biden's goals may be to bring about higher oil prices to reduce its use and accelerate the use of high-cost green energy.

Either way, Biden's war on oil has not made America's energy policies more efficient or the country stronger.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/25/2023 - 18:30

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The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

Authored by Ben Weingarten via,

Combating disinformation…



The Disinformation-Industrial Complex Vs Domestic Terror

Authored by Ben Weingarten via,

Combating disinformation has been elevated to a national security imperative under the Biden administration, as codified in its first-of-its-kind National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, published in June 2021.  

That document calls for confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.

In connection therewith, it cites as a key priority “addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.” 

Media literacy specifically is seen as integral to this effort. The strategy adds that: “the Department of Homeland Security and others are either currently funding and implementing or planning evidence–based digital programming, including enhancing media literacy and critical thinking skills, as a mechanism for strengthening user resilience to disinformation and misinformation online for domestic audiences.” 

Previously, the Senate Intelligence Committee suggested, in its report on “Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 Election” that a “public initiative—propelled by Federal funding but led in large part by state and local education institutions—focused on building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.” 

In June 2022, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, which – citing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report – would fund a media literacy grant program for state and local education agencies, among other entities. 

NAMLE and Media Literacy Now, both recipients of State Department largesse, endorsed the bill. 

Acknowledging explicitly the link between this federal counter-disinformation push, and the media literacy education push, Media Literacy Now wrote in its latest annual report that ... 

... the federal government is paying greater attention to the national security consequences of media illiteracy.

The Department of Homeland Security is offering grants to organizations to improve media literacy education in communities across the country. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is incorporating media literacy into standard troop training, and the State Department is funding media literacy efforts abroad.

These trends are important for advocates to be aware of as potential sources of funding as well as for supporting arguments around integrating media literacy into K-12 classrooms. 

When presented with notable examples of narratives corporate media promoted around Trump-Russia collusion, and COVID-19, to justify this counter-disinformation campaign, Media Literacy Now president Erin McNeill said: “These examples are disappointing.”

The antidote, in her view is, “media literacy education because it helps people not only recognize the bias in their news sources and seek out other sources, but also to demand and support better-quality journalism.” (Emphasis McNeill’s)

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/25/2023 - 17:30

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Disney World Event Gives Florida Gov. DeSantis the Middle Finger

Walt Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has shown no willingness to back down in the face of the governor’s efforts to campaign against diversity training.



Walt Disney's CEO Bob Iger has shown no willingness to back down in the face of the governor's efforts to campaign against diversity training.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made Disney World, one of his state's largest employers, the target of his so-called war on woke. 

At the root of the dispute are former Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report CEO Bob Chapek's remarks opposing the Republican governor's new law, which limits the ability of educators to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation with children.

Labeled the Don't Say Gay bill, the law met with huge pushback from Disney employees, who had criticized Chapek for initially not speaking out against the bill.

That led the then-Disney boss to take a direct stand against the governor's actions, which in turn led DeSantis to strip the company of its special tax status.  

DON'T MISS: Huge Crowds Force Disney World to Make Big Changes

DeSantis has decided to use Disney as the center of his political-theater culture war because it's an easy, and nonmoving, target. The company can't pack up Disney World and move it to New York, Massachusetts, or some other liberal bastion, so it mostly has to take whatever the governor dishes out.

But while DeSantis wants to use Disney as a target, he's mostly playing to the cameras; clearly, he's not actually looking to take down the largest single-site employer in the U.S. Disney World generates tens of thousands of jobs, pays the state a lot of money. and brings in billions of tourism dollars -- many of which are spent outside its gates in the broader Florida economy.

Image source: Shutterstock/TheStreet Illustration

Disney CEO Iger Uses Actions, Not Words

Disney CEO Bob Iger understands that actions speak louder than words and words can come back to haunt you.

The returned Mouse House boss has not called out DeSantis, nor did he fight the governor's takeover of its Reedy Creek Improvement District.

On paper, Disney World appears to have lost its right to self-govern. That's true, but it doesn't mean much because it's not as if the state -- even DeSantis's handpicked cronies who now oversee the former Reedy Creek Improvement District -- intend to actually get in Disney's way. The company prints money for the state.

So, that's why Iger -- who had publicly spoken against the Don't Say Gay bill when he was a private citizen and not Disney CEO, has not called out DeSantis. A speech decrying the governor's actions, pointing out that they “put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy,” as he said before taking the CEO job back, would not help Disney.

Instead, Iger has let his company's actions speak. 

Disney World plans to host a "major conference promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace" at the Disney World Resort this September, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Disney Boldly Challenges DeSantis

Disney World will host the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit in September.

"The largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world, with more than 5,000 attendees every year. It brings together executives, ERG leaders and members, and HR and DEI professionals and experts -- all working for LGBTQ+ equality," the event's organizer, Out & Equal, said on its website. 

"Over more than 20 years, Summit has grown to become the preferred place to network and share strategies that create inclusive workplaces, where everyone belongs and where LGBTQ+ employees can be out and thrive." 

The Tampa Bay Times called simply hosting the event "a defiant display of the limits of DeSantis’s campaign against diversity training."

Disney World has hosted the event previously and the company has a relationship with Out & Equal going back many years.

Instead of giving a speech and becoming even more of a right-wing-media talking point, Iger showed his employees where Disney stands through his actions. It's a smart choice by a seasoned executive not to become an actor in DeSantis's political theater.

The Florida governor wants to be perceived as battling 'woke" Disney without actually hurting his state's relationship with the company. The newspaper described exactly how that works when it looked at the new government powers the state has taken from the theme park giant.

The subsequent legislation left most of Disney’s special powers in place despite the governor’s attempt to dissolve the district. The conservative members the governor appointed to the board hinted at the first meeting of the new board that they would exercise leverage over Disney, such as prohibiting COVID-19 restrictions at Disney World. But legal experts have said that the new board’s authority has no control over Disney content.

DeSantis wants a culture war, or at least one that'll play out in the media. Iger knows better and has played the situation perfectly.   


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