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Posts Tagged ‘government debt’

Mortgage Refi Activity Is Driving Rates Higher

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 26th, 2009 7:17 PM |

In Wall Street terms, the wheels are coming off the Treasury bus. What does that mean in layman’s terms? Interest rates on U.S. Treasury securities are ratcheting higher. Why? I have addressed the massive supply of global government bonds that will be issued in order to finance the exploding deficits. For newer readers, you can find my thoughts on this topic in Is The Government Bond Bubble Getting Ready To Burst? UPDATE #2.

The dynamics of the massive supply of bond issuance to fund global deficits will not change. To wit, our market needs to absorb $60 billion in 5yr and 7yr notes tomorrow and Thursday.  Long term interest rates in our U.S. Treasury market moved higher by another 10 basis points again today to a level of 3.55%.

Over and above that, though, there is another significant reason that is driving our bond market lower and interest rates higher. This reason is receiving little to no attention by the media or market analysts. In fact, the color allocated to this factor is strictly viewed as a positive. I am talking about the waves of mortgage refinancing precipitated by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program. 

How could refinancing activity further pressure the government bond market driving interest rates higher? Well, let’s accept the premise that any government program is never risk free or cost free. The quantitative easing employed by the Federal Reserve to purchase government and mortgage-backed securities has very real costs. The extraordinary volume of purchases of newly issued mortgage-backed securities by the Federal Reserve has allowed millions of homeowners to lower their mortgage payments. This is great for those benefitting. What are the costs? (more…)

Is the Government Bond Bubble Getting Ready to Burst? UPDATE>>

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 7th, 2009 2:59 PM |

I have tried to highlight my concerns on interest rates for the entire year. Despite the Federal Reserve “cutting checks” to buy hundreds of billions in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, the global demand for credit (meaning global governments, companies, and municipalities issuing MASSIVE supply of bonds) is driving rates higher.

As I wrote in my post from April 30th, the U.S. Treasury market has been faced with underwriting tens and now hundreds of billions in government debt on a regular basis. The 30yr government bond auction today was not well received and interest rates have moved higher by 10-20 basis points (.10 to .20%).  

What are the implications of higher rates?
   1. Increased cost of financing the deficit.
   2. Upward pressure on other rates, primarily mortgage rates.
   3. Longer time for economy to improve given higher interest costs.
   4. Given the massive global government deficits, the access to credit for private enterprise is negatively impacted. This is known as crowding out.

As I referenced the other day, “We Still Have To Pay The Bill.”  

Bloomberg reports, Treasuries Tumble as Bond Sale Draws Higher Than Forecast Yield.  

From my piece at the end of April: 

The equity markets have rebounded significantly over the last seven weeks. The Dow and S&P are now down approximately 4-6% on the year. The tech heavy Nasdaq has distinguished itself and is up approximately 10% on the year.

At this juncture, if the equity markets are implying that the economy will not slip into Depression, then the bill for the stability in equities is being transferred to participants in the bond market. Government bonds are facing an almost weekly avalanche of tremendous supply. This week the market is absorbing over $100 billion in 2yr, 5yr, and 7yr Treasury securites. Take a deep breath and next week the market is faced with over $75 billion in 3yr, 10yr, and 30yr government securities. The Treasury is likely going to sell 30yr government debt on a monthly basis!! 

The Federal Reserve has been the biggest buyer of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed’s balance sheet may be large but it is not endless. What have 10 yr. Treasury securities done on the year? Even in the face of massive buying of these securities by the Fed, the 10yr has backed up almost 1% to a current level of 3.1%. That rise in rates is very significant. 

I have maintained and continue to maintain that interest rates will move higher given the overwhelming demand for funds by global governments to pay for deficit spending. Central banks around the world may try to hold the respective bond markets up and interest rates down but investors will continue to demand a higher rate of interest in the process. 

As government rates move higher, mortgage rates, and other corporate rates will likely move higher as well. If we get a whiff of early signs of inflation which I believe is coming these rates could ratchet higher and the bubble in the government market would not merely burst but would actually explode.


A Question of Honor

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 13th, 2009 1:00 PM |

On January 31st, I wrote a lighthearted piece, Know Your Customer, about my personal experience with an Asian counterparty.  The lesson I learned from that experience back in the late 1980’s was that business dealings in Asia are ultimately “a question of honor.” Are you honorable in your manner? Are you honorable in your engagement? Are you honorable on a going forward basis? Are you honorable in both word and deed? Obviously in a meaningful relationship, this code of honor must run both ways. 

Our relationship with the People’s Republic of China hinges on American consumers’ purchase of Chinese exports and ongoing Chinese purchase of U.S. government debt.  As I just highlighted in my most recent piece, Chinese exports fell 26% in February 2009. Numbers like that will make any government uneasy. During challenging economic periods, the tenuous nature of any economic relationship is captured in understanding the nuances of the Prisoner’s Dilemma(more…)

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