THE WOLF STREET REPORT: Snapback Bloodletting in the Overripe Bond Market

The 10-year US Treasury yield rips. Unstoppable negative yields become stoppable (11 minutes).

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  65 comments for “THE WOLF STREET REPORT: Snapback Bloodletting in the Overripe Bond Market

  1. The Word
    Sep 15, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    I found this (post below) somewhat illuminating and just posting it here as an additional thought. Nonetheless, with the Saudi oil drama and all the drama with the Fed and the backdrop of chaos with mindless tweeting, it’s my opinion that the 10-yr will be about where it is now, a year from now, and as a guide, the 2-yr treasury is apparently a proxy for where the Fed Funds Rate will be in a yr, which will be about 1/2 % lower. I think the mkts will be like a deer in the headlights with ongoing volatility.

    ==> “Negative yields do not inhibit investment as much as one would think. Paying a borrower (bond issuer) is not considered irrational investing when the security’s price is expected to rise, aka bond yields are expected to become more negative.

    Take for example the originally mentioned 10y German Bund.

    It has appreciated 8.23% YTD despite having a 0% coupon.

    Money continues to chase price appreciation in a global economy where central bank stimulus is becoming the go to monetary policy strategy.”

    https://www.livewiremarkets.com/wires/turning-japanese

    • Sep 16, 2019 at 12:37 am

      The line that you cited — “Negative yields do not inhibit investment as much as one would think. Paying a borrower (bond issuer) is not considered irrational investing when the security’s price is expected to rise, aka bond yields are expected to become more negative” — is the biggest piece of garbage propaganda BS I have read in a long time, on so many levels that it gives me a headache.

      • Jack
        Sep 16, 2019 at 2:59 am

        Hehehhehe … I really laughed, and laughed I did !

        Thank You Wolf I needed that!

        Some people just bring it on themselves :)

      • Silvergirl
        Sep 16, 2019 at 6:42 am

        Thank you for that!

      • Terri Nash
        Sep 16, 2019 at 9:22 am

        Such honesty!! I love your work!

      • Lisa_Hooker
        Sep 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

        Thank you Wolf! You’ve provided a better diagnosis for my chronic headache of the past few years. Much better than my physician’s varied and repeated guesses.

      • Willy2
        Sep 16, 2019 at 11:51 am

        – “The Word” is both right AND wrong.
        – An Investor is likely to avoid negative yielding bonds. But a Trader is likely to see such bonds a an opportunity to see whether or not the yield on such bonds will become (much) more negative.
        – The problem today however is that “investment grade” bonds have a (very) paltry yield or a negative yield. To get a decent yield one is almost confined to corporate/government bonds from debtors who don’t have – at least – an A rating.

      • The Word
        Sep 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm

        I’m sorry for your headache but was just pondering alternative concepts during this period of disinflation. Treasury futures and inflation metrics in-general point to lower yields ahead and demographics and politics all contribute to uncertainty, thus, looking at how some people are viewing ZLB, ZIRP, NIRP and low growth, with possible currency re-valuations does make the world of treasuries less than normal — with forward yields looking less than promising (except if you over-focus on last weeks volatile spike) if anything, this market should be teaching investors to think about how volatility plays a key role in speculation.

        • Tom Pfotzer
          Sep 17, 2019 at 10:00 am

          The Word: I agree with your assessment.

          The problem – the everlasting, perennial problem – with us do-righters, we seekers of rational and fair behavior – is that the world doesn’t deliver it on-time at spec.

          One of the things I like about Wolf is his willingness to let the facts do the talking. I think…the facts are talking, for ex:

          * Aggregate demand will continue to fall in the developed world until the middle class makes more money. There are several big forces in play to prevent that from happening, and those forces are durable

          * Coherent economic policy is not forthcoming from the developed world’s economies. Can’t think of one that’s got a good answer for China, India, etc

          So, we’re going to get more competitive central bank stimulus packages until something big breaks.

          And all us do-gooders and right-minded folks have been wrong about when this is going to happen for … decades now?

          It makes our heads hurt because the situation we’re in is so stupid. But we *are* in that situation.

          And think about how much stupid-er it’s going to get before it gets better.

        • NBay
          Sep 17, 2019 at 1:38 pm

          RE: “aggregate demand” brought up by Tom

          I only took one economics course in college, Econ 1A, found it boring and subject to more contradictions/changes than facts (compared to the real sciences), but one notion that stuck in my head was “marginal propensity to consume”.
          I can’t see any fault with it other than I would just say “ability to consume”.
          If 0.1% of citizens in the USA have wealth equal to the lower 92%, this obvious concept then becomes a real problem, which I think is equally obvious, and manifests in many undesirable behaviors, assuming one prefers a stable society to chaos.

      • rhodium
        Sep 16, 2019 at 7:52 pm

        Lol, even if it is true technically, these people’s brain cells must be short circuiting. You’re right Wolf, if we follow the “not considered irrational investing when the security’s price is expected to rise, aka bond yields are expected to become more negative” and follow that line of thought to it’s logical end, assuming these bonds would continue to give positive returns in such a way, do the math and yields would have to go exponentially lower over time to achieve this. Yields would have to eventually hit -100% and lower, at which point (well where this money would be coming from is a mystery and already engenders my point) people would be so desperate to be “in debt” that the demand surely would force yields back up (I mean it’s ridiculous but if such a “debt” spigot existed you’d have hyperinflation, lest we get $1billion% gdp growth). How could it be possible any other way? No, most of these creditors, and I’ve said it before here, will be giving some portion of their money away. One would do better just giving to charity in the first place.

      • Broken Clock Capital
        Sep 17, 2019 at 1:03 am

        Go ahead laugh, my tulip bulbs went up 10% last month, and I expect that will continue forever.

      • Shizz
        Sep 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

        It’s on par with giving Whimpy a hamburger today because the burger will be more expensive next Tuesday… And as everyone knows Whimpy is good for it. LOL

    • Jos Oskam
      Sep 16, 2019 at 1:43 am

      “…not considered irrational investing when the security’s price is expected to rise…”

      Yep. There’s even a well-known explanation for this. It’s called “greater fool theory”.

      But now is the first time I see this recommended as an investment strategy.

      • Jack
        Sep 16, 2019 at 3:05 am

        Jos,

        “Yep. There’s even a well-known explanation for this. It’s called “greater fool theory”.”

        This is where I differ with you,

        This in all the books that humanity have written so far is called ( THEFT) and renders the Offender A ( THIEF).

        The sad reality is it is perpetuated by an unconstitutional entity, and the Custodians that we elected to preserve our lives and prosperity!!

        Cheers

        • DawnsEarlyLight
          Sep 16, 2019 at 3:41 pm

          Many of these investors (greater fools), unconsciously every month contribute to their pension plans that mimic bond rates. This amount is substantial, and the way they are being played is reprehensible!

    • robt
      Sep 16, 2019 at 10:33 am

      As a thought experiment, if we hold a 1000 dollar 0% bond, and the government were to issue a new 1000 dollar 10-year negative compound 10% bond, (and maintained the negative 10% environment) the value of which would be 348.68 in 10 years, then the 0% bond you hold to maturity would appreciate zero percent and you get your 1000 dollars back and the buyers of the negative 10% bond get 348.68, losing 651.32 if held to maturity.
      I get it. Your bond would yield 651.32 more than the negative 10% bond, even if you don’t actually get the 651.32; if you hold ’til maturity you didn’t lose it. So, the heuristic yield would be 1.0514% relative to the money-losing negative 10% bond. Presumably, the 0% bond should appreciate 5.14% per year in the secondary market, and a shrewd ‘investor’ would bid your 1000 dollar bond to 1651.32 by the day of maturity; they would get their 1000 dollars back if they bought your bond, held it to maturity the next day, and lose the same 651.32 that they would have if they bought the 1000 dollar negative 10% bond.
      Yes, it all makes sense now … the greater fool gives you a yield of 5.14% in capital appreciation, and loses 651.32. Wait a minute … maybe that fool should bid closer to face value the nearer to the maturity date and he would be ahead the money he didn’t lose had he bought the neg 10%?
      I give up – maybe just stick the money under the mattress. But isn’t all this to make you spend more instead of saving? And don’t negative interest rates indicate a lack of demand for money? And isn’t/wasn’t that the definition of inflation?
      signed,
      Confused.

      • Stephen
        Sep 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        ‘…..But isn’t all this to make you spend more instead of saving?’ Well, that’s the point of negative yields, at least in theory, as the government hopes you will just give up on investing and live paycheck to paycheck consuming.

        The entire financial paradigm is ridiculous, eventually resulting in penury for anyone who does not have hard assets to trade/barter with.

  2. Sing along
    Sep 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    When Pimco Long bonds rose after a long gap (over 5 years it enabled a lot of folks to break even and move into treasuries. Wish I had done more. It seemed like a window was given to major institutions to unwind positions, maybe teach Bond holders a lesson; This was done systematically with a Pide piper president who suddenly started talking of 0 percent 10 year treasuries. Mind you the media narrative in 2016 never talked about taking US 10 year treasuries to 0. I recall Gudlach talking about German 10 yr Bunds back in 2016 being way below US 10 yr treasuries, but the risk was currency hedging.
    Can you tell who got burnt ? Surely the triple short ETF products in Bonds saw spikes…..

  3. Double D
    Sep 16, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Yeah a lot of people are going to lose the “farm”. The Bond market is telling the world the Gig is almost up. It’s time for the chickens to come home to roost.

    • RD Blakeslee
      Sep 16, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Well, when the chickens come home to roost, does the farm owner get to keep them or do they go with the farm?

  4. Willy2
    Sep 16, 2019 at 1:10 am

    – My personal opinion is that we have seen the very ultimate end of a 38 year bull market in government bonds (=falling long term rates). And running USD 1 trillion plus deficits won’t help either to push rates lower.
    – The fall in yields (30 year & 10 year) was so steep that it was inevitable that this rally would run out of steam / exhaust itself.
    – I think yields could easily double of trilple from here.

    • sc7
      Sep 16, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Bye bye socaljim’s housing market if so.

    • Trinacria
      Sep 16, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Yes, and that would bring them in line with historical averages. The historical average for a 10 year treasury seems to be around 4.5%. If the economy is soooo good – especially and the cheerleaders on MSLSD tell us – why can’t it support the average ? Rhetorical….as the answer is obvious in this engineered recovery. During the 1930’s, arguably the worst economic times of the last 100 plus years, interest rates were higher….go figure. Money must be fairly priced otherwise savings is
      discouraged and stupid crap happens like Tesla, WeWork etc etc etc. Mother nature or mother finance is coming for her pound of flesh and it won’t be pleasant. Gird your loins!!!

  5. Njonjo Ndehi
    Sep 16, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Guys, please do the following.

    1. Go to FRED, the amazing St. Louis Fed charting tool for macro data.

    2. Chart the population growth rate of a major economy on the left y-axis.

    3. Chart the 10yr treasury yield on the right y-axis.

    You’re welcome.

    • JZ
      Sep 16, 2019 at 2:08 am

      Every year, when ice cream sales explode, more people drown in water swimming. So ice cream kill swimmers. You are welcome.

  6. Old-school
    Sep 16, 2019 at 4:47 am

    If you are a passive investor and are really in it for the long term then your future cash flow looks like this on say a 60/40 portfolio.

    10 year roughly 1.8%
    SP500 div yield 1.8% with potential growth 4 – 6%
    Inflation roughly 1.8%

    Your spend rate is basically reciprocal of life expectancy. If 33 years, 3% all you get. 1mil = $30 thousand. Don’t spend it all in one place

    • sameASalways
      Sep 17, 2019 at 12:35 am

      Let’s also NOT forget here while these banks are getting your money almost free, they’re still charging the peons +22% interest rates on their credit cards.

      Just maybe some of these pension funds have invested in ‘factoring’ slave-debt???

      Given banks pay 1%, and the poor pay +20% you know somebody and a lot of people in the ‘know’ are making money.

      Sort of like a pawn-shop racket that has taken on disease form and infested the entire planet.

  7. Old-school
    Sep 16, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Do pension funds have a legal obligation to show that they are not just pulling the 7% forward return out of thin air? Is there a legal disclaimer for the funds? In the financial text books they instruct how to do duration and liabilty matching with bonds to ensure the income is there each year for the retiree.

    In my mind many pension systems are statistically unsound and there is some risk of maybe 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 that it is going to implode each year. It seems criminal that a pension system is not statistically sound.

    • Wander Lust
      Sep 16, 2019 at 6:10 am

      Unfortunately those text books didn’t anticipate nearly zero rates over long periods of time to match duration and liability – and they definitely did not account for the politics involved in funding pensions.

      If you have come to the conclusion “many pension systems are statistically unsound” then this probably isn’t a rabbit hole you want to go down. It is so much worse than you think – and that is with the market at all time highs.

      • Old-school
        Sep 17, 2019 at 10:09 am

        I really did not say that correctly. If you are allowed to say future return assumptions are 7% don’t you have to have some facts behind that assumption. With nominal growth rate around 4% and assets at all time highs how are you able to legally say you are assuming 7%. It might happen, but the probability of it happening over next 20 years is very low. How are you able for claim an assumption that has such a tiny chance of happening.

        • Wander Lust
          Sep 17, 2019 at 1:09 pm

          @Old-school

          It is definitely a fair and logical question but the short answer is no. There is a whole industry around pension consulting that puts together capital market assumptions that assists in setting strategy and constructing portfolio diversification.

          You are looking at it very logically and drawing the conclusion that a 7% assumed rate of return is not going to happen over the long term. Period.

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
          Upton Sinclair

          So let’s think about who falls on this list in relation to pension funds:
          – pension staff, politicians, asset managers, consultants, tax payers, etc, etc.

          As soon as you start to lower the assumed return means “someone” has to up their contribution.

    • medial axis
      Sep 16, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Collapse of some prominent pensions is likely the next big thing, imo. Will they be bailed? I doubt it, at least not fully.

      • wkevinw
        Sep 16, 2019 at 8:46 am

        PBGC will probably come up with some process. But, that is not fully funded either.

        Social Security is similar. At some point a “mechanical” reduction in payments kicks in. Because this doesn’t require any (spineless) government action/intervention, I have been guessing they will let it happen, saying “there is nothing more we could do!”- which is not true.

        • Anon1970
          Sep 16, 2019 at 12:17 pm

          In spite of the fact that there is no official means testing of Social Security benefits, the net reduction in spendable cash from SS for seniors with other retirement income has been significant in the past 35 years. The first claw back of benefits occurred when SS income was made partially taxable (for beneficiaries above the poverty level) effective in 1984. A decade later, more of the benefits were subjected to possible federal income tax. More recently, Medicare premium surcharges were introduced (2007?) and then increased for higher income seniors.

          If you can afford to retire early, do it.

        • Dale
          Sep 16, 2019 at 3:15 pm

          Social Security is relatively easy to fix– just remove income caps on contributions.
          Medicare is unfixable until we stop allowing the healthcare industry to be worst (in terms of outcomes/$) in the OECD.

          Good news though: MMT (the magic money tree) will solve all of these problems…

        • Javert Chip
          Sep 16, 2019 at 6:49 pm

          Dale

          “…Social Security is relatively easy to fix – just remove income caps on contributions…”

          Nope; two reasons:

          1) Social Security tax is only withheld from wages & salaries (think W-2 statement from your employer)

          2) Rich people get the wast majority of their compensation from capital gains; relatively little comes from “wages & salary”)

          EXAMPLE: assume you’re a hot shot CEO who gets paid $1M/year…plus $75M in stock: 99.8% of your $76M total compensation ($75M + ($1M-$132,900) = $75.867/$76M) is exempt from Social Security tax.

          Factoid: the Social Security withholding limit (currently $132,900) is about the 90th percentile of individual income. Said. another way, only 10% of individuals have wage & salary income above $132,900.

        • wkevinw
          Sep 17, 2019 at 6:56 am

          The euphemism about “fixing” social security is always interesting. It’s not fixed if it just costs more. It’s already costing about 3x what it was originally supposed to cost.

          Reagan, for example, is said to have “fixed” social security by taking more in taxes. Nothing was fixed.

          Also, on the “clawbacks” of making it taxable, requiring copays, etc., yep, that’s what that is.

          If you give the government your money, there’s no guarantee it will be handled properly.

      • Petunia
        Sep 16, 2019 at 9:41 am

        In order to bail out local pension funds, real estate taxes will have to increase astronomically. I just heard The Villages, a famous retirement community in Florida, is proposing a 24% increase in property taxes, which are already high. They didn’t say what the money was for, but I know local govts committed to high yields for their pension funds.

        • Anon1970
          Sep 16, 2019 at 12:37 pm

          In California, government enterprise funds which can charge for things like water, sewer or garbage services have simply raised rates to cover the pension benefits of retired employees who provided these services. More than 40 years after the passage of the state’s Proposition13 (real estate taxation), property owners are still largely protected from sky high real estate tax increases year after year.

        • Dale
          Sep 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

          It’s not The Villages, but I just randomly* picked out a house for sale in Miami, and discovered it’s asking price is down 50% from its Zestimate 18 months ago. Screencapped.

          *Only checked on one house!

        • Javert Chip
          Sep 16, 2019 at 7:32 pm

          Dale

          (Disclosure: I live in Melbourne, about 200 miles north of Miami).

          Miami, unlike most other FL real estate, is highly prized by foreign investors (particularly Latin American and Chinese). Foreign cash was used to buy high-end real estate as a way to launder money (US real estate also serves as a relatively stable investment if you come from a shit-hole country).

          Almost from Miami’s beginnings, the place just had a wild real estate market (jokes about selling underwater real estate were not jokes).

          In the last couple years, the US has strongly moved to eliminate the money laundering aspect of this trade, and it’s had a dramatic impact on high-end prices in/around Miami.

          The state of FL does a much better job managing public finances than, say NY, CA, IL, CT, NJ, et al). This does not immunize FL from financial disruption, but FL state & teacher pensions are 87% funded (some in Chicago are 26% Funded).

  8. breamrod
    Sep 16, 2019 at 9:48 am

    you know a lot of Trump supporters are the boomers. He keeps tweeting that the fed should lower rates. Does he not realize he’s screwing his base as these folks need income from their investments? I guess he thinks everybody’s in the stock market so they will love the lower rates as their stocks go up!

  9. Txhumingbird
    Sep 16, 2019 at 11:19 am

    What is wrong with people, is there too much fluoride in their water? …

    The line from a 1974 song “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing!”. Negative is still NEGATIVE…

    Thanks Wolf for warning us about the insanity that is brewing.

    • Anon1970
      Sep 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Governments around the world are doing their best to screw the middle class without sparking a revolt.

      Louis XIV’S Finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, famously declared that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.” (from “The Economist” magazine)

  10. GSH
    Sep 16, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    I see a lot of comments expecting a discontinuity (e.g. some kind of crash) soon. Don’t bet on it. Japan shows that ZIRP/NIRP and high debts can go on for 30 years with no end in sight. So, 10 years of low interest rates is nothing.

    • Javert Chip
      Sep 16, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Strongly agreed. I’d expect a period of inflation…

      I’m an old fart, born in 1946. Accumulated inflation since my birth has inflated that 1946 $1 to $13.50 in 2019.

      This is one reason why economists love a “normal” inflation rate around 2%.

    • Jack the ripper
      Sep 16, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      I would agree but Japan does nt have the world reserve currency like the United States that changes the dynamics ……… you are elementary in your monetary science

    • Sep 16, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      The main difference with the US and Japan is the political culture. The US voters simply don’t have the same level of trust and respect for government, the CEOs, and the wealthy class.

      Push zirp and asset inflation without wage gains for too long and you start to get significant political feedback.

      Right now both the Republican and Democratic parties are very fragmented, and there’s no telling what kind of leader we’ll land.

  11. Sep 16, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    The important takeaway here is that the snap back is not being perceived as a new trend. This is important, because mortgage buyers will not rush to lock in low rates, and homeowners will not grab the best REFI, and generally speaking those holding low interest bonds will not try and dump them on the secondary market and cause havoc. This could be a generational low in yields and a surprise to those who wait for the other shoe to drop. (NIRP) Economic performance and yields do not correlate, so the economy can grow, and stocks can go higher, in a rising rate environment. (Though maybe not this one) If 70% of this economy is service, service economies integrate inflation much faster than manufacturing economies. China holds prices low on goods while US wages improve, good for main street, bad for Uber and Lyft. USG is going to promote the notion that lower rates are ahead, they have their reasons, so they will set yields at auction lower, and let bidders discount their paper, while the dollar takes the losses.

  12. MC01
    Sep 16, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I am honestly amazed at how so many investors keep on falling for these stupid traps.
    Undoubtedly some got too greedy and held onto their bonds for too long, hoping to reap even richer rewards and were punished for it. It’s part of the game.
    But what were the others thinking? Did they really believe the sales pitch by the financial media that real yields would keep on falling forever for no reason in particular? Or perhaps did they use the “greater fool theory” outlined above as an investment strategy? Either way they deserve a long and painful period of snapback, perhaps peppered by a few rallies that will end in tears just to drive the point home. Sometimes tough love is required to teach an important lesson.

    Special mention goes to those in the financial media that have been pitching “central bank activism” as a panacea for all evils. This loose coalition of ivory tower intellectuals, Wall Street/City of London/Luxembourg shills, clueless newsroom hacks and other assorted purveyors of dubious financial advice hyped to the Moon Mario Draghi’s “New Bazooka” and, incredibly, after Euro bond markets refused to comply with their wishes doubled down on it instead of sinking into silence. As the saying goes they wouldn’t blush even if somebody set them on fire.
    These folks have been shaping monetary policies over the past three quarters with serious consequences and seem fully set on pushing the whole world into even more financial and fiscal madness, kinda like the British and French press pushed the Allies into the catastrophic Norwegian expedition of 1940. It would be high time for decision makers to start ignoring them, but I am not holding my breath.

    • Tom Pfotzer
      Sep 17, 2019 at 10:18 am

      I have this uneasy, irritating little uncertainty.

      it’s been building lately, and it is quietly asking “I wonder if my premises are correct? The data from the real world is in great conflict with how I thought things would work”.

      I think our premises have changed. The rules for How Things Work.

      I’d like to see some discussion about what those premises are (were), and what is fundamentally different from here onward.

      It’s not just CBs that are advancing this new economic behavior. It’s entire societies. All of us are doing it, directly or indirectly.

      • Txhumingbird
        Sep 17, 2019 at 5:47 pm

        You may very well be right …. I think those in control of the markets are changing the rules as they go. It’s like when we were kids, one kid who owned the game, he was losing so he would arbitrarily change the rules to his favor, with out telling us what his new rules are.
        Today’s markets are behaving in the same manner. We who are dealing with this, are have to figure out what the new rules are.

  13. DR DOOM
    Sep 17, 2019 at 12:17 am

    I’ll believe this snap back,as you call it when rates on Main Street go up . Mortgage rates are not a factor in a bubble housing market.This is just pre- election noise. Expect more. We will not know when auctions fail in the US, which is the only market that now matters. Historians will write about this post-event , but we will not know real time. This is what government does,prevent panic while apocalypse ravages the land . Their survival is paramount.

    • DawnsEarlyLight
      Sep 17, 2019 at 11:15 am

      Today’s $53 billion dollar repo could be an indicator of future failed auctions, … and QE right after.

  14. Norma Lacy
    Sep 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Following on Dawns post, Wolf, can you please consider writing a column on this repo gyration? Especially, I am puzzled by the long time running excess reserves situation versus the recent “liquidity shortage” and the sudden surge in repo rates. Is this deja vu at the same time, as Yogi Berra would say? Are we back in 2007 when no one trusted any one?

    Ditto failed auctions. Zero hedge has been mentioning failed or poor auctions lately. Thanks to all for interesting posts.

    • MarcLord
      Sep 17, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      When humans panic, they hoard. During Europe’s worst famines in the 15th and 16th centuries, royal granaries continued to accumulate food, directing it to aristocratic and military families who largely chose to keep it to themselves and not send it back to the peasants who grew and harvested it. No one yet knows what specifically is causing this liquidity crisis after the banking system gunwales were inundated with electronic largesse for the past decade, but the analogy holds. Bankers are reacting to elite-level fear.

    • Sep 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Norma Lacy,

      I think we need to clarify something here.

      “Failed auction” of government bonds is a misnomer. Neither US Treasury auctions nor German government bond auctions ever “fail” in the sense that the bonds cannot be sold. They’re always sold. In Germany, the Bundesbank has to buy the bonds that couldn’t be sold to the market. In the US, the primary dealers have to buy them.

      When an auction “fails,” it means there is less than stellar demand in the market AT THAT PRICE. Lower the price (raise the yield), and those bonds would fly off the shelf. But governments don’t want to raise the yield. They want to sell the bonds at the lowest possible yield.

      Sometimes they push too hard, such as Germany with its negative-yield 30-year bond a couple of weeks ago, for which there was no appetite at that yield, and that was a good thing.

      • Willy2
        Sep 17, 2019 at 6:14 pm

        – But it wasn’t the german government that “pushed too hard”. Mr. Market has been pushing those yields into negative territory. Well, then the german government sees that as an opportunity to try to sell more negative yielding bonds. Whether or not those negative yields are going to be sustainable remains to be seen. I am convinced it won’t be sustainable but that remains a decision of Mr. Market.

        • Sep 17, 2019 at 8:16 pm

          A market consists of buyers and sellers. A sale occurs when there is a meeting of minds between the two about the price (and/or other conditions).

          The German government was the seller and pushed too hard to get the highest price (lowest yield).

          The buyers said forget it. That’s how a market works. There was no meeting of the minds. There was no sale because there was no buyer at that price.

      • DawnsEarlyLight
        Sep 18, 2019 at 1:43 pm

        What about the reserves banks are required to hold. Why aren’t these used/counted in times of low liquidity?

        • Sep 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm

          DawnsEarlyLight,

          The required reserves are relatively small at $200 billion, versus $1.4 trillion for excess reserves. Required reserves are considered an emergency buffer for when a bank is short on liquidity for its own needs.

        • DawnsEarlyLight
          Sep 19, 2019 at 1:31 pm

          Yea, that’s the problem, allowing the FED where it should not be.
          End The FED!!!

  15. Broken Clock Capital
    Sep 18, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    This reminds me of the “bond snapback” post of a few days ago. I’ve been wondering if we’d see consequences from plentiful cheap money and low rates. I guess it’s been asset appreciation, and having that cash locked up in assets. Any squeeze and some of those assets will be subject to fire sale liquidation.

    • DawnsEarlyLight
      Sep 22, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      All the FED is concerned about is keeping the rates low, ignoring the normal tendency of rising rates with the demand on liquidity.

Comments are closed.