Connect with us

Economics

The Fed Has Liquidated Its Entire Corporate Bond Portfolio

The Fed Has Liquidated Its Entire Corporate Bond Portfolio

Last March capital markets as we once knew them ceased to exist: that’s when the…

Share this article:

Published

on

This article was originally published by Zero Hedge

The Fed Has Liquidated Its Entire Corporate Bond Portfolio

Last March capital markets as we once knew them ceased to exist: that’s when the Powell Fed crossed a Rubicon even Ben Bernanke dared not breach and announced that it would start buying single-name corporate bonds and ETFs under its Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) with both IG and HY names eligible for purchases in the process effectively nationalizing the corporate bond market.

Purchases under this facility, which were meant to reassure and stabilize the corporate bond market continued until December, at which point – with stocks at new all time highs – the Fed announced the cessation of its corporate bond purchases and entered the beginning stages of fully winding down the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF).

At the time, some market participants worried this might translate into a reduction in liquidity, but with purchases amounting to less than $500 million per week since July 2020 …

… and an overall portfolio holding of just $14 billion, it was unlikely that any material deterioration in market microstructure would take place.

And after all, the Fed’s purchases were merely symbolic: the Fed never wanted to become as BOJ-like whale in the corporate bond market, but merely to signal to the world that it would not allow bonds to drop further and would, if required, buy more. Of course, it was not required as the mere guaranteed backstop by the Fed was sufficient to the get dip buyers out in force.

And sure enough, fast forward to the first week of September, when the Federal Reserve has now been able to sell-off the entirety of its corporate bond portfolio with no effect on the market’s microstructure; curiously this also comes at a time when the latest TIC report showed that in Julye foreign investors were net sellers of corporate bonds for the first time this year.

Yet while the SMCCF has now been closed, we continue to think its legacy will live on as a part of the Fed’s policy toolkit with investors forever expecting its reactivation when another macro shock occurs and sends large gyrations throughout corporate credit markets. Or rather “markets” because a world where corporate bonds have no downside is just as centrally-planned as anything China could come up with, and while stonks continue to ramp up for now, there will come a time when everything will crash again and the Fed will once again remind us just how fake price discovery is in a world where the only thing that matters is the Fed’s balance sheet as Citi’s Matt King put it so elquqently in his latest report:

Some of the most interesting research of recent months concerns the “price inelasticity” of markets. Interesting, that is, to academic economists and monetary policymakers. For anyone who’s actually tried trading in markets over the past decade, the idea that prices might be determined more by flows and liquidity and certain large, price-insensitive buyers than by a rational discounting of fundamentals sounds less like a revolutionary insight and more like a statement of the blindingly obvious

As one investor put it to us recently, central bankers seem to be the only market participants left who fail to appreciate the stranglehold their policies have over asset prices: everyone else gave up looking at fundamental value in favour of obsessing over the minutiae of central bank balance sheet line items a long time ago.

While we are currently on autopilot, we expect to be reminded quite soon just how critical the Fed’s liquidity injections are for a binary world where the alternatives are simple: either the Fed prints hundreds of billions every quarter bringing the fiat system ever closer to its death, or we crash.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 09/19/2021 – 19:30






Author: Tyler Durden

Share this article:

Economics

The ‘Maestro’ Is Why Jay Powell Keeps Seeing (inflation) Ghosts

See, this is backward. And while it may seem overly pedantic, getting it right is actually a crucial insight (lack thereof) into pretty much everything….

Share this article:

See, this is backward. And while it may seem overly pedantic, getting it right is actually a crucial insight (lack thereof) into pretty much everything. Its purpose is to maintain a different sort of money illusion (the original relates to how workers focus on nominal rather than real levels of compensation). This other money illusion relates to the hidden nature of money itself.

We’re told central bankers are it, therefore everything must be related to central bank monetary policy. If the dollar’s falling, the Fed accommodated. If it’s rising, Fed tightening. Rates go down because, everyone says, Jay Powell bought bonds. Yields go up because of rate hikes after the bond buying is over.

You go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the FOMC must’ve voted for it.

It all goes back to before Greenspan, though it was the “maestro” who most clearly articulated the gross illiteracy and unsupported conceits behind much of Economics.

CHAIRMAN GREENSPAN. It’s really quite important to make a judgment as to whether, in fact, yield spreads off riskless instruments—which is what we have essentially been talking about—are independent of the level of the riskless rates themselves. The answer, I’m certain, is that they are not independent.

Risky spreads are, according to this view, in a sense controllable from monetary policy even from only the short end. Why? Because all riskless rates, Greenspan also said, were nothing more than a “series of one-year forwards.”

It was, in theory, all so easy and neat; the Fed from its single position could conduct all the instruments in the symphony as it wished, however and whenever wished. Thus, maestro.

Why, then, all the constant “conundrums” and “inflation puzzles” ever since? Dear Alan said he was certain, and he’s certainly been wrong.

The yield curve is no series of one-year forwards, nor are risky spreads utterly dependent upon hapless Economists at the Fed (see: swap spreads, as a start). Those at the Fed instead have repeatedly shown they have no idea how even short run interest rates work (see: SOFR) which means they can’t be literate in money like economy.

What do they do?

Influence public opinion via financial media. To wit:

The unquestioned assumption embedded here is palpable anyway; nominal rates are rising (“worst year for fixed-income since 2005” BOND ROUT!!!!) because inflation is “hot enough.” Reported like its some foregone conclusion, this inflation certainty dictated to the bond market via a suddenly hawkish Federal Reserve.

This is, at best, incomplete; most often, just plain backward. Thanks, Maestro. 

Had the yield curve behaved recently like it had earlier in this same year, this would be plausible. The yield curve, on the contrary, is performing very differently negating any chance for this to be the case.


Bond yields aren’t reacting to anything; they’ve helpfully sorted CPI’s for us all along. As I wrote earlier today, the yield curve has expertly, consistently interpreted the money Economists and central bankers can’t understand so as to accurately predict – for longer than a century – what is and will be inflation.

This often leads to conflict; central bankers say it’s one thing and bonds declare another, often the opposite. This differing viewpoint not just a post-2007 development, either, also noted today, bonds vs. Economists has been a one-way contest going back before 1929.

Our current case, therefore, very much like previous cases.

A flattening yield curve, conspicuously so, is the bond market recognizing: 1. It isn’t inflation, just transitory price factors, meaning lack of heat in the economy; 2. Policymakers repeatedly have shown they have no clue how or where to even begin figuring one way or the other; 3. Because they are clueless, they have likewise displayed a consistent tendency to make egregious forecast errors, such as 2018 or 2013; 4. Therefore, very much independent of the Fed, bond yields are instead disagreeing with Powell’s mistake by pricing a scandalously flattening yield curve with nominal rates already contradictorily low (tight money).

Bonds – not the Fed – have already sorted the inflation question. The problem is, as usual, the answer isn’t to the liking of mainstream Economics which can only interpret yields from the “certitude” of Greenspan. In that sense, inflation is a foregone conclusion. In the dream-world of media, the theme this year is solidly inflation. In monetary reality, unambiguously deflationary.

Just in time for Halloween, Jay Powell is back to seeing ghosts.

 










Share this article:

Continue Reading

Economics

US stock close mixed on Powell’s hawkish remark

Dow Jones closed higher while S P 500 and Nasdaq drifted on Friday October 22 after Fed Chair Jerome Powell s tapering remarks weighed on investors…

Share this article:

Dow Jones closed higher, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq drifted on Friday, October 22, after Fed Chair, Jerome Powell’s tapering remarks weighed on investors’ sentiment. However, the optimism over the robust earnings has pushed the indices towards their third consecutive week of gains.

The S&P 500 was down 0.11% to 4,544.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 0.21% to 35,677.02. The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 0.82% to 15,090.20, and the small-cap Russell 2000 was down 0.21% to 2,291.27.

On Friday, the Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell said that the central bank should start dialing back its asset-buying program soon while suggesting that the interest rate shouldn’t be increased as of now. While the strong earnings results have lifted the investors’ confidence in recent weeks, the remarks from the Fed Chair raised concerns of the investors.

The Fed has reassured that the interest rate will be kept at the “near-zero” level until the economy returns to its expected employment and the inflation would come under the Fed’s expectation level of 2%. Meanwhile, the supply-chain disruptions and the rising costs of the raw materials indicated that inflation is likely to stay above the level for some time.

The financial and the real-estate sector topped the S&P 500 index on Friday, with communication services and consumer discretionary sectors as the bottom movers. Eight of the 11 critical sectors of the S&P 500 index stayed in the positive territory.

The stocks of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (CLF) gained 12.10% in intraday trading, after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Friday, before the bell. The company has reported record revenue of US$6 billion in Q3, FY21, while its net income came in at US$1.28 billion.

The shares of American Express Company (AXP) rose 5.50% after the company has reported strong quarterly earnings results as more people used their cards for traveling, dining, and other leisure activities. The total revenue of the company surged around 25% YoY to US$10.92 billion, while its net income was up 70% from the previous year’s same quarter to US$1.82 billion.

The stocks of Honeywell International Inc. (HON) plunged 2.90% after the company has lowered its full-year sales forecast due to the bottleneck supply constraints. The company’s sales rose 9% YoY to US$8.47 billion in Q3, FY21, while its EPS was up 68% YoY to US$1.80 apiece. However, the company has lowered its sales forecast to be between US$34.2 billion and US$34.6 billion from its previous forecast of US$34.6 billion and US$35.2 billion.

In the financial sector, JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) increased by 1.15%, Bank of America Corporation (BAC) rose 1.27%, and Morgan Stanley (MS) surged 1.54%. Citigroup, Inc. (C) and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) gained 1.28% and 1.65%, respectively.

In real-estate stocks, American Tower Corporation (AMT) advanced 1.86%, Equinix, Inc. (EQIX) jumped 1.52%, and Public Storage (PSA) soared 1.21%. Digital Realty Trust, Inc. (DLR) and SBA Communications Corporation (SBAC) ticked up 1.03% and 1.71%, respectively.

In the communication sector, Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) decreased by 3.13%, Facebook, Inc. (FB) fell 5.91%, and Walt Disney Company (DIS) declined by 1.10%. Twitter Inc. (TWTR) and Snap Inc. (SNAP) plummeted 4.15% and 25.99%, respectively.

Also Read: Roper (ROP) & Seagate (STX) stocks rally after Q3 reports

Also Read: Top 7 REITs with over 50% YTD returns to explore

Overall, eight of the 11 stock segments of the S&P 500 index stayed in the positive territory.

Also Read: 5 industrial stocks with over 40% YTD returns to explore

Futures & Commodities

Gold futures were up 0.71% to US$1,794.60 per ounce. Silver increased by 0.86% to US$24.378 per ounce, while copper fell 1.24% to US$4.5018.

Brent oil futures increased by 1.55% to US$85.92 per barrel and WTI crude was up 2.06% to US$84.20.

Bond Market

The 30-year Treasury bond yields was down 2.47% to 2.075, while the 10-year bond yields fell 1.91% to 1.643.

US Dollar Futures Index decreased by 0.17% to US$93.602.









Share this article:

Continue Reading

Economics

Do Bonds Accurately Price Inflation? Since Before Any of Us Were Born

Many, likely the vast majority believe that the recent wave of consumer price increases is going to stick around. It’s already painful and even if it…

Share this article:

Many, likely the vast majority believe that the recent wave of consumer price increases is going to stick around. It’s already painful and even if it isn’t inflation, they’re thinking, it soon will be. Maybe not 1970’s bad, not yet, at the very least something like then.

The bond market doesn’t just disagree, it keeps doing so vehemently. Nothing new, bond yields have signaled distrust and skepticism each and every time we go through one of these inflation panics. There was 2008’s fiasco today remembered for ending up more like the thirties than the seventies; renewal under QE “money printing” which very quickly deflated by 2011 and forgotten; then 2014’s “best jobs market in decades” simply vanished; finally, the 2018 “globally synchronized” comedy of hawkish errors.

Low yields aren’t just expressing some cynical opinion that we can quantitatively measure, the implications have been repeatedly proven true because those prices are largely made by those inside the shadows doing all the money. Or not enough, as the case has been.

Inflation, real inflation which lasts, is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. There hasn’t been the money for a long time, therefore there hasn’t been inflation. Instead, consumer prices, at times, have increased even jumped if only due to other factors which uniformly get verified as transitory.

That’s why I (and a very few others) become remorseless about being obsessively specific and demand full accuracy as to whether or not to call something inflation. Without the money, it won’t be so whatever else has to be responsible for consumer prices can only ever be transitory.

This time is different, everyone now says. Screw bonds! Sure, they’ve been on the spot predicting the Fed’s downfall since before 2008 (see: below) but more and more of late the Federal Reserve itself says you can’t rely on yields if or when the real inflation their QE policies have been desperate to inflict does arrive.

There’s been a curious uptick in scholarship purporting to study the best inflation prediction combinations. Most of them are just absurd fantasy, transparent attempts to discredit policymakers’ bond market nemesis. I’ll even give you a recent example, just a few days ago, published by the Cleveland Fed.

The study’s findings unsurprisingly disparage consumers, estimating that consumer surveys of inflation are the least helpful. Those conducted from businesses aren’t really any better, according to the Cleveland branch, while, predictably, the authors extol the virtuous capacities of “professional forecasters” as modern-day inflation oracles.

Professionals who just so happen to be – pure coincidence, I’m sure – formally trained Economists like the researchers in Cleveland and the rest of the Federal Reserve.

One other inflation predicting method included “financial markets.” This didn’t score so hotly, according to the paper:

Based on in-sample and out-of-sample predictive exercises, we find that the expectations of professional economists and businesses, as demonstrated by the Blue Chip and Atlanta Fed measures, have provided substantially more accurate predictions of CPI inflation one-year out compared to those of households. The accuracy of the Cleveland Fed inflation expectations model, which could be viewed as reflecting the expectations of the financial markets, is somewhat behind these other two measures.

Wait, back up; the Fed’s branch used an “inflation expectations model?” This is supposed to be a proxy for financial markets, but instead is:

Inflation expectations of financial markets, as captured by the model behind the one-year-ahead Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland inflation expectations series. The Cleveland model (Haubrich, Pennacchi, and Ritchken (2012)) estimates inflation expectations using data that include nominal yields from US Treasury securities, survey forecasts, and inflation swap rate data.

It’s bad enough they’ve thrown a bunch of things into the wash and hope to extract something useful via subjective stochastics, but one of those things purportedly of financial markets is “survey forecasts.” I absolutely hate having to point out the implication of what sure seems like an intentional act of dirty pool.

Truth is, we don’t need all the fancy econometrics to evaluate these things; after all, these Economists have been employing exactly those for a very long time and they understand, appreciate, and can usefully forecast less and less by the year. On the contrary, we’ll just draw some simple charts and rely on nothing more than our eyes and common sense.

And we’ll start back in history with the last true bout of unbridled inflation, the supposed template for what so many people have been led to believe is about to make its ugly reappearance: The Great Inflation.

This part is exceedingly easy and straightforward since the bond market does all the work; you just need to be freed from the grasp of illiterate Economics.

Yields went down, not up, during the Great Depression (not pictured but I went into detail why here). They did so because of generally tight money (interest rate fallacy) that the Federal Reserve and its bank reserves (even based on gold flows) couldn’t manage. Banks, not central banks, are where the money comes from.

This deflationary situation did not change through and after World War II. Even during those three periods when consumer prices surged (sounds familiar), to the left of the red arrow above, bond yields didn’t budge an inch (I’ve already covered how it wasn’t the Fed’s yield caps which had kept yields low here). The financial market looked past those as temporary deviations which wouldn’t last because they weren’t actual inflation.

Transitory supply shocks don’t bother yields especially at the long end of the curve which measures money conditions through the prism of longer run inflation and growth perceptions. If it isn’t money, therefore transitory, longer bonds don’t price it.

Starting in the second half of the fifties, though, yields began at first gently rising (late fifties, eurodollar?), indicating that the tide was turning and whatever leftover remainders from the deflationary Great Depression were finally, mercifully being overcome.

What followed a double dip recession in 1958 then 1960 was a few years of low inflation. Yet, even during those, bond yields were moving higher anticipating what was about to come.

The 3-month bill rate bottomed out in July 1961 while longer end Treasuries would gently increase from January 1963. These then accelerated sharply in July 1965 well ahead of the first main eruption of consumer prices by February 1966.

That’s not all; a near-recession in 1967 granted a minor reprieve to consumers, a slowdown (slack) which Economists and central bankers mistakenly judged the end of the inflationary trend. The bond market, by contrast, picked up on the renewal of inflation three-quarters of a year ahead of time (bills almost half a year).

Bonds vs. Economists isn’t a new thing in the same way the Harlem Globetrotters didn’t just start pounding the Washington Generals yesterday.

Adding the Fed’s Discount Rate policy to the above chart (below) just highlights how bonds were way ahead as policymaker actions repeatedly fell behind:


The whole process repeated during and following the 1969-70 recession, too. LT yields bottomed out in March 1971, began moving higher even as the CPI leveled off and continued to decelerate for another fifteen months until June 1972.

Furthermore, this upward move in yields presaged a spike in consumer prices around early 1973 which itself predated the OPEC embargo’s painful inflationary oil contributions later that same year. As you can see on the chart above, bond yields incorporated the inflation part of the 1973 jump while trading underneath (CPI rates above yields) the embargo/crude oil components of it; in the same way as yields undercut those earlier pre-inflation supply shocks after WWII.

In other words, the bond market neatly and expertly compartmentalized inflation from other consumer price factors at the same time as helpfully foreseeing the former.

Contrary to what some Economists have claimed, the “financial markets” of little more than simply Treasury yields absolutely nailed the Great Inflation even as policymakers and experts fumbled around searching for answers and clues they would never find. Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns in August of 1971 had the nerve to say to Congress:

The rules of economics are not working in quite the way they used to.

The rules were always fine; Burns and those like him just didn’t understand how the monetary system had changed the way money worked within them. The bond market, the banks doing all the money, they had no problem sorting everything out.

OK, fine. This was a half century ago. What about something closer to today, the 21st century?

To start with, we’ve got yields moving higher in the middle of 2003 a year before the Fed’s eventual “rate hikes” which only then created confusion (“conundrum”) for Alan Greenspan when bond long end rates began to bunch up in anticipation of the decidedly high deflationary probabilities of the late eurodollar mania period.

The yield curve flattened, and then nominal rates began to fall by June 2007 long before any minus signs showed up in the CPI early in 2009.

What’s perhaps most powerful about the chart above is how the bond market (correctly) has treated each of the subsequent consumer price deviations dating back to the monetary breakdown during 2007: first in 2008, then again in 2011, and now in 2021.

Like those temporary supply shocks caught in the CPI’s of the immediate post-war aftermath, or the peak CPI created by the oil supply shock of 1973-74, bond yields also undercut each of those post-2007/broken eurodollar consumer price spikes…and are doing so yet again in 2021.

To really drive home this point, here are the two main charts one after the other, each one expertly sorting inflation from not-inflation by way of shadow money. 

Quite simply, if it is actual inflation, yields go up as the market will price the real thing before it makes it into the CPI levels.

If there isn’t money for inflation, and those trading Treasuries know about shadow money that central bankers and Economists don’t and haven’t for more than half a century, then bond yields won’t chase these other CPI’s because those spikes aren’t inflation meaning they must be something else which, without the money, won’t last.

Historically consistent. 

One of the key mistakes that Cleveland researchers and indeed all Economists make is treating all CPI increases as if they are the same; they keep searching for the best way to predict the annual CPI, rather than the proper way to sort out consumer prices! The reason officials keep committing such an egregious error is that Economics doesn’t even consider money. How could Economists? They haven’t taken the monetary system seriously since the Great Inflation shoved their ignorance into the limelight (criminally, the very same money ignorance the Great Depression had paraded before the world in a different way just a few decades earlier).

In lieu of this great deficiency, Economics has made it seem as if inflation is some voodoo mystery only its priestly class can describe from complicated mathematics rituals. You don’t need any of that, or them. All of this is publicly available, data, prices, everything, and it doesn’t take anything more than common sense divorced from that corrupted worldview.










Share this article:

Continue Reading

Trending