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Here’s Who Loses When Technical Indicators Are Bullish but Liquidity is Bearish

Bullish indications mean that we must assume that the bulls remain in control until proven otherwise, regardless of the bearish liquidity forces (See latest Liquidity Trader report) over the next three weeks. A bull move in stocks would raise the specter of a selloff in the bond market to support a stock rally, because there won’t be enough cash around to support rallies in both. But that’s not our problem.  We just need to be on the right side of the move, whatever it is.

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Primary Dealers Go Hog Wild Net Long Treasuries

Back in December I had no idea that a pandemic was coming. I had no idea that COVID19 would cause Treasury supply to increase 10x. Nor did I know that the Fed would buy all of it at first, and then that it would experiment with cutting back until “who knows what.”

But that’s what happened, and that’s what the Fed has done and is doing. I was concerned about supply demand back then, but I had no clue how understated my concern would be. Here’s what I wrote 6 months back.

12/18/19 Primary Dealers continue to carry all-time record inventories of fixed income securities, far above their historically normal bond positions. They are not well hedged. They are overwhelmingly net long and they are massively leveraged…

Furthermore, with more and more Treasury supply constantly on the way, the Fed must keep buying and/or lending the cash to buy to its straw men the Primary Dealers indefinitely. The dealers and the market at large is in no position to absorb $100 billion a month in new Treasury supply.

So the Fed is now trapped. It can’t simply end Not QE without risking a massive system wide crash. It must continue to add cash to the market indefinitely. But can it continue to print endlessly without horrific unintended consequences?

And what will those consequences be? Endless asset bubbles to the sky? Increasing consumer inflation that ultimately leads to hyperinflation?

When the pandemic hit, the Fed at first was flummoxed. It had been printing since September when the money markets blew up, but it wasn’t printing enough. And it was slow to react. So stocks crashed. That’s when the Fed went into panic mode and began printing money as if there would be no tomorrow.

Let’s be clear about one thing. The Fed did not swing into action to rescue the US economy from depression. The Fed’s first order of business when the SHTF was to rescue the Primary Dealers. Which it definitely did.

The dealers were leveraged to the hilt with record long positions in Treasuries. The Treasury was already issuing a trillion a year in new supply. That forced the dealers into the position of having to buy and own mass quantities of US Treasuries. The pandemic meant that they got well paid for that because yields collapsed and Treasury prices soared as the world’s investors dumped stocks and headed for the perceived safety of Treasuries.

But dealers took it on the chin when stocks and all other assets crashed. There’s no question in my mind that they were down and out at that point. We may never know how bad things were. The Fed papered over their problems by buying a couple trillion of their Treasuries and MBS at record high prices.

But we may still find out just how bad things are. Because the dealers remain leveraged to the hilt. And there’s one more thing.

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Here’s What to Look For In Market Fraught With Uncertainty

The market has now been rangebound for 5 weeks, leaving the cycle picture muddled. Wave amplitude remains relatively high, while frequency has increased. If the recent pattern holds, the market would top out on Thursday. But what if it doesn’t cooperate. Here’s what to look for to signal what comes next.

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Treasury Issuance Catches Up With QE and That’s Not Good

Treasury issuance has caught up with QE. There are no more excess funds lying around for dealers to use to mark up stock and bond prices. The balance has shifted. It’s not as bullish as it was, that’s for sure. And it could get much, much worse in the weeks ahead before the Fed reacts.

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Federal Withholding Tax Collections Chart

You Have No Idea How Bad This Really Is

In normal times, the Federal Government has a revenue windfall in April, and runs a large surplus for the month. Revenues are typically at least 140% of outlays. Even more in good years.

Revenues covered just 24% of outlays in April. We borrowed 76 cents of every dollar the Federal Government spent last month.

We knew this was coming. The questions now are how long it can last, when it will start to recover, and whether it might get worse.

The monthly Treasury Statement data illustrates the depth of the budgetary crisis that have engulfed the financial markets. It showed that the Federal Government had to finance a deficit of $742 billion for the month. But that apparently doesn’t include a little cash flow matter of $230 billion the government paid out in tax refunds in April. That’s a gargantuan number that we saw in the Daily Treasury Statement data that I reported last week. Therefore on a cash basis, the deficit was more than a trillion. That had to be financed through debt offerings.

The Daily Treasury Statement data through May 12 shows that the situation is not only not getting better. It hasn’t stopped getting worse. The worst readings on withholding tax collections just happened Friday and Monday. Here’s how it looks now, and guidance on how we’ll know when it’s beginning to recover.

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