Here’s the problem. When rates are falling, there are more sales, and especially more refi. So the prepayments go up, and the Fed sees a greater reduction in its MBS holdings. Those reductions had been running at the rate of $65-70 billion per month through last month, based on the prepayment rate in the market in prior months. The Fed then bought that much from the dealers in the following months.
As always, those settlements were held in the third week of the month. The Fed would settle a total of $100-110 billion in prior forward MBS purchases that week, and the dealers would suddenly be flush with cash.
Good thing too. Because the 15th of the month is when the Treasury issues a pantload of new notes and bonds. The amount of Fed MBS purchases typically provided enough cash to the dealers for them to cover nearly all of the Treasury issuance. They could either buy it outright, or provide the repo financing to customers so that they could buy it. Then there was even some left over for them to play markup games with their equities inventories.
But mortgage rates have been rising since August. Prepayments are falling as a result. Home sales are holding up, but refis are cratering. As a result, the nearly final figure for the Fed’s MBS settlement in mid December is only $69 billion. That’s $30-40 billion less than in recent months.
At the same time, the TBAC says that the Treasury will issue $98 billion in new notes and bonds on December 15. The day before, the Fed’s MBS purchases will only total $52 billion.
That’s a problem. But there’s an even bigger problem next week. And an even bigger problem after that when the US Government passes new stimulus. Here’s why, and what to do about it.
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