The Fed poured $132 billion of QE into the accounts of Primary Dealers between October 14 and 21, the regular monthly MBS settlement week. As a result, we got the usual predictable result of a rally in stocks.
But there was only a weak, late holding action in Treasuries. They sold off for most of the week. That’s understandable, considering that the US Treasury sucked $218 billion out of the market that week after the debt ceiling was lifted.
It will pull another $196 billion out this week. At this rate, they’ll hit the new debt limit by xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx (subscriber version). Then the extraordinary measures game and the political/fiscal brinksmanship will begin anew.
At the same time, the Fed will begin cutting its outright QE purchases, and MBS replacement purchases will also decline because of higher rates and few mortgage refis, and thus prepayments. That would normally be very bearish, but remember! They have a slush fund! The Fed’s RRP account, which currently still holds about $1.4 trillion in cash ready to absorb the flood of new T-bills.
In the context of all this new supply pounding the financial market, the stock market rally was pretty remarkable. Stocks rose despite the fact that there was more Treasury supply than there was QE. True, there’s still plenty of cash sitting in the Fed’s RRP slush fund. As I’ve pointed out, this will cushion and help to absorb the supply hit coming from the US Treasury.
Think of the RRP slush fund as a big pot of beans simmering on the money manager cowboy camp fire. Fed QE adds more beans to the pot. The US Treasury keeps eating mass quantities of the beans. It constantly refills its plate, consumes the beans, and passes the gas into the US economy. It can continue to consume those beans until they’re gone, as in when the RRP fund is exhausted. That will happen in some months, especially as the Fed gradually stops adding beans to the pot (tapering QE).
Or maybe not that long. Maybe some of those money managers tending the pot will at some point will be like Mr. Taggert. In response to the Treasury asking for still more beans, they’ll say “I think you’ve had enough!”
That’s when both the stock and bond markets will get really interesting for bears. Of course in my view, the bond market is already plenty “interesting,” and has been for some time.
Media reports have pointed out that professional money managers are overwhelmingly bearish on bonds, as if that’s some kind of contrarian bullish omen. I hate to be a party pooper, but market consensus is often right for long periods, especially when the facts support it. In this case, the facts support the consensus. So I’m xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxx (subscriber version). Treasuries. I wouldn’t want to hold long term debt in this environment.
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