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It Only Takes One House Fire to Start a Conflagration

Subscribers, click here to download the report.` Primary dealers have reduced their long fixed income positions but they have dramatically increased their leverage. On the one hand, they have reduced their risk exposure, and on the other hand, they have increased it.

It doesn’t make much sense on the surface. But the leverage increase appears extreme, and that’s something to note as the government moves toward its ultimate resolution of the debt ceiling. That will allow a tidal flow of Treasury issuance to batter the market. At the same time, the Fed will almost certainly begin to “taper” its bond purchases. In other words, the supply of Treasuries will increase, while the market’s largest source of demand will diminish.

These facts argue for much higher yields and lower bond prices. The short term timing is uncertain. We’ll rely on the technical analysis of the charts for that. But beyond the next couple of months, all the pressure on yields should be to the upside. Which means bond prices will head lower. That could set off a firestorm in not only Primary Dealer inventories, but bank long term bond portfolios as well.

It doesn’t bode well for a neat and clean outcome for the Fed’s tapering attempt. At some point it will be forced to reverse course. But they’ll try for a while. I think that the outcome in the markets will be chaos to the downside in prices.

This report looks at the particulars of dealer positions, financing, and hedges, as well as the profits and capital trends of the big banks in the aggregate (charts and discussion in subscriber version). These aren’t timing tools but give us some idea where the risk of a blowup lies. Then I discuss the technical charts, key benchmarks and strategy (subscriber version).

Subscribers, click here to download the report.`

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