It’s that time of the month and that time of the quarter when all should be well for the markets. Except it’s not.
“That time of the month” is the Fed’s regular once a month MBS settlement week at mid month. This month it runs January 13-20, with total settlements of $90 billion. That’s still a big number, but it isn’t doing much good. And it will shrivel over the next several months as the Fed cuts new MBS purchases and replacement purchase shrivel due to rising mortgage rates. Therefore, right now is as good as it gets for the bond market, and secondarily for stocks.
It’s also the week for quarterly estimated Federal income taxes to come in from individual filers and corporations. That shrinks the monthly deficit in January. In normal times it would result in a surplus for the month. Typically the Treasury would then pay off some maturing T-bills, and the holders of those bills would be stuck with excess cash. Some of them roll that out to longer dated paper and a few even buy stocks. So it’s typically a short term bullish seasonal influence around the third week of January.
This year, not so much. The Treasury still is trying to refill its cash account and has $160 billion to go to reach its stated goal of holding $650 billion in cash. So the “January effect,” which is really just bullish seasonality resulting from the regular January T-bill paydowns, looks like a non starter this year. The performance of the stock and bond markets so far in January are a testament to that.
If the market doesn’t perk up over the next few days, then here’s what we have to look forward to.
February will be worse. xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx (subscriber version). February always runs the largest cash deficit of the year as tax receipts dwindle and cash outlays mushroom due to the February tax refund bulge. The Treasury often draws from its cash account to pay for that, rather than issue new debt. But this year, the Treasury is trying to raise more cash. There’s going to be a ton of new Treasury supply in February and that will pressure not only the xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx, but should have a secondary impact on xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx. This report describes those impacts, and their timing.
My mantra is the same. I’m xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx (subscriber version) bonds. I’m looking for stocks to short over the next few weeks for what should be a bearish month in February. I’ll post those in Technical Trader updates as they come up.
With the Fed cutting QE to zero, or so it says, the rest of the year could be xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx(subscriber version). The Fed is worried about inflation. Rightfully so. A little too late, but what else is new. Might it now be willing to pull a “Volcker,” allowing rates to soar, and allowing the chips to fall where they may? If they dare try it, the market’s retribution will be xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx.
I’ll keep you updated on the developments and outlook. Get the full story in the subscriber version.
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