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Bears Beware, Treasury Buybacks Will Turn the Markets, Sooner Not Later

Watch out! The US Treasury is now in the process of actively discussing buying back outstanding Treasury notes and bonds in an effort to bolster the collapsing bond market.

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As reported by Bloomberg:

The specific step taken by the Treasury was in its quarterly survey of primary dealers, released Friday in connection with the financing plan to be announced Nov. 2. The 25 dealers were asked for a detailed assessment of the merits and limitations of a buyback program for government securities. When the last financing plan was released in August, the department’s industry advisers on the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee recommended further analysis of the issue.

The Treasury is holding $650 billion in its cash account at the Fed. This “rainy day fund” was set aside for just such occasions. And let’s not kid ourselves. When big government agencies start talking about doing something, it’s as good as done. This is going to happen, and when it does, it will push bond prices higher. And that will also give stocks a lift. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

So the questions are when and how much. As to when, the big boys are publicly speculating that it will be early next year. But looking at the bond market crash, and knowing what we know about Primary Dealer positions, leverage, hedging, and the crashing bond market, it will certainly be xxxxxxx, perhaps xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Meanwhile, a couple of my hot takes on the Bloomberg piece. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Liquidity metrics for the US government debt market are approaching crisis levels after a year of steep losses for bonds caused by rising inflation and Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, and with the central bank simultaneously cutting some of its holdings, the situation may worsen. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed concern about it last week.

Duh. Like I haven’t been reporting this for the past 2 years. And they’re just getting around to recognizing it. Geeze. They’re the rocket scientists. I just have a sixth grade education (I went to Temple) and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Taken together with Yellen’s recent comments and extreme volatility in the UK bond market in recent weeks, the query suggests “that the November refunding will likely show more progress toward opening a buyback facility,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. rates strategists said in an Oct. 14 research note. Strategists at Bank of America Corp. predicted a rollout in May 2023.

Are you kidding me? May 2023? The markets will have ceased to exist by then. I predict (in my best Amazing Kreskin voice) xxxxxxx xxx, or maybe xxxx xxxxxxxx. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Under current circumstances, which include large federal deficits, a buyback program would have different purposes. They include adding liquidity to parts of the market most in need of it, and allowing Treasury bills to be sold in more consistent quantities, with proceeds used for buybacks of securities less in demand.

That’s just BS. The purpose is to stop and reverse the bond market crash, however temporarily. And we know that it will be temporary. The effect will end when they run out of cash. Which will be at whatever level of cash they feel they need to hold. We don’t know what that is. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Furthermore, once they get to that point, and the market has rallied because of their buying, they’ll start borrowing again to build up their cash account back toward their magic number of $650 billion. Once they start to do that, it would reverse the bullish effects of the buybacks. So prepare for a roll coaster ride over the xx-xx months following the beginning of the program. First bond prices will soar and yields will come down. Then prices will rollover, and finally crash again with yields rising in tandem. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

On the other hand, when the Treasury is finished buying, the Fed awaits to take the handoff. It has not only the possibility to return to QE, which is unlikely as a first step, it has the $2.2 trillion RRP slush fund that it could force back into the markets. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Who knows where the Fed will be in its QT program by the time the Treasury cash for the buyback program effectively runs out.? If the PCE and CPI numbers cool enough, they’ll probably stop QT. That looks likely to happen in the next xx months based on past lead time between changes in the size of the Fed’s balance sheet and inflation data. I’ve covered that in a previous report. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

But I want to reiterate that it is not productive to guess and try to front run these things. Despite conventional wisdom that says otherwise, markets respond to money, not talk. Trade the charts, and invest based on actual macro liquidity flows. In that respect, we are not at a xxxxxxx xxxxx yet. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Meanwhile, the government has piles of cash that could be used to light a bullish fire under securities prices. One is the aforementioned Treasury cash account, and the other is the Fed’s money market fund of money market funds, its unlimited Overnight Reverse Repo (RRP) program. When they use those they could ignite bull runs that will look like bull markets. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

The Treasury and Fed money are demand side impacts. Then there’s always the issue of supply.  On the Treasury Supply front, keep in mind that the updated TBAC forecast for the current quarter and advance forecast for Q1 of 2023 will be released the week of November 2. They’ll give us a roadmap on what to expect for the subsequent 4½ months. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

In this report, I describe what’s likely in the months ahead, and suggest what you might do about it to defend yourself, or even take advantage. Non-subscribers, click here for access.

Subscribers, click here to download the complete report.

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Posted in 1 - Liquidity Trader- Money Trends, Fed, Central Bank and Banking Macro Liquidity
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