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Category: PONT Spread- QE and Treasury Supply – Outlook for Bonds and Stocks

Liquidity Matters, The Fed’s BS Doesn’t

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I didn’t watch Powell’s press conference yesterday. Instead, I followed my twitter feed, where I got the reports, reactions, and impressions of dozens of reporters, analysts, and other observers of various stripes. My reaction to it was predictable. The same old disgust.

These multiple perceptions of Powell’s performance, reinforced my opinion that Powell, and most Fed governors and presidents, are cynical, pathological liars. They will stop at nothing to defend the rigging of the markets to benefit only their cronies and themselves. Meanwhile, those least able or least willing to participate in their game, suffer the consequences.

End of rant.

For our purposes, I remind myself and you, to watch what they do, not what they say. There’s scant evidence that the market anticipates, aka “discounts” the future. There’s lots of evidence that market prices correlate with money flows. In fact, there’s so much evidence accumulated through the years that we would have to be delusional not to recognize cause and effect.

These Composite Liquidity Index reports illustrate that. They don’t tell us anything that we don’t already know, but they serve as a good reminder, as reinforcement. We need to stay focused on what matters! Not the sideshows like the one the Fed put on yesterday, which the Wall Street captured media willing played into.

So what if the Fed says it’s going to reduce its QE purchases? So what if it says that it’s likely to start doing it in November? And so what if they cut by $20 billion per month and stop after 6 months as Powell suggested they might?

Well, ok. One thought is that might coincide with the draining of the RRP slush fund that I’ve pointed out to you in these reports for the past several months. I estimated that the fund would top out at $1.3 trillion, coincident with the lifting of the debt ceiling, probably in early October. Well, here we are at $1.283 trillion in the RRP fund yesterday (9/22).

And all of the headlines are about the looming Federal budget and debt ceiling deadlines.
Something’s happening here. It will get done. Temporary default or not.

Take with a grain of salt all of the predictions of catastrophe if the government defaults. There will be short term dislocations, no doubt, but the politicians will, in God’s good time, pass a budget, and lift the debt ceiling, and the Old World, with all its financial power and might, will step forth to the rescue of the New (with apologies to Churchill).

Lifting the debt ceiling will start the clock on exhausting the RRP slush fund. The catastrophe will come when that fund approaches zero again.

So here we are. The Fed will cut QE. The RRP slush fund will need to be used to absorb the Treasury issuance. If the fund lasts 6 months, which I doubt, then the Fed can follow its $20 billion per month QE cut trial balloon.

But at the end of that time the bond market will collapse, because there won’t be enough money in the financial system to absorb the paper at an equilibrium price. Prices will fall, and will do so continuously, with a concomitant increase in yield.

Or it could come sooner than 6 months. It depends on how fast the Treasury will move to replenish its cash account and repay the other internal funds it raided. If they go low and slow, then they can stretch this charade to the maximum. If they move quickly, then the sheet will hit the fan much sooner. The Fed will not be able to continue cutting purchases for 6 months. It will stop and reverse much sooner.

Not being an insider, I don’t know what the plan is. So again, all we can do, and in fact all we need to do, is watch the data. It will tell us exactly what’s going on at just the right time that we need to know it. This report, and those to come, will show you, with charts and clear explanations (subscribers only), exactly what’s going on and when we’ll need to react .

All will unfold before us in good time. We did not need Jerome Jerry Jaysus Powell, or Janet Yellin’ Yellin to tell us that. We can see the trends for ourselves in the monetary indicators. It’s all there for us to view with our own eyes (subscribers only).

We can predict what they’ll say, and more importantly what they’ll do. But prediction isn’t all that helpful, because, again, the market does not discount. It responds to changes in liquidity, directly and immediately.

On occasion, rarely, it will react to an external shock, like a pandemic. But those events are always temporary. In the end, the market always returns to following the path of liquidity. You’ll see that again, and in the future, in these reports (subscribers only) so that you can act to preserve and grow your capital under the most adverse circumstances.

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FREE REPORT – Proof of How QE Works – Fed to Primary Dealers, to Markets, To Money

Get Ready for the Coming Bond Market Bloodbath

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Janet Yellen has now confirmed that the Treasury will run out of money in October, as we already knew from our tracking of the data.  Congress will be forced to raise the debt ceiling. Treasury supply will mushroom at the same time as the Fed begins to cut its market support operations. The RRP slush fund will affect the timing of the coming disaster. But we know its coming and we have a good idea of when.

Meanwhile the BLS has fomented a completely false picture of inflation. I explain that in this report. It’s blatant.

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FREE REPORT – Proof of How QE Works – Fed to Primary Dealers, to Markets, To Money

QE Still = 100% of Treasury Issuance, But Coming Change = Crash

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The Treasury is rapidly exhausting its cash as it continues to pay down T-bills. At this rate, it will run out of cash xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx (in subscriber report). Congress will then be forced to raise the debt ceiling.

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The Treasury will need to issue immense amounts of new debt to repay the internal accounts it raided, and to rebuild its cash account to the TBAC recommended level of $400 billion.

For the past month, and until the debt ceiling is lifted, Fed QE has been covering and will cover 100% of new Treasury issuance. That’s a short term bullish factor for bonds and stocks as it keeps pumping cash into the dealer and other institutional accounts that had been the holders of the T-bills being redeemed.

In fact, it’s surprising that the stock rally has been so muted, and that the bond rally has stopped in its tracks over the past 6 weeks. That’s because corporations have been rushing to issue new equity and new debt to take advantage of the high prices they can get. This is free money to them.

Once the Treasury begins to issue new debt, it will be on top of this gigantic wave of corporate supply. It won’t be pretty.

It also won’t be immediate. I estimate that by the time the debt ceiling is lifted and the Treasury supply tsunami starts, the Fed’s RRP slush fund will reach xxxx (subscribers only). That’s how much new Treasury debt can be issued before the crisis becomes apparent.

We have some time. And we have the meters of the Fed’s RRP slush fund account, and the schedule of new Treasury issuance, as well as the QE schedule. If the Fed chooses to reduce that schedule, that’s their problem, and the market’s.

But it won’t be ours. Because we’ll be actively watching, with situational awareness. We’ll be prepared to take advantage with enough advance notice to act accordingly. Here’s our current situational awareness update.

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FREE REPORT – Proof of How QE Works – Fed to Primary Dealers, to Markets, To Money

So You Think the Fed Can Taper?

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Treasuries have sold off on the strong, surprise jobs report last week.

At the same time, there’s been an equally important, but less well known surprise. The Treasury has maintained an increased pace of T-bill paydowns in the first third of August, despite the re-imposed debt ceiling.

That’s a short term bullish factor for bonds as it keeps pumping cash into the dealer and other institutional accounts that had been the holders of the T-bills being redeemed.

But it also means that the Treasury will spend its cash faster than I had initially imagined. That means that the bullish influence will end sooner than in my last guess.

I use the word “guess” deliberately. It’s difficult to estimate of what brilliant, but crazy, policymakers will make up when the heat is on.

The good news is that we now have evidence of a pattern. That pattern shows a fast spenddown. At this rate of spending, the Treasury will run out of cash in xxx xxxx (in subscriber report). As I recall from the past 7 debt ceiling debacles, there’s also a legal mandate that the government must make a large military pension fund contribution at the end of the fiscal year which will affect the drop dead date.

Maybe they can delay that for xxxx xxx xxxx (subscriber report) depending on the strength of mid September quarterly income tax collections. But at some point in xxxxxxx, the pressure to raise the debt ceiling will force a deal.

The jobs data was a surprise. As usual, the BLS first release is BS. The July nonfarm payrolls report grossly overstates the increase in jobs. The tax data is actual and, as I pointed out in the monthly Federal revenues report posted last week, withholding tax collections show that the payroll gains were certainly less robust than the BLS said they were.

As you may recall, back in the spring, there were a couple of months were the nonfarm payrolls gains were severely underreported relative to what the withholding tax collections were showing. I wrote then that the BLS data would catch up to the reality within a few months. I believe that the July report was the “catchup” month.

In our report on July federal withholding collections, we saw a dip in the second half of the month that suggested that the economy had fallen off a cliff. But withholding has now recovered to the trend in force since mid May (CHART in subscriber report). It is now at an inflection point where it should signal whether the economy has gotten back on track, or is in the process of rolling over. This should happen over the remainder of this month. I’ll post an updated chart when it happens.

The Wall Street talking head community, with a few Fedheads chiming in, is now in a growing chorus that the Fed will start tapering soon. Our analysis has been that the Fed can only taper if the Federal deficit is shrinking, thereby reducing Treasury supply. If the Fed were to taper in the face of constant or rising supply, the market would need to adjust in order to absorb the additional supply. Bond prices would fall and yields would rise.

This is where the revenue trend is important. If it weakens, the deficit will grow and supply will increase. This is even before considering the $1 trillion infrastructure spending package. If revenue growth stays strong, the Fed could conceivably do a small cut in QE (aka taper) without crushing the bond market. That could turn into the muddle through scenario.

The Treasury market rally of recent months has meant that Primary Dealers have built a profit cushion that would provide some protection in the event of bond market price weakness. In addition, initially, the supply increase that results from the lifting of the debt ceiling will be funded by the trillion + dollars that has been deposited in the Fed’s RRP program. That is still growing as the Treasury continues to pay down T-bills.

Those two factors will delay a bond market crisis for xxx xxxx (subscriber report).

It depends on when the debt ceiling is lifted, how much tax revenue the US economy is generating, and how much the Fed cuts its purchases of Treasuries and MBS as it begins the “taper.”

A muddle through scenario is always possible, but a crisis is also possible, if not more likely. The timing is in question, but it should come xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx (in subscriber report). The timing will become clearer as the trends of the data begin to show themselves once the debt ceiling is lifted. That includes the supply schedule, the trend of Federal revenue, and the Fed’s schedule of reduced purchases.

In the meantime, the status quo rules. As long as the Treasury is using its cash to pay down t-bills, the uptrend in stocks should continue. The selloff in Treasuries over the past week should reverse as those paydowns continue.

See the full report for the charts, more details on the supporting data and how we arrive at these conclusions, along with the timing, and an idea of the appropriate strategy under these conditions.

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Here’s How Fed and Treasury Colluded to Delay Armageddon Due Date

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Intro

The Fed has bought mass quantities of Treasuries and MBS over the past dozen years, in what are called Permanent Open Market Operations or POMO. This is just a fancy name for trading with Primary Dealers. We call the Fed’s massive asset purchases Quantitative Easing, or QE. The Fed buys that paper strictly from Primary Dealers with rare exceptions. The dealers then use the cash to buy more paper, whether more Treasuries, MBS, stocks, or other financial instruments.

QE has become the primary source of demand for absorbing the supply of financial assets. The primary source of supply is the US Treasury which has lately been issuing an average of $200 billion per month, or more, of Treasury debt. The market must absorb that. In the absence of QE, prices would be under constant downward pressure. Since stocks and bonds are to some extent interchangeable financial assets, both asset classes would be affected.

The Fed has made sure to print enough money, that is to pump enough cash into the accounts of Primary Dealers, to ensure that prices maintain a steady upward course. The Fed has made sure to engineer QE to all but guarantee bull markets in stocks and bonds.

At some point that could change, and we watch the data carefully in order to estimate when that’s likely to happen.

The QE vs. Supply Equation

QE has thus become the primary fuel that powers demand for financial assets.

The flow of QE cash to the Primary Dealers is almost steady, with a non-material reduction in MBS purchase settlements scheduled for mid month.  Meanwhile, Treasury supply, to this point has been steadily enormous, fluctuating within a semi predictable range month to month. Not much has changed since the Fed’s pandemic emergency phase of QE began in March of 2020.

Until now. The big change is that the Federal debt ceiling is now back in force, which means that Treasury issuance will first slow, and possibly stop, until Congress raises the debt limit. This will reduce new Treasury issuance. Supply will be constricted. The reduction in supply could give the bond market rally a second wind, or it could accrue to stocks, or both.

So it will be bullish for awhile. Then it will stop. Then we’ll have a Wile E. Coyote moment. And then it will end. Badly. Here’s the how, why, and the timing.

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Here’s What the Treasury Buying Stampede Really Means

We’ve been following the story of the US Treasury paying down outstanding T-bills since late February. $680 billion of paydowns led to a big turnaround and rally in longer term Treasuries as the Treasury pumped that money into the accounts of former bill holders and simultaneously removed that paper from the market. Some holders sought greener pastures in longer term paper, leading to the rally in the 10 year yield and other maturities.

In recent weeks we’ve taken note of the Treasury reducing those paydowns, and we saw a few hiccups on the Treasury market. But over the past week, the rally resumed, thanks to this being the Fed’s monthly MBS purchase settlement week. Then the Treasury piled on again on Thursday, announcing another $48 billion in bill paydowns for this week.

The Fed holds MBS settlements in the third week of every month, for forward purchase contracts it made over the past two months. This week’s settlements total $128 billion, which is yooge. They started last Wednesday (July 14) with a down payment of $83 billion. The second installment is for $15 billion today. They finish up on Wednesday, injecting another $29 billion into the accounts of the Primary Dealers from whom they buy that paper.

Then late last week, the Treasury announced, in its infinite wisdom, that it would pay down another $40 billion in T-bills tomorrow (July 20) and $8 billion on Thursday. Drowning in cash, enough fixed income guys turned blue and bought further out on the curve on Friday and this morning to send bond prices soaring and yields crashing.

Apparently the dealers and others have wanted nothing to do with stocks, so they ploughed all of the cash into Treasuries. The stock selloff exacerbated the yield rally, and vice versa.

Traders and pundits tend to talk rotation when these events occur. For now, they’re blaming a resurgence of COVID cases, which is unwarranted because with a majority of US and European citizens at least partially vaccinated, few people are dying. It’s just mindless panic.

But here’s where Treasuries are really headed, and why. And what you should do about it.

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QE Vs. Treasury Supply Will Never Be More Bullish than Right Now

I finished my two dose vaccination regimen on June 14, and travel restrictions have lifted here in Europe since July 1. It’s been an interesting few weeks as I’ve made my way from my recent base in Zadar, Croatia, up through wonderful Ljubljana Slovenia, Bratislava Slovakia, and currently, the amazing city of Krakow Poland. I’ll be heading to Warsaw on Thursday, where I plan to hang out for at least a couple of months this summer as I do genealogical roots and look for evidence of family left behind here after my grandparents left in 1900.

As I return from vacation mode and a light publication schedule, I had a big day planned for tomorrow. I’ll be visiting Auschwitz all day. Therefore, I wanted to get at least a short overview of the current QE situation out to you tonight. This report covers the most important basics and outlook.

We already know that the bond market has rallied as a result of the massive Treasury paydowns. That’s all about to end, and I think that the Treasury rally may be in the process of reversing.

All good things come to an end. Here’s what to expect in the weeks ahead as a result of the things we already know, and a few that we can deduce as a result.

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The Debt Ceiling Looms Over the Fed Balance Sheet

Note: Holiday Publication Schedule- I’ll be taking a brief break from publishing over the holiday week. I expect to resume publishing on July 6. Enjoy your holidays! 

The Fed’s balance sheet continues to grow. But the often repeated figure of $120 billion per month in Fed asset purchases is inaccurate and misleading. The Fed’s balance sheet grew by $198 billion for the 4 weeks ended June 23. The Fed’s total QE purchases for the month of June were $202 billion, including the weekly Treasury purchases, and all the forward MBS purchase contracts that settle in the third week of the month.

I wanted to get this report out before the holiday weekend, and my planned travels over the next two weeks. I’ve been planning the trip and at the same time packing up for my exit from Croatia after residing in this wonderful country for the past 18 months. I apologize for this report being perhaps more disjointed and incoherent than usual. Hopefully, the ideas I want to communicate are clear enough.

The Fed’s balance sheet continues to grow. But the often repeated figure of $120 billion per month in Fed asset purchases is inaccurate and misleading. The Fed’s balance sheet grew by $198 billion for the 4 weeks ended June 23. The Fed’s total QE purchases for the month of June were $202 billion, including the weekly Treasury purchases, and all the forward MBS purchase contracts that settle in the third week of the month.

Other Wall Street observers don’t count everything. They ignore the Fed’s MBS purchases bought to replace those MBS holdings that were prepaid because borrowers paid off their balance either by sale or refinance.

That money comes out sale or refinancing proceeds of individual mortgage borrowers. It has no impact on the financial markets. To replace those prepaid MBS, the Fed buys more MBS from Primary Dealers. The cash the Fed pays to replace those prepaid MBS goes right into the accounts of the dealers. It makes absolutely no difference why the Fed bought the paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s new paper or rollover paper. All $202 billion went into Primary Dealer accounts. Not $120 billion.

Another factor boosting the markets lately is the Treasury’s T-bill paydowns, which I’ve been reporting for you regularly. They totaled $133 billion in June, coming out of the Treasury account on the Fed’s balance, sheet, and mostly going into RRPs. You would think that the markets would have done even better with all this cash flooding in. But most of the paid off T-bills were held by money market funds. They’re not going to put that cash into longer term Treasuries or stocks. They had no place to put the cash, so they sent it off to the Fed for safekeeping, in the Fed’s RRP program, while they wait for T-bill issuance to pick up again.

That will happen, but the question is the timing. The debt ceiling is the wildcard.

This report examines what it means for the stock and bond markets, particularly when we can expect bullish to turn bearish. Click here to download the complete report.

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Now The Balance Begins To Shift

The balance between QE and Treasury supply will begin to shift in July. The underlying bid it has provided for stocks and Treasuries will begin to fade.

This report tells why, and what to look for in the data and the markets.

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Goldilocks Correlation is Still Bullish, Still Bullish After All These Years

Stock prices are currently right in the middle of the channel surrounding the liquidity line in the Compositite Liquidity Chart (viewable in subscriber version). By this measure the market isn’t overbought, as so many bearish pundits are bellowing. Nor is it oversold. It’s just tracking the growth of systemic liquidity. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Goldilocks.

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