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Category: US Treasury Market and Tax Revenue Trends

Analysis of new Treasury supply and major demand market segments to estimate market liquidity impacts for bonds and stocks. Click here to subscribe. 90 day risk free trial!

Primary Dealers Go Hog Wild Net Long Treasuries

Back in December I had no idea that a pandemic was coming. I had no idea that COVID19 would cause Treasury supply to increase 10x. Nor did I know that the Fed would buy all of it at first, and then that it would experiment with cutting back until “who knows what.”

But that’s what happened, and that’s what the Fed has done and is doing. I was concerned about supply demand back then, but I had no clue how understated my concern would be. Here’s what I wrote 6 months back.

12/18/19 Primary Dealers continue to carry all-time record inventories of fixed income securities, far above their historically normal bond positions. They are not well hedged. They are overwhelmingly net long and they are massively leveraged…

Furthermore, with more and more Treasury supply constantly on the way, the Fed must keep buying and/or lending the cash to buy to its straw men the Primary Dealers indefinitely. The dealers and the market at large is in no position to absorb $100 billion a month in new Treasury supply.

So the Fed is now trapped. It can’t simply end Not QE without risking a massive system wide crash. It must continue to add cash to the market indefinitely. But can it continue to print endlessly without horrific unintended consequences?

And what will those consequences be? Endless asset bubbles to the sky? Increasing consumer inflation that ultimately leads to hyperinflation?

When the pandemic hit, the Fed at first was flummoxed. It had been printing since September when the money markets blew up, but it wasn’t printing enough. And it was slow to react. So stocks crashed. That’s when the Fed went into panic mode and began printing money as if there would be no tomorrow.

Let’s be clear about one thing. The Fed did not swing into action to rescue the US economy from depression. The Fed’s first order of business when the SHTF was to rescue the Primary Dealers. Which it definitely did.

The dealers were leveraged to the hilt with record long positions in Treasuries. The Treasury was already issuing a trillion a year in new supply. That forced the dealers into the position of having to buy and own mass quantities of US Treasuries. The pandemic meant that they got well paid for that because yields collapsed and Treasury prices soared as the world’s investors dumped stocks and headed for the perceived safety of Treasuries.

But dealers took it on the chin when stocks and all other assets crashed. There’s no question in my mind that they were down and out at that point. We may never know how bad things were. The Fed papered over their problems by buying a couple trillion of their Treasuries and MBS at record high prices.

But we may still find out just how bad things are. Because the dealers remain leveraged to the hilt. And there’s one more thing.

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Federal Withholding Tax Collections Chart

You Have No Idea How Bad This Really Is

In normal times, the Federal Government has a revenue windfall in April, and runs a large surplus for the month. Revenues are typically at least 140% of outlays. Even more in good years.

Revenues covered just 24% of outlays in April. We borrowed 76 cents of every dollar the Federal Government spent last month.

We knew this was coming. The questions now are how long it can last, when it will start to recover, and whether it might get worse.

The monthly Treasury Statement data illustrates the depth of the budgetary crisis that have engulfed the financial markets. It showed that the Federal Government had to finance a deficit of $742 billion for the month. But that apparently doesn’t include a little cash flow matter of $230 billion the government paid out in tax refunds in April. That’s a gargantuan number that we saw in the Daily Treasury Statement data that I reported last week. Therefore on a cash basis, the deficit was more than a trillion. That had to be financed through debt offerings.

The Daily Treasury Statement data through May 12 shows that the situation is not only not getting better. It hasn’t stopped getting worse. The worst readings on withholding tax collections just happened Friday and Monday. Here’s how it looks now, and guidance on how we’ll know when it’s beginning to recover.

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Federal Budget Deficit Hit A Trillion A Month in April

The Federal deficit hit $1 trillion in April. That’s a cool 1,500% increase year to year. That’s for one month.

This is based on the April 30 Daily Treasury Statement month to date totals. It is an estimate based on my simple subtraction of outlays from revenues. It is not official, and the official number may differ when the Monthly Treasury Statement is released on May 13.

Still, a trillion, is a trillion. And the final, official number should be in this ballpark. This is an increase of $941 billion from the April 2019 deficit. Keep in mind that back in the “good old days, before the 2017 tax cut and spending increase, April typically saw a surplus. So even before the pandemic, these numbers were bad.

Obviously, this blowout is due to the Pandemic Pandemonium Panic Relief Programs spending. But it’s also partly due to the plunge in revenue, and embedded increases in regular budgetary spending.

Here are the current horrible numbers, along with the immediate outlook, and what it means for stocks and bonds.

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Expecting The Worst and Getting It

We expected the worst, and we’ve gotten it. But that does not mean that things will get better. The revenue trends had been strong. Now they’re awful, and spending is unimaginable. How can this be sustained? In this report, I’ll show you the data, and discuss how to handle what’s to come.

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Fed Monetizes While the US Burns

Federal tax collections are collapsing but the US Treasury now has $827 billion in cash in its bank account at the Fed. This is double the previous highest level ever. This money has all come via debt sales over the past week.

The Fed funded every single dollar of that expansion through its purchases of the Treasury debt. The Fed used Primary Dealers as middle men. The dealers collected a nice skim and the Fed monetized the debt, while being able to claim that it didn’t. But this is money that did not exist two weeks ago. Now it does.

This has frightening implications. Here’s why, and what you should do about it.

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