Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Coming Collapse Of Treasury Security Prices

FT has a solid article this morning on the huge Treasury offerings that will be required because of the "bailouts".

Among the points made:

Before the recent upheavals, the US budget deficit for the fiscal 2009 financial year starting this month was estimated between $400bn and $450bn. Some economists now expect that figure to reach $1,000bn, which would be a record. That will push Treasury debt sales sharply higher...

“It is pretty conservative to say that the cost of the bail-out will be $1,000bn and by the time all the programmes have been tallied, it could be $2,500bn,” says Jamie Jackson, portfolio manager at RiverSource Investments...

This is all going to mean greater frequency of issuance and a return of previously discontinued issues such as the three-year note and possibly the seven. At a minimum, dealers expect the return of the three-year note, which was suspended in May 2007. The sale of 10-year notes is expected to move to a monthly schedule from being sold twice every quarter at present. New sales of 30-year bonds are seen occurring every three months...

From a logistical standpoint, the quarterly sale of debt in November and this week’s sales are a major test for the thinning ranks of primary dealers. These are the banks and securities broker-dealers that participate in Treasury auctions.

From 20 primary dealers at the end of 2007, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Countrywide have fallen by the wayside this year. The list will shrink to 16 once Merrill Lynch is absorbed by Bank of America.

Fewer dealers at a time when banks are preserving their balance sheets before the end of the year has contributed to an erosion in liquidity for buying and selling current and older Treasury securities. That backdrop could lead to poorly received auction sales, with yields for new notes being awarded at much higher levels, driving up the cost for the Treasury and taxpayers...

Tom di Galoma, head of trading at Jefferies & Co says: “No one has any balance sheet room and supply is a concern for the rest of the quarter.”..

Treasury in recent weeks has been selling securities in a buyers market as the flight to quality has caused enormous demand of Treasury securities. This will all change when the market stabilizes. Not only will there be less demand for Treasury securities, but there is likely to be major liquidation of currently held Treasury positions. A flight from Treasury securities is a very real possibility. This will also have negative ramifications for the dollar.

The only way to stem the collapse of the Treasury market would be for the Fed to step in and become an aggressive buyer of Treasury securities. This would be an exceptionally inflationary move. Bernanke has been running an erratic money supply operation since he has taken over, so it is impossible to guess how inflationary he is willing to get to protect Treasury rates. It is likely to result in a combination of some Fed buying coupled with a climb in rates.

The noose on government money operations is tightening again. For savvy traders, it will be a huge money making opportunity. For the average Joe, plumber or not, it will be a lower standard of living as rates climb, inflation climbs and Treasury borrowing crowds out private sector borrowing.

No comments:

Post a Comment