Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ugly Upward Climb in Interest Rates, Just Ahead

At some point interest rates explode to the upside, NYT reports on the inevitable:

Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed.

Even as Treasury officials are racing to lock in today’s low rates by exchanging short-term borrowings for long-term bonds, the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages.

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher...

The United States will not be the only government competing to refinance huge debt. Japan, Germany, Britain and other industrialized countries have even higher government debt loads, measured as a share of their gross domestic product, and they too borrowed heavily to combat the financial crisis and economic downturn...

The White House estimates that the government will have to borrow about $3.5 trillion more over the next three years. On top of that, the Treasury has to refinance, or roll over, a huge amount of short-term debt that was issued during the financial crisis. Treasury officials estimate that about 36 percent of the government’s marketable debt — about $1.6 trillion — is coming due in the months ahead...

The NYT piece does touch upon the demands from Social Security but fails to mention that by the year 2017, perhaps earlier, the Social Security trust fund becomes a net seller of Treasury securities, which obviously means that the fund will also be putting upward pressure on rates at the same time other factors will also be doing so. It is going to get way ugly. This is not the time to own long term debt securities.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! First the President jumps on the "double-dip" train and now the NYT warns of higher interest rates. Its official...Obama wants everyone to believe he is fiscally conservative.

    I suggest the more accurate measures of his fiscal policy are deeds not words.