Across the Curve
A day after the 2 Year auction surprised with solid demand all around, moments ago the US Treasury issued $35 billion in 5 Year paper which also came stronger than some had expected, pricing at a yield of 1.56%, 0.6 bps through the 1.566% When Issued. Like in yesterday's auction, the yield was the highest of 2015. The Bid To Cover dipped modestly, dwon from 2.56 to 2.46, and in line with the 2.47 average.
Water, water everywhere,but not a drop to drink
The UK General Election will be held tomorrow. The polls close at 10 pm. We should have a pretty clear picture of the overall seat count by 5 to 6 am on Friday morning. The result, as SocGen notes, is almost certain to be a hung parliament. Then the fun will really start. However, at the macro level the implications of the election may be less pronounced than many anticipate. Monetary policy has been de-politicised through the BoE’s independence, the formation of a coalition government is likely to involve convergence towards centrist positions, and a minority administration that pursues policies outside the mainstream would be unlikely to survive given its fragile parliamentary basis. In either case, the political system is unlikely to deliver radically different macroeconomic outcomes.
One of the biggest stories of the week has been the great German Bund route as everyone’s new favorite short has sold-off hard on what HSBC calls a “cascade of small events [which has] created a large splash in a structurally ever-thinner mkt, similar to UST flash crash of Oct. 15.” Amid the cacophony of explanations emanating from every credit and rates strategist on Wall Street, BNP is out with a simple suggestion: it’s all about the waxing and waning of supply.
The "new" Bond King joins his predecessor on the bond throne in calling German Bunds a compelling short opportunity. Just as we said last week, "when you short negative yielding bonds you have a positive carry," so why not leverage your bet 100X and get paid to wait on rising yields?
While pricing right on the When Issued screws, or 0.540%, tied for the lowest high yield since October 2014, today's $26 billion auction of 2 Year paper was nothing to write home about. From a low Bid to Cover, which at 3.30 was down from March's 3.457%, and the lowest of 2015, to a slide in the Indirect bid to only 38.1%, also the lowest for 2015, to the highest Dealer take down of 2015, with commercial banks left with 47.8% of the short-end issue, there was not much demand for the paper which pays a 0.50% cash coupon and which matures on April 30, 2017.
With only six weeks (or one Graccident) to go until Bund purchases are forced out to 7-year maturities, and with traders warning that nearly every piece of PSPP-eligible German government paper will eventually trade special in repo despite the ECB’s feeble attempt to remedy the situation via its Securities Lending Program, the world wants to know: “when do I sell Bunds?”
On one hand, Bill Gross says that "German 10yr Bunds = The short of a lifetime." On the other, the ECB is about to run out of bonds to monetize at current prices as the Bund yield slides every lower to the ECB's hard floor of -0.20%. End result: someone will be very hurt...
If yesterday stocks surged on the worst 4-month stretch of missing retail sales since Lehman, one which BofA with all seriousness spun by saying "it seems not unreasonable to suspect that the March 2015 reading on retail sales gets revised up next month", then the reason why futures are now solidly in the green across the board even as German Bunds have just 14 bps to go until they hit negative yields and before the ECB is fresh out of luck on future debt monetization, is that overnight China reported its worst GDP since 2009 together with economic data misses across the board confirming China's economy continues its hard landing approach despite a stock market that has doubled in the past year.
As noted several hours ago, the main story overnight is not that Greece once again narrowly averted a Grexit when it was reported it would make its scheduled payment to the IMF today (adding that next month is a "different story") a development that was met with yet another ultimatum by its "partner", the Eurozone, but the dot com bubble deja vu-esque move in Hong Kong stocks, where the Chinese, seemingly tired of pushing up their local market into the stratosphere have turned their attention southward and are desperate to buy up every single Hong Kong stock.
Did stocks window dressing come one day early in this volatile, bipolar, stop-hunting, HFT-infested market? Looking at futures this morning, which are down about 12 points already on yet another surge in the USD which has sent the EURUSD just above 1.07, the lowest since March 20 , and the USDJPY back under 120 now that the "strong dollar is bad for stocks after all" algo seems to be back from vacation, all those hedge funds who chased risk higher yesterday because their peers did the same, may find they are all selling on the way down. It will be oddly ironic if all of yesterday's widely touted gains evaporate comparably in the first 10 minutes of trading today, and lead to an end in the longest streak of quarterly increases in two decades.
If yesterday's 5 Year auction was ugly across the board, today's 7 Year was even uglier.
"For the time being, the problem is one of a scarcity of bonds – where it is difficult to find all the bonds across the curve that need to be bought – but, if yields keep falling further; eventually it will become a problem of shortage of bonds due to the 25% threshold in terms of ECB ownership – where there is not enough bonds for the ECB to buy the required amounts," BNP warns. At that point, there will be an effective Q€ taper — and the tantrum that comes with it.
The entire formerly rich world is addicted to debt, and it is not capable of shaking that addiction. Not until the whole facade that was built to hide this addiction must and will come crashing down along with the corpus itself. Central banks are a huge part of keeping the disease going, instead of helping the patient quit and regain health, which arguably should be their function. In other words, central banks are not doctors, they’re crack dealers and faith healers. Why anyone would ever agree to that role for some of the world’s economically most powerful entities is a question that surely deserves and demands an answer.