Open Market Operations
Unbeknownst to most investors, last week Ben Bernanke pumped an additional $11.05 BILLION into the system ON TOP of the $11.15 pumped via the POMOs. In plain terms, the Fed juiced the system by $20+ billion in a single week, bringing its liquidity pumps RIGHT BACK QE 1 LEVELS.
In a surprising, and at the same time completely expected reversal, all those who thought that Monday's always close due to mutual fund inflows were stunned to see a red close. Which should not be too surprising: after all there was no POMO today - period. The only days that now have a chance of closing in the red is when the Fed is not directly involved in greasing stocks through its open market operations. Which means tomorrow should most likely end green - Tuesday and Thursday are this week's POMOs: tomorrow the Fed will buyback TIPS maturing without maturity limitation, while Thursday will see the monetization of longer-dated bonds, due 2/15/2021 – 8/15/2040. Following these two actions, the Fed will next send Amazon, Netflix and Apple to fresh quintuple digit forward PEs on October 5 and 6.
Last week I forecast that we would see a reversal in stocks. The market did indeed show signs of breaking down on Wednesday and Thursday, however, the Fed’s juice managed to keep stocks afloat and closing in the green for the week. All told, the Fed injected more than $10 billion into the market directly via its three Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) pumps. However, Bailout Ben wasn’t content with mere open market juicing, so he pumped another $10 billion into the system “behind the scenes.”
With FRBNY Brian Sack's Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) now firmly back on the scene, and by all appearances about to grow orders of magnitude larger than the prevailing $10 billion a week levels following implementation of QE2, we have been bombarded by requests to explain the methodology behind what the 10:15 am - 11:00 am liquidity intervention by the Fed means in terms of asset prices. We recently presented Nic Lenoir's observations on how POMO impacts rates on an intraday basis. However, the most comprehensive report on the issue comes courtesy of Bob English as the Precision Report. His analysis titled A Grand Unified Theory on Market Manipulation is a must read for everyone who dares to trade ahead of the Fed on POMO days (which, incidentally, this week will be on Tuesday and Thursday). While the report is as of August 2009, the logic behind it is as relevant and applicable today as it was when first written.
It is no secret that the Federal Reserve, and its now semi-daily interventions in market liquidity via ever increasing Permanent Open Market Operations (aka POMOs, next on deck - Wednesday and Friday for a total of about $7-8 billion), is rather hell bent on creating the impression that the economy is alive and well courtesy of a ramping stock market (when the causal relationship is always the other way around, but who cares). A reader got so disgusted by the POMO ramp game, he sent in an angry letter to Brian Sack's henchmen. Here is the Fed's response.
I try to provide an inductive, critical and speculative analysis of the Fed`s (open market) operations to date. Although not quite as speculative as the typical bank loan of the past few decades.
Another fascinating interview by Jim Rickards, in the first part of which the LTCM GC explains why he has told his clients to get out of stocks (yes, it does have to do with market manipulation and the Fed - the two most popular topics on Zero Hedge over the past year): "Markets have ceased to function as they are intended - traditionally a place to exchange values, but more importantly to perform price discovery (people rely on markets to tell them what to do or to at least give them some guidance). What's happened is that all the markets have become so badly distorted that their price discovery function and therefore the information content around it no longer has any value. The market has become self-referential, an algo playing itself out, almost the way you would run a self-recursive equation on a computer and you get very unpredictable results from very simple equations. It has degenerated into a joke." Perhaps more relevant for those seeking some advice on where to put their money if not into stocks, is his observation that now that the Fed is in dire need to getting people to start spending, the only option left is to instill the fear of a dollar devaluation, but not against other fiat (as that would in turn lead other central banks to follow suit), but depreciation against hard currencies such as gold. "If you are the Fed and you buy up gold to $2,000 an ounce what have you done? You've depreciated the dollar by not quite 50%. Well that's pretty powerful stuff if you are trying to get people to spend money and dump dollars. So they are not out of bullets, they have what I call the golden bullet..." As Kohn today said, it is all about expectations... Well, why not make people expect that the dollar they have today will be worth half as much tomorrow versus gold?
I read last year an analysis on trading the S&P 500 on days where the Fed conducts Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO). It basically stated that pretty much the entire rally from March to October was driven by POMO and that the advance of the market on those days was equivalent to the entire advance of the market over that period. It's not the exact conclusion but close enough if I recall correctly. With the Fed starting to reinvest interest payments on its assets in Treasuries, I decided to dig in and see for myself with the help of my colleague Mike Lawrence. The results are calculated using the 60 occurrences which makes them statistically relevant. - Nic Lenoir
Providing a semi-critique of some over-eager Austrian monetary business cycle theorists. Some Austrians go too far and attribute all blame to the government's monetary policies in creating bubbles. But at least some blame must be attributed to investor/consumer irrationality and groupthink.
Since world leaders and economists continually display a lack of even the most rudimentary of understanding about the unsound nature of our monetary system, I’ve decided to write them a “Monetary Policy for Dummies” to help them understand why the policies and solutions they constantly advocate amount to legalized theft that destroys the wealth of the nations.
One of the most beloved phenomena of Fed intervention is the "miraculous" ramp in stocks on days in which the Fed's Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) occurred: while this was a requisite in 2009 when the Fed monetized $700 billion in Treasurys, it had gradually disappeared from the public consciousness after the termination of the Treasury portion of QE1 in October 2009. Well, now that POMO is back courtesy of QE Lite, and with the help of various sellside analysts, Primary Dealers knew precisely which Treasury CUSIPs to purchase in advance of the auction for a quick leveraged pick up of a few hundred bps. And now that the money is funded back to the PDs, as of the end of the POMO operation at 11am Eastern, it needs to find a new home. And with the PDs providing the initial impetus for a risk asset (read stock) ramp, and momo quants picking up the sloppy seconds as they jump over each other to send the momentum driven ramp ever higher, the result is presented below. What this means is that going forward, every single day that the Fed is monetizing bonds via 10:15-11:00am POMOs, it will be very foolhardy to short into the Fed's stock surging offensive. As a reminder, here are the immediately upcoming POMO days through the end of August: August 19, August 24, August 26, and September 1. Shorting on those days has once again become implicitly illegal.
Now that QE Lite, or whatever one calls it, is here, the most appropriate market strategy reverts back to March of 2009, when life was very simple: "Buy what the Fed is buying." And with the benefit of QE1 in hindsight, namely the Fed's prior purchase of $700 billion in Treasurys in 2009, it is possible to determine precisely which bonds the Fed will focus on, and which are likely to be excluded, thus benefiting the least from the latest bout of monetization. Morgan Stanley has come up with a list of which bonds are likely to be targeted by the Fed in the upcoming 5 Open Market Operations beginning on August 17 and continuing through September 1. Those looking for a quick (and levered) return on investment will be wise to pick up the issues determined as most likely to be monetized, while potentially shorting those that are ineligible for buybacks.
The Fed's New Round of Quantitative Easing Is Like Trying to Patch Leaking Pipes by Pumping in More WaterSubmitted by George Washington on 08/11/2010 12:17 -0500
Keynesian stimulus can't be examined in a vacuum.
The Fed Open Market Committee, in a major policy shift, voted today to roll its holdings of maturing Fannie and Freddie debt into longer term Treasurys. This represents a significant change in Fed policy and it appears that the anti-deflationist wing of the Fed, led by James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, won over the anti-inflationists.
A disappointing July jobs report came out Friday showing weak employment gains, further evidence that the economy is stalling out. What will the Fed do?