The latest custody data from the Fed shows that reserve manager holdings of Treasuries has tumbled by $17 billion in the past week, to the lowest effective level since late 2012. The prevailing hypothesis is that smaller central banks and reserve managers sell US paper to defend their currencies, while OPEC countries such as Saudi Arabia are quietly raising cash in an environment of low oil prices and acute budgetary tightness.
Dealers, the bedrock of the global monetary system, are hoarding collateral and it shows. That, however, doesn’t fit within the recovery narrative, so the media resorts to the easy and absurd to obscure what “should” not be happening...
The overnight general collateral rate has jumped to 0.75% this morning. The GC rate has spiked at the end of every quarter for over a year, as money funds face increased regulations and need to streamline their balance sheets at quarter end, in other word "window dress" balance sheets and make them appear better than they are for regulatory purposes.
Moments ago the Fed's RRP operation totaled only $18.7 bln, the lowest level of participation since December 19, 2013 when the maximum bid per counterparty was only $1 bln compared to $30 bid since September 2014. In other words, program participants took only $18.7 billion worth of Treasury securities from the Fed, just months after the Fed expanded the reverse repo program to account for potentially hundreds of billions in reverse repo demand after the Fed's 25 bps rate hike. What is going on? For the answer we looked to repo experts Stone McCarthy, but unfortunately they too are stumped: "We don't have a wonderful explanation for the diminished participation."
An afternoon sell-off in GC pushed overnight rates (on quarter-end) as high as 1.75% and the market ended closed at 1.75%. Drumroll please! The 1.75% rate was the highest GC Repo trade since September, 2008.
Regardless of which source ultimately proves more important, the below suggests that market liquidity tends to become more scarce around the end of the quarter at present. We have already seen this effect play out twice in row and it could well be that there will be another replay this quarter.
At this point, one wonders why any central banker would chase down the NIRP rabbit hole only to find themselves the protagonist in the latest retelling of "Krugman in Wonderland," but alas, the experiment continues. The only question now is this: will the FOMC take the plunge? Here's a chronological list of Fed NIRP commentary.
The real pity is that the busts and crackups could all have been avoided if central bankers recognized that falling prices eventually create the conditions for a normal economic revival. Deflation is not a death spiral as the Keynesians believe. Nevertheless, expect more central banks to follow the early leaders — Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and even the European Central Bank itself — into negative interest rate territory. The crying shame is that it will not work and will cause great harm to hundreds of millions of people.
Following the surprising swoon in the Treasury complex which overnight slid lower following the German Bunds lower, only to rebound after Naimi sent oil sliding, it was not clear how big demand would be for today's $26 billion auction in 2 Year paper. Moments ago we got the answer, and it was "solid", with the high yield printing at 0.752%, pricing through the 0.763% When Issued by 1.1 bps, and the lowest yield since Septmber 2015.
The bear will soon be arriving in earnest, marauding through the canyons of Wall Street while red in tooth and claw. Our monetary central planners, of course, will once again - for the third time this century - be utterly shocked and unprepared. That’s because they have spent the better part of two decades deforming, distorting, denuding and destroying what were once serviceably free financial markets. Yet they remain as clueless as ever about the financial time bombs this inexorably fosters.
The same Fed which for 7 years provide generous funding to offshore commercial banks, is now granting foreign central banks the same arbitrage privilege, one which worst of all, is almost entirely shrouded in secrecy.
Unfortunately, we remain stuck in the cleanup phase so long as economists and their ability to direct policy continue to suggest the Great Recession was anything other than systemic revelation along these lines; a permanent rift between what was and what can be. It is and was never about oil; only now that oil projects volatility into the dying days of eurodollar leverage.
Now that talking about NIRP in the US is no longer anathema but a matter of survival for market participants for whom frontrunning the Fed's policy failure has emerged as a prerequisite trade, the question is: what are the mechanics of NIRP, what are the implications of negative rates for US markets. Here is the handy answer
Following the afternoon weakness in US equities, Offshore Yuan has been limping lower into the fix, not helped by comments from a MOFCOM researcher that "China is able to withstand currency fluctuations" implicitly warning carry traders to stay away and suggesting the dollar's dominance would not last long. CNH is now at 3-week lows against CNY, over 300pips cheap - which prompted the major short squeeze last time. Chinese stocks are modestly lower but more worrying is the 7-day slide in Chinese corporate bond yields - the most in 2 months - hinting perhaps that the last bubble standing is bursting.