"Liquidity Is Becoming A Serious Issue" As Japan's Bond Market Death Goes Global

Tyler Durden's picture

While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."

 

As Bloomberg reports,

Japan's bond market is dead... and so is its stock and FX markets...

The Bank of Japan’s unprecedented asset purchase program has released a creeping paralysis that is freezing government bond trading, constricting the yen to the tightest range on record and braking stock-market activity.

 

...

 

“All the markets have been quiet,” said Daisuke Uno, the Tokyo-based chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. “We’ve already seen the BOJ dominance of JGBs since last year, but recently participants in currency and stock markets are also decreasing as those assets have traded in narrow ranges.”

 

...

 

The flows on both the buying side and selling side continue to fall,” said Takehito Yoshino, the chief fund manager at Mizuho Trust & Banking Co., a unit of Japan’s third-biggest financial group by market value. “Falling volatility is a very serious problem for traders and dealers who are unable to get capital gains.”

The US is getting that way as the Fed owns one third of the market...

 

and the world shifts to derivatives trading to find liquidity...

The boom in fixed-income derivatives trading is exposing a hidden risk in debt markets around the world: the inability of investors to buy and sell bonds.

 

While futures trading of 10-year Treasuries is close to an all-time high, bond-market volume for some maturities has fallen a third in the past year.

 

And Europe is not much better...(via Bloomberg)

Some cracks emerged in Europe last month, when investors dumped Italian, Spanish and Greek debt on speculation political parties opposed to the European Union would gain seats in parliamentary elections and derail the euro area’s recovery.

 

As the selloff intensified and liquidity decreased, the disparity in yields of 10-year Italian bonds between buyers and sellers based on bids and offers doubled to 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, on May 23, the highest this year.

Market participants are growing increasingly weary...

“That has to bite and prevent dealers from supplying the balance sheet they did in the old days,” Gregory Whiteley, who manages government debt at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine Capital LP, which oversees about $50 billion, said by telephone June 10.

 

...

 

“Liquidity is becoming a serious issue,” Grant Peterkin, a money manager at Lombard Odier, which oversees $48 billion, said in a June 11 telephone interview from Geneva. The worry is that when investors try to exit their positions, “there may be some kind of squeeze.”

As we warned previously, these are phantom markets...

“It’s the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem.”

And is forcing traders into the derivatives markets...

As bond trading has slumped, the notional value of over-the-counter contracts soared fivefold in the past decade to a record $710 trillion, based on the latest data from the Bank for International Settlements compiled by Deutsche Bank AG.

 

...

 

Volume on Italian futures, which give buyers the right to purchase the nation’s debt at a future date and price, has soared more than 800 percent since trading of the contracts began in 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg show. By contrast, average daily trading in Italy’s $2.43 trillion market for government bonds, Europe’s largest, has tumbled 57 percent in the past decade, according to the Ministry of Finance.

 

...

 

For 10-year note futures, a total of 140.4 million contracts have traded in the first five months of the year, approaching last year’s total of 149.8 million, the most on a year-to-date basis going back to 2007, according to CME Group Inc.

 

Weekly trading of Treasuries with maturities between seven years and 11 years has fallen to $96.3 billion, a 32 percent drop from a year ago, data compiled by the New York Fed show.

 

“This is a global phenomenon,” Yvette Klevan

No one knows how badly this will end...

“There is risk that people won’t be prepared,” Richman said by telephone June 9. “The move in yield could be quicker and more dramatic than it has in the past. That’s something we are on the lookout for.”

 

...

 

“Investors in Japan assume that the BOJ will continue to buy JGBs vigilantly next year and the year after,” said Makoto Yamashita, the chief Japan rates strategist at Deutsche Securities, a primary dealer. “They take it for granted they can sell those bonds bought expensively to the BOJ as more and more notes disappear from the secondary market. It’s too frightening to think what might happen when the BOJ tapers.”

And with that not only have the central planners broken the largest and historically most liquid markets in the world but have forced investors into leveraged derivatives positions (in order to find liquidity for their exposure-seeking) which themselves are entirely over-promise (relative to the underlyings) and under-collateralized with any quality collateral. As we concluded previously...

Assume tomorrow the real black swan appears and all the liabilities: traditional and shadow, promptly demand collateral delivery. Well, the $11 trillion shortage would mean that risk values of, for example the S&P, would be haircut by a factor of, say, 75%. Or back to the proverbial 400 on the S&P500.

 

Still think owning real high quality collateral, not of the paper but of the hard asset variety such as gold, is a naive proposition, best reserved for fringe lunatic, tin foil hatters and gold bugs?

 

Go ahead then: sell yours.