Something curious happened today. As we pointed out earlier, for the first time as part of Operation Twist, the Fed, instead of buying bonds in the open market, actually sold bonds: a departure for Bernanke, and only the first time the Fed has practically rebalanced its portfolio since the first Operation Twist 50 years ago. In essence, by dint of its adjusted mandate, the Fed became the Treasury - what proceeded at precisely 11 am was the announcement of a sale of $8.87 billion in bonds with maturities from January 31, 2012 through July 31, 2012, bonds that were sold not by the traditional issuer of bonds, but by the Fed. Granted no new money was raised by the US in the process, but it was still a curious development. What was far more curious was the staggering turnout by the Dealer community, which indicated an interest for, wait for it, a whopping $242.6 billion in bonds! Said in conventional terms, the Bid To Cover was an unprecedented 27.3, or there was $27 in demand for every $1 of bonds finally sold by the Fed. Why is this worthy of bolding. Because, in a traditional Treasury auction, the Bid to Cover by the Dealer community is far, far lower. In fact, as the most recent 52 week Bill auction demonstrates, there was $89.5 billion in Bids for $14 billion in bonds allocated to Dealers, or a 6.4 Bid To Cover. Said otherwise the Fed is about 4.3 times more efficient at finding buyers than the Treasury. How is this possible? And should the Fed take over Treasury in all future bond sales? Nope: the answer is that this is nothing but yet another taxpayer funded gift to the (recently expanded by 2 Canadian banks) Dealers. Let us explain.
First, here is what the mechanics of the most recent 52 week Bill sale looks like:
One can see how the Dealer Bid To Cover is a respectable 6.4.
Alternatively, here is what today's Fed's POMO looked like in its final form:
Bid To Cover? 27.4!
How is this possible? Is the Fed really 4 times more efficient at selling bonds than the Treasury? How and why can dealers have such a huge apetite for paper which yields inside of 0.1% and thus provides absolutely no real top or bottom line benefits?
Simple. As Zero Hedge has discussed many times in the past, POMO, in whatever format, be it under LSAP auspices or Operation Twist, is nothing but a taxpayer funded gift to the Dealer community. As a reminder, the actual POMO process is conducted in the form of a reverse dutch auction, where the collusive Dealer Community (recently expanded to include 2 more Canadian Banks, BMO and Bank of Nova Scotia, which simply means that US Taxpayers are now on the hook to bailing out two more banks which are part of the supposedly safe and stable Canadian banking system) submits best bids or offers to the Fed, depending on whether the community is buying or selling bonds. Today, for the first time, it was buying, so it was Bidding. And while we can not prove it as the actual details of the price allocation are a non-public mystery, we are 100% confident that the answer lies precisely in the risk-free arbitrage, funded by the Fed, and hence the US taxpayers, consisting of a collusive wholesale bid at prices far lower than prevailing market rates, and the ability to immediately flip the bonds to the open market upon allocation for a tidy profit.
How tidy? We have no idea: the data is private. However, it is tidy enough to generate 4 times more buying interest than would be there normally. Hence the, pardon the pun, twist.
We are confident that the "99%" will be delighted to learn that Operation Twist, while flattening the 2s10s and 10s30s massively, a terminal scourge for the Net Interest Margin-reliant community, also contains in it the salvation for these very banks, and specifically the bonuses for their bond trading divisions: because all QE or Twist or whatever really is, is an ongoing subsidy via the bid/ask spread, funded by US taxpayers, to keep America's hurting banks solvent.
What is the ultimate top line benefit? We are not sure. But we are confident the result will be made immediately obvious once the monthly POMO details are revealed. We are eagerly looking forward to reverse engineering just how much money the middle-class is now funneling into America's banks via what is once again a daily POMO bail out.
And here is what the actual flip looks like in process: below we show the price chart of one of the cheapest bonds in today's POMO, 912828NS5, which accounted for $1.2 billion of total, and how its price changed starting at 11 am once the POMO was concluded. One can only imagine the amount of leverage involved in this operation...