How To Front-Run The Fed's Upcoming SOMA Limit Increase

With the bogey of a minimum QE announcement of $100 billion a month, leading to an in kind purchase of Treasurys, in addition to $30 billion a month from MBS Refis courtesy of QE Lite, a very likely announcement during next week's FOMC meeting, that nobody is talking about, is that the Fed may raise the existing 35% SOMA limit, or abolish it altogether, due to the imminent ceiling hit of purchasable CUSIPs. As a result, as Morgan Stanley suggests, possibly the most profitable Fed frontrunning trade if one wishes to bet on consensus QE, is to buy SOMA excluded CUSIPs as these will be telegraphed to be next in line to be monetized. Of course, in the apocryphal scenario that the Fed disappoints the market and decides to announce a less than $100 billion a month, or, gasp, nothing at all, MS' Igor Cashyn expects a complete bloodbath in rates (and most certainly in risk assets). Then again, the probability of the Fed doing the right and/or prudent thing ever is nil, so we would focus on buying out of favor SOMA issues, because as Morgan Stanley reports: "Net, we like buying what the Fed is buying."And how could one not: after all Morgan Stanley announces that in 2011 net Treasury issuance net of Fed Purchases will be zero!

To QE Or Not To QE?

You thought you knew everything there is to know about the implications, consequences, and ways to frontrun the government's QE2? You were wrong. For everything you always wanted to know about Quantitative Easing, and about 100 pages more, here is Morgan Stanley's Jim Caron with the definitive presentation deck on everything wicked that this way comes.

Treasury Butterfly Collapses To Multi Year Low As All Market Correlations Now Broken

The last stat arb desk has just turned off the lights. Stocks are on their own, as all correlations between bonds and stocks are no longer meaningful, even as the carry trade holds on to some semblance of meaning, but even that is collapsing fast. In this most manipulated market we have ever seen, in which only the Fed is the catalyst for any buying action any more, only those with an investment horizon of 5-10 milliseconds are advised to trade. Everyone else, stay away, or else enjoy waking up to an Apple that is down between 5% and 50% as it (and who knows what else) goes bidless.

Morgan Stanley Institutes Hiring Freeze, May Follow Up With "Significant Cuts" If Market Boycott Continues

And so Wall Street continues to not grasp that as long as the vast majority of people realize just how manipulated and broken the market is, they will simply stay out of it. Today, Gasparino breaks the news that Morgan Stanley has instituted a hiring freeze and that if the current volume drought which will certainly wreck EPS for Q3, persists in Q4, the firm will follow up with "fairly significant cuts." Since we don't anticipate the corrupt regulators to do anything that will return confidence to capital markets (and no, Brian Sack, closing the market by one penny in the green will not help), and since the 2s10s will continue to flatten, the pain for banks will only get worse and worse. Add on top of that the likelihood that very soon the FASB may require banks to report the actual MTM value of their hundreds of billions in underwater loans, and it becomes increasingly obvious why financials will soon be the industry that drags the entire market much lower.

$36 Billion 2 Year Auction Closes At Lowest Ever Yield Of 0.441%, Multi Year High Bid To Cover

Today's 2 Year $36 billion bond auction closed as expected at a fresh all time low high yield of 0.441%, as everyone continues frontrunning the Fed and making a mockery of unsecured overnight market rates. Indicatively, the auction was trading at 0.446% WI, showing just how strong demand is for paper. Furthermore, at 3.78, the Bid To Cover came at 3.78, which is the highest since August of 2007. In terms of takedown, there is no surprise that Primary Dealers took down more than half, or 50.19% specifically, of the auction again: after all the Fed will promptly monetize this debt shortly via one of the tens of billions in POMOs coming down the road. Directs were responsible for 10.78% and indirects took the balance or 39.04%, higher than the recent average of 34.14%. Yet even with the collapse in the 2 Year yield today, the 2s10s is still plunging, and has now hit 208, an 8 bps drop on the day, as ever more investors are shifting their purchase ever more to the right in anticipation of QE2.

Charting Treasury Reactions To Prior QE Episodes

Today the Fed may or may not announce a new outright dollar debasing venture, or may merely hint one is coming. And while the impact on stocks is pretty binary (post embargo, break stocks will either surge or slump) as very few are left trading equities, the real question is what will happen to rate and rate derivative products. Conveniently, Morgan Stanley's Igor Cashyn has compiled a historical analysis of how prior episodes of QE have impacted Treasury-based products. Igor looks at front and back-end rates, at curves, butterflies, swap spreads and agencies. Here are the results.

The Key Charts Entering Q4

Goldman charting guru John Noyce has taken some time off, so in his absence, here is his most recent compilation of charts as we enter Q4, with an emphasis on the EURUSD, AUDUSD (very rich here), EURAUD (and associated oscillation sentiment extremes), the 2s10s, bull flatteners, the S&P, The Shanghai Composite, and much more.

Daily Credit Summary: September 2 - Price Not Volume

Spreads compressed for the second day in a row modestly outperforming stocks as the big volume day from yesterday saw very little activity today as the path of least resistance appears higher for now. Intraday ranges today in credit were very narrow as what two-way flow there was seemed more concentrated in HY than IG for a change...Our super-short-term trading pivot is still long credit (from 111.5bps and 593bps for IG and HY respectively), stops never hit today and we would inch our stop to 110bps in IG and 590bps in HY but we get the sense that tomorrow's action will be early and extreme based on the NFP print. 112.25bps and 600bps are entry levels for the short credit should we run so not much room given the recent vol - and anxiety levels high into a long weekend. HY, IG, and the S&P all now closed above their 50-day averages so that offers some support for now but has offered little critical insight in recent weeks.

John Taylor Muses On A "Supermodel" World Whose Curves Are About To Get Even Flatter

FX Concepts John Taylor explains why as the deleveraging process becomes globalized, he expects global yield curves to "literally" flatten. He also explains why the Jackson Hole view that the Japan analogy is overdone, is wrong. Taylor does not go as far as Michael Pento to suggest that the Fed's next step will be to purchase equities, but its encroachment of the entire treasury curve means the "the Fed is already committed to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasuries just to maintain its current policy stance, we expect the persistence of weak labor markets to force it to launch “QE2”, further depressing back-end yields." Yet another addition to the "QE is imminent" bandwagon. The only question remains: will the formal announcement be the catalyst to go headlong into risk, and what will that mean for near-term inflation for items that really matter, yet are so conveniently ignored by the Core-CPI.

Goldman's Technical Update: Bearish, With An "Ultimate H&S Target Of 900"

In this week's update on technical chart formations, Goldman's John Noyce has nothing optimistic to tell clients. Noyce observes that while the market may have entered a short-term consolidation period with the 1,038-1,045, "looking further out the setup on the weekly charts of the S&P and the VIX, plus those for broader asset markets - fixed income in particular – make us think that a sustained bounce is unlikely and that broader risks remain on the downside." Yet the most interesting chart formation is the imminent flattening of the 2s30s... not here, but in the UK. Will the Julian Robertson "suicide" trade shift across the Atlantic?

Is Today's Bond Selloff Driven By Goldman's Announcement 2.50% Target On 10 Year Reached

While there is nothing to suggest a fundamental improvement in the economy, and judging by the latest batch of data the economy is in fact continuing to deteriorate, we have so far seen a substantial sell off in bonds across the curve, with the 2s10s steepening by 11 bps (just in time for the bull flattener bandwagon to enjoy some out-of-steepener rotation pain). So what is the catalyst for the selloff? Francesco Garzarelli's note to Goldman clients titled "Forecast Reached, Risks Now Balanced", in which he implicitly advises to take profits on USTs, sent earlier may provide some clues...

Guest Post: We're All In A Race To The Bottom

The political and economic environment is unfolding much as we discussed several months ago. Markets are being socialized and the government/central bank policies are meeting the problem of too much debt with more debt. But investors are beginning to see risk in a different light: The only "growth" is from stimulus, and how long can that last?... We're all racing to the bottom. There will be no winners, only non-losers as the government "spreads the pain." The non-losers will be those who have prepared: no or little debt and some savings for a rainy day (or decade). This was my only real advice for years.

2s10s Under 200 Bps For First Time Since April 2009, Curve Collapse Adds Fuel To Fire Of Macro Fund Implosion Rumor

The 10 Year continues to burrow ever deeper inside 250 bps, last seen at 2.46% or 8 bps tighter on the day, as now the Greek-Bund spread has blown up: did the fake stress tests buy Europe all of one month of time? A country fully backed by the faith and credit of the ECB is once again imploding - what can we say about the "faith and credit" of the ECB then? The only thing keeping the EUR from plunging at this point is the expectation that the Fed will (soon enough) print another cool $2-3 trillion. And the kicker, for Julian Robertson and whatever the macro hedge fund rumored to be liquidating (aside from the TRS which we pointed out yesterday), the 2s10s has just crossed inside 200 bps, the tightest the spread has been since April 2009. Since at least half the market players are still stuck holding on to steepeners, and are now about 30% underwater from the top 4 months ago, add 10x TRS-based leverage, and you can see why whatever fund is blowing up now won't be the last.

2s10s Prepares To Breach Key 200bps Support, As Curve Flattening Resumes With Feeling

The main (and lately only) bullish indicator that everyone seems to be focused on (for all the wrong reasons), continues to telegraph ongoing distressed for the financial segment: the 2s10s part of the Treasury curve has tightened to 206 bps (this was nearly 290bps a few months ago). At today's rate of flight to safety it is possible the key psychological (whatever that means - computers need therapy if Fib levels are brached?) support level 200bps will be taken out. This means all the leading indicators will soon reorient downward yet again, which also includes the ECRI LEI, which is once again due for an inflection point. And the recently far more critical from a funding standpoint, 2s10s30s butterfly, which we have discussed extensively as the primary carry driver of stock purchasing ability, has just gone double digit again.

Daily Credit Summary: August 23 - Low Volume, Low Range, Low Growth

Spreads closed marginally wider, at the worst levels of the day, after an anemic volume day that only picked up in activity when we weakened. Overnight angst from Australia combined with some weakness in EU data was marginally trumped early on by M&A chatter and headline spin on US ECO data but further evidence of a deflationary view of the world (NSC 100Y issue) seemed to provide some downward pressure and despite valiant attempts to steepen the curve or drive AUDJPY up, stocks ended at their lows of the day as did spreads at their wides.

We have had a number of clients asking about our views on the forthcoming GM IPO. Suffice it to say, and in the interests of brevity, we are not overly impressed and worry about this on many fronts as anything but a flipper's fantasy (drop us a line for somewhat more coherent thoughts). Most notably we have noticed something rather fascinating in the Auto sector. The relationship between GM's 2016 bonds and the Ford Equity price has been amazingly (and we mean incredibly) consistent for many months now - a simple arb at around 2.5x Ford's stock price explains huge amounts of variance in the GM bond price and we suggest tracking this going into the IPO for any signs of a preference. One we would expect is selling of Ford to buy into the GM IPO in hopes of flipping soon after and still leaving the manager equally exposed to the Auto sector - this would also be interesting as the GM bonds have residual ownership in the new GM and may be a decent hedge here should the deal be 'better' than many expected. Just thinking out loud on this but we will keep an eye on it.