The Ultimate Insiders' Take on QE2 and Basel 3--Treasury Encouraged to Issue Debt to Match Fed Purchases

 

This morning, Treasury released the minutes of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC). Why these are important, I've written previously:

Each quarter, representatives from the banking elite primary dealers meet with top Treasury officials to advise an optimal debt issuance strategy. The Minutes of these Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee meetings and formal Report to the Treasury are a window into their perceptions and insider knowledge, yet they seldom receive notice--even outside the mainstream financial news outlets.

The most recent minutes do not disappoint and are filled with insight on what we can expect from QE2 and the new Basel 3 bank regulations. The highlights:

 

  • QE2 is expected to be $130 billion per month, or $1,560 over the next year
  • QE2 will last at least six months and up to two years
  • The total amount of QE2 will be data dependent
  • Treasury is encouraged to increase coupon issuance (especially in the 30 year maturity) to address "liquidity" shortfalls as a result of Fed purchases
  • The Treasury yield curve is expected to flatten in the 5-10 year sector, with the yield on the 30 increasing with inflation concerns and US Dollar debasement
  • Implications for the mortage market are that mortgage spreads relative to Treasurys may initially widen, but will ultimately narrow. However, as the 30 year yield is expected to climb, so should mortgage rates (as if the housing market needed another blow)
  • A comparison of the scope of QE2 to "the entire combined expected net issuance of Treasuries, Agencies, Agency MBS and Investment Grade Corporates" leads us to speculate the Fed may end up purchasing these very instruments
  • The Fed's QE2 "exit strategy" may involve simply selling its holdings in small, predictable increments (no mention of term deposits, IOER or other Fed tools)
  • As a result of QE2, investors will be edged out of the 2-10 year range and into very short term (T-Bills) and long term (T-Bonds), and into riskier assets in general
  • Basel 3 is being implemented at a record pace (beware of unintended consequences)
  • Basel 3 will lead to increased lending costs, causing lending to move outside of the regulated banking system into the non-bank financial system
  • Basel 3 will force banks to buy sovereigns ($400 in US Treasurys alone by 2015)
  • The Fed is the 800 lb gorilla in the room, and all the other central banks are scrambling to adjust

My full blow by blow may be found here.