Japanese Govt Bonds Are Crashing After Weakest Auction Since Lehman

Today's 10Y JGB auction saw the lowest bid-to-cover ratio since Feb 2009 at just 2.24x with a notable tail of 1.1bps (the widest since March) as it appears once again, the total dissolution of liquidity from the largest bond market in the world has left the BoJ and Ministry of Finance losing control. The reaction is dramatic with 5Y through 30Y yields up 5-8bps (10Y +8bps at 47.6bps - the biggest absolute jump in yields in 2 years) leaving 30Y yields at 2-month highs above 1.49% and 10Y yields at 6-month highs.

Weakest auction since Feb 2009...

 

Repricing the entire curve dramatically higher...

 

Sending 10Y yields crashing the most in 2 years to 6-month highs...

 

This is a major problem, since as we discussed previously, the reignition of VaR shocks (in the 'safest' of assets) can quickly lead to forced selling to reduce risk allocations...

The second self-feeding dynamic is something we’ve discussed at length before, most notably in 2013 when volatility-induced selling — reminiscent of the 2003 JGB experience — hit the Japanese bond market again, prompting us to ask the following rhetorical question:

 

What happens to JGB holdings as the benchmark Japanese government bond continues trading with the volatility of a 1999 pennystock, and as more and more VaR stops are hit, forcing even more holders to dump the paper out of purely technical considerations?

 

The answer was this: A 100bp interest rate shock in the JGB yield curve, would cause a loss of ¥10tr for Japan's banks.

 

What we described is known as a VaR shock and simply refers to what happens when a spike in volatility forces hedge funds, dealers, banks, and anyone who marks to market to quickly unwind positions as their value-at-risk exceeds pre-specified limits.

 

Predictably, VaR shocks offer yet another example of QE’s unintended consequences. As central bank asset purchases depress volatility, VaR sensitive investors can take larger positions — that is, when it’s volatility times position size you’re concerned about, falling volatility means you can increase the size of your position. Of course the same central bank asset purchases that suppress volatility sow the seeds for sudden spikes by sucking liquidity from the market.

In a nutshell, this means that once someone sells, things can get very ugly, very quickly.

Charts: Bloomberg