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Dollar Libor Jumps To Fresh 10 Year High, Adding To Funding Headwinds

It may be the bete noir of the credit market, but despite the gradual phase out of the infamous manipulated benchmark, Libor remains the reference rate for trillions in floating rate debt instruments, and in a further indication that monetary conditions are tightening aggressively and that funding headwinds are rising, overnight 3M USD Libor rose by 1.94bps to 2.4690% – the biggest one day jump since the end of May – and the highest USD Libor level since 2008.

While some attribute the recent move higher in Libor to recent hawkish rhetoric from Powell, with the latest move following the Fed’s minutes, today’s move has also pushed the dollar FRA/OIS spread wider by 3bps to 33.5bp level, highest since July, a hint that a fresh dollar shortage may be in the offing.

As Bloomberg’s Sunil Keser notes, while compared to the Libor-OIS blowout observed in Q1, the recent move looks tame, it serves to underscore how sharp the dollar repatriation was in the first few months of 2018. Meanwhile, “the widening since mid-September is enough on its own to warrant flagging, given the outright level of the current Libor fixing.”

As to whether it can go further depends on where the Fed judges the neutral rate to be, and how far above it they are willing to go.

The creeping rise in the cost of debt for corporations and ordinary consumers, most broadly manifested by Libor, was recently flagged by Guggenheim as one of the key risks for the credit market, noting that for the broader leveraged credit market the cost of debt troughed at 5.3% in 2015 and was recently 5.6%, prompting a warning that “this trend is somewhat overlooked by investors who focus on narrowing spreads over Treasurys or LIbor, historically low portfolio yields and exception earnings growth.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

You’re Paying Attention To The Wrong Interest Rate

Lamensdorf Market Timing Report – Special Edition

This special report by LMTR.com will highlight a few charts. Investors with a lot at stake should pay close attention to these gauges over the coming months. Failure to act on warning signs could be the difference between a comfortable retirement or years of slaving away at work. Investors have too much to lose to be asleep at the wheel.

Start by paying attention to the interest rate that matters. Chances are, you’ve watched the talking heads on TV. They are heavily focused on the Federal Reserve and what actions members plan to take on interest rates.

But, the interest rate that really matters is LIBOR. LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. It’s an extremely important rate.

When investors borrow money and use their portfolio as collateral, the loan is often priced at LIBOR plus some base interest rate. For example, the loan might be priced at LIBOR plus 1%. Importantly, these loans are not priced based on the federal funds rate.

Please note the blue line on chart below. The blue line is 3-month LIBOR, which has been rising steadily from the ashes to multi-year highs. Nearly every day it is getting more and more expensive to maintain these lines of credit that wealthy investors have been using.

How much credit is out there, borrowed against stock portfolios? Trillions of dollars.

People with portfolios of liquid assets, people who own stocks, have access to these credit lines. Often they must have more than $1 million in stocks and bonds to gain access to LIBOR-plus loans. These are the one percenters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lie-Bor: Pitchforkers Rejoice

Lie-Bor: Pitchforkers Rejoice

There’s a bit of a hullabaloo going on at the moment about LIBOR. And in truth, it is a pretty big deal.

Yes, even bigger than whether or not Stormy Daniels got jiggetty with an old guy wearing a wig. And get this… even bigger than Kanye’s man-love for the same guy.

What is LIBOR?

Let’s start here.

Whether you know it or not, LIBOR has for decades played an integral part in the cost of your beer. That’s because it has provided a means to determine the cost of debt in everything — from student loans and mortgages to complex derivatives. 

What happens is this…

A daily survey is taken from 15 of the largest banks in the world.

In this little test each bank submits a quote estimating how much it would be charged by the other banks to borrow money across a range of durations without any collateral being put up.

All the rates are then tossed into a baking dish, baked, and the pie that comes out is an average rate known as LIBOR.

It stretches across 7 different maturities and 5 currencies, and, together with Euribor, it is the primary benchmark for short-term rates across this ball of dirt we call home.

Thomson Reuters publishes it midday and pretty much the entire financial community involved in debt markets of any kind (and plenty who’re only tangentially connected) furrow their brows and sip their long blacks while scanning these very rates in order to more intelligently make critical business decisions, which ultimately affect the cost of your beer.

And so, as you can see, it is very important.

How big?

$350 Trillion!

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

There is Over $7.5 Trillion In Debt That’s Highly Vulnerable To Rising Rates – Here’s What To Expect

There is Over $7.5 Trillion In Debt That’s Highly Vulnerable To Rising Rates – Here’s What To Expect

The 10-year interest rate hit the critical level of 3% this morning.

And this is the highest level it’s been since 2014 – four years ago. . .

A couple months back, I highlighted the correlation of the rise in the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) and the Interest Payments Due on the U.S. National Debt. And as President Trump and Congress are showing no signs of slowing down their borrowing – this debt service cost will only keep rising.

But the U.S. Treasury will get funded no matter what – foreigners will buy the debt, or the Fed will print dollars to do it. Either way, they will borrow – no matter the cost.

But individuals and companies that borrow aren’t as lucky. . .

They’re forced to pay the higher interest payments.

 

So, with interest rates moving up, it would be smart to see what businesses and sectors are most vulnerable to rising yields.

And for this, we need to look at the LIBOR rate. . .

LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate and is a benchmark rate that the world’s leading banks charge each other for short-term lending. It’s the first step when calculating interest rates on various kinds of loans – whether government bonds, corporate bonds, mortgages, or student debt.

You might have heard about LIBOR over the last few years. Many of the world’s leading financial institutions were caught manipulating the rate for years to profit and protect themselves.

Here’s an example: back in the 2007-08 financial meltdown, Barclays Bank manipulated the LIBOR downward. This lowering of rates in a time where rates were trending higher because of global bankruptcy risks gave off the impression that they were ‘less’ risky.

The LIBOR Scandal is known as one of the greatest financial crimes in history. And banks were hit with many billions in fines.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising

Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising

On March 31stthe Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the sixth time in 3 years and signaled its intention to raise rates twice more in 2018, aiming for a fed funds target of 3.5% by 2020. LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate) has risen even faster than the fed funds rate, up to 2.3% from just 0.3% 2-1/2 years ago. LIBOR is set in London by private agreement of the biggest banks, and the interest on $3.5 trillion globally is linked to it, including $1.2 trillion in consumer mortgages.

Alarmed commentators warn that global debt levels have reached $233 trillion, more than three timesglobal GDP; and that much of that debt is at variable rates pegged either to the Fed’s interbank lending rate or to LIBOR. Raising rates further could push governments, businesses and homeowners over the edge. In its Global Financial Stability reportin April 2017, the International Monetary Fund warned that projected interest rises could throw 22% of US corporations into default.

Then there is the US federal debt, which has more than doubled since the 2008 financial crisis, shooting up from $9.4 trillion in mid-2008 to over $21 trillion in April 2018. Adding to that debt burden, the Fed has announced that it will be dumping its government bonds acquired through quantitative easing at the rate of $600 billion annually. It will sell $2.7 trillion in federal securities at the rate of $50 billion monthly beginning in October. Along with a government budget deficit of $1.2 trillion, that’s nearly $2 trillion in new government debt that will need financing annually.

If the Fed follows through with its plans, projections are that by 2027, US taxpayers will owe $1 trillionannually just in interest on the federal debt. That is enough to fund President Trump’s original trillion dollar infrastructure plan every year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wolf Richter: The Era Of The Fed “Put” Is Over

It now wants lower asset prices (just not too fast)

To all those investors expecting the Fed to step in to backstop the recent weakness seen in the stock market, Wolf Richter warns: The cavalry isn’t coming.

After years of force-feeding too much liquidity into world markets, the central banking cartel is now aware of the Franken-markets it has created. And now with a new head at the US Federal Reserve, and soon at the ECB, central bankers have shifted their priority from supporting asset prices to now actively engineering lower prices.

They just don’t want prices to drop too far too fast.

Of course, the big question is: how much control do they really have? The situation may very quickly get out of their hands.

But the big takeaway is to expect lower prices across the board for nearly every “risk on” asset: stocks (including and especially the FANGS), corporate bonds and real estate. The Fed is working to reduce investor exuberance — and as many bloodied contrarian investors will warn you — Don’t fight the Fed:

Now we’re in an environment where we have an Everything Bubble, and even though there’s still a few central bankers out there that say that they can’t see the bubble, others have now acknowledged it. Of course they don’t call it a “bubble”; they say that prices are “elevated”. So they’re seeing this. In my opinion, a lot of the responses from the Fed are not really about inflation; they’re really about trying to avoid the asset bubble from getting any bigger. They’re trying to avoid a deflation of that asset bubble that could be very messy for the financial system.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Many Trillions In Debt Are Linked To Soaring LIBOR?

Over the past month as Libor continued its relentless upward creep and is now higher for 37 consecutive sessions, the longest streak of advances since November 2005, and rising to 2.3118% while blowing out the Libor-OIS spread to a crisis-like 59bps, a cottage industry has developed to explain what is behind the dramatic move in Libor, and which – as we noted 2 weeks ago – can be roughly summarized as follows:

  • an increase in short-term bond (T-bill) issuance
  • rising outflow pressures on dollar deposits in the US owing to rising short-term rates
  • repatriation to cope with US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and new trade policies, and concerns on dollar liquidity outside the US
  • risk premium for uncertainty of US monetary policy
  • recently elevated credit spreads (CDS) of banks
  • demand for funds in preparation for market stress

To be sure, we have commented extensively on what may (or may not) be behind the Libor blow out: if as many claim, the move is a benign technicality and a temporary imbalance in money market supply and demand, largely a function of tax reform (including the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax) or alternatively of the $300BN surge in T-Bill supply in the past month, the Libor move should start fading. If it doesn’t, it will be time to get nervous.

But no matter what the reason is behind the Libor move, the reality is that financial conditions are far tighter as a result of the sharp move higher in short-term rates in general, and Libor in particular, which for at least a few more years, remains the benchmark rate referenced by trillions in fixed income instruments.

Which brings us to a logical follow up question: ignoring the reasons behind the move, how does a higher Libor rate spread throughout the financial system, and related to that, how much notional debt is at risk of paying far higher interest expense, if only temporarily, resulting in even tighter financial conditions.

For the answer, we look at the various ways that Libor, and short-term rates in general “channel” into the economy. Here, as JPMorgan explains, the key driver is and always has been monetary policy, which controls short-term rates, which affect the economy via various channels and pahtways. Below we list those channels along with a brief description:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Where Will It Stop?”: Libor Spread Blows Out Beyond Eurocrisis Highs, Central Banks Intervention Awaited

Until two days ago, the critical level for both the Libor-OIS and FRA-OIS spread was the “psychological level” of 50bps. This, however, was breached on Wednesday when as we reported Libor pushed significantly higher without a matching move in swaps. And yet, despite the sharp push wider, both spreads remained below the peak levels observed during the European sovereign debt crisis of 2011/2012, with some speculating that open central bank swap lines at OIS+50bps would limit the move wider.

That changed this morning when the day’s 3M USD Libor fixing jumped higher for the 27th consecutive session, rising to 2.2018% from 2.1775%, and the highest since December 2008. And, as has been the case for the past two months, the move was again not matched by OIS, resulting in the Libor-OIS spread jumping to 51.4bp, surpassing the 2011/2012 highs and the widest level since May 2009.

At the same time, the FRA-OIS also spread spiked to a new multi-year high of 53.3bps, the highest in years.

Commenting on the move, NatWest Markets strategist Blake Gwinn urgent clients “don’t fade FRA/OIS’ recommendation is still in effect, but certainly on watch”, adding that the most frequently asked question this week has been “where will Libor stop?

While the clear answer – at least for now – is not here”, Gwinn repeated what we said on March 14, noting that the Fed’s central bank swap lines should “theoretically put a cap on USD funding rates” as the banks are authorized to offer terms out to three months at OIS+50bp, and also echoed BofA’s comments on the topic, noting that among the impediments are haircuts that add roughly another 10bp to the effective rate, the stigma of going to central banks for funding, and lack of availability of swap lines.

And yet, should Libor keep pushing wider, the Fed will have to notice.

As we said two days ago, the Federal Reserve is increasingly monitoring the rise in LIBOR and is trying to understand what exactly is driving it. In fact, in the most recent dealer survey the Fed specifically asked about the 3m L-OIS spread widening.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Interbank Market Collapsing

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; Has interbank lending collapse due to a lack of confidence concerning counter-party risk?

Thank you for being a rare source with experience

ER

ANSWER: Yes that is a correct statement. The failure of Lehman and Bear Sterns was the result of interbank lending when they could not make good on the collateral they posted the day before in the REPO market. Then we had the collapse of MF Global, which was also a loss linked to the overnight markets. Now mix in the LIBOR scandal and banks were scrutinized for manipulating LIBOR rates in the interbank market.

The interbank lending market is a market in which banks extend loans to one another for a specified term, typically 24 hrs. Most interbank loans are for maturities of one week or less, the majority being overnight. Such loans are made at the interbank rate (also called the overnight rate if the term of the loan is overnight).

The collapse of this market is a clear warning that liquidity is extremely vulnerable. When crisis strikes, liquidity will simply vanish entirely. This warns that volatility will rise sharply and it appears to be predominantly focused in on the debt market.

Plunge in Interbank Lending: The Straw that Broke the Fed’s Back

Interbank lending took a historic dive. Readers ask “What’s happening?” Let’s investigate.

Interbank Lending Long Term

The plunge in interbank lending is both sudden and dramatic. What’s going on?

Fed Tightening Two Ways

The short answer is a straw broke the Fed’s back.

A more robust explanation is the Fed is tightening two ways: The first by hiking, the second by letting assets on the balance sheet roll off.

Both measures have a tendency to push up long-term interest rates. This is another explanation for the long-end rising. Despite conventional wisdom, inflation and wages have little to do with it.

We can see the effect in other charts.

LIBOR

Year-Over-Year M2 Growth

Money supply growth is falling as are excess reserves.

Excess Reserves

The Fed started balance sheet reduction in October of 2017. Unwinding the balance sheet escalates greatly in 2018.

  • The treasury unwind started at $6 billion per month, increasing by $6 billion at three-month intervals over 12 months until it reaches $30 billion per month.
  • The mortgage debt unwind started at $4 billion per month, increasing in steps of $4 billion at three-month intervals over 12 months until it reaches $20 billion per month.

Does the Fed Know What It’s Doing?

Janet Yellen answered that question directly in her speech A Challenging Decade and a Question for the Future, at the Herbert Stein Memorial Lecture National Economists Club on October 20, 2017.

The FOMC does not have any experience in calibrating the pace and composition of asset redemptions and sales to actual and prospective economic conditions. Indeed, as the so-called taper tantrum of 2013 illustrated, even talk of prospective changes in our securities holdings can elicit unexpected abrupt changes in financial conditions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Charting The Epic Collapse Of The World’s Most Systemically Dangerous Bank

Charting The Epic Collapse Of The World’s Most Systemically Dangerous Bank

It’s been almost 10 years in the making, but the fate of one of Europe’s most important financial institutions appears to be sealed.

After a hard-hitting sequence of scandals, poor decisions, and unfortunate events,Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes that Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank shares are now down -48% on the year to $12.60, which is a record-setting low.

Even more stunning is the long-term view of the German institution’s downward spiral.

With a modest $15.8 billion in market capitalization, shares of the 147-year-old company now trade for a paltry 8% of its peak price in May 2007.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

If the deaths of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were quick and painless, the coming demise of Deutsche Bank has been long, drawn out, and painful.

In recent times, Deutsche Bank’s investment banking division has been among the largest in the world, comparable in size to Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Citigroup. However, unlike those other names, Deutsche Bank has been walking wounded since the Financial Crisis, and the German bank has never been able to fully recover.

It’s ironic, because in 2009, the company’s CEO Josef Ackermann boldly proclaimed that Deutsche Bank had plenty of capital, and that it was weathering the crisis better than its competitors.

It turned out, however, that the bank was actually hiding $12 billion in losses to avoid a government bailout. Meanwhile, much of the money the bank did make during this turbulent time in the markets stemmed from the manipulation of Libor rates. Those “wins” were short-lived, since the eventual fine to end the Libor probe would be a record-setting $2.5 billion.

The bank finally had to admit that it actually needed more capital.

In 2013, it raised €3 billion with a rights issue, claiming that no additional funds would be needed. Then in 2014 the bank head-scratchingly proceeded to raise €1.5 billion, and after that, another €8 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Kuroda’s NIRP Backlash – Japanese Interbank Lending Crashes

Kuroda’s NIRP Backlash – Japanese Interbank Lending Crashes

Not only has the Yen strengthened and stocks collapsed since BoJ’s Kuroda descended into NIRP lunacy but, in a dramatic shift that threatens the entire transmission mechanism of negative-rate stimulus, Japanese banks (whether fearing counterparty risk or already over-burdened) have almost entirely stopped lending to one another. Confusion reigns everywhere in Japanese markets with short-term interest-rate swap spreads surging and bond market volatility spiking to 3 year highs (dragging gold with it).

As Bloomberg reports,

The outstanding balance of the interbank activity plunged 79 percent to a record low of 4.51 trillion yen ($40 billion) on Feb. 25 since Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Jan. 29 announced plans to charge interest on some lenders’ reserves at the monetary authority.

While Kuroda wants to lower the starting point of the yield curve to reduce borrowing costs and spur shift of funds into riskier assets, the interbank rate has fallen only about as far as minus 0.01 percent, above the minus 0.1 percent charged on some BOJ reserves. The swings on bond yields will make it harder for financial institutions to determine how much business risks they can take, weighing on lending in a weak economy even as they are penalized for keeping some of their money at the central bank.

It will take at least another month until the market finds a level where many dealings are settled, as financial institutions face uncertainty over how the new policy affects monthly fund flows, said Izuru Kato, the president of Totan Research Co. in Tokyo.

“Since past patterns don’t apply under the entirely new structure, financial institutions will take a conservative approach until the financing picture is nailed down,” Kato said. “If the funding estimate proves wrong, banks might lose by prematurely lending in negative rates. People are cautious and staying on the sidelines.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

They Broke the Silver Fix

Editor’s Note: Keith is testifying today before the Arizona Senate Financial Institutions Committee on a gold legal tender bill, which he also helped draft. There is also interest in his gold bonds proposal.

Last Thursday, January 28, there was a flash crash on the price chart for silver. Here is a graph of the price action.

KeithWeiner
The Price of Silver, Jan 28 (All times GMT)

If you read more about it, you will see that there was an irregularity around the silver fix. At the time, the spot price was around $14.40. The fix was set at $13.58. This is a major deviation.

Many silver bugs are up in arms about how unfair the new silver fix is. That’s nothing new. They were up in arms about the old one. The old one was supposedly manipulated.

One thing is for sure, tactical manipulations can occur. A gold trader in London was found to have pushed the price down in the gold fixing by a few pennies. He had sold a multimillion dollar option, and he wanted it to expire worthless to avoid having to pay. Right after the fix, he bought back the gold he sold, pushing the price back up to where it was. He took a loss on the round trip of the gold, of course, but saved millions on the option which he did not have to pay.

This is not the long-sought proof that nefarious forces are keeping gold from attaining $20,000.

Anyways, because the silver and gold fixes were deemed to be benchmarks by regulatory changes post the LIBOR manipulations, a new process for the gold and silver fixes was implemented. Before we look at what changed, let’s consider why there is a fix price. Couldn’t they just take the price at 12:00 noon?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Credit Crunch Is Back: Banks Scramble To Collateralize Loans To Record Levels

The Credit Crunch Is Back: Banks Scramble To Collateralize Loans To Record Levels

One of the biggest quandaries of this cycle for the US economy has been the amount and growth of commercial bank loans. Virtually non-existent for the first three years of the centrally-planned new normal, something changed in 2012 at which point US bank loans, led by Commercial and Industrial or C&I lending growing at a double-digit pop, started to rise at an impressive pace, asking many to wonder: maybe the biggest driver for a sustainable economic recovery is in fact present, because where there is loan demand, there is velocity of money.

A few years later, as the loan growth persisted with virtually no flow through to GDP growth, we – and others – wondered: we know there is a “source of funds”, but what about the “use of funds” – how can banks be creating tens of billions in loans if virtually nothing was ending up in the broader economy?

The first flashing red flag appeared last July, when we reported that companies were using secured bank debt to repurchase stock: a stunning, foolhardy development, comparable to taking out a mortgage on one’s house and using the proceeds to buy deep out of the money calls on the S&P 500. This is what the FT said at the time:

For the top 25 US commercial banks by assets, C & I lending grew by 10.5 per cent in the quarter to June 25 from the previous quarter, according to annualised weekly data from the Federal Reserve.

This type of lending is an important source of business for the largest US banks, representing about a fifth of all loans made by the likes of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, according to Citigroup research. While low interest rates have made business lending less lucrative, the relationships it forges open doors for the banks to sell other services such as treasury management, hedging and leasing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did Mario Draghi Just Leak The Bazooka? Two-Tiered NIRP System May Presage Big Rate Cut

Did Mario Draghi Just Leak The Bazooka? Two-Tiered NIRP System May Presage Big Rate Cut

Back in September (and on several subsequent occasions), we discussed the implications of a further cut to the ECB’s depo rate. A plunge further into NIRP-dom would have serious consequences for the Riksbank, the SNB, the Nationalbank, and the Norges Bank.

In world dominated by beggar-thy-neighbor monetary policy, one cut begets another in race to the bottom as everyone scrambles to, i) keep their currency from soaring and ii) keep the inflationary impulse alive.

As Barclays explained in great detail several months ago, another ECB depo rate cut would have an outsized effect of the franc:

A cut in the ECB’s deposit rate further into negative territory likely would have a significant impact on the EURCHF exchange rate and provoke a more immediate response from the SNB. Indeed, we expect that a cut in the ECB’s deposit rate may have a greater effect on EURCHF than on other EUR crosses. Switzerland applies its negative deposit rate to only a fraction of reserves, currently about 1/3rd of sight deposits by our calculation. In contrast, negative deposit rates apply to all reserves held at the ECB, Riksbank and Denmark’s Nationalbank. Consequently, a cut to the ECB’s deposit rate likely has a larger impact both on the economy and on the exchange rate than a proportionate cut by the SNB. 

Now, it appears Mario Draghi may be about to go the Swiss route by introducing a tiered system for the application of negative rates. As Reuters reports, “Euro zone central bank officials are considering options such as whether to stagger charges on banks hoarding cash ahead of the next European Central Bank meeting, according to officials.”

“Officials are discussing a split-level rate,” Reuters goes on to note, adding that the “contested step would impose a higher charge on banks depending on the amount of cash they deposit with the ECB.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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