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China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

There is a drumbeat pounding on a monetary issue, which is now rising into a crescendo. The issue is: China might sell its holdings of Treasury bonds—well over $1 trillion—and crash the Treasury bond market. Since the interest rate is inverse to the bond price, a crash of the price would be a skyrocket of the rate. The US government would face spiraling costs of servicing its debt, and quickly collapse into bankruptcy. America could follow the path taken by Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

How serious is this threat?

The Independent Institute wrote (replete with a graphic purportedly showing a “nuclear bomb”) about it:

What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly selling off all of them?
That’s an option that has been suggested by Hu Xijin, the editor of the government-controlled Global Times.
Dumping its U.S. national debt holdings is considered to be China’s “nuclear option” for retaliating against the U.S. government in the trade war…

The Financial Time headline says it all: “China dumps US Treasuries at fastest pace in two years”. The body of the article uses that word “weaponise” (British spelling).

Bloomberg warns that, “Trade Feud Has Treasury Investors Eyeing China’s Holdings at Fed”. At least their article does not reiterate “weaponized”.

CNBC adds a new element, that in killing America, China would be destroying itself too. The article uses the word “weapon”, as well as calling it the “nuclear option.”

Capital Outflows

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph is one of the few voices looking at the “accelerating pace of capital outflows from China”. He provides lots of good analysis that we would say is common sense, except it is presently uncommon (yes, yes, we know that common, here, refers to base logic not ubiquity).

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

Saudis Threaten To Ditch Petrodollar As “Nuclear Option” To Block NOPEC Bill

Saudis Threaten To Ditch Petrodollar As “Nuclear Option” To Block NOPEC Bill

Three year ago – almost to the day – Saudi Arabia rattled its first sabre towards the United States, with an implicit threat to dump US Treasuries over Congress’ decision to allow the Saudis to be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In a stunning report at the time by the NYTimes,  Saudi Arabia told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Then, six months ago, the Saudis once again threatened to weaponize their wealth as the biggest importer of arms from America in the world.

Infographic: The USA's Biggest Arms Export Partners | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

And nowReuters reports, citing three unidentified people familiar with Saudi energy policy, Saudi Arabia is threatening to drop the dollar as its main currency in selling its oil if the U.S. passes a bill that exposes OPEC members to U.S. antitrust lawsuits.

While the death of the petrodollar has long been predicted (as the petroyuan gathers momentum), this is the most direct threat yet to the USDollar’s exorbitant privilege…

“The Saudis know they have the dollar as the nuclear option,” one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

“The Saudis say: let the Americans pass NOPEC and it would be the U.S. economy that would fall apart,” another source said.

Riyadh reportedly communicated the threat to senior U.S. energy officials, one person briefed on Saudi oil policy told Reuters

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

Treasury Announces Record Debt Sale In Upcoming Refunding Auction

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is about to surpass Timothy Geithner’s achievement of selling a record amount of notes and bonds as he seeks to finance America’s soaring budget deficit.

According to the latest quarterly refunding statement, the US Treasury is about to sell a record amount of debt, surpassing levels seen both in the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Global Financial Crisis.

On Wednesday, the US Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee unveiled that it will increase the amount of debt to be sold at the upcoming quarterly refunding auctions to $83 billion from $78 billion three months earlier. This will be the fourth straight quarter of increasing refunding auction sizes and is driven by the soaring US deficit shortfall, which in 2018 hit $779 billion the highest since 2012, as well as the Fed’s ongoing balance sheet shrinkage.

Here are the details of the TBAC’s proposal:

  • Auctions for 2-, 3- and 5-year notes will increase by $1 billion in both of the next two months; last quarter Treasury implemented increases in all three months
    • As a result, the size of 2-, 3-, and 5-year note auctions will increase by $2 billion, respectively, by the end of January.
  • Auctions for 7-, 10-, 30-year notes to be raised by $1 billion in November and then kept steady through January
  • Auctions for 2-year floating-rate note will rise by $1 billion in November
  • Auctions for TIPS will see various changes with total tips issuance rising $20 billion-$30 billion in 2019, however there will be no TIPS supply changes over next three months; a new CUSIP 5-year will be added to the TIPS calendar, with the new security to be introduced October 2019

In total, the Treasury will sell $83 billion in long-term debt next week – consisting of $37BN in 3 Year notes, $27BN in 10 Year notes and $19BN in 30 Year notes, versus $78 billion in August’s refunding week sales.

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

China & Japan Dump Treasuries As Dollar’s Reserve Status Slumps To 5 Year Lows

Treasury International Capital flows showed Brazil the biggest buyer of Treasurys in August (followed by Ireland and France), but it was China and ‘ally’ Japan that dumped the most Treasurys in the month…

Brazil is Steve Mnuchin’s best friend…

As China reduced their holdings of US Treasurys for the 3rd straight month…

Japan flipped to a seller again in August back to the lowest holdings since October 2011…

And while the Saudis were buying in August…

the broad trend among other majors has been selling…

All of which has driven the USDollar’s share of global central bank reserve to its lowest since 2013

And, according to economist Zach Pandl at Goldman Sachs, Washington’s aggressive policy against Moscow could be the biggest driver behind the recent fall of the dollar’s share of global central-bank reserves, who noted that Russia’s Central Bank sold some $85 billion of its $150 billion holding of the US assets from April through June after the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Russian businessmen, companies and government officials.

At the beginning of April, as RT reports, Washington expanded its anti-Russian sanction list, including seven Russian tycoons, 12 companies and 17 senior government officials over alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and according to Pandl, the co-head of global FX and emerging-market strategy, the US policy of unilateral tariff hikes and sanctions is putting at risk the greenback that is still dominating the global currency reserves.

“The Central Bank of Russia likely sold a large portion of its dollar-denominated assets, and perhaps all of its US Treasuries held by US custodians, and transferred them to euro-denominated and yuan-denominated bonds in the second quarter,” the economist said.

“This would account for more than half of the decline in the share of dollar reserves during the quarter.”

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

 

US Treasury Issues More Bonds, But No One Wants Them

US Treasury Issues More Bonds, But No One Wants Them

In an attempt to feed the soaring debt and spending habits of the United States government, the US Treasury is issuing more bonds.  But they’ve run into a big problem: no one wants to buy those worthless bonds anymore.

Debt is going to be a big problem for the United States government sooner rather than later.  Rising interest rates will eventually push the government’s interest bill higher than that of their military bill (which is astonishing, quite honestly.)

The new debt will be issued in a three-year, 10-year, and 30-year bond supply this week, Reuters reported, quoting US Treasury data. In late September, the Treasury sold a combined $106 billion of debt amid cooling demand from investors. With countries like Japan, China, Russia, and Turkey buying less and selling more US debt, foreign purchases at Treasury auctions have slowed down.  Bond dealers have been buying more US debt, but they quickly resell it to make a profit.

There are concerns that US debt is growing out of control. According to RT, America’s debt currently stands at $21.5 trillion, while the Treasury said the US government paid $523 billion in interest in the fiscal year 2018, the highest ever on record. According to the US president Donald Trump’s chief economist Kevin Hassett, the president intends to announce a policy aimed at tackling the debt. The deficit is absolutely higher than anyone would like. As you watch our next budget come out – and you’ll start to see things in the next few weeks – then you’ll see a much more aggressive stance in tackling it, he said, as quoted by Bloomberg. But no one is holding their breath.

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

Amid Market Rout, Decade of “Financial Repression” Ends, Capital Preservation Suddenly is a Thing

Amid Market Rout, Decade of “Financial Repression” Ends, Capital Preservation Suddenly is a Thing

This will dog the stock market going forward.

Fixed-income investors – a financially conservative bunch buying Treasury securities, FDIC-insured CDs, and similar products that largely eliminate risk – have been getting crushed for a decade: Except for brief periods when inflation dipped to near zero or below zero, their minuscule returns have been eaten up by inflation, or worse, they lost money after inflation, as was the case with shorter-term Treasuries and just about all savings products. But it has ended.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.3% in September (2.27%), compared to September a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning. This was down from the 2.9% increase in July. These numbers are volatile, but the trend is pretty clear: Outside of the Oil Bust and a few quarters during the Financial Crisis, inflation is a fixture in the US economy:

The CPI without food and energy – “core CPI” – rose 2.2% in September. Cost of shelter rose 3.3%. Cost of transportation services rose 4.0%. So prices are going up as measured by CPI.

What has changed is that interest rates and yields are also going up, and they’re now higher than inflation as measured by CPI across nearly the entire spectrum of US Treasury securities – and if you shop around, across many CDs too.

This ends a decade of “financial repression” — a condition when the Fed repressed interest rates below the rate of inflation.

The chart below shows the US Treasury yield curve across the maturity spectrum, from 1-month to 30 years, at the close yesterday. The 1-month yield, at 2.18%, was the only yield still below the rate of inflation. The 3-month yield at 2.27% is right on top of CPI (green line). Every Treasury security with a maturity longer than three months is beating inflation.

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

“Monster Move” In Treasuries Unleashes Global Market Rout

A sea of red has greeted stock traders across the world this morning after what one analyst called “monster moves” in U.S. Treasury yields.

The bond rout that sent 10Y Treasury yields to the highest since May 2011 promoted by stronger than expected US economic data, and which accelerated after upbeat, hawkish comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell after the close, spread into Asia and Europe on Thursday, spurring more gains for the dollar and triggering widespread declines in equities.

The catalyst for the selloff was the stronger than expected ADP private payrolls print and the near record print in the Services ISM survey which showed activity at its strongest since August 1997, sparking speculation the payrolls report on Friday could also surprise, with some suggesting a print as high as 500,000 was possible. Subsequent comments from Powell who said the economic outlook was “remarkably positive” and that rates might rise above “neutral” helped the 10Y yield climb to 3.18% on Wednesday. U.S. jobs data on Friday may stoke boosting expectations for rate hikes into 2019, with the jobless rate seen dropping to 3.8 percent, matching the lowest since 1969.

“Fixed income is the center of the financial world, and it’s hard to have a conversation without talking about the monster moves we saw in yesterday’s U.S. trade,” said Chris Weston head of research at Pepperstone Group. “It’s a very rare occurrence to see U.S. Treasuries undergo such a huge move.”

The selloff in 10Y Treasuries, which caught traders by surprise with both its velocity and magnitude, continued overnight on Thursday sending the yield on 10Y TSYs as high as 3.2325%, the steepest daily increase since the shock outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, before fading to catch its breath amid massive trading volumes.

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

The Gathering Storm In The Treasury Market

The Gathering Storm In The Treasury Market

Summary

  • Our analysis provides kind of a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) of what is currently taking place in global financial markets
  • The massive borrowing by the U.S. Treasury is crowding out emerging markets capital flows
  • The structural factors that have kept long-term interest rates low and term premia repressed are fading
  • We expect a measured move in the 10-year Treasury yield to 4.25 to 4.40 percent, much sooner than the market anticipates

Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” – Dick Cheney

Memo to Dick Cheney:

  • Deficits and the public debt are starting to matter. Really. 
  • It is now more strikingly true than ever given the U.S. public debt-to-GDP is more than 3.4x higher than when President Reagan took office.  

Emerging Market Debacle 

Go no further than the debacle currently taking place in the emerging markets (EM), which began in the second quarter of this year, to witness the consequences of the U.S. Treasury’s trillion-dollar-plus demand shock for global funding.

 

Treasury_EM_Currencies

 

EM_Relative FX Vol to DM

In a closed financial system and a non-QE world,  price (interest rates) would adjust to move the capital and debt markets back to a more sustainable equilibrium.   The rise in interest rates would force the government to borrow less as higher interest rates crowd out other spending.  Also, the supply of loanable funds to the government would rise as savings increase.

That is not the world we now inhabit, however,  where global financial repression by central banks has resulted in a “rent control” like shortage of dollar funding.   The shortfall is now being plugged, in part, by the residual capital flows, which had been chasing yield in the emerging markets over the past several years.

That is the sucking sound you have heard since late April.

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

Mortgage Rates Head to 6%, 10-Year Yield to 4%, Yield Curve Fails to “Invert,” and Fed Keeps Hiking

Mortgage Rates Head to 6%, 10-Year Yield to 4%, Yield Curve Fails to “Invert,” and Fed Keeps Hiking

Nightmare scenario for the markets? They just shrugged. But homebuyers haven’t done the math yet.

There’s an interesting thing that just happened, which shows that the US Treasury 10-year yield is ready for the next leg up, and that the yield curve might not invert just yet: the 10-year yield climbed over the 3% hurdle again, and there was none of the financial-media excitement about it as there was when that happened last time. It just dabbled with 3% on Monday, climbed over 3% yesterday, and closed at 3.08% today, and it was met with shrugs. In other words, this move is now accepted.

Note how the 10-year yield rose in two big surges since the historic low in June 2016, interspersed by some backtracking. This market might be setting up for the next surge:

And it’s impacting mortgage rates – which move roughly in parallel with the 10-year Treasury yield. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported this morning that the average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) and a 20% down-payment rose to 4.88% for the week ending September 14, 2018, the highest since April 2011.

And this doesn’t even include the 9-basis-point uptick of the 10-year Treasury yield since the end of the reporting week on September 14, from 2.99% to 3.08% (chart via Investing.com; red marks added):

While 5% may sound high for the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage, given the inflated home prices that must be financed at this rate, and while 6% seems impossibly high under current home price conditions, these rates are low when looking back at rates during the Great Recession and before (chart via Investing.com):

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

Did Russia Really Dump Its U.S. Debt?


Russia dumped 84% of its American debt,” blared a July CNN headline. Russian central-bank head Elvira Nabiullina said the sales were just part of “diversifying the entire structure of currencies.” But with the U.S. dollar accounting for two-thirds of global foreign-exchange reserves and most (non-intra-eurozone) international trade, dumping this much dollar debt goes well beyond prudent diversification.

Many commentators have therefore speculated that the government was actually protecting itself against future U.S. economic attacks. “It looks like Russia was worried about sanctions and their ability to trade Treasuries,” said one head bond trader, “so they sold.”

Still, the Russian central bank needs dollars, which it has always held mainly in the form highly liquid interest-bearing U.S. Treasuries, to stabilize the ruble through market intervention and to help its banks manage liquidity. Furthermore, Russian president Vladimir Putin has stated that “Russia is not rejecting the dollar” and is “not planning any sudden moves.” This doesn’t jibe with the media headlines.

We therefore decided to explore another possibility: that the headlines are just plain wrong, and that Russia has not sold anywhere near that many Treasuries.

Let us start with U.S. Treasury Department data on holdings of Treasury securities. These do indeed show an $81 billion (84 percent) plunge in Russian-held Treasury debt—from $96 billion in March to $15 billion in May. Other figures, however, suggest that Russia’s actual selloff was much smaller than this.

One indicator is Treasury Department data that track sales, between U.S. and foreign entities, of long-term Treasuries—the sole component of Russia’s Treasury holdings that has dropped since March. From March to May, these data show just $35 billion of Russian sales, as the middle bar in the left-hand box above indicates.

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

No Seller, Let Alone China, Can Disrupt US via Selling US Treasury’s…But the “Why” Ain’t Good

No Seller, Let Alone China, Can Disrupt US via Selling US Treasury’s…But the “Why” Ain’t Good

I often read that China may retaliate against US trade sanctions by further decreasing their US Treasury holdings, sending Treasury yields significantly higher, thus blowing out US deficit spending on interest payments.  Trouble is, Chinese Treasury holdings peaked in 2014 (on an annualized basis) and have been declining since.  The Chinese have not only ceased accumulating US Treasury debt, despite continued record trade surplus’ with the US resulting in significant dollar surplus’, but have been decreasing their holdings.  All this, according to the Treasury International Capital (TIC) system.

But this postulation that the Chinese could wound the US via selling a portion (or all) of its Treasury holdings (as Russia recently did) is submarined by the recent actions of the Federal Reserve.  I say this based on the magnitudes greater accumulation and subsequent dumping of specific maturities of US Treasury debt done by the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve accumulated almost $800 billion in 7 to 10 year US Treasury debt (red line, chart below) from 2009 to 2013, and then subsequently dumped $600 billion from early 2014 through the most present August 2018 data.  And the impact on the 10 year yield (blue shaded area, chart below)…essentially zero.  Yes, while the Fed rolled off and/or sold off 7 to 10 year holdings, they were busy buying short term debt.  But this still meant someone had to step up in duration and buy all that longer duration debt the Fed no longer wanted.

To put the relative size of China’s 7 to 10 year holdings in perspective to the Fed’s like holdings, the chart above estimates that a third of Chinese Treasury holdings (likely an overestimation) were of the 7 to 10 year variety (gold line).  The Fed has already rolled off / sold off 1.5x’s more 7 to 10 year debt than the Chinese even have.  

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

Turkey Joins Russia In Liquidating US Treasuries

Last month, when we reported that Russia had liquidated the bulk of its US Treasury holdings in just two months, we said that “we can’t help but wonder – as the Yuan-denominated oil futures were launched, trade wars were threatened, and as more sanctions were unleashed on Russia – if this wasn’t a dress-rehearsal, carefully coordinated with Beijing to field test what would happen if/when China also starts to liquidate its own Treasury holdings.”

As it turns out, Russia did lead the way, but not for China. Instead, another recent US foreign nemesis, Turkey, was set to follow in Putin’s footsteps of “diversifying away from the dollar”, and in the June Treasury International Capital, Turkey completely dropped off the list of major holders of US Treasurys, which has a $30 billion floor to be classified as a “major holder.”

According to the US Treasury, Turkey’s holdings of bonds, bills and notes tumbled by 52% since the end of 2017, dropping to $28.8 billion in June from $32.6 billion in May and $61.2 billion at the recent high of November of 2016.

Meanwhile, as we showed earlier, Russia – which first fell off the list last month after being a top-10 foreign creditor to the US just a few years ago – saw its Treasury holdings remain unchanged at an 11 year low of just $14.9 billion.

The selloffs took place well before a diplomatic fallout between the US and both Turkey and Russia resulted in new sets of sanctions and tariffs imposed on both nations. The Trump administration last week imposed new sanctions against Russia in response to the nerve agent poisoning in the U.K. of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

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

Russia Liquidates Its US Treasury Holdings

Last month we showed that as Trade Wars began in April, the world’s central banks and other official institutions dumped more Treasuries than in any month since January 2016, some $48.3BN, perhaps over concerns of others selling first, and precipitating a sharp move higher in yields. Fast forward one month later to May, when according to the latest just released Treasury International Capital (TIC) update, in May the selling of Treasurys by official entities continued, with another $24BN sold in the month of May, when yields continued to rise and eventually hit the 2018 highs of 3.11%.

But while the selling of Treasuries was to be expected – after all someone had to sell aggressively to push yields sharply higher in April and May – the question was who.

What we showed last month, is that contrary to some speculation, it wasn’t Beijing, because after shedding a modest $6BN in April, China actually bought $1.2BN in Treasurys in May, leaving its holdings largely unchanged over the past month.

And while Japan did sell $12BN in TSYs in April, it more than made up for its in May when it purchased $17.5BN, bringing its total to $1048.8BN in May, which means that over the past two month, Japan was a net buyer of US paper.

Meanwhile, the third most prominent holder, hedge funds, aka “Cayman Islands”, bought for a second consecutive month, adding another $5BN.

* * *

So if the usual suspects were buying, who was selling?

Here is the answer.

Readers may recall that last month we first reported  that for all the confusion about sharply higher yields in April, the explanation was simple: it was Vladimir Putin who liquidated a whopping half of Russia’s Treasury holdings, which declined by $47.4BN to just $48.7BN – the lowest since 2008 – from $96BN in March.

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

Trade End Game Scenarios: Boycott Treasuries vs Yuan Devaluation

Since there is no longer any reasonable debate about a trade war having started, let’s investigate how it ends.

End Game Analysis


The end-game retaliation comes via a global boycott of the Treasury auctions. Foreign entities fund half the US fiscal deficit, which is set to double. Imagine the locals funding their own budget gap!

This forces the savings rate up at the expense of spending. Recession follows.


Treasury Boycott Thesis

I am surprised that Rosenberg brings this up because in my mind, this hash has been settled long ago.

What exactly would China, Japan, and Germany do with their reserves and ongoing trade surplus? Mathematically they have to do something.

Historically, that something has been to buy treasuries. But I suppose China could buy could be gold or US equities. The latter would be smack in the middle of an obvious bubble.

And if China were to dump US treasuries, the alleged nuclear option, it would serve to strengthen the Yuan. Recall that China sold US treasuries to support the Yuan and stop capital flight. In a trade war, China would not want an appreciating currency!

I think Rosenberg proposes nonsense, but given the nonsensical actions of Trump, I cannot rule out nonsensical or illogical responses.

This leads us to the most logical real threat.

Yuan Devaluation Thesis

China cannot retaliate with enough tariffs on its own to combat tariffs imposed by the US. Hower, the yuan does not float. China could devalue the yuan enough to counteract the value of US tariffs.

Of course, Trump could ban Chinese imports in response, but prices at Walmart, Costco, Target, everywhere, would skyrocket.

This scenario is nearly the opposite of what Rosenberg suggests. It is also far more credible.

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

Oil Surges, 10Y Yield Back Over 3%, Futures Jump In Iran Deal Fallout

For those curious what the fallout from the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal looks like in the capital markets, the answer is as follows: higher US stock futures, a stronger dollar (at least initially, the greenback has since turned slightly negative) ahead of a $25BN 10Y auction (which may carry the first 3.00% cash coupon in almost 7 years), and perhaps critically, a 10Y Treasury yield rising back above 3.00% again.

But the most closely watched response was how oil would react, and sure enough the bulls have enjoyed the upper hand for now with WTI reversing Tuesday’s “fake CNN news” inspired slump to briefly surpass $71 per barrel, a new 4 year high, while Brent nudged $77 as the market came to terms with a U.S. message that buyers of Iranian crude have six months to curb their purchases.

Oil’s rise has been predicated by fresh concerns what the US withdrawal from the Iran deal means for oil markets: while Trump warned sanctions will be extremely strong for Iran, and any nations collaborating with it, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the US will be working with allies on a comprehensive deal, also states that firms can seek waivers or special licenses to operate in Iran, sending conflicting messages. Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament is set to vote on “proportional and reciprocal” action vs. the US after leaving the nuclear pact, while the Iranian deputy oil minister says the nuclear deal can exist without the US.  Meanwhile, UBS estimates that sanctions could lead to the reduction of Iran oil exports by 200-500k BPD over the next 6 months, although both China and India have said they will continue importing Iranian oil.

In global markets, the MSCI Asia Pacific index started off on the wrong foot, dropping 0.3% on weakness in Japan and China, however, sentiment reversed when Europe opened, and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose a fourth day as energy companies surged, while US equity futures were trading solidly in the green.

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

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