Debt Limit Gums Up Treasury’s Plan for Supply Bump as Fed Tapers

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Treasury has been planning for years how to deal with the funding gap set to open up when the Federal Reserve begins unwinding its $2.5 trillion hoard of the government’s debt.

Now there’s a new wrinkle to prepare for, as the latest deal to extend the nation’s debt limit complicates matters for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just as the Fed is expected to unveil the start of its balance-sheet reduction.

With the debt-cap suspension expiring Dec. 8, there’s a growing sense among investors and analysts that Treasury will have to slow or hold off on the inevitable — increasing note and bond sales to deal with the shift in Fed policy and rising federal deficits. Most strategists had predicted that long-term tilt toward more coupon issuance would start in November, so a delay may provide a boost for bond bulls betting yields can stay near historic lows.

“The debt-limit issue will in the near-term affect what Treasury does with coupon issuance,” said Gene Tannuzzo, a money manager at Columbia Threadneedle, which oversees $473 billion. “At the end of the day, Treasury will have to do a lot more coupon sales. On the margin, for now, if there is less coupon issuance it is a modestly positive technical” for Treasuries.

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Just how exactly Treasury will respond to the Fed’s tapering is one of the great unknowns facing investors. The mix of maturities it decides on has far-reaching implications for the world’s biggest bond market, with the potential to alter the shape of the yield curve for years to come.

A Treasury spokeswomen, Marisol Garibay, declined to comment.

That is, IF the Fed tapers their balance sheet.

The Fed is likely to cap reinvestments of Treasuries and Agency MBS rather than outright sell them out of their portfolio. Agency MBS gradually bleed off due to mortgage refinancings and Treasuries eventually mature.

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If anyone is worried about the budget gap, imagine what it will look like with Bernie Care (Medicare for all)!

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Since Medicare is already growing at an explosive rate.

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The Hysteria Curve: US Treasury 10Y-2Y Curve Slope Declines To 78.6 BPs As 10 Year Soveriegn Yields Decline In Americas and Europe

Choose your hysteria to explain the Treasury market: 1) debt ceiling crisis, 2) hurricane (Global Warming) crisis, 3) North Korean nuclear attack crisis, 4) Trump’s Russian collusion investigation crisis, 5) the DACA (“Dreamer”) crisis, 6) Brexit crisis, 7) NAFTA crisis or 8) fill-in-the-blank crisis dejure. Please tune to CNN or MSNBC (and even Bloomberg) for the latest in hysteria.

Which ever portfolio of crises you select, we watching the US Treasury 10Y-2Y curve slope fall below 80 to the lowest slope since September 2016.

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10 year sovereign yields in the Americas and Europe can down with the US falling around 10.1 BPS and Argentina down almost 40 BPS.1010

Gold prices are up since the 2016 election while the US dollar basket is down.

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We are seeing a jump in equity and Treasury volatility, but not much.

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Tune into MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnel for particularly entertaining hysterical rants (like about Trump’s 2005 tax return).

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Wall Street, Not Waiting on Mnuchin, Readies Debt-Limit War Room (Sifma revisiting, revising 2011, 2013 contingency plans)

(Bloomberg) The key industry groups that seek to prevent seismic disruptions in the world’s biggest debt market aren’t waiting around to see if Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can get Congress to lift the debt limit before America exhausts its borrowing capacity.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the $14.1 trillion Treasury market’s self-regulatory body, is revisiting and revising work done ahead of previous debt-ceiling showdowns in a bid to lessen the potential market disruption should politicians fail to raise the debt ceiling in time. The group’s primary focus is how operational issues such as trading, clearing, and settlement would be affected should debt payments get delayed. Sifma’s preparations coincide with similar efforts being undertaken by the Federal Reserve-sponsored Treasury Market Practices Group.

Call this “A View to a Shill.” Or the war room for the US invasion of Grenada.

5 year Credit Default Swaps on the US are rising, but not by much.

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Although we are seeing some reaction in the swaps market, but only back to May 2017 levels.

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Market participants and credit arbiters say a plan that was secretly considered by the Obama administration when the country almost breached the debt limit in 2011 signals that debt prioritization is a likely option if needed in 2017.

Good luck with that debt ceiling fight-off when mandatory Federal spending is going into warp-drive.

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With Medicare leading the way.

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US Debt Ceiling, The Wall, Runaway Spending And The Lack Of Evidence Of Concern … So Far (Low US CDS)

The US Statutory Debt Limit, a failed tool to halt the endless growth of Federal debt issuance, is once again in play at nearly $20 trillion. It was only at $6 trillion in 2002.

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The problem, of course, is runaway Fed spending which is currently at around twice that of Federal current tax receipts, requiring that the deficit be funded by issuing Federal debt (or raising taxes and/or cutting Federal spending).

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The staggering increase in Federal debt starting in 2007 also resulted in a large spike in public debt to GDP.

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The US has joined the European PIGs (Portugal, Italy, Greece, as well as Cyprus and Belgium) in having debt as a percentage of GDP being over 100%. The fourth debt piggie is Spain at 99.40% debt to GDP.

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The core problem with Federal spending, now and in the future, is mandatory (entitlement) spending.

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Of the entitlement spending, Medicare is growing at an unsustainable rate (although Medicaid growth is no slouch either).

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So we are on an ussustainable track in terms of spending. How does “the wall” with Mexico fit it? It could be funded with more taxation, or spending cuts on other programs. Democrats LOVE raising taxes, but not to build a wall. Republicans are split on building a wall (open border freemarketeers versus those with national security concerns).

My colleagues at my former employer Deutsche Bank have attempted to lay out possible funding scenarios. Although I think the odds of deep spending cuts is about as likely as North Korea embracing personal freedom and capitalism.

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With explosive Federal spending and projections of public debt exceeding first $20 and then $30 trillion, I have little doubt that Congress and President Trump will agree on a debt limit increase even if there is a momentary government shutdown.

But right now, credit default swaps are signaling no shutdown, particularly in comparison to previous shutdown fears surrounding debt ceiling increases (orange boxes).

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So, there is nothing YET showing up in the CDS data. We are seeing an increase in Treasury bills rates even when the probability of a Fed increase in their rates is very low for the next year.

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The probability of a US default is around 0.04%.

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But there is also a realization that while there was intial enthusiam that Trump would lower taxes and deregulate the economy,  there is has a steady decline in enthusiasm over his promises since Congress is obstructing most of Trump’s economic agenda.

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We can hope that Congress and President Trump follow the advice of the band Canned Heat and work together. 

But we do know that Congress loves to spend money, so they have a natural mutual allegiance to raising the debt ceiling.

Perhaps Andy Dwyer and Mouserat from Parks and Recreation can rewrite their song “The Pit” as “The Wall.”

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Whip It! Univ of Michigan Inflation Remains Unchanged at 2.6% (But Declines To 2.5% For 5-10 Yr Ahead)

The University of Michigan survey of consumers just released their montly update on inflation expectations. If only The Fed’s Janet Yellen was watching consumer inflation expectations because consumers expect more inflation than The Fed’s inflation target of 2%. Apparently, The Fed is having trouble whipping inflation above 2%.

Consumer inflation expectations remained at 2.6% for August, but the expectations for inflation down the road fell to 2.5%.

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Of course, 2.6% inflation is higher than The Fed’s target inflation rate of 2%. All inflation measures of core prices (excluding home prices, education, healthcare, etc) are under 2%.

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As I mentioned, home prices are left out of the core inflation calculation. But if home prices WERE included, for example, we could have substantially greater inflation since YoY home price growth ranges from 5.7% to 6.9%. Wage growth is only about 2.36 – 2.5%. This indicates that home prices are growing around 2.5x wage growth.

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It is clear that consumers are pricing in non-core inflation into their forecasts, such as home prices, rent, food, healthcare, tuition, textbooks, childcare, etc.

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Whip it (inflation) good, Janet!

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Debt Star! Trump May Need Obama’s Secret Debt Plan, Worrying Markets

So, President Obama had a secret plan to default on the US public debt all along. And President Trump may have to use it.

(Bloomberg) Deep within the Treasury Department sits a once-secret plan written by the Obama administration that could lead to the first-ever default on U.S. debt. Bond traders are worried that Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary may have to use it.

The U.S. government will reach its statutory limit on borrowing some time in October, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. The Trump administration has asked Congress to raise the ceiling before then, but it is running into the same complications the Obama White House encountered: lawmakers, mostly Republicans, who want to use the debt limit as leverage for controversial policy changes.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said there are “plans and backup plans” to keep the government solvent through September. Bond traders suspect he is referring to preparations made in 2011 in case the Obama administration had to prioritize payments on government securities over other obligations. The Treasury chief got fresh hope that Congress may raise the debt limit before leaving for its August recess after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the break by two weeks.

Yes, Congress and the US Treasury has a debt problem. Explosive debt, thanks to chronic spending by Congress, will really be facing a problem if Treasury rates rise.

Healthcare spending (such as Medicare) is growing exponentially.

Leading to a CBO forecast of over $30 trillion in the near future.

And then we have the massive underfunding of government pension plans which will require bailouts by taxpayers. Look at Illinois, for example at 40% funded.

The good news is that markets aren’t pricing in excessive debt … yet.

With Senators like Maria Cantwell running things in Congress, how bad can it be?

Small Business Optimism Falls To 103.6, But Remains Above 100 (Obamasnare?)

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for June fell slightly to 103.6, but remains above 100.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index remained below 100, indicating pessismism about small business growth, for most of Obama’s two terms as President, primarily because of the (Un)Affordable Care Act that placed staggering burdens on small businesses. There was hope that Trump and a Republican-held Congress could repeal the horrid Obamacare legislation, but that is looking less and less likely.

Obamacare was so poorly designed (it was really just a wealth transfer scheme from the beginning) that you see insurers pulling out of markets, leaving some counties with zero or 1 insurer.

Obamacare premiums have been soaring, depending on the state. Some states like California have seen increases of less than 10%, but some states like Arizona have seen increases in excess of 50%, not to mention massive increases in the deductible amount.

Since much of the burden of Obamacare falls on small companies (who rarely get representation or protection in Congress), I expect the optimism index to sink if Congress fails to repeal Obamacare (or at least returns Obamacare to a more free market approach).

For small businesses, Obamacare should be renamed “Obamasnare” since small businesses are snared in the healthcare trap.

But improving economic conditions and deregulation should improve small business model.