Asset Managers Flip To Net Short on Treasuries As UST 10Y-2Y Curve Slope Falls Below 80 BPS

Asset managers have flipped to net short on 10-year Treasury futures for the first time since November, according to CFTC data. The group reduced long positions the past three weeks after 10-year yields approached the 2 percent level in the lead-up to the September FOMC meeting. Even with the liquidation, yields have risen less than a quarter-point from year-to-date lows reached Sept. 8, suggesting the bull-market trend may still be intact.

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The US Treasury 10Y-2Y curve slope has just fallen below 80 basis points.

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(Un)Affordable Housing Alert! FHFA Purchase-Only Home Price Index Rises 6.3% YoY For July (4.5x Fed’s “Inflation” Rate and 2.73x Wage Growth)

The FHFA’s purchase-only home price index is out for July. It shows that home prices grew at a 6.3% YoY rate, but only 0.2% MoM. The largest home price increases were in Pacific and Mountain states.

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This means that housing, often the largest ticket item for American households, grew at 4.5 times the Fed’s inflation rate (core PCE price growth YoY). And 2.73x hourly wage growth.

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Yes, this is another alert for unaffordable housing.

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Broken Velocity: Yellen’s Low Inflation Quandary (Hint: FHFA Home Price Index Growing At 6.62% YoY)

Here is a brief summary of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s thoughts from yesterday courtesy of Deutsche Bank’s Peter Hooper: The Fed is on track to raise rates once more this year and three times in 2018. Yellen recognized that inflation has been running low recently, and that while there was some uncertainty around this performance, one-off factors that are not expected to persist, and which have not been associated with the performance of the broader economy, have been important. At the same time, Yellen noted that monetary policy operates with a lag and that labor market tightness will eventually push inflation up.

Inflation has been running low “recently”? Actually, “inflation” (defined as core personal consumption expenditure price growth YoY) has been below 2% since April 2012 and below 3% since July 1992. Notice that hourly wage growth for production and nonsupervisory employees has remained low as well, particularly since 2007.

Of course, home price increases have been far greater than the “inflation” rate used by The Fed. The recent FHFA Purchase-only home price index YoY (released this morning for June) has US home prices growing at 6.62% YoY while “inflation” is growing at a palty 1.40% YoY.

But nothing really seems to be working as expected by some. Expanding the M2 Money Supply was supposed to increase Real GDP, but that really hasn’t worked since the Reagan/Clinton recovery when M2 Money Supply growth dropped from over 12.5% YoY in 1983 to 0.1% YoY in April 1995 under President Clinton and Federal Reserve Chair Alan “Maestro” Greenspan. Robert Rubin was the Treasury Secretary.

Notice that M2 Money growth has almost always been higher than real GDP growth since 1995. Hence, M2 Money Velocity has mostly been declining since 1997.

What about the old model where additional Federal debt is okay as long as real GDP growth is greater than Federal debt growth? We are nearly at that point again after decades of rapid Federal debt growth with modest real GDP growth.

I am guessing that rather than raise rates next year, The Fed may be forced to expand their balance sheet … again. Giving more oxygen to the asset bubbles.

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As many Americans are forced to switch from exotic beers like Heineken to less expensive beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

 

Existing Home Sales YoY Flat in August, Inventory Still Missing (Median Prices Up 5.6% YoY)

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales YoY were flat at +0.2% growth (while down 1.7% MoM from July to August). Hurricane season isn’t helping existing home sales.

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The median price of existing home sales YoY grew at 5.6%.

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Existing home sales inventory is still missing as in 1999-2001 levels.

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Let’s see what The Fed announces at 2pm regarding interest rates.

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BIS Hunts for ‘Missing’ Global Debt, Inflation (Try Including Housing!)

Just like global central banks, the Bank for International Settlements can’t seem to find inflation and $114 trillion in off-balance sheet FX derivatives.

ZURICH – Nonfinancial companies and other institutions outside of the U.S., excluding banks, may be sitting on as much as $14 trillion in “missing debt” held off their balance sheets through foreign-exchange derivatives, according to research published Sunday by the Bank for International Settlements.

These transactions, which resemble debt but for accounting purposes aren’t classified that way, aren’t new. Rather, researchers from the BIS — a consortium of central banks based in Basel, Switzerland — used global banking data and surveys to estimate the size of this debt for the first time.

The implications for financial stability are unclear because FX swaps are backed by cash collateral and can be used to hedge exposure to currency swings, thus promoting stability. Still, the debt “has to be repaid when due and this can raise risk,” the authors wrote.

According to the paper, published with the BIS’s quarterly update on global financial conditions, non-banks outside the U.S. owed roughly $13 trillion to 14 trillion through foreign-exchange swaps and forwards. That exceeds the nearly $10.7 trillion in dollar debt held on their balance sheets at the end of the first quarter

“Non-banks” include nonfinancial companies, households, governments, and certain financial institutions that aren’t classified as banks and international organizations.

Globally, there are $58 trillion in FX swaps and related exposures, BIS said, which equals about three-quarters of global gross domestic product.

The authors explained that “in an FX swap, two parties exchange two currencies spot and commit to reverse the exchange at some pre-agreed future date and price.” In a forward contract, parties agree to swap currencies at a future date and price. “Accounting conventions leave it mostly off-balance sheet, as a derivative, even though it is in effect a secured loan with principal to be repaid in full at maturity,” the paper noted.

This short-term funding is backed by cash and it carries little credit risk. “Even so, strains can arise,” the authors wrote, citing the funding squeeze experienced by European banks during the global financial crisis.

The BIS’s quarterly review didn’t just examine missing debt, it also examined what it called “missing inflation” in the global economy, which has helped spur risk taking and drove up financial asset values in recent months.

The implications are big for stock and bond markets that have moved largely in tandem, with bond yields staying super low while equity markets reached record highs. Whereas faster growth typically implies higher inflation and central bank rate increases, the prospect of significantly tighter monetary policy in the U.S. and other big economies has receded.

“This puts a premium on understanding the ‘missing inflation’, because inflation is the lodestar for central banks,” said BIS chief economist Claudio Borio.

Annual inflation in the U.S., measured by the price index for personal-consumption expenditures, was 1.4% in July. Annual eurozone inflation was 1.5% in August. Both are well below the 2% rate that most big central banks consider optimal. Economists typically cite sluggish wage growth, heightened global competition, low oil prices and the effects of technological changes as explanations for subdued price pressures.

“Despite subdued inflation in advanced economies, the global macro outlook was upbeat. Market commentators label such an environment the Goldilocks scenario — where the economy is ‘not too hot, not too cold, but just right,'” BIS said.

Still, there are risks if bond yields eventually start to rise on the back of firmer global growth, given the sensitivity of the private and public sectors to debt.

Thus, the absence of inflation “is the trillion dollar question that will define the global economy’s path in the years ahead and determine, in all probability, the future of current policy frameworks,” said Mr. Borio.

Dear Federal Reserve and BIS. Try including house prices which are growing at fantastic rates of growth.

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Tell folks in New Zealand and Australia that there is “no inflation.”

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The US almost looks tame in terms of housing pirces compared to Britain and its former colonies where housing prices are growing over twice as fast as wage growth for the majority of the population.

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New Zealand takes the cake for crazy housing prices, particularly in Auckland, their largest city.

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There BIS. We found your missing inflation. 

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Atlanta Fed’s Q3 Real GDP Forecast Dwindles To 2.2% From 3.0% (NY Fed Nowcast Q3 Forecast Plunges To 1.34%)

According to the Atlanta Fed, the GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the third quarter of 2017 is 2.2 percent on September 15, down from 3.0 percent on September 8. The forecasts of real consumer spending growth and real private fixed investment growth fell from 2.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, to 2.0 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, after this morning’s retail sales release from the U.S. Census Bureau and this morning’s report on industrial production and capacity utilization from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

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The New York Fed’s Q3 forecast plunged to 1.34%.

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The alleged culprit? Hurricane Harvey.

Between a lack of inflation and dwindling GDP growth, The Fed is going to be hard put to raise rates at the December meeting.

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Where’s The Unwind? Fed Actually Adds $15 Billion To Balance Sheet (As “Inflation” Remains Low And Home Prices Soar)

The Federal Reserve has been jawboning their intent to unwind their almost $4.5 trillion balance sheet, nearly all of which is either Treasurys or mortgage-backed securities.

The Fed’s Balance Sheet has pretty much been on hold (treading water) since 2014 and the end of QE3, their third round of asset purchases.

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But the System Open Market Account (SOMA) report from 9/13/2017 shows that The Fed actually added around $15 billion to its balance sheet.

soma091317So, no balance sheet unwind yet.

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Remember, The Fed’s notion of inflation (US Personal Consumption Expenditure Core Price Index YoY) remains under their target rate of 2% at 1.40% YoY.

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And core CPI growth YoY is at 1.7%, also under the 2% target.

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And with asset prices such as for housing exceeding wage growth by over 2x, The Fed has quite a bit to consider before pulling the handle on the balance sheet unwind.

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The US Treasury 10Y-2Y curve slope has declined from around 280 basis points in 2010-2011 to under 82 basis points today.

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Here is inflation that is hiding that The Fed doesn’t want to consider.

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