Ben & Janet’s Famous Chili Recipe: Excess Reserves Still Around After 2008 And The Fed Is Paying MORE For Banks Not To Lend

In late 2008, The Federal Reserve did something that was not so widely noticed: It started to pay interest on excess reserves, effectively paying banks not to lend.

Excess reserves are cash funds held by banks over and above the Federal Reserve’s requirements. They have grown dramatically since the financial crisis. Holding excess reserves is now much more attractive to banks because the cost of doing so is lower now that the Federal Reserve pays interest on those reserves. The fact that banks are holding excess reserves in response to the risks and interest rates that they face suggests that the reserves are not likely to cause large, unexpected increases in bank loan portfolios. However, it is not clear what banks are likely to do in the future when the perceived conditions change.

In other words, The Fed is trying to control the price and quantity of risk.

ioerexcres.png

Excess reserves have actually declined slightly since 2015 when the article was written. But the question remains as to why financial institutions are continuing to park money at The Fed. And why The Fed is encouraging it.

Loan and lease growth YoY is slower following The Great Recession than at any time since 1975.

llbc

Part of the reason of the desire of commercial banks to park money at The Fed rather than lend it out is 1) risk (and the price of risk) and 2) compliance costs. The Dodd-Frank legislation and Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have greatly increased compliance costs leading some financial institutions to avoid said costs and collect interest from The Fed instead.

What happens if the economy booms? A simple answer would be for The Fed to take away the excess reserve punch bowl. But bank lending has become so regulated (CFPB, OCC, Fed, FDIC, SEC, etc) that financial instutions may decide to continue the escape valve from actual lending.

I call excess reserves and the interest paid by The Fed to FI’s that DON’T lend … Ben and Janet’s Famous Chili recipe. If the economy does boom, I am afraid of what will happen.

kfch

Advertisements

The Great Fed Unwind: It’s All About Treasury Note/Bond Sales, Not Agency MBS

The Federal Reserve was supposed to start shrinking their $4.4 TRILLION balance sheet back in October, but have only recently begun actually selling the assets on their balance sheet.

As you can see, the US Treasury 10-year Note yield was just above 4% when The Fed’s asset-buying began and after now resides at around 2.4%. And you can barely see the unwinding of the balance sheet since The Fed is moving at glacial speeds to unwind.

But we have only seen a slight uptick in the 10-year Treasury Note yield with the recent unwinding of the balance sheet (pink box).

Since The Fed’s asset purchases are primarily Treasury Notes/Bonds and agency Mortgage-backed Securities (Agency MBS), we can see that it is the T-Notes/Bonds that are being sold-off, not the Agency MBS. The Fed’s strategy is to let the Agency MBS run-off (gradually mature as mortgages prepay).

But as The Fed’s Balance unwinds and Treasury/Mortgage rates rise, mortgage prepayments are likely to slow, making The Fed’s plans less effective. This is called “extension risk.”

Let’s see what The Fed of New York does tomorrow!

Is A Recession Looming? Low Unemployment And Declining Treasury Curve Occur Just Before Recessions (And Lousy Wage Growth)

US Real GDP is growing at 2.3% YoY.  What’s not to like?

How about the lowest unemployment rate since 2000 and the worst wage “recovery” in modern times? AND a flattening Treasury yield curve?

Yes, we are once more staring into the abyss of a recession where unemployment rates are low (as they seemingly always are just prior to the end of a business cycle). Throw in a skidding Treasury curve and … this is it?

u3102a

As we are painfully aware,  wage growth is the worst it has been in modern times after The Great Recession. Despite the staggering printing of money by The Fed (and ultra-low interest rates).

wagesgrowthfed

Of course, The Fed is raising rates cautiously and unwinding their balance sheet very slowly in order not to disrupt markets (and pop the numerous asset bubbles).

 

 

Fed Balance Sheet Shrinks By $2.5 Billion (Starts Resembling a 30-year Mortgage)

The New York Federal Reserve has released their weekly SOMA (System Open Market Account) report. And as of December 6, 2017, SOMA has declined by $2.5 billion. To $4.2 TRILLION.

somadec617.png

How big is $2.5 billion unwind? It is so big that you can barely see it!

fedbalsoma120717

At this rate, it will take around 30 years to fully unwind the balance sheet. About the same length as a 30 year mortgage. As in 1,685 weeks at this rate.

All this as the Treasury curve keeps flattening towards zero.

flatcurve.png

“I’ll be long gone before this suckers unwinds!”

oryellin

Robot Monster! Transportation Stocks, Bitcoin Zoom, Tech Stocks Stutter and Hindenburg Omen Keeps Flashing

Another day in the land of Central Bank bubbles.

According to Bloomberg, transportation stocks have rallied more than 8 percent in a week, realigning them with industrials at new highs in a coupling that is one of the market’s oldest bullish technical indicators. According to the century-old Dow Theory, simultaneous records in the groups trigger a buy signal for U.S. stocks. Optimism that changes in U.S. tax policy will benefit the industry reignited the Dow Jones Transportation Average on Monday, pushing it back to an all-time high along with the industrials gauge.

dowth

But at the same time, the Hindenburg Omen keeps … omening?

hindyomen

The tech stock index SOX is stuttering.

soxindex

And crypto-currency Bitcoin keeps bubbling.

bitgolddol

Yes, another day in the land of Central Bank-generated asset bubbles.

“There is no escape from us, fool humans. There is no escape!”

Janet Yellen and The FOMC creating asset bubbles. Here is a video of her last speech to Congress.

yellenrobot