It’s A FOMC Day!

May 4, 2022

* RBA hikes rates! 

* Traders wait for the FOMC announcement… 

Good day… And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! It’s also Star Wars Day, so May the 4th Be With You! A quick reminder that there will be no Pfennig tomorrow…. My Cardinals bats were missing again last night, and they lost a game to their interstate rivals, The Royals…this lack of hitting is getting to be a real problem for my Redbirds… UGH! Pitching and Defense can go a long way, butter has to be some hitting at some point! Supertramp greets me this morning with their song, which is also my fave Supertramp song: Hide In Your Shell

After getting sold in the overnight markets the night before, the dollar rallied back during the U.S. Session on Tuesday. The BBDXY gained 2 index points to close the day at 1,2446.29. The trading in the dollar, the last two days leads me to wonder if this will be a case of “buy the rumor, sell the fact”?  With the rumor being that the FOMC will hike rates by 50 Basis Points this afternoon… For there’s been a ton of dollar buying leading up to today…

Gold found a way to gain $4.60 yesterday, while Silver made it 11 consecutive days of getting sold… Silver lost 6-cents, to close the day at $22.63, and Gold closed the day at $1,869.00. I hope you all had the opportunity to read the FWIW snippet yesterday. and took my opinion on holding Gold to heart!… The price of Oil slipped a buck yesterday, and bonds were stuck in the mud.

Speaking of bonds…. There was an article somewhere that I read the other day that talked about how the largest buyer of Treasuries has been unloading them… I told you all that this would happen…. I have something for you regarding a problem with Treasuries in the FWIW section today… So make sure you stick around for that…

In the overnight markets last night…. There’s been little movement of all the asset classes that I follow… Everything is stuck in the mud this morning, with all traders waiting on the FOMC…

Well, today is The DAY isn’t it? The long awaited, and much talked about, 50 Basis Points (1/2%) rate hike will come to be this afternoon. I’m more interested in what the chairman, Jerome Powell, has to say about future rate hikes, because…. Even if there aren’t any real financial journalists to hold his feet to the fire, when he backs off. I’ll be here to call him out…you can bet your bottom dollar on that!

Another $33 Billion is being earmarked for Ukraine…. The Fed/ Cabal/ Cartel has been making overtures about fighting inflation, and the White House keeps racking up the deficit spending, which will require more dollars to be printed… And dollars getting printed is how we got into this inflation mess!  The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) hiked their internal rate 25 Basis Points last night, their first rate hike in a decade! The RBA must be taking a page from the Fed’s book on how to combat inflation… This rate hike brings their internal rate to .35%….

The U.S. Data Cupboard had some interesting prints yesterday… 11.5 million job openings in March, and the Great Resignation continues with 4.5 Million job quits in March… Factory Orders were up 2.2% in March but that makes no sense given the negative 1.4% GDP print for the first QTR…. Today’s Data Cupboard has the ADP Employment Report for April…

To recap… The dollar rallied yesterday after getting sol the night before. And last night’s trading was all stymied as traders fear the FOMC this afternoon… Gold & Silver are flat this morning… And we found another $33 Billion laying around that we don’t need! The Reserve Bank of Ausralia hiked rates 25 Basis Points last night…

For What It’s Worth…. Well, this is the aforementioned article about the problem with treasuries, and it can be found here: 12ft | Stress emerges again in Treasuries market | Financial Times

Or, here’s your snippet: “At the beginning of this month, major financial market participants trading in the US Treasury bond market had difficulty meeting the demands for collateral made by their counterparties.

The alarm bell was reported in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Primary Dealer Statistics, in the weekly report for “fails” for US Treasury securities. A “fail” occurs when a market participant breaks a promise to receive or deliver securities when they are obliged to do so.

In the week ended April 6, there were a total of $507bn in fails reported by the primary dealers, a sharp rise from $358bn in the previous week ended March 30. The level fell back down again to $275bn in the subsequent week and was far below the $5.3tn peak of fails seen in one October week in the 2008 financial crisis. But the jump this month was notable — the highest level of fails since March 2020.

During that March, you will recall, financial markets very publicly ground to a halt due to Covid-19 lockdowns. This time, though, there was no particular, visible trigger event.

Even in the normal course of business, some securities transactions will fail. As the New York Fed has noted: “Fails occur for a variety of reasons. One source of fails is miscommunication. Despite their best efforts to agree on terms, a buyer and seller may not identify to their respective operations departments the same details for a given transaction.”

Or, as the New York Fed says, there can be “operational problems”, such as those arising after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks. “Less extreme operational problems can also precipitate settlement fails, and are not uncommon,” it says.

But the fails reported this April go beyond a burnt out piece of equipment or a mumbled order or two. There are a number of disincentives for controlling the size and number of fails. After the massive settlement problems of the financial crisis, a charge on fails was introduced in May 2009 of up to 3 per cent of the trade value. The charge was extended from Treasuries to US agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in February 2012. That adds up when you are looking at tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.

Part of the dealers’ problem in early April was a recent significant cutback in the US Treasury’s issuance of short-term bills, particularly the four-week bills that are the most liquid form of collateral for other transactions. Those would include margin posts required by clearing houses for commodities or foreign exchange trades.

As the Treasury has been borrowing less to cover stimulus payments and extra pandemic-related costs, its debt managers have been rebalancing the profile of its securities issuance by selling fewer short-term bills. This is in line with “good practice”: the Treasury’s advisory committee has agreed that only 15 to 20 per cent of total issuance should be in the form of bills.

This prudent debt management, however, does not take into account the greater utility of Treasury bills as collateral because their prices are the least vulnerable in a rate-rising period.

Primary dealers can take advantage of their direct participation in Treasury auctions to obtain lots of bills. Then lesser market players, such as highly levered private equity funds, or the giant commodities trading houses, can rent the bills for a fee to be posted as margin with clearing houses against volatile energy, interest rate or foreign exchange contracts.

The primary dealers demand other collateral in return for lending the Treasury bills, most frequently in the form of lower-rated or less liquid securities such as corporate bonds. This process is known as “collateral transformation”, a way to turn chicken droppings into chicken salad, so to speak.

Unfortunately, sometime in the days leading up to April 6, a very large amount of the lower-rated collateral was apparently devalued, according to my market contacts. When that shock was combined with the tightness in the bill supply, you had a collateral squeeze.

As a 2017 New York Fed paper puts it: “Large and protracted settlement fails are believed to undermine the liquidity and well-functioning of the securities market.” As one bond market expert tells me, “This is not yet at the level of October 2008, when there were $5tn in fails. But something is broken.”

Chuck again… Problems, problems problems, all because of too much debt…  I’ve been harping about too much debt since 2003…  Shoot Rudy, I’d be happy with the debt levels of 2003 now! 

Market Prices 5/4/2022: American Style: A$ .7101,  kiwi .6442,  C$ .7990, euro 1.0536, sterling 1.2517, Swiss $1.0221, European Style: rand 15.8114, krone 9.3890, SEK 9.8507,  forint 361.54,  zloty 4.4508,  koruna 23.3981, RUB 67.28, yen 130.04, sing 1.3822, HKD 7.8486, INR 76.24, China 6.6085, peso 20.24, BRL 4.9620, BBDXY 1,246.26, Dollar Index 103.40, Oil $106.30,  10-year 2.93%, Silver $22.54, Platinum $979.00, Palladium $2,266.00, Copper $4.42, and Gold…. $1,867.90

That’s it for today… Man, I’ve been sleeping a lot this past week, while the head cold settled in… I mean a lot!  I’ve always maintained that your body lets you know when you need to sleep… So, apparently, I needed to sleep! There’s nothing going on in the afternoons anyway! Well, all the weight that I said I had gained while in Florida, I’ve lost again… Whew! Now, to get to losing more! Our Blues are back on the ice tonight in Game 2 of their series with the Wild… The Blues played great in game 1, let’s hope they continue that tonight! Let’s Go Blues!  The Searchers take us to the finish line today with their great 60’s song: Love Potion No. 9…   I hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday to day, May the 4th Be With You, and please remember to Be Good To Yourself! 

Chuck Butler