In yesterday’s article, “Where will all the new money come from?” we concluded the brief analysis with the Sovereign Debt Maturity profiles (otherwise known as the Debt Structure) of both the USA and Italy, noting how similar the two profiles looked at first glance.
Digging a bit deeper today, we would like to compare those charts to cliff edges. We trust that the sentiment of the article is that we perceive Central Banks across the globe fretting about the ‘New Money’ we were referring to. With general economic confidence waning and the outlook for a sustainable long-term solution to sovereign over (indulgence) spending fading, the landscape is looking very bleak at moment.
New money will have to be printed (Quantitative Easing or QE) if investors in the capital markets cannot be found to bear the burden of purchasing new Bond and Treasury issues.
Some headlines over the few weeks alluded to Bond auctions in Portugal, Italy and Spain being well supported (see related article at the bottom of this post), but these were not major refunding and roll-over exercises. Greece is continuing to be a welcome distraction for politicians and Central Bankers in both taking investor’s eye off the bigger problems coming along the line in Q2 2012 and in winning time to hopefully come up with a credible longer-term plan to reduce debt levels and then return to growth.
Let’s take a look at some of the crucial Sovereign Debt auctions coming up in the next few months:
The link below provides a time table schedule issued by the US Treasury for T-Bills, T-Notes, T-Bonds and TIPS, for at least the next six months.
To get the equivalent Eurozone calendar is not so easy. (Partly because each individual country issues Bonds, as there is no Central Eurozone issuer of Bonds, but at least a central purchaser, namely the ECB – European Central Bank)
We are currently investigating sources of information for Eurozone Sovereign Debt Bond auctions and will return to this theme in very near future.
Today’s short opinion piece revolves around the recent rail fare increases announced in the UK.
It strikes us as a very cynical way of rewarding behaviour and policies implemented by previous governments and parliaments to now go and increase the ‘tax’ on rail commuters when the switching policy from road to rail has meant that more rail passenger miles are being racked up versus road miles and supposedly turning off the tax flows into the Treasury from fuel duties, because more rail journeys are being undertaken.
Yet again the pendulum has swung the other way and at the consumer end of the bargain, we are being sent a confusing message us to which behaviours the government wants to encourage us to take.
So it has finally happened. After threatening for months that a credit rating down grade was probable for the USA, Standard & Poor’s finally took the ‘big step’ on Friday 5 August, after the major markets closed.
Will the markets and market participants see the down grade as an opportunity to play an FX gain game; or has the game fundamentally shifted and will the capital markets react by demanding a higher nominal or at least Real Return on US Treasury bills?
All pointers at the moment did not indicate a problem, but time will tell on whether a fundamental shift in attitude has occurred. Remember a credit rating is only a qualitative indicator, not a quantitative one, so on a technical call a few FX traders and investors might make a profit or two; but we are all waiting to see if the entire game has changed, or not.
Other factors that might come into play soon would be QE3 and attitude hardening by major T-Bill investors.
How the US Treasury and administration now react will be crucial.
And so too it is with economics. We don’t yet have a fully developed and ‘mature’ [in terms of life-cycle] grasp of the impact of timing with leads and lags in the economy in general.
Yes, we have very sophisticated and advance models, analytics, knowledge management, quantitative theories, etc.; but we still do not fully comprehend the impact of time and timing in general on the factors of production influencing our ‘modern’ global economy.
If only we could get the timing thing right and have a more insightful and meaningful (adult) debate not just in the US, but including global partners, both creditors and debtors alike.
But such is the nature of markets and spontaneous order, as espoused by our friends at the Austrian School, that we still believe and endorse the fact that ‘the market’ is still the best and most efficient mechanism for allocating resources (even financial and debt instruments) and informing the participants of potential risks and opportunities for clearing this market.
In the previous article we posted, mention was made of the (0.72)% [negative 0.72%] real return US Treasury investors can currently expect on 5 Year Treasury Bills. The Nominal (quoted) Yield Curves and Real (Inflation adjusted) Yield Curves for two specific points in time, namely Friday 29 July 2011 and 30 July 2006 are listed below.
Yield Curve 1
What is interesting to note is the very flat nature of the Yield Curve for all T-Bills at the end of July 2006, at around a 5% Nominal Return for investors. Yet the most significant fact is that the Real Yield was around 2.37% on 5 Year Treasuries, versus today’s (0.72)% on 5 Year or (0.18)% 7 Year T-Bill yields. In order to generate a very small Real Return, you have to be looking at purchasing a 10 Year T-Bill to obtain a modest 0.38% Real Return in today’s market.
A cynic might make this remark:
“Not only do you pay your taxes, but with the negative Real Yields on both 5 & 7 Year T-Bills, you are paying the government to hold on to your cash too”
As a general introduction today we will look at two US Treasury Yield curves. The first Yield curve in the Curve graphic 1 below is the 3 Month bills compared to the 10 Year bills over the last 5 years.
In this table it is clear that the current 10 Year rate of 2.82% as of 29 July 2011, is still well below the 5 year average rate. The trend of the 3 Month bills, especially over the last few months has drifted aimlessly between 0.15% on 28 February 2011 and currently at 0.10% on 29 July 2011. There is in fact no noticeable concern in the Bond / Capital market over the potential technical US Treasury default on 2 August 2011.
The second curve below in Curve graphic 2 illustrates this fact of the 3 Month bills trend since 28 February 2011 to 29 July 2011. As can be observed, in the last few days a very slight spike has been observed, yet the rate at 0.10% is still below the 0.15% rate of 28 February 2011.
Yield Curve 2
In real monetary terms it is costing 5 Year Treasury bill holders (0.72%) (Yes a negative return of 0.72% currently to buy 5 Year Treasuries. (See US Treasury web site)
It will be interesting to observe and track the trends over the coming days, especially as we kick off August and Debt Ceiling D-Day in the US congress and Senate.