We discovered it unpublished in our web archive today and as the theme is still very relevant today, we decided to publish it:
Today’s brief analysis of US TreasuryYield curves and the Debt profiles of both the USA and Italy highlights the enduring question in the title of this post.
The first graphic highlights one important issue. We chose 2 August 2011 versus 17 February 2012 as key dates to compare the US Treasury Yield curve. If we cast our minds back to 2 August 2012 two key facts emerge:
The key take-away from the Yield Curve comparison is that even with a ratings downgrade, the US is actually able to borrow new capital at a lower rate of interest 6 months on.
However, to pour a bit of realism into the analysis, we highlight two interesting Debt profile graphics below.
The first one is the USA Treasury Maturity curve (admittedly 6 months out of date), highlighting when the current debt will need to be redeemed or rolled over. The second is the Italian Bond Maturity curve. You will notice just how similar the USA and Italy Debt Maturity profiles are.
From this comparison, the critical question currently for us is:
Where will all the new money come from to roll over the debt maturing during the next 3 – 12 months? QE is one option, but investors still need to be convinced that their capital is safe and relatively risk-free. It is the Risk-free equation (or investor risk appetites) that needs to be explored in more detail.
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.
Never resist the temptation to start a discussion with a pun.
In our previous article we highlighted the ‘battle royal’ on Capitol Hill to get a proposal agreed to address the possibility of a US Treasury default, whether actual or technical on or after 2 August 2011.
There is obviously a lot of back room dealing going on over this and analysts in Europe (taking their beading eyes off the Greek and now Italian and Spanish dominoes) have started to pay attention to the goings on across the pond. We heard one commentator mention the fact that the USA’ reputation has already been affected by this, irrespective of the fact that a default occurs or not.
So there you go. The fringe minority floating in the ‘Tea’ cup with a lack of the ability to look over the brim of that particular cup, might in fact achieve their overall objective of raising their own profiles, albeit at the expense of the nation’s reputation and standing as a pillar of the international capital market.
Look, we are not choosing sides here, because at the heart of the matter is the fundamental principles of civil society versus the public sphere debate raging and continuing to rage in the USA.
In our next article we will highlight some of the basic differences in opinion and views on the size and influence of government in the USA versus Europe, via the Rahn curve analysis.
Until then, it is tick, tock; tick, tock whilst we await the vote and subsequent consequences and fall-out from the US debt ceiling debate.
We are so very, very close to seeing and experiencing another colossal collapse in confidence in the world’s financial system.
This time it is driven by the ‘US Debt Ceiling impasse’. A steady flight to gold has been taking place over the past few months and even though most informed commentators believe the US Treasury ‘default scenario’ is not likely to physically occur, the mere threat of a default has not yet managed to ‘focus the minds’ of the US congress house of representatives locked in an ideological battle over fundamental economic policy and direction.
At stake here is a scenario that will make the 2008 financial crisis wane into insignificance, should the threat of a US Treasuries default actually play out.
If a default actually occurs, confidence in the international capital and currency markets will have been breached and no serious commentator has yet fully quantified or effectively mapped out the potential consequences of this potentially disastrous collapse in capital market confidence.
The only significant contribution we can make at this publication is to cross our fingers, hold as much in cash and liquid (non US dollar) assets and hope that some real focus and a meeting of minds occurs before Tuesday 2 August 2011 on Capitol Hill.