Despite what market analysts, media mavens, and government officials may assert, from an investment standpoint, the price action in the bond market can only be defined as “THEY’VE LOST CONTROL!!”
Who’s they? Bernanke, Geithner, Summers, Obama, and team. How so? The weight of the massive deficit spending along with the embedded costs of the Fed’s quantitative easing program are pressuring the bond market and driving interest rates dramatically higher. (10yr U.S. Treasury moved higher by almost 20 basis points today to 3.75%, a full 55 basis points higher over the last week. This is an ENORMOUS move.)
The knock on effect is increased anxiety in the equity markets (down 2% today) and a highly likely further slowing in the economy. I am not surprised. Given the programs and approach put forth by Obama, along with the economic turmoil, there was little doubt we would experience very high levels of deficit spending. Prior to the inauguration (January 4th to be precise), I surmised:
I also believe that despite the Fed and Treasury purchasing government and mortgage debt, these rates will end up much higher at the end of this year than they are now simply due to the growing deficit. A move higher in these rates will potentially cause further anguish within the equity markets.
I have tried to proactively highlight why I thought the government bond bubble was bursting (Is The Government Bond Bubble Getting Ready To Burst?) and just yesterday broached the negative impact on interest rates of all the mortgage refinancing activity (Mortgage Refi Activity Is Driving Rates Higher).
For those involved in trading or investing, successful calls are measured by direction, magnitude, and time. This call on rates has been a fairly patient development, but given the dramatic shift higher in rates over the last week, the implications of this move can now be embraced. Those implications include a revaluation of the equity markets (lower) and the economy (forestalled recovery). Beware of people who discount this move in interest rates. The fact is it has more to run. In my opinion, the move higher in rates is not only a reflection of the supply of bonds (both government and mortgage) but also an indication of further deterioration in our currency precipitating inflation.
Can the Federal Reserve do anything to defend the currency? Increase short term interest rates. Does anybody think our economy can afford an increase in short term rates at this juncture? NO WAY! There truly is very little the Fed or Treasury can do at this juncture. Thus, in my opinion, they’ve truly lost control as “the wheels have come off the bus.” Welcome to the Brave New World of the Uncle Sam economy 2009.