Fed Still Struggles to Get a Grip on the Bond Market


Bond market volatility remains a sight to behold, even at the low end of the curve.

Bond Market Dislocations Remain

The yield on a 3-month T-Bill fell to 1.3 basis points then surged to 16.8 basis points in a matter of hours. The yield then quickly crashed to 3 basis points and now sits at 5.1 basis points.

The Fed is struggling even with the low end of the Treasury curve.

$IRX 3-Month Yield

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Stockcharts shows the 3-month yield ($IRX) dipping below zero but Investing.Com does not show the yield went below zero.

Regardless, these swings are not normal.

Cash Crunch

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Bloomberg reports All the Signs a Cash Crunch Is Gripping Markets and the Economy

In a crisis, it is said, all correlations go to one. Threats get so overwhelming that everything reacts in unison. And the common thread running through all facets of financial markets and the real economy right now is simple: a global cash crunch of epic proportions.

Investors piled $137 billion into cash-like assets in the five days ending March 11, according to a Bank of America report citing EPFR Global data. Its monthly fund manager survey showed the fourth-largest monthly jump in allocations to cash ever, from 4% to 5.1%.

“Cash has become the king as the short-term government funds have had massive deposits, with ~$13 billion inflows last week (a 10-standard deviation move),” adds Maneesh Dehspande, head of equity derivatives strategy at Barclays.

4th Largest Jump in History

It's quite telling that a jump of a mere 1.1 percentage point to 5.1% cash is the 4th largest cash jump in history.

Margin and Short Covering

“In aggregate, the market saw a large outflow, with $9 billion of long liquidation and $6 billion of short covering,” said Michael Haigh, global head of commodity research at Societe Generale. “This general and non-directional closure of money manager positions could be explained by a need for cash to pay margin calls on other derivatives contracts.

The comment is somewhat inaccurate. Sideline cash did not change "in aggregate" although cash balances t various fund managers did.

This is what happens when leveraged longs get a trillion dollar derivatives margin call or whatever the heck it was.

Need a Better Hedge

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With the S&P 500 down more than 12% in the five sessions ending March 17, the Japanese yen is weaker against the greenback, the 10-year Treasury future is down, and gold is too.

That’s another sign dollars are top of mind, and investors are selling not only what they want to, but also what they have to.

Dash to Cash

It’s one thing to see exchange-traded products stuffed full of relatively illiquid corporate bonds trade below the purported sum of the value of their holdings. It’s quite another to see such a massive discount develop in a more plain-vanilla product like the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) as investors ditched the product to raise cash despite not quite getting their money’s worth.

The fund closed Tuesday at a discount of nearly 2% to its net asset value, which blew out to above 6% last week amid accelerating, record outflows. That exceeded its prior record discount from 2008.

It is impossible for everyone to go to cash at the same time.

Someone must hold every stock, every bond and every dollar.

Fed Opens More Dollar Swap Lines

Moments ago Reuters reported Fed Opens Dollar Swap Lines for Nine Additional Foreign Central Banks.

The Fed said the swaps, in which the Fed accepts other currencies in exchange for dollars, will for at least the next six months allow the central banks of Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand to tap up to a combined total of $450 billion, money to ensure the world’s dollar-dependent financial system continues to function.

The new swap lines “like those already established between the Federal Reserve and other central banks, are designed to help lessen strains in global U.S. dollar funding markets, thereby mitigating the effects of these strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses, both domestically and abroad,” the Fed said in a statement.

The central banks of South Korea, Singapore, Mexico and Sweden all said in separate statements they intended to use them.

Fed Does Another Emergency Repo and Relaunches Commercial Paper Facility

Yesterday I commented Fed Does Another Emergency Repo and Relaunches Commercial Paper Facility

Very Deflationary Outcome Has Begun: Blame the Fed

The Fed is struggling mightily to alleviate the mess it is largely responsible for.

I previously commented a Very Deflationary Outcome Has Begun: Blame the Fed

The Fed blew three economic bubbles in succession. A deflationary bust has started. They blew bubbles trying to prevent "deflation" defined as falling consumer prices.

BIS Deflation Study

The BIS did a historical study and found routine price deflation was not any problem at all.

“Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive,” stated the BIS study.

For a discussion of the study, please see Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They?

Deflation is not really about prices. It's about the value of debt on the books of banks that cannot be paid back by zombie corporations and individuals.

Blowing bubbles in absurd attempts to arrest "price deflation" is crazy. The bigger the bubbles the bigger the resultant "asset bubble deflation". Falling consumer prices do not have severe negative repercussions. Asset bubble deflations are another matter.

Assessing the Blame

Central banks are not responsible for the coronavirus. But they are responsible for blowing economic bubbles prone to crash.

The equities bubbles before the coronavirus hit were the largest on record.

Dollar Irony

The irony in this madness is the US will be printing the most currency and have the biggest budget deficits as a result. Yet central banks can't seem to get enough dollars. In that aspect, the dollar ought to be sinking.

But given the US 10-year Treasury yield at 1.126% is among the highest in the world, why not exchange everything one can for dollars earning positive yield.

This is all such circular madness, it's hard to say when or how it ends.

​Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (24)
No. 1-9
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

"This is all such circular madness, it's hard to say when or how it ends."

I checked 30 yr yield less than an hour ago … > 1.8%. Now? 1.60%.

I feel confident the moves the past 2 weeks a lot more do to deleveraging (looking at YOU 60 / 40 funds). When deleveraging done, bonds will act "normally".

With DXY > 102, $US too strong and look for Federal Reserve upping its game re QE (will have no choice. The deficits coming down the pike will be MASSIVE). Rates need to come down if housing going to have a prayer. Buying a home in this environment? While rates RISING? Good luck with that.


When I started liquidating most investments that had a stock or membership share in it about half a year ago, I was looked upon like an idiot. It amazes me how mass conditioning can turn the most dangerous financial house of cards into a popular normalcy. Thanks to this and other bearish sites for reporting on this.


Bank of America's top U.S. economist on Thursday warned that the country is now in a recession in a note to investors.

CNBC reported that Michelle Meyer wrote in a letter to the company's clients that the U.S. economy is in a "deep plunge" brought on by the global coronavirus outbreak, which has sickened thousands across the country and more than 200,000 globally.
“We are officially declaring that the economy has fallen into a recession ... joining the rest of the world, and it is a deep plunge,” Meyer reportedly wrote. “Jobs will be lost, wealth will be destroyed and confidence depressed.”
Meyer did add that while “the decline is severe, we believe it will be fairly short lived.”
Short lived? How do you know it will be short lived and define short lived.


I don't see how so much of the economy can be systemically dislocated, and the payments to creditors that go along with such. Without crashing the bond market itself.
Its clearly the next shoe to drop. Why isn't gold rocketing higher?


Virtually every currency on the planet is backed by nothing but political hot air. My view is the dollar is stronger because it's considered the "least-worst", at least for now.


What is the point of a weaker dollar when no one can export? China only takes dollars anyway, doesn't help/hurt importers. This is not 08, a weaker dollar will do nothing to stimulate the global economy.

Consumer confidence is shaken, layoffs are happening already, and not just in the industries you would expect. When employment happens after the fact it will be a fraction of before.

We are going to see crazy inflation/deflation from supply chain disruption, decreased oil demand, etc.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Mish, talk about timing.

Feel free to revisit your February 24th post … ANYTIME ...

Mythical Rotations: With Equities Plunging, Where's the Money Going?


At the same time that "a very deflationary outcome has begun," the Fed and other central banks are doing their best to transform it into stagflation.


Hey Mish, I haven't been following finances much since 2008. Glad to see that you're still around sharing your insight!

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