Street Sense: Treasury Bubble

I was a young stock trader back in the mid-1990s, cutting my knuckles on the daily grind trading tech names, such as AOL, now a unit of Time Warner ( TWX), Yahoo! ( YHOO), RealNetworks ( RNWK), Microsoft ( MSFT), Cisco ( CSCO), eBay ( EBAY), InfoSpace ( INSP) and Cnet, a unit of CBS ( CBS). As you may know, that was a time of incredible price action and low volatility. There wasn't much of a fear of stocks going down, and I took advantage.

I made a ton of money in those years. Mind you, let's not mistake luck or timing for being smart. I was in the right place at the right time, encapsulated in the huge tech bubble, but which imploded just after the new millennium. And yes, I felt the pain of the decline.

I bring this up as we are now in a massive bubble called Treasury bonds. The supply of bonds out there is large, and it's only going to get bigger and bigger.

We hear each week about the bond issuances by the U.S. government and the large size, and mostly they have been taken well. Our foreign partners are still buying and at the expense of the dollar they turn the other cheek.

There will be a time though -- not if but when -- they say enough. And that day of reckoning will be the start of this massive bubble being pricked. The Federal Reserve continues to monetize the debt, printing money to buy bonds. Sadly, there won't be any market that doesn't feel the pain. There will be collateral damage all around.

You may say, "We've heard this threat for months now and nothing has happened." True, but last autumn financial markets were about to fall off a cliff and never return. The signs are out there: a cheap dollar, printing presses that are hot, commodities on the rise, elevated gold. When they stop buying Treasuries, rates will soar, the dollar will crash and gold will blast off. Again, it's not if but when.

I'm not a doomsayer; this is reality. No time in history has a debt problem ever been solved by issuance and monetization. You can only throw money at the problem for so long, and then it becomes unmanageable. We can hope it doesn't happen, but hope is never a strategy.

At the time of publication, Lang had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Bob Lang is a senior analyst and portfolio manager at BigTrends.com. He manages subscription services for the firm and writes timely articles about markets, trends and the economy. Lang's articles can be viewed on numerous sites on the Internet. Together with renowned market timer Price Headley, Lang has helped build his supported products into a winning class. He participates in a coaching forum for advanced traders in which he teaches his unique style of trading.

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