Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 12/09/22

December is a tricky time for the capital markets as banks, brokers, and investors all endeavor to close the year with their respective portfolios 100% invested. Carrying cash over “the turn”, as year-end is colloquially referred to, is not acceptable in the capital markets. As a result, markets can become volatile to the point of seeming irrational. This year that irrationality is most evident in the Treasury Bill market. We refer to the soon to mature December 15th Treasury Bill, although the entire nearby Bill market has also been volatile. The Dec 15 Bill yielded 3.15% at the close of November but ended the day yesterday yielding 2.39%. Logically, that makes no sense. The overnight Fed Funds rate corridor is 3.75% to 4.00%, and the Fed Reserve Repo program offers a set 3.80% rate for the institutions that qualify for the program, and yet the near-term Bill curve continues to be in disarray as we approach the end of the year. One needs to look no farther than the “Calculated New Cash/Pay Down” section of the Treasury Direct website to understand why. Between December 6th and December 13th the Treasury paid down $76 billion in Bills; that’s to say that they sold $76 billion Fewer Bills than the amount maturing. In effect, the Treasury tipped the supply/demand of Treasury Bills out of balance which has resulted in wild gyrations in the Bill market. The Treasury will refill their coffers somewhat next week with net new cash of $64 billion when they sell the new 3-year, 20-year and 30-year securities, but that should not solve the Treasury Bill imbalance. As a result, we expect Treasury Bills to continue to trade rich to the Fed Funds target and the Reverse Repo program into year end.

November 2022 – Monthly Commentary

Judging by the November Consumer Price Index, the Fed’s harsh medicine of higher interest rates is starting to work. While year-over-year CPI still rose 7.1% last month, that’s down from 7.7% in October, and the 0.1% month-over-month increase is exactly what the Fed has been expecting. While the November Producer Price index came in higher than expected, that measure of inflation takes a back seat to CPI in that some of those price pressures can be absorbed by margin compression at the corporate level. The CPI, on the other hand, directly impacts consumers and risks the spiral effect in which consumers expect prices to continue to rise into the foreseeable future.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 12/02/22

This has been the kind of week that nimble traders love and position traders hate. The two main drivers of volatility this week were Chairman Powell’s speech before the Brookings Institute and the November employment report. The result has been a wildly vacillating rates market. The two-year note started the week at 4.44% but plunged to 4.23% on Thursday before retracing some of the move to close the week at the mid-point of that range. The 30-year followed the same path, opening the week at 3.72% before dipping down to 3.60%.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 11/25/22

The Federal Reserve released the minutes of their last Open Market Committee meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the afternoon before Thanksgiving. There are a few days on the calendar when liquidity is razor thin and Thanksgiving eve is one of them. The minutes were particularly anticipated as several Fed speakers had recently hinted at reducing the magnitude of the rate hikes going forward. That suspicion was affirmed in the “Participants View” section. The exact quote was “…a substantial majority of participants judged that a slowing in the pace of increase would likely soon be appropriate.” The key words in the quote were “substantial majority.” Remember, committee votes do not need to be unanimous; a simple majority is required, and a substantial majority tells me that they have that. We interpret that statement as the Fed communicating that the December hike will not be 75-basis points, with a 50-basis point hike more likely. The minutes also acknowledged that rate hikes impact the economy with a lag, and they are starting to see evidence of slowing. But any hint of policy action in the New Year was avoided entirely.