"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bond Collapse Continues

Much to the chagrin of the Federal Reserve, bond traders are taking that FOMC statement from yesterday and taking no prisoners as they literally hammer the long bond into submission. I find it a bit ironic (to be honest I am gleeful about it) that the Fed, which continues its attempts to manipulate hedge fund behavior by herding them into the equity markets, has opened an enormous can of worms and awakened the heretofore comatose bond vigilantes as an undesirable chain reaction to their "peachy" statement about the state of the US economy.

Bond traders are already moving the Fed Funds Futures to indicate interest rate hikes in early 2014, and not the latter part of 2014 as those minutes revealed yesterday. Worse, the yield on the Ten Year has spiked. It started off the week at 2.04% and ended today at 2.27%. As for the long bond, forgettaboutit; it was absolutely pummelled today now having dropped over 3 1/2 points the last two days.

What has happened is very simple - the happy talk about the US economy coming out of the FOMC minutes has traders jettisoning safe haven trades and even short term Treasuries in favor of the bull train leaving the station in the US equity markets. The problem? The last thing that the Fed and the US government needs or wants is a rising interest rate environment.

Oh sure, they can stand a bit of a move higher, but if any of this begins filtering into the mortgage market and the cost of home mortgages, autos, etc. begins moving higher, it will nip whatever nascent recovery there might be in the bud. And don't forget - there is that pesky "LITTLE" issue of the US national debt which will cost more federal tax revenue to service in a rising interest rate environment. Remember, even with its more upbeat assessment of the US economy yesterday, the FOMC certainly did not suggest that the recovery was robust or was it healthy. What they basically said, if I might paraphrase, was that it was showing modest improvement but was not out of the woods.

Doesn't matter - the bond market is focused on the "modest improvement" part and is interpreting that, either rightly or wrongly, that the Fed is not going to be doing any QE in the immediate future. After all, if things are supposedly so firmly on the right track, why the heck does anyone want to be in a "SAFE HAVEN" Treasury when everything is peachy keen, particularly if those paper IOU's are paying out squat.

The Fed has basically undercut it own low interest rate policy by giving investors the greenlight to sell bonds in order to deploy those funds into the equity markets. See what happens when you engineer a stock market rally?

I suspect that the Fed is going to be getting increasingly nervous if this sell off in the bonds, particularly the long end, continues unabated. Let's see how far the bond bears will push them.

By the way, I am not posting any gold or silver charts today as Eric King over at King World News, was gracious enough to interview me on both markets today asking about the technicals on the metals. You can find charts there with my usual annotations where support and resistance can be located. Here is the link to that particular interview: