Monday, 21 September 2009

Federal Reserve Accounts For 50% Of Q2 Treasury Purchases

This report is taken from Zero Hege.

The degree of intermediation by the Federal Reserve in the issuance of US Treasuries hit a record in Q2, accounting for just under 50% of all net UST issuance absorption. This is a startling number, as the Fed's $164 billion in Q2 Treasury purchases dwarfs the combined foreign/household UST purchases of $101 billion and $29 billion, respectively, over the same time period. In fact, the Fed was a greater factor in UST demand than all three traditional players combined: Foreigners, Households and Primary Dealers, which amounted to a $158 billion in net Q2 purchases.

This dramatic imbalance puts a lot of question marks over how the upcoming hundreds of billions in incremental Treasury purchases will be soaked up, now that QE only has $15 billion of capacity for USTs: with Households lapping up risky assets it is unlikely they will look at Treasuries absent some dramatic downward move in equities, while Foreign purchasers, which many speculate are in a game of Mutual Assured Destruction regarding UST purchases, have in fact been aggressively lowering their purchases of Treasuries (from $159 billion in Q1 to $101 billion in Q2, an almost 40% decline in appetite!). Will the US make these purchases much more attractive come October when QE for USTs ends? And if so, what kind of rates are we talking about? One thing is certain: in terms of priorities of the Federal Reserve, keeping the equity market buoyant, is a distant second to ensuring successful auction after auction well into 2010. After all there is near $9 trillion in budget deficits that need financing over the next 10 years.

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