For a day, at least, the seemingly inexorable climb in Treasury yields stopped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is up 23 basis points in the last month, dropped back to 1.13%, a retreat of 2 basis points.
The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs in December. That’s the first monthly job loss in eight months. Economists had expected the economy to pick up a very modest 50,000 jobs in the month. The official unemployment rate held at 6.7%.
Inflation worries? You’ve got to be kidding but bond market starts to price in higher interest rates
The stock market is in the midst of euphoria at the prospect that unified Democratic control of the White House and Congress will mean more fiscal stimulus–those $2,000 checks for a start–increased aid to cities, and increased spending (maybe) on infrastructure and to combat global warming. The bond market not so much.
Thursday action by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to terminate the Federal Reserve’s access to $195 billion in backup funding on December 31 will just increase the volatility in a bond market that was already experiencing a tug of war between expectations for faster growth in 2021 (and hence higher interest rates and lower bond prices) and worries about an economic slowdown in the coronavirus economy and Congressional inaction on any virus stimulus package (and hence lower interest rates and higher bond prices.) The tug of war will play out in the short holiday week which packs big funding activities by the Treasury into the first two days of the week. Monday and Tuesday will see the auction of nearly $200 billion in 2-year, 5-year, and 7-year Treasuries.
Trick or trend: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin just undermined the Fed and the economy–how bad will the damage be?
On Thursday night, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent a letter to Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell announcing that he was not going to extend beyond December 31 the emergency lending support that the Federal Reserve using as a backstop in its programs to stabilize the bond market. In March, Congress ha earmarked $454 billion to support Fed lending programs as part of that months coronavirus package. The Fed, ever reluctant to take losses onto its own balance sheet, had used the Treasury cash to stand behind loan programs for medium size businessses and municipalities. Much of that money earmarked by Congress has never actually been extended to the Fed, but the Treasury did earmark $195 billion for specific loan programs at the Fed. It’s that money that Mnuchin now says will no longer be available to the Fed after December 31.