After all the drama, Congress finally did what everyone knew it would do. It raised the debt ceiling by $480 billion in October. The Treasury wasted no time and quickly added $480 billion to the national debt in the second half of the month.
With this new debt tagged on, if the Fed has to raise rates to 6% to fight inflation, it would increase interest costs by $250 billion within 6 months and nearly $1 trillion within a few years. This is why the Fed must tell everyone that inflation is transitory.
The Federal Reserve has slightly slowed its asset purchases over the last few months. Was this a trial mini-taper?
If so, the results are not good news for the central bankers over at the Fed.
The Fed balance sheet stands at $8.56 trillion. That’s up by $108 billion from the prior month-end, but down over the past week by $8.7 billion. The chart below shows how the Fed Balance sheet has grown by instrument over the last 18 months.
The CPI data for September came in hotter than expected at 0.4%. That pushed the yearly gain to 5.4%. But an honest CPI calculation would come in even hotter.
I am doing something different this month. In past reviews of the CPI, I typically take the BLS data and recalculate the values to get a more detailed number that is rounded to two decimal points instead of one. This methodology also allows me to show the impact of each component on the top-line number.
The Treasury bumped up against the debt ceiling at the end of July. Since then, it has been using “extraordinary measures” to allow the Government to keep hemorrhaging cash without having to increase the debt ceiling.
The chart below shows the month-over-month change in debt for August equal to $0. Despite zero net change, there are two important facts to highlight.
- The Treasury continued converting short term debt to long term
- Nonmarketable debt holdings shrunk by $257B
“Just because something is inevitable, does not make it imminent, but eventually the future arrives”
The US Government is on an unsustainable debt trajectory. Even though the Federal Reserve has acknowledged this fact, most mainstream pundits consider it a distant problem or even not an issue at all. They argue that debt fears have raged since the debt crossed $1T decades ago and no negative consequences have materialized.
A couple of weeks ago, the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below the yield on the 2-year for the first time in 12 years. This inversion of the yield sparked recession fears in the mainstream. But in an interview with Tom Woods on Contra Krugman, former Reagan administration Office of Budget Management Director David Stockman said this is really a sign of a different problem. He said we’re actually in the mother of all bond bubbles.
Stockman said the mainstream is looking the yield curve inversion through the lens of conventional wisdom, but there is nothing conventional about the current financial situation.
Bond prices have spiked and yields have fallen in the last several weeks. Investors are beginning to see a recession on the horizon and they are pouring into Treasurys believing they will provide a safe haven. In his most recent podcast, Peter said bond buyers are right about the looming recession, but they are making the wrong bet.
It looks like the Federal Reserve is about to get back into the bond business and help the US government deal with its massive debt.
The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it will not have to borrow as much money in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 as originally anticipated. But this is not because of a slowdown in government spending. According to a Treasury official cited by Reuters, the reason for the lower borrowing estimate is due to an anticipated increase in Fed Treasury holdings as the central bank ends its balance sheet reduction program.