One-month Treasury bill rates sank 9 bps this week to 1.57%, while 3-month yields added 4 bps to 1.77%. Two-year government yields declined 6 bps to 2.31%. Five-year T-note yields fell 9 bps to 2.98%, and 10-year yields sank 11 bps to 3.70%. Long-bond yields dropped 12 bps to 4.30%. The 2yr/10yr spread declined 5 to 139 bps. The implied yield on 3-month December ’09 Eurodollars sank 17 bps to 3.40%. Benchmark Fannie MBS yields dropped 19 bps to 5.63%. The spread between benchmark MBS and 10-year T-notes narrowed 8 to 193 bps. The spread on Fannie’s 5% 2017 note narrowed one to 77 bps, and the spread on Freddie’s 5% 2017 note narrowed one to 76 bps. The 10-year dollar swap spread increased 0.5 to 68.25. Corporate bond spreads were mostly wider. An index of investment grade bond spreads widened 2 to 160 bps, and an index of junk bond spreads widened 32 bps to 605 bps.
It was another light week of debt issuance. Investment grade issuance this week included Oncor Electric Delivery $1.5bn, John Deere $1.15bn, CVS Caremark $350 million, Ohio Power $250 million, Spectra Energy $250 million, Oklahoma G&E $250 million, and Northern States Power $200 million.
I saw no junk or convertible issuance again this week.
International dollar debt issuers this week included KFW $4.0bn and Interamerica Development Bank $1.0bn.
German 10-year bund yields sank 17 bps to 4.00%. The German DAX equities index was clobbered for 4.6% (down 24% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year “JGB” yields rose 5.5 bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei 225 dropped 6.6% (down 20.2% y-t-d). Emerging markets were mostly lower. Brazil’s benchmark dollar bond yields rose 5 bps to 5.89%. Brazil’s Bovespa equities index fell 6.7% (down 18.7% y-t-d). The Mexican Bolsa declined 1.5% (down 12.3% y-t-d). Mexico’s 10-year $ yields fell 6 bps to 5.57%. Russia’s RTS equities index was hammered for 10.8% (down 35.9% y-t-d). India’s Sensex equities index rallied 3.1%, lowering y-t-d losses to 28.6%. China’s Shanghai Exchange sank 8.1%, with 2008 losses at 58.1%.
Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell 5 bps to 6.35% (up 4 bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year fixed rates declined 3 bps to 5.90% (down 7bps y-o-y), while one-year ARMs dropped 18 bps to 5.15% (down 41bps y-o-y). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed jumbo rates this week down 10 bps to 7.26% (up 20bps y-o-y).
Bank Credit sank $25.9bn to $9.410 TN (week of 8/27). Bank Credit has expanded $197bn y-t-d, or 3.2% annualized. Bank Credit posted a 52-week rise of $568bn, or 6.4%. For the week, Securities Credit dropped $13.7bn. Loans & Leases fell $12.2bn to $6.943 TN (52-wk gain of $457bn, or 7.0%). C&I loans increased $6.0bn, with y-t-d growth of 7.4%. Real Estate loans declined $3.2bn (up 2.3% y-t-d). Consumer loans increased $2.6bn, while Securities loans sank $24.8bn. Other loans increased $7.1bn.
M2 (narrow) “money” supply increased $3.9bn to $7.722 TN (week of 8/25). Narrow “money” has expanded $259bn y-t-d, or 5.3% annualized, with a y-o-y rise of $317bn, or 4.3%. For the week, Currency added $0.2bn, and Demand & Checkable Deposits increased $7.1bn. Savings Deposits increased $0.2bn, and Small Denominated Deposits gained $3.1bn. Retail Money Funds declined $6.7bn.
Total Money Market Fund assets (from Invest Co Inst) rose $13.0bn to $3.585 TN, with a y-t-d increase of $472bn, or 22.5% annualized. Money Fund assets have posted a one-year increase of $784bn (28%).
Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) issuance was light again this week. Year-to-date total US ABS issuance of $125bn (tallied by JPMorgan's Christopher Flanagan) is running at 27% of comparable 2007. Home Equity ABS issuance of $303 million compares with 2007’s $219bn. Year-to-date CDO issuance of $21bn compares to the year ago $219bn.
Total Commercial Paper outstanding rose $9.9bn this week to $1.804 TN, with CP up $18.8bn y-t-d. Asset-backed CP jumped $19.3bn last week to $778bn, with 2008 now showing an increase to $4.8bn. Over the past year, total CP has contracted $121bn, or 6.3%.
Fed Foreign Holdings of Treasury, Agency Debt last week (ended 9/3) declined $1.0bn to $2.403 TN. “Custody holdings” were up $347bn y-t-d, or 24.4% annualized, and $424bn y-o-y (21.4%). Federal Reserve Credit jumped $9.5bn to $894bn. Fed Credit has expanded $20.3bn y-t-d (3.4% annualized) and $37.2bn y-o-y (4.3%).
International reserve assets (excluding gold) - as accumulated by Bloomberg’s Alex Tanzi – were up $1.228 TN y-o-y, or 21.4%, to $6.959 TN.
Global Credit Market Dislocation Watch:
September 7 – Bloomberg (Dawn Kopecki and Alison Vekshin): “Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decided to take control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after a review found the beleaguered mortgage-finance companies used accounting methods that inflated their capital, according to people with knowledge of the decision. Morgan Stanley, hired by the Treasury to probe the companies’ finances, concluded the accounting, while legal, enabled Freddie, and to a lesser extent Fannie, to overstate the value of their reserves, according to the people who declined to be identified because the findings are confidential. The Treasury plans to put Fannie and Freddie into a so- called conservatorship and pump capital into the companies, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said in an interview yesterday. The government would make periodic capital injections by buying convertible preferred shares or warrants, according to a person briefed on the plan. Paulson is seeking to end a crisis of confidence in the companies sparked by concern the companies didn’t have enough capital to weather the biggest housing slump since the Great Depression. The Treasury was ‘convinced that the markets simply wouldn’t respond until after something like this,’ said Frank, who was briefed by Paulson. ‘I think it’s an important combination.’”
September 6 – New York Times (Gretchen Morgenson and Charles Duhigg): “The government’s planned takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expected to be announced on Sunday, came together after advisers poring over the companies’ books for the Treasury Department concluded that Freddie’s accounting methods had overstated its capital cushion, according to regulatory officials briefed on the matter. The proposal to place both companies, which own or back $5.3 trillion in mortgages, into a government-run conservatorship also grew out of deep concern among foreign investors that the companies’ debt might not be repaid. Falling home prices, which are expected to lead to more defaults among the mortgages held or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, contributed to the urgency, regulators said. Investors who own the companies’ common and preferred stock will suffer. Holders of debt, including many foreign central banks, are expected to receive government backing. Top executives of both companies will be pushed out, according to those briefed on the plan. The cost of the government’s intervention could rise into tens of billions of dollars and will probably be among the most expensive rescues ever financed by taxpayers.”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Fergal O’Brien and Carol Massar): “The global economic downturn has only just begun, with the U.S. heading into a recession and the impact of the credit crunch still to be fully felt, said Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley’s Asia chairman. ‘There’s more to this macro event than just the credit-market contagion itself,’ Roach said… ‘Maybe two-thirds of that is behind us, but the impacts on the real side of the U.S. economy and the global economy are at an early stage.’”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Ambereen Choudhury): “The pace of mergers and acquisitions is at the lowest level in four years, even after Commerzbank AG's $14.4 billion purchase of Dresdner Bank. The Chart of the Day shows $145 billion of deals were announced in August, the lowest amount since September 2004, when $93 billion of deals were disclosed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”
September 3 – Bloomberg (Ben Livesey): “U.K. banks may have tapped the Bank of England’s special funding plan for about 200 billion pounds ($354 billion), according to UBS AG analysts, as wholesale funding markets stay closed. The central bank in April introduced the so-called special liquidity scheme, allowing U.K. lenders to swap mortgage-backed securities damaged by the credit squeeze for government bonds. The window for borrowing closes in October, after which the central bank will announce how much money has been handed out. ‘We believe the Bank of England is encouraging all eligible players to make full use of this facility, said… analysts led by Alastair Ryan… ‘With securitization markets closed, the banks are incentivized to do just that.’”
September 4 – Bloomberg (John Glover): “Defaults on leveraged loans in Europe may jump almost fourfold within a year as lenders tighten rules on borrowing when companies are forced to restructure the debt, Standard & Poor’s said in a report. The default rate on high-risk, high-yield loans may increase to 5.8% by June 2009 from 1.55% in the same month this year…”
September 3 – Bloomberg (Ben Livesey): “Barclays Plc, the U.K.’s third-biggest bank, may need to raise as much as 7.5 billion pounds ($13.3 billion) to bring its capital ratio in line with investment banking peers, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said.”
September 2 – Bloomberg (David Mildenberg and Ari Levy): “GMAC and its Residential Capital LLC home loan unit plan to dismiss 5,000 employees, or 60% of the unit’s staff, and close all 200 GMAC Mortgage retail offices because of weak real estate markets.”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Yalman Onaran): “In the good old days on Wall Street, in 2007, analyst James Hyde didn’t write a report about a bank without first checking to see how it ranked among managers of stock sales. Today Hyde says he isn’t doing his job right if he doesn’t take a peek every other day at a different ranking: the one showing how much banks have lost on their mortgage-related assets. WDCI, the Bloomberg function introduced less than five months ago to track the writedowns, has overtaken LEAG, which ranks bond and stock underwriters, in viewers per day.”
September 3 – Bloomberg (Suttinee Yuvejwattana and Oliver Biggadike): “Thailand’s companies face almost impossible hurdles in borrowing overseas because of the nation’s political uncertainty, said Pongpanu Svetarundra, director general of the Public Debt Management Office. ‘I don't know what I will do if we need to borrow from the market,’ Pongpanu told reporters… ‘The costs are too high.’ Even state-controlled borrowers like PTT Pcl, Thailand’s biggest company, would find it very difficult to sell bonds internationally, Pongpanu said. The government plans to seek funds from lenders including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation, he said.”
September 5 – MarketNews International: “The yen surged to a 13-month high against the sliding euro on Friday as investors fled risky positions such as leveraged carry trades, spooked by a sharp fall in stock markets… Market players said investors were bailing out of more leveraged carry trades, or positions funded by borrowing yen at low rates to buy higher yielding currencies and commodities. Traders cited talk of more hedge funds going under after news earlier this week that Ospraie Management LLC, the world’s biggest commodities hedge fund, was forced to close its flagship fund this week. ‘This is not a flight to quality, it is simply a flight," said Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at RBS Greenwich Capital.”
The dollar index gained 2.0% to 78.93. For the week on the upside, the South Korean won increased 1.5%, the Japanese yen 0.8%, and the Canadian dollar 0.5%. For the week on the downside, the Brazilian real declined 3.3%, the New Zealand dollar 2.7%, the Australian dollar 2.7%, the South African rand 2.3%, the Swedish krona 1.9%, the Norwegian krone 1.8%, the Danish krone 1.7%, and the Euro 1.7%.
Commodities markets were under intense liquidation. Gold dropped 3.3% to $804 and Silver was hammered for 8.3% to $12.325. September Crude sank $9.36 to $106.23. September Gasoline fell 10.8% (up 8.5% y-t-d), and September Natural Gas dropped 6.8% (down 0.5% y-t-d). December Copper fell 8.3%. September Wheat declined 6.4%, and August Corn 6.5%. The CRB index sank 6.1% (up 2.5% y-t-d). The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index (GSCI) dropped 7.1% (up 7.8% y-t-d and 29.6% y-o-y).
September 1 – Bloomberg (Li Yanping): “China’s central bank said it will make lending and financial policies more flexible to sustain growth in the world’s fourth-largest economy. Global uncertainties mean greater flexibility is needed ‘to help cushion against various potential shocks,’ the People’s Bank of China said…”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Kevin Hamlin): “China’s leaders are planning tax cuts and a public-works spending spree to make sure their economy’s growth isn’t doused along with the Olympic flame. Ten of 11 Summer Olympics host nations analyzed by Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Jen saw growth and investment slump in the year following the games… Government officials in China, whose expansion was already slowing before the Beijing games ended last month, are determined to avoid what Jen calls the ‘Olympic Curse.’”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Helen Yuan): “China’s economy may grow 9.5% in the fourth quarter, the slowest pace in four years, according to the State Information Center… Gross domestic product may expand 10% in 2008 as a whole, Zhu Baoliang, chief economist at the agency, said… The gain may be 9% in 2009, he said.”
September 5 – Bloomberg (Jiang Jianguo): “Shanghai’s new home prices fell the most in three years in July as sales volumes declined, the Shanghai Securities News reported, citing data from an unidentified market research institute. Prices fell 24% in July from the previous month, the largest decline since July 2005…”
September 4 – Bloomberg (Kartik Goyal): “India’s inflation held above the central bank’s tolerance level for the sixth straight month, increasing the likelihood that incoming Governor Duvvuri Subbarao will raise interest rates. Wholesale prices rose 12.34% in the week to Aug. 23 from a year earlier…”
Asia Bubble Watch:
September 1 – Bloomberg (Stephanie Phang): “Malaysia’s widening budget deficit is a ‘matter of concern as a growing opposition challenge forces Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to spend more to bolster support, said Standard & Poor’s…"
September 5 – Bloomberg (Karl Lester M. Yap): “Philippine inflation accelerated to the fastest pace in more than 16 years, adding pressure on the central bank to increase borrowing costs further in October. Consumer prices climbed 12.5% in August from a year earlier after rising a revised 12.3% in July…"
September 1 – Bloomberg (Aloysius Unditu and Arijit Ghosh): “Indonesia’s inflation held near a 22-month high in August on rising liquefied petroleum gas prices, sustaining pressure on the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate for a fifth month. Consumer prices rose 11.85% from a year earlier last Month..."
Latin America Watch:
September 4 – Bloomberg (Heloiza Canassa): “Brazilian domestic vehicle sales grew in August at the slowest pace in almost two years as central bank increases in interest rates this year boosted car-loan costs, sapping demand.”
Unbalanced Global Economy Watch:
September 1 – Bloomberg (Brian Swint and Jennifer Ryan): “U.K. mortgage approvals dropped to the lowest since at least 1999 and manufacturing contracted for a fourth month as the economy staggered toward a recession.”
September 4 – Bloomberg (Jennifer Ryan): “U.K. house prices plunged at the fastest annual pace in at least a quarter century in August as banks withheld finance for new homes and consumers lost confidence in the economy, HBOS Plc said. The average cost of a home dropped 12.7% to 174,178 pounds ($311,000) from the same month a year earlier…”
September 3 – Financial Times (John Murray Brown): “Ireland’s public finance deficit tripled in the first eight months to the end of August as the housing and construction slowdown hit tax receipts, posing an increasing threat to Ireland’s European Union commitments on fiscal discipline. The budget deficit was €8.4bn, compared with a €2.8bn deficit in the same period last year. Tax revenue was 9.4% behind the figure achieved in the same period last year.”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Ian Guider): “Irish car sales declined 16.7% in the 12 months to Aug. 31 compared with the year-earlier period…”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Fergal O’Brien): “European producer prices increased by the most in at least 18 years in July… The 9% increase from a year earlier in the 15 euro countries was the biggest since the series began in 1990 and followed an 8% gain in June…”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Chris Reiter): “German car sales fell 10% last month as consumers reduced spending amid a slumping economy and questions about proposed changes to automobile taxes.”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Johan Carlstrom): “Norway’s domestic credit growth slowed to 13.1% in July as higher borrowing costs deterred consumers and companies from taking on more debt.”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Maria Levitov): “Russian inflation accelerated in August as costs of dairy, pasta and other foods rose, the Federal Statistics Service said. The inflation rate rose to 15%, compared with 14.7% in July…”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Alex Nicholson): “Russian manufacturing contracted in August for the first time in almost four years as businesses won fewer new orders and companies cut jobs. VTB Bank Europe’s Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.4 from 50.4 in July, the fifth consecutive monthly decline and the first contraction since November 2004…”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Garth Theunissen): “South African vehicle sales fell the most in 14 years last month as slowing economic growth and interest rates at the highest in more than five years cut consumer spending on expensive items. Sales dropped an annual 30.3% in August to 40,395 from 57,970 a year earlier…”
September 3 – MarketNews International: “New vehicle sales in Australia dropped 10.1% in seasonally adjusted terms in August, from July, hit by high petrol prices and sagging consumer confidence…”
Bursting Bubble Economy Watch:
September 3 – Wall Street Journal (Jacqueline Palank): “The high cost of fuel and difficulty accessing credit continue to batter both businesses and individuals, bringing last quarter’s new bankruptcy filings to their highest point in the past 2 1/2 years. From April 1 through June 30, federal-court data show, 276,510 individuals and businesses sought bankruptcy protection, the highest quarterly total since 667,431 companies and consumers raced to file in the last three months of 2005 before more-restrictive bankruptcy laws took effect. In the 12 months that ended June 30, the total number of bankruptcy filings was 28.9% greater than the previous year’s total, climbing to 967,831 from 751,056…”
Central Banker Watch:
September 2 – Bloomberg (Scott Lanman): “One-quarter of the Federal Reserve’s regional district banks lobbied to raise the discount rate in July, signaling rising pressure to increase borrowing costs to banks even as economic growth slows. Citing a rising danger of inflation, the boards in Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City sought a quarter-point increase in the discount rate from 2.25%, according to minutes of officials’ discussions prior to the Aug. 5 policy meeting…”
September 2 – Bloomberg (Jacob Greber): “Australia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in seven years amid signs the nation’s $1 trillion economy is slowing. Governor Glenn Stevens and his board reduced the overnight cash rate target by a quarter point to 7%... The biggest slump in retail sales in six years, a slide in business confidence and concern about the global credit squeeze meant ‘there was now scope for monetary policy to become less restrictive,’ Stevens said.”
September 4 – Bloomberg (Johan Carlstrom): “Sweden’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate to a 12-year high to head off faster inflation and said it expects to keep rates steady for the remainder of the year as the economy slows. The Stockholm-based bank increased the one-week repo rate by a quarter point to 4.75% today…”
MBS/ABS/CDO/CP/Money Funds and Derivatives Watch:
September 2 – Dow Jones: “Fitch Ratings said… that U.S. pay-option adjustable-rate mortgages face dramatically increasing defaults in the coming year and beyond. Option ARMs allow the borrower to make a low minimum monthly payment, usually for five years, and the difference between the minimum payment and the full payment is added to the mortgage balance. At the five-year mark, the loan terms reset and the mortgage payment increases to ensure full payment of the loan by maturity. The higher payments mean many option ARM borrowers will be left unable to afford their homes, and increased defaults will likely exert more downward pressure on house prices. Of the $200 billion of option ARMs outstanding, Fitch expects $29 billion to recast by the end of 2009 and another $67 billion to recast in 2010. The potential average payment increase on those recasting loans is 63%, or an extra $1,053 a month, on top of the current payment.”
Real Estate Bust Watch:
September 2 – Bloomberg (Bob Ivry): “Home prices fell in 23 of 25 U.S. metropolitan areas in June from a year earlier for the second straight month as foreclosures pushed down values. Las Vegas had the biggest price drop, falling 30.8%... Radar Logic said… Prices per square foot declined 27.8% in Sacramento, California, 26.9% in Phoenix, 26.5% in Los Angeles and 25.6% in San Diego. Motivated sellers, who need to recoup losses on unpaid home loans, typically cut prices about 20% compared with other homeowners, according to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. economists Ethan Harris and Michelle Meyer. Those discounts are responsible for dragging down values in many communities, said Radar Logic Chief Executive Officer Michael Feder.”
September 3 – Bloomberg (Dakin Campbell): “Foreign central-bank holdings of so-called agency debt and agency-backed mortgage bonds headed for the first monthly decline since April 2004 as speculation about the solvency of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led them to seek the safety of Treasury bonds. There has been a big switch in terms of behavior,’ said David Ader, the head of U.S. government bond strategy at RBS Greenwich Capital… ‘This was a big buyer who seems to have changed their mood.’ Over the past year, foreign central banks had increased their holdings of agency debt by 27%, while boosting their Treasuries holdings by 18%... That trend has changed.”
September 3 – Bloomberg (Katherine Burton, Saijel Kishan and Christine Harper): “Ospraie Management LLC… will close its biggest hedge fund after losing 38.6% this year because of bad bets on commodity stocks. The Ospraie Fund fell 26.7% in August after a ‘substantial sell-off’ in energy, mining and resource equity investments… That New York-based Ospraie, once the largest commodity hedge fund firm, has shut its flagship fund underscores how the sudden swing in commodities caught even experienced managers off-guard…”
September 4 – Bloomberg (Tom Cahill): “RAB Capital Plc said Chief Executive Officer Philip Richards will step down after almost seven years to ``focus exclusively'' on running RAB Special Situations, the hedge fund that has lost 38 percent of its value this year. Richards, 48, who co-founded RAB in 1999, will be replaced by Stephen Couttie, 50, who has been chief operating officer of the London-based hedge-fund manager since July 2005…”
September 4 – Bloomberg (William Selway and Martin Z. Braun): “JPMorgan Chase & Co. will stop selling interest-rate swaps to government borrowers in the $2.6 trillion U.S. municipal bond market roiled by an antitrust probe and the near bankruptcy of Alabama’s most-populous county. At least seven former JPMorgan bankers are under scrutiny in a Justice Department criminal investigation of whether banks conspired to overcharge local governments on swaps and other derivatives. The bank also is embroiled in negotiations over how to resolve a debt crisis with Jefferson County, Alabama, where the county’s former adviser says a group of firms led by JPMorgan… overcharged it by as much as $100 million for financing a new sewer system. Banks marketed unregulated derivatives as a way for municipalities to save money. The financing, which local officials across the country have said they didn’t understand, backfired this year as fallout from the global credit crisis caused borrowing costs to rise more than fourfold in some cases to as high as 20%.”
September 1 – Los Angeles Times (Marc Lifsher): “With joblessness at a 12-year high and expected to head higher, California’s fund for paying unemployment benefits is about to go broke. The fund, sustained mainly by taxes on employers, is projected to be deeply in the red as soon as March. And the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is alarmed that it may have to keep the fund afloat by borrowing from the federal government and using state money to pay nearly $100 million in interest over two years. At stake is the stability of a 73-year-old program that began during the Depression. In July, California paid unemployment benefits worth $567.4 million and received 267,000 new claims for jobless benefits… According to the latest projections, which already appear optimistic, the hole in the fund could exceed $1.6 billion at the end of 2009 and $3.5 billion by December 2010…”
Crude Liquidity Watch:
September 1 – Bloomberg (Haris Anwar): “Saudi Arabian inflation accelerated to 11.1% in July from 10.6% in June, Saudi Press Agency reported. Inflation has accelerated since the middle of last year, when it was at about 3%, and has reached more than 10% in the past three months.”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Matt Brown and Haris Anwar): “Inflation in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, accelerated to 13% in the second-quarter, led by rent and fuel prices, according to the emirate's planning and economy department.”
September 1 – Bloomberg (Arif Sharif): “Personal consumer loans in the United Arab Emirates, the second-biggest Arab economy, were 48% higher in the second quarter than in the year-earlier period… In the first quarter, personal loans grew by 47 percent… Overall, second-quarter bank loans increased by 69% from a year earlier…