Foreign central bank dumping of Treasuries and Agencies reached record levels this week, far beyond anything seen in the 9 years since I started tracking this data. The last time anything remotely similar happened was at the top of the bull market in the summer of 2007, and those levels pale by comparison with what is going on today. Furthermore, this is no flash in the pan. This has been going on for 4 weeks, and has been growing for the past 3. Over the past 9 years, there has never been a time when FCBs were sellers of their Treasury and Agency debt for 4 weeks in a row. I do not believe that the bull market in bonds can survive under these conditions, regardless of what the Fed does. If the runs on European banks, bank paper, and sovereign debt subside, by even a little, it’s over.
Furthermore, this withdrawal of FCB liquidity from the US market, combined with no net new liquidity from the Fed, should keep stock prices under pressure. For months falling stock prices have gone hand in hand with rising bond prices and falling yields. Any reversal in the trend of bond yields may not be accompanied by a similar reversal in stock prices, or at least not to the same degree. We need to be alert for any signs of a shift in these correlations in the weeks ahead.
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