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Here’s Why More QE Won’t Be Enough for the Markets

Here’s the problem. When rates are falling, there are more sales, and especially more refi. So the prepayments go up, and the Fed sees a greater reduction in its MBS holdings. Those reductions had been running at the rate of $65-70 billion per month through last month, based on the prepayment rate in the market in prior months. The Fed then bought that much from the dealers in the following months.

As always, those settlements were held in the third week of the month. The Fed would settle a total of $100-110 billion in prior forward MBS purchases that week, and the dealers would suddenly be flush with cash.

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Good thing too. Because the 15th of the month is when the Treasury issues a pantload of new notes and bonds. The amount of Fed MBS purchases typically provided enough cash to the dealers for them to cover nearly all of the Treasury issuance. They could either buy it outright, or provide the repo financing to customers so that they could buy it. Then there was even some left over for them to play markup games with their equities inventories.

But mortgage rates have been rising since August. Prepayments are falling as a result. Home sales are holding up, but refis are cratering. As a result, the nearly final figure for the Fed’s MBS settlement in mid December is only $69 billion. That’s $30-40 billion less than in recent months.

At the same time, the TBAC says that the Treasury will issue $98 billion in new notes and bonds on December 15. The day before, the Fed’s MBS purchases will only total $52 billion.

That’s a problem. But there’s an even bigger problem next week. And an even bigger problem after that when the US Government passes new stimulus. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

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Lee Adler

I’ve been publishing The Wall Street Examiner and its predecessor since October 2000. I also publish LiquidityTrader.com, and was lead analyst for Sure Money Investor, of blessed memory. I developed David Stockman's Contra Corner for Mr. Stockman. I’ve had a wide variety of finance related jobs since 1972, including a stint on Wall Street in both sales, analytical, and trading capacities. Prior to starting the Wall Street Examiner I was a commercial real estate appraiser in Florida for 15 years. I was considered an expert in the analysis of failed properties that ended up in the hands of bank REO divisions, the FDIC, and the RTC. Remember those guys? I also worked in the residential mortgage and real estate businesses in parts of the 1970s and 80s. I have been charting stocks and markets and doing analytical work since I was a teenager. I'm not some Ivory Tower academic, Wall Street guy. My perspective comes from having my boots on the ground and in the trenches, as a real estate broker, mortgage broker, trader, account rep, and analyst. I've watched most of the games these Wall Street wiseguys play from right up close. I know the drill from my 55 years of paying attention. And I'm happy to share that experience with you, right here. 

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