bonds Markets

So Much For ‘Regular And Predictable’: What Treasury’s 50-, 100-Year Bond Outreach Means

A "bias to proceed".

On Friday, after the close, Treasury decided to go ahead and tip a new “outreach” effort aimed at “refresh[ing] its understanding of market appetite” for ultra-long issuance.

In addition to a 50-year tenor, there’s some speculation about a US century bond. It was obviously not a coincidence that the news came after a week during which 30-year yields fell below 2% for the first time.

Although Steve Mnuchin said in 2017 that ultra-long obligations might “absolutely make sense”, previous outreach efforts have generally been met with a tepid response.

Read more: Argentina Has A Century Bond, Why Not Us?, Is What Treasury Wants To Know

If you ask BofA, Treasury now harbors a “bias to proceed”, irrespective of pushback from TBAC.

The bank’s Mark Cabana calls Friday’s announcement “a surprising break from typical Treasury practice”. He cites the fact that it was unexpected, that it came “late on a mid-August Friday in low liquidity” and that it hit “outside of quarterly refunding guidance that was just provided 2.5 weeks earlier”.

The odd character of the announcement may suggest Treasury is aiming to capitalize (figuratively and literally) off plunging long-term borrowing costs and engineer away some of the recession jitters as manifested in the curve.

Although Treasury has always employed a “regular and predictable” approach to debt management and steered clear of trying to time the market with opportunistic issuance, BofA thinks Friday’s announcement could telegraph a strategy shift towards issuance that’s “less regular and predictable, more market timed, and biased to proceed with ultra-longs”.

As far as how a 50-year would trade, BofA sees it at 10-20bps cheap to the 30-year, although the bank says that could be optimistic. Cabana cites “demand and liquidity concerns [which] may overwhelm the convexity benefit of the 50y bonds”.

(BofA)

The bottom line from where BofA is sitting is that if Treasury goes this rout, it will mean a steeper curve and “cheaper USTs & higher term premium due to R&P departure”, among other developments.

But hey, how else is the White House going to finance that Greenland purchase, right?


 

2 comments on “So Much For ‘Regular And Predictable’: What Treasury’s 50-, 100-Year Bond Outreach Means

  1. Anonymous

    Or fund the unfunded tax cuts of 18, those conservative spending bills, additional tax cuts since this is the greatest economy ever, and those several trillion dollars deficits when the next recession hits. So many things, so many issuances………….,,,…,;,…

  2. Ben There

    financing gap faced by Treasury in coming years is likely to be too large to address with a heavy concentration of front-end issuance. Such a policy would also imply an undesirable decline in the WAM (weighted average maturity) in response to Fed run-off and higher deficits.

    The Committee discussion highlighted that it is simply not a viable strategy to accommodate the magnitude of the potential additional issuance using only front-end instruments. The Fed run-off and potentially higher deficits represent meaningful challenges that would require a sustained shift in borrowing needs to be spread across the curve.

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