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Could the Fed Be Manufacturing Another Stock Market Crash?

Stock-Markets / Financial Crash Jan 08, 2010 - 02:58 AM GMT

By: Graham_Summers

Stock-Markets

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleA week ago, I wrote an essay titled Bonds, Not Stocks, Will be the Big Story in 2010. In it, I detailed how the US Treasury is now facing a debt spiral: a situation where it needs to issue roughly $150 billion of new debt per month WHILE rolling over TRILLIONS in existing debt at a time when investors are willing to lend to it for shorter and shorter periods of time.


Indeed, in the next two months alone, the US must roll over $133 billion in debt.

And this is coming at the precise time that the US will begin issuing roughly $150-300 billion in new debt to finance our $1.5 trillion deficit.

The big question now is… WHO’S going to be buying this stuff?

Historically foreign investors and foreign governments were the biggest buyers of US debt. Indeed, they were the largest in 2009, buying up roughly $700 billion worth of Treasury securities, representing a 23% increase from their purchases of 2008.

On the surface this data makes it look like foreign governments haven’t lost their appetite for US debt… until you look at the data on a month-by-month basis. According to the Treasury Department’s Treasury International Capital Data for October, Foreign Governments have actually become SELLERS of long-term US debt that month. The report notes:

Net foreign acquisition of long-term securities, taking into account adjustments, is estimated to have been $8.3 billion (Graham’s note: we issued nearly $2 TRILLION in debt in 2009).

Foreign holdings of dollar-denominated short-term U.S. securities, including Treasury bills, and other custody liabilities decreased $43.9 billion. Foreign holdings of Treasury bills decreased $38.3 billion.

Thus we see that the annual increase in foreign government purchase of US debt came largely at the BEGINNING or first half of 2009: by October foreign governments were actually SELLING long-term US debt.

Suffice to say, foreign governments likely will not be stepping in to pick up the slack in the Treasury market. The next biggest purchaser of US debt behind Foreign Governments in 2009 was the Federal Reserve itself via its Quantitative Easing Program. Given that unpopularity of this policy it is unlikely to be repeated (at least not in a form large enough to pick up any slack in the Treasury markets).

So what about state or local governments, pension funds, or insurance companies (historically decent sized buyers of US debt)? Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management points out that according to Treasury data these groups have either been net sellers or small buyers of Treasury debt in 2009.

The likelihood that these groups suddenly buy hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasuries in 2010 is minimal... the same goes for “other investors” (the third largest group of US debt buyers in 2009, buying nearly $700 billion in US debt and comprised of “Individuals, Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSE), Brokers and Dealers, Bank Personal Trusts and Estates, Corporate and Non-Corporate Businesses, Individuals and Other Investors).

Unless of course we have ANOTHER Crash in the stock market.

Think about it… The US, if it were treated like a corporation, is effectively bankrupt. And it has to issue a MASSIVE amount of new debt while rolling over TRILLIONS in old debt at the VERY time that most historic buyers of US debt are losing interest in lending to the US for any period longer than a few years.

So how do you create interest?

Simple, let the stock market collapse. The “flight to safety” that would follow would push billions if not hundreds of billions of dollars into Treasuries, soaking up the debt issuance and roll-over with little difficulty.

And why not? Stocks have added $6 trillion to the US household “budget.” Let a third of that slide into Treasuries and you’ve covered the current US deficit for 2010 and S&P 500 would still be at 950 or so.

Please bear in mind, that I am NOT saying the Fed and friends will do this. But given that the Fed is coming under increased scrutiny as public outrage rises, letting stocks come unhinged it perhaps the least politically controversial move the Fed could make (as opposed to another Quantitative Easing Program which would REALLY get the public upset). It would do the following:

  1. End the liquidity fueled rally while bringing stocks closer to reality (the higher the rally goes the more painful the subsequent correction will be)
  2. Create great demand for Treasuries (something the US desperately NEEDS in 2010)
  3. Have relatively minor political ramifications compared to another Quantitative Easing Program or more Bailouts (the public is pissed, Democrats have begun jumping ship, and we ARE in an election year)

Could the Fed be preparing another stock crash to flood the bond market with demand? Who knows? But it would make plenty of sense to me.

Good Investing!

Graham Summers

PS. I’ve put together a FREE Special Report detailing THREE investments that will explode when stocks start to collapse again. I call it Financial Crisis “Round Two” Survival Kit. These investments will not only help to protect your portfolio from the coming carnage, they’ll can also show you enormous profits.

Swing by www.gainspainscapital.com/roundtwo.html to pick up a FREE copy today!

http://gainspainscapital.com

Graham Summers: Graham is Senior Market Strategist at OmniSans Research. He is co-editor of Gain, Pains, and Capital, OmniSans Research’s FREE daily e-letter covering the equity, commodity, currency, and real estate markets. 

Graham also writes Private Wealth Advisory, a monthly investment advisory focusing on the most lucrative investment opportunities the financial markets have to offer. Graham understands the big picture from both a macro-economic and capital in/outflow perspective. He translates his understanding into finding trends and undervalued investment opportunities months before the markets catch on: the Private Wealth Advisory portfolio has outperformed the S&P 500 three of the last five years, including a 7% return in 2008 vs. a 37% loss for the S&P 500.

Previously, Graham worked as a Senior Financial Analyst covering global markets for several investment firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. He’s lived and performed research in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States.

    © 2010 Copyright Graham Summers - All Rights Reserved
    Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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