Editor’s word: Since this put up was first revealed, a reference within the second paragraph to major sellers switching positions was corrected to learn “a net-short to a net-long place.” February 6, 10:45 a.m.
The U.S. Treasury market is among the most liquid monetary markets on this planet, and Treasury bonds have lengthy been thought of a secure haven for world traders. It’s usually believed that Treasury bonds earn a “comfort yield,” within the sense that traders are prepared to just accept a decrease yield on them in comparison with different investments with the identical money flows owing to Treasury bonds’ security and liquidity. Nonetheless, for the reason that world monetary disaster (GFC), long-maturity U.S. Treasury bonds have traded at a yield constantly above the rate of interest swap fee of the identical maturity. The emergence of the “detrimental swap unfold” seems to recommend that Treasury bonds are “inconvenient,” a minimum of relative to rate of interest swaps. This put up dives into this Treasury “inconvenience” premium and highlights the function of sellers’ stability sheet constraints in explaining it.
Main Sellers’ Treasury Place, Detrimental Swap Unfold, and Cross-Foreign money Foundation
As in our latest Employees Report, we start with a placing chart displaying a robust correlation between major sellers’ internet Treasury place and the swap unfold (see chart beneath). Pre-GFC, when sellers general had a net-short place in Treasury bonds, the swap unfold was optimistic. The signal flip within the swap unfold coincides with major sellers switching from holding a net-short to a net-long place in Treasury bonds. With this shift in sellers’ positioning, sellers continued to earn a optimistic unfold on their Treasury positions hedged utilizing rate of interest swaps. As well as, post-GFC, the bigger the sellers’ internet place, the extra detrimental the swap unfold, or the extra “inconvenient” the Treasury bonds.
Swap Unfold, CIP Deviations, and Main Sellers’ Internet Holdings of Treasury Bonds Are Extremely Correlated
For sellers, the primary distinction between holding a Treasury bond and holding an rate of interest swap is that the Treasury bond stays on the vendor’s stability sheet, however the swap is off-balance-sheet. The tightening of the non-risk-weighted leverage ratio constraint post-GFC makes a big stability sheet pricey for banks, even when the underlying positions have little danger.
The tight correlation between the swap spreads and the cross-currency foundation (the crimson line) post-GFC, additionally proven within the chart above, additional helps the declare that middleman stability sheet capability is a key driver of the Treasury swap unfold. The cross-currency foundation measures deviations from the lined curiosity parity (CIP) situation, a textbook no-arbitrage situation. The CIP deviations mirror the shadow price of the middleman stability sheet constraint (as proven in this text and this text). Specifically, a bigger major vendor Treasury place corresponds to a tighter stability sheet constraint, and due to this fact, a extra detrimental swap unfold and cross-currency foundation.
The Function of the Yield Curve Slope
What drives the first sellers’ Treasury place post-GFC when sellers have an extended place in Treasury bonds? As proven within the subsequent chart, major sellers’ Treasury place is extremely correlated with the slope of the yield curve: sellers enhance their Treasury place when the yield curve is flatter. The explanation for this relationship is that because the Treasury yield curve flattens or inverts—a recurring function of the financial coverage tightening cycle—real-money traders (reminiscent of mutual funds, and overseas insurers that hedge their greenback foreign money danger utilizing short-term forwards) scale back their demand for Treasury bonds because of decrease anticipated returns on the bonds. In consequence, sellers (or levered traders that depend on sellers’ stability sheets) need to additional enhance their Treasury holdings, which tightens sellers’ stability sheet constraints, resulting in a extra detrimental swap unfold (and better revenue for sellers who go lengthy in Treasury bonds hedged with rate of interest swaps).
Time period Spreads and Main Seller Treasury Holdings
Placing in a Time period Construction Mannequin
Within the paper, we construct a constant framework that includes constrained sellers, levered traders funded by vendor stability sheets, and return-seeking actual cash traders to elucidate these new details. Whether or not the sellers are net-long or net-short in Treasury bonds issues considerably for yields. Utilizing CIP deviations because the proxy for sellers’ stability sheet prices, our time period construction mannequin reveals that the Treasury yield curve switched from the dealer-net-short curve to the dealer-net-long curve, in line with the change within the sellers’ place (see chart beneath).
Mannequin-Implied and Precise Treasury Yields (10-Yr Maturity)
Implications for Coverage
Lastly, we use our framework to debate the implications of a number of financial and regulatory insurance policies for the Treasury market, together with quantitative easing and tightening, central financial institution swap traces, and the exemption of Treasury securities from the supplementary leverage ratio calculation. Specifically, throughout a financial coverage tightening cycle, our mannequin means that the yield curve inversion and the Federal Reserve stability sheet runoff will doubtless create vital stress for monetary intermediaries to soak up Treasury bonds. In consequence, the anticipated build-up within the middleman positions may result in fragility within the Treasury market. However, now we have abstracted two latest developments from our framework which may make the present tightening cycle totally different. First, the big amount of money piled within the in a single day reverse repo facility can assist soak up the Treasury bonds and alleviate the middleman stability sheet constraints. Second, larger rate of interest volatility can discourage the build-up of sellers’ stock and the levered traders’ place because of extra value-at-risk-type constraints, which have been abstracted from our framework. Total, major sellers’ Treasury stock and numerous intermediation spreads ought to be carefully monitored by policymakers and market members.
Wenxin Du is a monetary analysis advisor in Capital Markets Research within the Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York’s Analysis and Statistics Group.
Benjamin Hébert is an affiliate professor of finance on the Stanford College Graduate College of Enterprise.
Wenhao Li is an assistant professor of finance and enterprise economics on the College of Southern California Marshall College of Enterprise.
Methods to cite this put up:
Wenxin Du, Benjamin Hébert, and Wenhao Li, “Understanding the “Inconvenience” of U.S. Treasury Bonds,” Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York Liberty Avenue Economics, February 6, 2023, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2023/02/understanding-the-inconvenience-of-u-s-treasury-bonds/.
The views expressed on this put up are these of the writer(s) and don’t essentially mirror the place of the Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the accountability of the writer(s).