Foreign Central Banks Selling US Treasuries at Unprecendented Levels
BY LEE ADLER
Two weeks ago I began to report to subscribers of the Wall Street Examiner Professional Edition Fed Report that foreign central banks (FCBs) had begun to engage in unprecedented levels of disgorgement of their massive holdings of US Treasury and Agency paper. Prior to this year, the FCBs had typically absorbed the equivalent of 25% of new US Treasury issuance month in and month out. That was effectively a subsidy of US financial markets. It lowered long term interest rates artificially and injected cash into the US markets and banking system.
Then about a year ago the FCBs began to slack off in their buying. In reality, that is what necessitated the Fed’s program of Quantitative Easing. The Fed had to step in and fill the demand gap left by the FCBs gradually reducing their rate of purchases. Had the Fed not acted when it did, long term Treasury yields would have started to rise and along with them mortgage rates and other long term rates, something that the US economy and the US Government simply could not afford.
When the negative unintended consequences of the Fed’s QE money printing, primarily skyrocketing commodity prices, exploded in Bernanke’s face, he was forced to discontinue the program and allow the Treasury market to fend for itself. The Fed had convinced itself through its self-congratulatory in-house research, that there would be more than enough demand for Treasuries for the market to stand on its own without the Fed propping it up.