At $2 Million Per Minute, Treasuries Mint Cash Like Never Before

Note to reader; the level of federal government interest payment outlays continues to escalate and is a primary reason why the Federal Reserve seems so determined to lower the federal funds rate. At the current run rate, the US Treasury will pay out nearly $1 trillion dollars in interest payments this year. Even though inflation is stubborn, officials at the FED know that this cannot continue indefinitely, and the Federal government’s interest costs is also the primary reason why the Fed has been determined to taper its balance sheet roll off. I ask, other than the Federal Reserve, who else will be able to buy up the growing debt pile and how will the US Treasury continue paying this level of interest? It’s not the foreigners we need to worry about, the Federal Reserve continues to exert ever more control over the yield curve.

(Bloomberg) — For the first time in nearly a generation, fixed income is living up to its name.

This, at a certain level, is simply the consequence of benchmark rates in the US jumping from 0% to over 5% in a span two years.

But at a time when all of Wall Street seems fixated on whether the Federal Reserve will actually cut interest rates this year — and heated arguments break out over whether the 10-year US bond should yield, say, 4.5% or 4.65% — it’s easy to lose sight of one important fact: That after being held hostage by zero-rate policies for almost two decades, US Treasuries are finally reverting back to their traditional role in the economy.

That is, as a source of income that investors can lock in and rely on, year after year, for years to come — regardless of where yields are at any given moment.

The numbers tell the story. Last year, investors pocketed nearly $900 billion in annual interest from US government debt, double the average over the previous decade. That’s set to rise as over 90% of Treasuries carry coupons of 4% or more. In mid-2020, just 5% yielded that much. Because of the higher interest, investors are also better shielded against any jump in yields. Currently, rates would need to go up by over three-quarters of a percentage point over the next year before Treasuries start to lose money, at least on paper.

Over the past decade, that margin of safety at times virtually disappeared.(1)

“With the help of our friends at the Fed, they did put the income back in fixed income,” said Anne Walsh, who oversees about $320 billion as chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners Investment Management. “And fixed-income investors, we get to reap the benefits of higher yield. That’s a good thing.”

Two recent economic trends have worked their favor.

First is that, while inflation is tantalizingly close to the point where the Fed might consider cutting rates, lately, progress toward its 2% goal has stalled. That’s pushed out rate-cut expectations into at least the latter part of the year.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, is simply that the economy keeps humming along (despite some signs of cooling in the labor market), which suggests the Fed won’t need to lower rates all that much when it does begin.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell underscored that wait-and-see approach in his remarks last week after the central bank held rates steady, while the traders currently see just two quarter-point cuts by year-end. At the start of the year, they priced in as many as six.

“Nobody is focused anymore on what could go wrong if the wheels come off with the economy,” said Blake Gwinn, head of US interest-rate strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “And every month that goes by is another month that a cut didn’t happen.”

As a result, safe assets like Treasuries — from one-month T-bills to 30-year bonds — now have something to offer anyone looking for income.

Money, Money, Money

In February, the Congressional Budget Office projected that interest and dividends paid to individuals will rise to $327 billion this year — more than double the amount in the mid-2010s — and keep increasing each year over the coming decade. In March alone, the Treasury Department paid out about $89 billion in interest to debt holders — or roughly $2 million a minute.

It’s no small irony that the newfound income from Treasuries may itself be playing a role in keeping the “higher-for-longer” narrative intact. A small, but growing number on Wall Street argue that, along with the surge in stock prices, the interest paid on Treasuries and other bond investments is creating a material wealth effect among Americans, with the extra cash acting like stimulus checks supporting the surprisingly resilient economy.

Of course, the whole point of owning US government bonds is that they aren’t supposed to lose money, are less volatile than equities and will provide a fixed rate of return above inflation. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that the very reason Treasuries are back in demand as a buy-and-hold option — after years of yielding next to nothing — is because of brutal losses in recent years in the face of rampant inflation and the aggressive rate hikes to combat it.

That reset, however painful, has now paved the way for higher future returns and a “more normal” fixed-income market.

Investors have responded by piling in. Money-market funds — which invest in short-term securities like T-bills — saw their assets swell to a record $6.1 trillion last month. Meanwhile, bond funds raked in $300 billion in 2023 and $191 billion so far this year, reversing outflows in 2022 that were the biggest in recent memory, according to EPFR data. Direct sales of Treasuries to individuals have jumped, too.

All told, the amount of debt held by households and non-profits has surged 90% since the start of 2022 to a record $5.7 trillion, according to Fed statistics.

Dan Ivascyn, chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., says the reset in yields for high-quality debt of all kinds, from Treasuries to corporate bonds, will have broad implications for the buyout firms, hedge-fund managers and private-credit shops that drew in hundreds of billions of dollars when rates were at rock-bottom lows.

Back to the Future

He also noted that bonds are now a “tremendous value” versus stocks. By one measure, known as the Fed model, they’re more attractive versus US equities than at any time since 2002.(2)

“We’re seeing far more inquiries for fixed income than we’ve seen in the last almost 15 years,” Ivascyn said. Investors are asking themselves “why am I making it so complicated when I can get 6, 7, 8% from bonds? So it’s opening up a whole new buyer base.”

There is, of course, no certainty this will stay the case. But there are solid reasons to believe that yields won’t revert back to their post-financial-crisis levels even after the Fed starts cutting rates. That means fixed income will likely remain in demand.

For starters, nagging worries about inflation, fueled in part by trends like the de-globalization of supply chains, will likely keep rates from falling too far as investors demand protection against the risk their income will be eaten away by the rising cost of living. After accounting for inflation, yields are now back above 2%. The last time that happened on a sustained basis was prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Then, there’s the massive US deficit, which is all but certain to be financed by a never-ending supply of new bonds. Not only is that likely to keep yields elevated, but it will also provide a burgeoning source of interest income for bond investors, month after month.

“It seems like going back to the future — a little bit back to some normal times,’’ said Matt Eagan, a money manager at Loomis Sayles & Co., which oversees roughly $350 billion. “It’s quite a big turnaround.”

(1) Estimate based on the duration of the Bloomberg Treasury index, which includes securities across the maturity spectrum. Figures for individual securities will vary.

(2) Fed model is a valuation tool that compares the earnings yield for S&P 500 companies to the yield on 10-year Treasuries

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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22 thoughts on “At $2 Million Per Minute, Treasuries Mint Cash Like Never Before

  1. Very interesting article on Henry Makow’s site about Father Coughlin. Very interesting man of God. It is a small wonder why we do not hear about him in the history books. When the masses like comfortable lies the truth tellers are thrown down the memory hole.
    The SoS do not give a rats ass about your rights of free speech. They will work around the law to suppress free speech and those who get to close to the truth. If you speak the truth in this world you will get a ton of points in heaven, but be prepared for a miserable existence on earth.

  2. They might be planning a Covid 19 part 2. In this case they will push (mandate) a “different” Covid vaccine that does not have the mRNA technology. This NovaVax vaccine will be sold as a “harmless” vaccine with less side effects. What they don’t say is that it is the spike proteins that cause most of the damage. That said this vaccine will be a silent killer like the others.

      1. Does it also suck out chemtrail particulates?

        Look at Au this morning. Never again will Au drop below $2,000. The world is insanely spending itself into total chaos and synagogue bankruptcy.

        With complete wastes of money like the spending project this article highlights, the world is transferring its wealth from savers and wage earners to the asset owners and synagogue of Satan central bank lenders.

      2. This has to be an April Fools joke? If not, some group managed to find a brilliant way of spending grant money. What an interesting cycle of money waste. You dupe the population into believing everything that burns hydrocarbons is bad, then devise a clever plan to get rid of the CO2 (by burning more hydrocarbons?). And if that’s not enough, we have this

        1. I saw that one too about the lunar railroad. We have a hard enough time maintaining our railroads down here. These people are insane. There is just too much money floating around and everyone wants a piece of it.

    1. The money market funds will find its way into assets such as real estate and stocks and precious metals especially if interest rates start coming down. This is a permanent bull situation until the force majeure.

      The key to success in this world is be an asset owner AND stay away from vaccines AND stay healthy.
      The other key to success is read the Holy Bible and develop a daily prayer relationship with the one and only God.

      The masses who are asses will spend to live for today and eat junk food.
      The atheist masses will faithfully get their vaccines to keep their jobs so they can blow off their paychecks.

  3. Another good way to generate more income from a property is to offer parking spaces for mobile homes. There are many people here who buy a motorhome and don’t have a parking space. I have therefore converted a lawn into a car park. Two days ago I signed the lease with a wealthy pensioner who bought a $ 140000 motorhome…and wish the nice gentleman many pleasant journeys and enjoyment for the next 20 years.

  4. I received this article link from a reader. It’s amazing the shenanigans that Western governments go through to extend benefits to foreigners. All it does is destroy the lifestyles of the locals, those who built up the nation. American and Canadian governments cater to foreigners who destroy countries and price out the natives. These governments hate their citizens. What’s worse is that these governments teach their citizens to hate themselves.

    “Fake Chinese income” mortgages fuel Toronto Real Estate Bubble: HSBC Bank Leaks

    “I found out a huge mortgage fraud showing borrowers with exaggerated income from one specific country, China”: The Bureau investigates whistleblower docs

  5. If the Fed lowers interest rates it will crash the dollar as investors will not see any purpose of investing in a currency of a country with big deficit spending and low interest rates. Interest rates really reward the middle class risk averse savers.
    That said, there is a strong possibility of the Fed lowering interest rates to spare the Federal Government interest expense so they can spend that money elsewhere and increase the deficit.The socialists want lower interest rates as interest rates reward the responsible rich savers at the expense of the irresponsible poor debtors.
    The big boys on Wall Street want lower interest rates so they can leverage buyouts at lower costs. Even though inflation is running higher, interest rates will come down due to political pressure.

    1. The dollar won’t crash, though the usdx could test 100. What it would do is make the asset markets go bonkers. House prices would move up another 10-20% within the next 12 months and price inflation would resume its upward trend with a higher second derivative.

      The Judas fiscal policy makers want lower rates to facilitate their benefits giveaway. These politicians love spending other people’s money. The asset owners love lower rates for the same reasons as during the COVID-19 stimulus programs.

      The only people who lose are renters and wage slaves.

      1. Correct. If the other major countries follow the same path then the USD will hold up but asset prices like real estate and stocks will go bonkers.

  6. As there are quite a few property owners here, I wanted to ask if anyone has had any experience with “Airbnb”. I set up an Airbnb in a studio (1 room, 2 beds, small kitchen, bathroom/WC) in my house 1 month ago as an experiment. The expected income for the month of May is CHF 1850. My wife enjoys hosting guests and we are amazed that there are so many bookings.

    1. I have spoken to a number of Airbnb owners and they view the endeavor as a hospitality business rather than landlording. If you have the desire to pursue that route, I say it can be very profitable. It just takes a lot more work than being a long-term landlord.

      Many people don’t want to deal with hotels anymore. All the talk of unsanitary conditions scares some guests off. Many people I know use Airbnb almost exclusively when traveling for pleasure and even sometimes for work.

        1. It looks nice. I’d rather stay at your place than in a hotel. That’s actually pretty inexpensive. Have you thought about raising the price? That’s only about $90 a night.

    2. Will be trying Air BnB next year. On another note, I’ve had success renting out garage space and seacans on my properties. Storage space is a hot commodity these days.

      1. Storage facilities are a hot commodity. People have so much stuff, especially those with unstable household and life formations. They have a hard time finding areas to store all their stuff. I cannot believe how expensive storage units have become, especially for those that are owned by the large REITs.

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