With the Fed's balance sheet and the monetary base now flat for the past 18 months, the private
sector is the primary provider of liquidity to the system. Total private funding measured yr/yr has
moved up to 5.6%. The banks are not avidly chasing liquidity with jumbo deposits down slightly
and commercial paper offerings running flat and way below pre-recession levels. With short term
interest rates at nominal levels, M - 1 money supply has been growing nicely as folks have
little incentive to move funds out on the curve. With the Fed not providing any tail wind, risks
to the capital markets are elevated, but given the modest needs of the economy, there is excess
liquidity to fund speculation in the capital markets as long as confidence holds up. Recent economic
data suggest the economy is firming up, and if a strengthening trend is developing, excess liquidity
will decline and the Fed may ultimately wish to raise the Fed Funds rate again. Short term lead
economic indicators support this view, so one has allow that investor and trader confidence may
receive a challenge in the months ahead. If the Fed begins to telegraph this view, players may
again shorten maturities enough to actually shrink the monetary base and give some traders a scare.
However, since the economy is still well below levels suggesting the development of an overheating
situation, the Fed may maintain an extended purview to encompass international issues such
as Brexit etc. and leave off any warnings for now.
As 2015 wore on, markets players took about $170 billion off the tables, but with stocks and
bonds higher in 2016 so far, that money flowed back into the markets. Given the relative
stability of money market funds in recent years, market action in the short term may continue
to be rotational pending news from the Fed.
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!