Fed Rates, CME Tool, Term Premium

Credit to Monday Morning Macro

One brief note on methodology: the CME “FedTool” has a similar probability tree but it calculates the odds using binary Markov chains. In a nutshell, this means that they only allow for 1 of 2 outcomes to be altered at a given meeting. If you think the Fed could either stay on hold, cut by 25, cut by 50, or more (which the options market is telling us is a possibility – why else would somebody be wanting to pay anything at all for something like the EDU9 98.50 calls?), then a binary chained decision tree isn’t correct. Look closely at the CME tool, they show zero probability for an “on hold” result. Even in this cynical world of second guessing policymakers, we should know that can’t be correct with more than a month still to go…

 

3. Funding

One of the aspects of the financial crisis that was so devastating to the credit market was the fact that funding spreads experienced a seizure unlike anything they’d seen previously. Steps were taken in the aftermath to buttress the industry against this happening again, but we still see periodic flare-ups in funding markets that often precede meaningful volatility in other asset classes. The most popular measure of this to follow is the spread between bank borrowing rates (representing unsecured credit) & the overnight Fed rate (representing secured credit): LIBOR vs OIS, also referred to as FRA/OIS (FRA = forward rate agreement). When this spread widens, it indicates funding stress is present. The Dec 19 future associated with this spread is now at its widest levels since early February 2018.

 

The Federal Reserve tracks what’s called “Term Premium”. The best way to understand this is as a measure of what compensation you’re receiving (once you strip out all the effects of inflation & some other econometric factors) for owning Treasuries. This seems like a sensible measure to watch: if you’re getting 1.625% in interest for 10-year bonds, but the inflation rate is the same – then it’s not really all that much compensation you’re earning in the end.

Currently, we’re at -1.21%. That’s easily the lowest since the Fed started tracking this in 1960.

 

Brian Twomey

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