Earlier this week 30-day/4-wk T-Bills were auctioned off a 0% rate. Intra-day, after the auction, the rate went negative. Negative short term rates were last observed in 2008, before the Lehman/AIG/Goldman collapse occurred. Of course, Lehman was allowed to implode and Goldman, who’s ex-CEO was the Treasury Secretary, was bailed out. AIG was the beneficiary of that bailout because Goldman had impaled itself on AIG nuclear waste.
The point here is that negative T-bill rates only occur when very big investors are concerned about the return OF their money and not the return on their money. Think about what a negative T-bill rate means. It means that someone is paying more for the T-bill than they get in return when it matures a few weeks later. Why would someone do that? It’s the “safest” place to park large sums of cash.
Something really ugly is coming at our system.
By PM Fund Manager Dave Kranzler, Truth in Gold:
A big institutional fund or very wealthy investor pays for a T-bill because they they see something which indicates that the risk of the Government defaulting in the next four weeks is less than the risk of parking that money in a bank or a money market fund. We’re talking millions and tens of millions in short term money. Bank deposits are insured only up to a small amount. After 2008, it has been decided that money market funds will no longer be bailed out by the Government/Fed.
In other words, big big investors with cash that needs to be parked are seeing something that gives them concern about the financial system. The negative rates on T-bills means that whatever was spooking big money in 2008 is spooking it again. My best guess right now is that there is massive risk of derivatives default. This would be the derivatives that blew up the system in 2008 but that the Fed/Government quickly monetized. The problem was never fixed, contrary to Obama’s recent end zone dance on the safety of the banking system.
In fact, the Fed swallowed a portion of the bad derivatives and has been using the better part of the $85+ billion per month it’s been printing since early 2009 to monetize the rest. In other words the catastrophic problems were kicked down the road. Worse, the big banks went out and replaced the crap the Fed took off their balance sheets with even more crap. Accounting rules were changed, and ratified by BOTH political parties plus Obama, which enabled the big banks to hide the problem.
But now the financial system is wearing the Scarlet Letter of negative T-bill rates. The source that is lighting the fuse is emerging market problems, reflected in the currency devaluations by Argentina and Venezuela. But the currencies of other important emerging market economies have been plunging against the dollar as well. The cost of derivatives “insurance” on the sovereign debt of these countries has suddenly increased at a rate that would make Obamacare insurance providers blush.
What the currency plunge/derivatives blow-out implies is that sovereign bond defaults are on the horizon. This is not just confined to “emerging” economic countries. Spain, Portugal, Italy and France are on the ropes financially and economically as well, despite the official European story-line that Europe is in “recovery.”
The issue for the U.S. here is that the Too Big To Fail banks are the ones who have underwritten most of the credit insurance derivatives associated with the sovereign debt that may be at risk to default. They also hold a lot of it on their balance sheet. That’s why the Fed’s Excess Reserve accounts of the big banks have ballooned up in correlation with amount of QE that has been printed. The Fed has monetizing the derivatives exposure but that works only up to the point of a default event.
In other words, a big nuclear derivatives may be coming at our system. Another interesting tidbit to think about. While the paper price of gold was being plunged using Comex futures by the Fed-backed big banks, a major portion of the gold held in the GLD Trust was removed. The common narrative scooped up like dog crap and tossed in our face by Wall Street analysts was that the decline of the gold in GLD was indication of a new bear market in gold.
Essentially gold bottomed in price on June 28th, with a retest of that bottom at the end of December. Based on the $1180 bottom, gold has risen $90 since since the end of June. But guess what? Another 179 tonnes of gold – or 19% – of the amount of gold in the GLD trust at the end of June has disappeared. If gold is rising again, shouldn’t gold be flowing back into GLD? The 500+ tonnes of gold that has been removed from GLD in a little over a year has disappeared down the rabbit hole. There’s no way to know for sure but I’m sure a large portion, if not all, has been shipped to China.
But maybe not all of it. In addition to the huge ratio of gold to physical gold visible on the Comex, according to the latest OCC bank derivatives report the top 4 banks – JPM, Citi, Goldman, Bank of America – are long over $81 billion in gold OTC derivatives. That’s the equivalent of about 1800 tonnes of gold at current at the current price. 1800 tonnes is slightly less than than the annual amount produced globally by gold mines. That amount dwarfs by many multiples the ratio of paper/gold on the Comex that has drawn everyone’s attention. Maybe that’s why the Comex publishes as much data as it does about Comex futures positions and inventory. It draws everyone’s attention from the much bigger gold derivatives problem.
Here’s a link to the OCC derivatives report for anyone interested (it’s from Q3, 2013 – there always a big time lag): Latest OCC Bank Derivatives Report
Something really ugly is coming at our system. Have a great weekend.