As is well-known by everyone, the Fed monetizes the US deficit on a daily basis, thanks to the 45 minutes of POMO love each day when it buys Treasuries from Dealers. Of course, the Fed monetizes bonds from across the entire curve (mostly the longer end), which is why it is somewhat complicated to express the amount of risk transfer the Fed takes on every time the S&P posts an uptick as a result of yet another bond purchase by the hedge fund with the largest fixed income portfolio in the history of the world. However, one simple way of expressing just this risk is through the use of ten year equivalents: Ten-year equivalents are the amount of 10-year notes that must be held by the Fed in order to remove the same amount of interest rate risk from the market as its current holdings. What this methodology allows is to represent the Fed’s holdings of all marketable securities on a linear continuum, and represent the remainder, or those bonds held by the private sector, on the side.
So what may come as a surprise to most, is that as of this week’s H.4.1 update, the amount of ten-year equivalents held by the Fed increased to $1.583 trillion from $1.576 trillion in the prior week, which reduces the amount available to the private sector to $3.637 trillion from $3.668 trillion in the prior week. And also, thanks to maturities, and purchase by the Fed from the secondary market, there were $5.219 trillion ten-year equivalents outstanding, down from $5.244 trillion in the prior week.
What this means simply is that as of this moment, the Fed has, in its possession, a record 30.32% of all outstanding ten year equivalents, or said in plain English: duration-adjusted government bonds. It also means that the amount of bonds left in the hands of the private sector has dropped to a record low 69.68% from 69.95% in the prior week.
America may or may not be becoming increasingly socialist and/or nationalized, but there is no doubt about it: its bond market most certainly is.
Chart of total ten year equivalents, broken down by Private sector and the Fed (courtesy of StoneMcCarthy):
The percentage of the entire US bond market currently owned by the Fed (courtesy of StoneMcCarthy):
Finally, the above means that with every passing week, the Fed’s creeping takeover of the US bond market absorbs just under 0.3% of all TSY bonds outstanding: a pace which means the Fed will own 45% of all in 2014, 60% in 2015, 75% in 2016 and 90% or so by the end of 2017 (and ifthe US budget deficit is indeed contracting, these targets will be hit far sooner).
By the end of 2018 there would be no privately held US treasury paper.
Still think QE can go on for ever?
P.S. as a bonus, here is a breakdown of the Fed’s SOMA holdings by CUSIP