US Treasuries: volatility in money markets will keep long-term yields in check. Yet, inflation concerns continue to grow, pointing to higher rates once the debt ceiling issue is resolved.
This week, investors will need to focus on the Fed Minutes released on Wednesday, inflation numbers, and the White House's announcement concerning the Federal Reserve Chair nomination.
The Fed’s minutes might unveil details regarding the decision that led to tapering this month and whether FOMC members begin to fret about inflationary pressures. Last week, several Fed’s speakers opened up about accelerating tapering and hiking interest rates in 2022. Among them, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida called for a discussion to expedite tapering to enable the central bank to hike interest rates sooner.
At the same time, if Biden nominates Leal Brainard as Fed Chair, it could advance inflation worries. Brainard is known to be more dovish than Powell. In the case of her nomination, the market could anticipate interest rates to remain low for longer, implying stickier inflation, provoking a selloff in bonds.
The Personal Consumption Expenditure Index, one of the inflation data most looked at after the Federal Reserve, will be released on Wednesday. The PCE core deflator index YoY is expected to rise to 4.1%, the highest in more than 31 years. As we mentioned in earlier editions of “Fixed income market: the week ahead”, we expect inflationary pressures to continue to rise and higher rents, housing and wages to make inflation stickier, putting at odds policymakers’ transitory narrative.
Therefore, although the US yield curve has already flattened substantially, we cannot expect anything else than more flattening. The only difference is that once the debt ceiling issue is resolved, long term yields will need to rise together with short term yields, putting at risk weaker credits.
The debt ceiling will be a crucial topic for December. Janet Yellen has said that the US Treasury will run out of cash soon after the 3rd of December if an agreement over the debt ceiling is not found. However, money markets have started to price a default during the second half of December. Indeed, last week's 4-week T-Bills auction was priced with a yield of 0.11%, more than double the Reverse Repurchase facility rate. We expect volatility in money markets to continue to remain elevated until the debt ceiling is lifted or suspended. Until then, the long part of the yield curve will serve as a safe haven causing yields to remain compressed. Yet, once the debt ceiling hurdle has cleared, long-term rates will resume their rise.