$244 Billion of Treasury Debt to Hit the Market Today and Tomorrow as Interest Rates Spike on Ballooning Supply

Upcoming Treasury Auctions

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 29, 2024 ~

When Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell held his press conference on May 1 to explain the Fed’s latest policy actions, more than a dozen reporters showed up to ask questions. Those reporters came from every major business news outlet. (See transcript here.)

But on the same date, when the U.S. Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets, Josh Frost, conducted a press conference to announce the details of the Treasury’s plans to issue $125 billion in Treasury debt securities (quarterly refunding), only one reporter from Bloomberg News showed up to ask questions. (See the awkward video at this link.)

Perhaps the U.S. Treasury needs to hire a strong arm like Michelle Smith, Director of Communications at the Fed for the past 23 years, to oversee its press conferences. Or, perhaps a lighter touch would be more welcome. Then again, maybe the U.S. Treasury would rather not call attention to its ballooning issuance of debt.

In addition to the giant pile of debt securities that the U.S. Treasury issues in its quarterly refunding operations, the Treasury also holds ongoing auctions of debt. (See what is being auctioned by the Treasury today and tomorrow on the above chart.)

These auctions will come directly on the heels of the debt markets gagging on $70 billion of a 5-Year U.S. Treasury Note auction and $69 billion in a 2-Year Treasury Note auction – both held yesterday. Treasury yields spiked across the board yesterday, including on the benchmark 10-year Treasury, on the increased supply and in anticipation of more supply about to hit the market.

The additional $244 billion in Treasury debt set to be auctioned today and tomorrow is likely to send more shivers through debt markets as well as in the corner offices of the megabanks on Wall Street. As the chart below shows, the publicly-traded shares of all five megabanks that hold trillions of dollars in interest rate and credit derivatives closed in the red yesterday. Those megabanks are JPMorgan Chase (JPM); Citigroup (C); Bank of America (BAC); Goldman Sachs (GS); and Morgan Stanley (MS).

Not only do these megabanks hold massive bets on the direction of interest rates via their derivative holdings but their securities divisions are also contractually obligated to buy Treasuries at each auction as part of being a “Primary Dealer” to the Fed.

JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are two of the 30 stock components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), lending a disturbing twist to the definition of “industrial.” The Dow closed in the red to the tune of 216.7 points yesterday while the NASDAQ (COMP), stuffed with tech highfliers reminiscent of the dot.com bubble of the late 90s, closed above 17,000 for the first time.

Throwing gasoline on the interest rate spike were comments made by Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari in a CNBC interview yesterday. Those comments were released in the wee hours of Tuesday morning – well in advance of the Treasury Note auctions. Kashkari said Fed interest rate hikes should not be ruled out. The megabanks and the debt markets have been eagerly anticipating interest rate cuts by the Fed.

At 9:24 a.m. this morning, six minutes before the stock market is set to open, Dow futures were down 252 points, suggesting more spill out ahead from the Treasury debt supply overhang.

Closing Prices, May 29, 2024

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