Category Archives: Government debt

24/6/19: Markets Expect the Next QE Soon…


Adding to the previous post on the negative yielding debt, here is a recent post from @TracyAlloway showing Goldman Sachs' chart on implied probability of the U.S. Fed rate cuts over the next 12 months:

Source of chart: https://twitter.com/tracyalloway/status/1141895516801732608/photo/1.

The rate of increases in the probability of at least 1 rate cut is staggering (as annotated by me in the chart). These dynamics directly relate to falling sovereign debt yields (and associated declines in corporate debt yields) covered here: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2019/06/24619-negative-yielding-debt-monetary.html.

Notably, as the markets are now 90% convinced a new QE is coming, their conviction about the scale of the new QE (expectations as to > 3 cuts) is off the chart and rising faster in 2Q 2019 than in the previous quarters.

24/6/19: Negative Yielding Debt: Monetary Contagion Spreads


Negative yielding Government debt (the case where investors pay the sovereign lenders for the privilege of lending them funds) has hit all-time record (based on Bloomberg database) last week, at 13 trillion.



Source of charts: https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-06-21/the-world-now-has-13-trillion-of-debt-with-below-zero-yields.

Quarter of all investment grade corporate debt is now also yielding negative payouts (note: bond returns include capital gains, so as yields fall, capital gains rise for those investors who do not hold bonds out to maturity).

In effect, negative yields are a form of a financialized tax: investors are paying a premium for risk management that the bonds provide, including the risk of future decreases in interest rates and the risk of declining value of cash due to expected future money supply increases. In other words, a eleven years after the Global Financial Crisis, the macro-experiment of monetary policies 'innovations' under the QE has been a failure: negative yields resurgence simply prices in the fact that inflationary expectations, growth expectations and financial stability expectations have all tanked, despite a gargantuan injection of funds into the financial markets and financial economies since 2008.

In 2007, total assets held by Bank of Japan, ECB and the U.S. Fed amounted to roughly $3.2 trillion. These peaked at just around $14.5 trillion in early 2018 and are currently running at $14.3 trillion as of May 2019. Counting in China's PBOC, 2008 stock of assets held by the Big 4 Central Banks amounted to $6.1 trillion. As of May 2019, this number was $19.5 trillion. Global GDP is forecast to reach $87.265 trillion by the end of this year in the latest IMF WEO update, which means that the Big-4 Central Banks currently hold assets amounting to 22.35% of the global nominal GDP.

Negative yields, and ultra-low yields on Government debt in general imply lack of incentives for Governments to efficiently allocate public spending and investment funds. This, in turn, implies lack of incentives to properly plan the use of scarce resources, such as factors of production. Given that one year investment commitments by the public sector usually involve creation of permanent or long-term subsequent and related commitments, unwinding today's excesses will be extremely painful economically, and virtually impossible politically. So while negative yields on Government debt make such projects financing feasible in the current economic environment, any exogenous or endogenous shocks to the economy in the future will be associated with these today's commitments becoming economic, social and political destabilization factors in the future.

13/6/19: Russian International Reserves and Government Debt


Earlier today, an esteemed colleague of mine tweeted out the following concerning Russian foreign reserves:

Which is hardly surprising, as Russia has been beefing up its reserves for some time now, following the crisis of 2014-2016 and in response to the continued pressures of Western sanctions. I wrote about this before here: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2019/04/10419-russian-foreign-exchange-reserves.html.

It is interesting in the light of the above news to look at Russian Government 'net worth' or 'net debt' (note: this is not the total external debt of Russia, nor Government external debt, but the total Russian Government debt comparative). Here is the chart based on the OECD data, with added estimate for Russia for 1Q 2019 based on IMF data and the latest data from CBR:


Based on my estimates and on OECD data itself, Russian Government has the largest positive net worth (lowest net debt) of any country in top 10 countries in the world (measured using nominal GDP adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity), and it is in this position by a wide margin.

The caveat is that India, China and Indonesia are not reported in the OECD data. China's Government net worth is virtually impossible to assess, because the country debt statistics are incomplete and measuring the gross wealth of the Chinese Government is also impossible. India and Indonesia are easier to gauge - both have positive net debt (negative net worth). IMF WEO database shows estimated General Government Net Debt for Indonesia at 25.5 percent of GDP in 2018. India has substantial gross Government debt of ca 70% of GDP (2018 figures), and the Government holds minor level resources, with country's sovereign wealth fund totalling at around 5 billion USD.

Another caveat is where the debt is held (Central Banks holdings of debt are arguably low risk) and whether or not assets held by the Governments are liquid enough to matter in these calculations (for example, Russian gold reserves are liquid, while some of the Russian funds investments in local enterprises are not). These caveats apply to all of the above economies.

On the net, this means that Russian Government is financially in a strongest leveraging position of all major economies in the world.



16/5/19: Identifying Debt Bubble 4.0


Having just posted on the debt supercycle-related comments from Gundlach (https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2019/05/16519-gundlach-on-us-economy-and-debt.html), here is a chart identifying these super-cycles in the U.S. economy:


The periods of significant leverage in the U.S. economy have been identified as follows:

  • First, I took nominal GDP growth rates (q/q) snd nominal total non-financial debt growth rates (also q/q) for the entire period of data coverage for which all data points are available (since 1Q 1966). 
  • Second, I adjusted nominal non-financial debt growth rates to reflect the evolving ratio of debt to U.S. GDP.
  • Third, I subtracted adjusted debt growth rates from nominal GDP growth rates to arrive at change in leverage risk direction. This is the difference figure shown in the chart below. Positive numbers reflect quarters when GDP growth rate exceeded growth in GDP-ratio-adjusted debt and are periods of deleveraging in the economy, and negative periods correspond to the situation where GDP growth rate was exceeded by GDP-ratio-adjusted growth rate in debt.
  • Fourth, I calculated 99% confidence interval for historical average difference (shown in the chart below).
  • Fifth, I identified three regimes of debt evolution: Regime 1 = "Deleveraging" corresponds to the Difference variable being non-negative (periods where the gap between growth rate in GDP and growth rate in debt is non-negative); Regime 2 = "Non-significant leveraging up" corresponds to periods where the gap (difference) between GDP growth rate and debt growth rate is between zero and the lower bound of the confidence interval for historical average difference; and Regime 3 = "Significant Leveraging up" corresponds to the periods where statistically-speaking, the negative gap between growth in GDP and growth in debt is statistically significantly below the historical average.
I highlighted in the above chart four periods of significant, persistent leveraging up, identified as Debt Bubbles 1-4. There is absolutely zero (statistical) doubt that the current period of economic recovery is yet another manifestation of a Debt Bubble. And, given the composition of the debt increases since the end of the Global Financial Crisis, this latest Bubble is evident across all three components of non-financial debt: the households, corporates and the U.S. Federal Government.