Collapsing CDS Market Will Lead To Global Bond Market Margin Call, by Daniel Drew

Liquidity: tight bid-asks spreads from multiple market participants, the ability to execute sizable trades without moving the market, in short, the ability to transact when one wants and in the size one wants, is crucial, especially in falling markets, which is when it usually dries up. One little-noted aspect of Quantitative Easing is its effect on liquidity. As central banks have become ever larger participants in bond markets, they’ve driven private participants out, reducing, and in some cases, like Japan, eliminating non-central bank participation and the liquidity it provides. Daniel Drew, at dark-bid.com, via zerohedge.com, analyzes the credit default swaps market and shrinking liquidity in bond markets:

As Zero Hedge previously noted, liquidity is there when you don’t need it, and it promptly disappears once it is in demand. Consider it “cocktease capitalism.” If liquidity lasts longer than 4 hours, call the CFTC because you may be experiencing a spoof. Right now, the ultimate spoof is setting up as the credit default swap market collapses, and a global bond market margin call is just around the corner.

The most serious risk at the moment is the lack of bond market liquidity. This problem was created by the Federal Reserve. By flooding the market with liquidity, the Federal Reserve paradoxically destroyed the liquidity it sought to create. Initially, the Federal Reserve’s actions helped stem the panic selling when it stepped in as the buyer of last resort. However, the Fed is quickly becoming the buyer of first resort. The CME even has a Central Bank Incentive Program to encourage foreign central banks to buy S&P 500 futures. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to presume the Federal Reserve is buying S&P 500 futures alongside the foreign banks.

As the Fed’s balance sheet expanded ever larger, they transformed from being a mere market participant to becoming the market itself. The Federal Reserve, along with the rest of the world’s central banks, are essentially engaging in a multi-year effort to corner the global bond market. As we have seen in every case, no one has ever successfully cornered a market indefinitely. From the Hunt Brothers in the 1980 silver market to the Saudi royal family in the modern fractured oil market to the Duke brothers in the frozen concentrated orange juice market, it simply has not worked. Running a monopoly is an uphill battle that eventually results in a spectacular blowup. Why would the central banks be any different?

As Zero Hedge pointed out recently, the run on the central banks has already begun. For the first time ever, QE failed. The first casualty was the Riksbank in Sweden.

The Swedes have shown there is a limit on how low interest rates can go. The limit may be different for every country, but it does exist. Investors will eventually revolt against the post-crash Bizarro bond markets that dot the global landscape.

The same problem that brought Long-Term Capital Management to its knees is what will bring down the central bankers: liquidity. They seem to have forgotten that without liquidity, there are no markets. You can’t be the only player in the game. It is often said that cash is king, but what that really means is liquidity is king. In the capital markets, investors will pay a premium for liquidity. Right now, liquidity trumps credit ratings in the bond market. As liquidity thins out dramatically, that premium is becoming smaller and smaller. One day, every central bank will have their Riksbank moment when, despite their best efforts, it all blows up.

To continue reading: Global Bond Market Margin Call

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