There is an abundance of liquidity floating around the financial system, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to support the U.S. economy since the outbreak of the pandemic in March of last year.
And even if the central bank completes cutting its $ 120 billion in monthly bond purchases next year, “liquidity is expected to continue to grow and remain plentiful,” strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. said on Friday in a note.
This is important because investors and markets were assuming that a reduction – or withdrawal of the Fed’s quantitative easing – would be a first step towards tighter financial conditions, ahead of the bank’s decision. central to raising interest rates. The question in many minds has been whether, when and to what extent the Fed could start cutting back on its purchases – with memories still fresh from the 2013 tantrum episode, which led to a surge in long-term returns.
JPMorgan’s analysis casts cold water on the hypothesis that the reduction alone will be enough to tighten conditions as much as many people think.
âEven if the Fed completes its cut next year, the record amount of cash in the system will remain,â Teresa Ho, one of the note’s authors, said in a follow-up email to MarketWatch.
Only a contraction of the Fed’s balance sheet would lead to lower liquidity levels and “this is unlikely to happen anytime soon,” she said. Based on this consideration alone, “we do not expect any significant tightening in financial conditions once the Fed completes its reduction phase,” although tightening could still occur through a rate hike.
As part of the Fed’s accommodative monetary policy, the central bank has regularly injected liquidity into the system through monthly bond purchases, inflating its balance sheet by $ 4 trillion since March 2020 and pushing the amount of financial system reserves at record levels.
Uncertainty over the timing and pace of the Fed’s cut “means reserves will likely continue to rise, at least for the next 6 to 12 months, potentially totaling an additional $ 1,000 billion,” according to JPMorgan. Ho estimates that the current minimum amount of uninvested money – or âmoney that has literally left the banking system and has nowhere to goâ – is just over $ 950 billion.
The main beneficiaries of the Fed’s QE, in dollar terms, have been bank deposits and money market funds, according to Ho and strategists Alex Roever and Kabir Caprihan. At some point, however, investors could start to move away from these options and âlook to bonds or other high-yielding asset classes,â they said.
This is important because it suggests that the bond rally earlier this week, which sent the 10-year TreasuryBX: TMUBMUSD10Y to its lowest level in almost six months, may have more leeway. But Ho says that’s not necessarily the case as it’s unclear where excess cash that hasn’t already been invested “ultimately gets reallocated.” âMuch of the money is institutional, owned by businesses, governments, states and local governments, and other owners, who may decide to spend it as needed. Some may decide to keep excess cash in cash. ”
Recent readings of US inflation well above 2%, along with a strong July jobs report released on Friday, helped open the door to the notion of a Fed that may be ready to take a more hawkish turn. This week, Dallas Fed Chairman Robert Kaplan told Bloomberg News that the central bank should start cutting back on asset purchases as soon as possible. And Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida has said he could be backed by an announcement to cut bond purchases this year, if the economy turns out as he hoped, and enough progress is made. could be achieved on the central bank’s targets for policymakers to start raising interest rates in early 2023.
JPMorgan is not alone in concluding that tapering will not be enough to tighten financial conditions: Senior trader David Petrosinelli of InspereX, an underwriter and distributor of securities, agrees. He adds that “yields are not going to rise significantly with this wall of money unless Fed officials start raising rates or the market helps them by pushing yields higher because there is a lot of money for too few assets “.
Many institutional investors, such as banks and insurers, “are still sitting on a ton of cash” even after this week’s bond rally, he said, citing anecdotal reports. And the recent surge in inflation has “exacerbated the productive deployment of cash balances in banks, insurance companies and other institutional investors,” he said by telephone on Friday.