The Fed Is Fuct Part 3 - AdventuresInCapitalism | Small Companies-Big Upside
The Fed Is Fuct Part 3 - AdventuresInCapitalism | Small Companies-Big Upside

The Fed Is Fuct Part 3 - AdventuresInCapitalism | Small Companies-Big Upside

Investors like to focus on QE and QT, because the quantity of money has an immediate effect on risk assets. In the same way, we like to focus on the Fed Funds Rate as the price of money also has a dramatic effect on risk assets. Oddly, we rarely focus on the actual banking function of the Fed. (View Highlight)

The Fed acts like a bank by effectively earning a net interest spread on the difference in yield on the securities it owns when compared to the funding cost of deposits from depository institutions. (View Highlight)

The Fed is also an odd bank in that it cannot go broke. Think of it as being very much akin to Credit Suisse—no matter how much it screws up, it continues to stumble forward. I bring all of this up, because something peculiar is about to happen. Look at the consistent earnings over the past decade. (View Highlight)

At year-end, the Fed had $8.7 trillion in liabilities. As a result, every 100-basis point move higher in the Fed Funds rate, increases the interest cost by $87 billion. As mentioned previously, in 2021, the Fed paid $5.7 billion in interest expense—so we’re talking about big changes in funding costs. (View Highlight)

Meanwhile, the Fed’s securities portfolio is mostly fixed rate. Some will roll off and get replaced, but a good chunk of the balance sheet has a duration in excess of 1 year, with $2.5 trillion of the MBS having a duration in excess of 10 years. (View Highlight)

At my hedge fund, we need to mark everything to market. Banks get a pass on that. They assume that securities mature. There’s no sense in getting into the details, but they do not need to mark their book—which is a good thing because a good chunk of the long-duration portfolio was purchased at peak prices during the COVID panic when QE was running in insanity mode. (View Highlight)

Now, here’s the oddity of Central Bank accounting. You get a free pass on mark-to-market losses if you hold onto the security, but when you sell a security at a loss, you must recognize that loss. Well, the Fed is now liquidating securities as part of its QT program. It’s inevitable that it will be recognizing substantial losses as prices have moved dramatically since they were purchased. (View Highlight)

Remember, Central Banks don’t go broke. Instead, they can either ignore the losses indefinitely or get bailed out by the government—usually by printing money to buy treasuries directly from the Treasury. As the 40-year interest rates cycle continues to turn, the Fed will increasingly be forced to the printing press in order to offset losses from its own negative interest rate spread, its own balance sheet and to plug the hole in the Treasury’s balance sheet that is caused by $107.4 billion in income reversing and becoming a sea of red. (View Highlight)

You cannot have massive fiscal deficits while simultaneously having the Fed tighten, as someone has to buy the rapidly increasing pool of debt—especially as the government’s own funding costs are about to explode due to much higher interest rates as short-term paper rolls over at much higher rates. (View Highlight)

Milton Friedman famously said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.” As the Fed tries to fight inflation, it’s inevitably going to smash into the wall that I have described above. As a result, I doubt they get too far on the rates side, as past a certain threshold, increasing rates only forces them to print money. Thus, higher rates only accelerate the inflation crisis—especially as higher funding costs disincentivize investment in new capacity across the economy. (View Highlight)

Except, Central Banks don’t go bankrupt—neither do countries that borrow in their own currencies. Instead, they’ll go bankrupt in a whirlwind of money printing and inflation. (View Highlight)

Simply put, they’ll try this experiment, realize it won’t work and get back to monetizing debt. (View Highlight)