“We identify two tail risks for long term Treasury investors: (1) a huge new debt financed fiscal package and (2) a major change in the Fed’s modus operandi. The first risk would change the short-run trajectory of the economy. This better growth, although short lived, could place transitory upward pressure on interest rates in a fashion that has been experienced many times. Over the longer run, disinflation would prevail and the downward trend in Treasury yields would resume.
The second risk would bring a rising inflationary dynamic into the picture, potentially becoming much more consequential. As this dissatisfaction intensifies, either de jure or de facto, the Federal Reserve’s liabilities could be made legal tender, or a medium of exchange. Already, the Fed has taken actions that appear to exceed the limits of the Federal Reserve Act under the exigent circumstances clause, but so far, they are still lending and not directly funding the expenditures of the government in any meaningful way. But some advocate making the Fed’s liabilities spendable and a few central banks have already moved in this direction. If the Fed’s liabilities were made a medium of exchange, the inflation rate would rise and inflationary expectations would move ahead of actual inflation. In due course, Gresham’s law could be triggered as individuals move to hold commodities that can be consumed or traded for consumable items. This would result in a massive decline in productivity, thus real growth and the standard of living would fall as inflation escalates.
As long as the federal government’s policy prescription is ever higher levels of debt, the path toward disinflation will hold and long Treasury bonds will be the preferred area of the curve. The continuing shift in economic conditions over the past forty years has necessitated several dramatic changes in our yield curve positioning. That flexibility remains constant.”
Will the Federal Reserve go too far?
LINK to the Quarterly Report
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