from Zero Hedge:
While the stock market (and VIX) signal utter calm, signs of stress are very clear in America’s money markets. With Treasury’s cash balance plunging to just $108bn this week as the debt ceiling deadline looms, newly ensconced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be forced to order “emergency measures” to effectively buy more time for the government to pay its creditors and cover revenue shortfalls to keep the government operating.
In 2015, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders agreed to suspend the federal debt ceiling until March 15, 2017. After that date – less then two weeks from now – the Treasury will surpass its cumulative $20 trillion borrowing authority.
And while the stock market (and VIX) signal utter calm, signs of stress are very clear in America’s money markets. Swap spreads are suggesting traders are getting nervous that any hiccup in efforts to remove the burden could trigger a shortage on short-term government securities.
And even more notably, investors are willing to pay more for bills maturing in four weeks instead of five.
So, with two weeks left until the debt ceiling suspension expires, Treasury’s cash balance plummeted to $109 billion this week as of Thursday… making this the most important chart in the world right now…
Once it hits zero, as FiscalTimes notes, newly ensconced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to order “emergency measures” to effectively buy more time for the government to pay its creditors and cover revenue shortfalls to keep the government operating. The stakes couldn’t be higher: Failure to raise the debt ceiling would do irreversible damage to the U.S. credit rating, trigger an uproar in U.S. and global markets, drive up the future cost of borrowing, postpone Social Security payments and tax returns, and force layoffs of non-essential government workers.
Deutsche Bank points out, there was a large withdrawal of cash last week as the IRS began sending out tax refunds. Despite a change of law last year which delays the refunds for early filers, the pace of refunds are similar to previous years. Between now and March 15, the Treasury can expect roughly another $40 billion of cash drawdown from refund activities. The Treasury cut its 4-week bill auction again this week to $18 billion, which is down from $35 billion last week and $45 billion two weeks ago. It also cut the 3-month and 6-month bill auctions by $4 billion each for next week. In the near term, the driver of bill supply is still the debt ceiling. But later in the year, the Fed’s balance sheet policy will have a major influence on supply outlook. If the debt ceiling is raised by late summer, a September Fed balance sheet unwind could potentially bring a flood of supply to the market and drastically cheapen the front end.
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