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Thought US Treasuries Were a Safe Investment? Think Again!

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posted on Oct, 23 2008 @ 08:59 PM

Delivery failures plague Treasury market

Total hit a record $2.29 trillion as of Oct. 1

The credit crisis is causing a growing number of delivery failures with Treasury securities.

The latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that cumulative failures hit a record $2.29 trillion as of Oct. 1. The federal settlement period is T+1 (trade date plus one day).

The outstanding U.S. public debt is $10.3 trillion.

"Current [fail] levels are at historic levels," said Rob Toomey, managing director of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's funding and government and agency securities divisions. "There's been significant flight to quality" with the market turmoil, he said.

With the strong demand for Treasury securities, "some of the entities that bought Treasuries are not making them available in the [repurchase] market, which is the traditional way to get them," Mr. Toomey said.

Unlike some past bouts with high failure rates that involved particular bond issues, the current high fails involve all types of maturities, he said.

This month, New York- and Washington-based SIFMA came out with a set of best practices to reduce failed deliveries.

This year, the New York Fed revised its own Treasury market trading guidelines. Its guidelines, originally released last year, warned that short-sellers "should make deliveries in good faith."

Chronic failures can increase illiquidity problems in the market and expose market participants to losses in the event of counterparty insolvency, according to the New York Fed.

"There is a question about there being some impact on liquidity if [delivery failures] last for a long period," Mr. Toomey said.

Many retail investors also own Treasury securities, either directly or indirectly. The Treasury market is also an important fixed-income benchmark, so any liquidity problems can affect all participants.

In extreme cases, chronic fails could cause participants to limit their trading in secondary markets, the New York Fed said.

"Who wants to buy what they're not going to get?" said Susanne Trimbath, a market researcher with STP Advisory Services LLC of Santa Monica, Calif. In a September research paper, she estimated that based on failure rates in 2007 and 2008, the cost to investors from failed deliveries is about $7 billion annually.

The cost arises because sellers don't have access to their money. In addition, the federal government loses $42 million a year in lost revenue, and the states miss out on an additional $270 million in revenue due to excessive claims of tax-exempt income on state-tax-free Treasury securities, Ms. Trimbath said.

She and researchers at the New York Fed said that some delivery failures are intentional.

As with naked shorting of stocks, naked shorting of Treasuries "allows you to avoid the borrowing costs," Ms. Trimbath said.

"There can be circumstances in a low-rate environment where it's cheaper to fail" than deliver, Mr. Toomey said. Such an environment also reduces incentives to act as a lender of securities, he said.

Read the Full Article Here

The players have been so fast and loose that they have over borrowed Treasuries just like stocks, creating additional market dislocations.

You heard of a matador defense in football? Like you pretend to tackle the guy and he falls down rather than get actually hit? Well, I think it's the same thing with the naked shorts in stocks, and now apparently in Treasuries ... you pretend to borrow the collateral to sell short, but never actually make the tackle. So to speak.

As a result, the books are not in balance and the market is not functional, as market by definition matches supply and demand. If there is artificial supply (as in shares/Treasuries available to short ... or paper equivalents of physical commodities for that matter) then that distorts the demand/price side of the equation...driving prices artificially low.

in other words...

Someone "Buys" a Treasury in the Market ... the Seller Doesn't Deliver Because (?) They've "Sold" More Than They Have and are (?) Arbitraging the Spread. Under "Normal" Conditions the Treasury is Eventually Delivered so no one gets alrmed. Now, it seems there are $2.3 TRILLION (!!!!!!!!!) of Non-Delivered Treasury's "Floating." This at a time when "Demand" is high as a safe-haven ...

Conclusion ... Many People/Funds that have "Bought" Treasuries since March/July (at least) - if they don't have actual physical control of the certificate ... may in fact have NOTHING.

It don't get much worse than this, we are on the road to complete implosion.

Just wait, now all those foreign countries holding OUR treasury notes as collateral for loans will call them in & there will be NOTHING to pay them with.

How safe do you feel now?

posted on Oct, 23 2008 @ 09:17 PM
Yeah, I caught this somewhere else this evening. I'm still trying to wrap my head around FTD (Failures to Deliver) for Treasuries. All I know is that it's not good.

posted on Oct, 23 2008 @ 09:39 PM

Originally posted by jefwane
Yeah, I caught this somewhere else this evening. I'm still trying to wrap my head around FTD (Failures to Deliver) for Treasuries. All I know is that it's not good.

Likewise, I've been trying to digest this for an hour now. It definitely falls into the Very Not Good category. Explosively Not Good, even.

posted on Oct, 23 2008 @ 10:49 PM
reply to post by redhatty

I was hoping to make it to poverty-level Retirement before I have to go pick out a spot under a bridge.

Startin' to look like that was wishful thinking.

(note to self: start learning Cantonese and Mandarin)

posted on Oct, 23 2008 @ 11:07 PM
LOL I am thankful that I have Chinese friends right now

Seriously though, I am calling in the morning to check about my Money market account - I know it uses T-Bills as it's primary source of security - and calling to get certificates for the T-Bills I have purchased through my broker.

Not that the paper may be worth more than something to wipe the klingons off Uranus soon, but I will feel more confident knowing I have the certificates to redeem - if redemption becomes possible.

A really good read:

To Our Government: CUT IT OUT NOW!

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