Municipal bonds suffered a remarkable sell off in the last two weeks. Is this the top in Muni bonds and the beginning of a long-term rise in interest rates?
Here are two girls with very different opinions on the matter:
Meredith Whitney Advisory Group is now predicting dramatic declines in US home prices, large layoffs at US banks and widespread defaults in the municipal bond market: Link Video FT
but Bond Girl offers a very different explanation :
Some thoughts on the muni market
2010-11-19 00:06 My opinion, for whatever it is worth to you, is that there are a handful of factors – mostly unrelated to the relative creditworthiness of muni issuers – that have provoked this correction. These factors are related, and they will likely contribute to volatility going into next year. The first, obviously, is a supply glut
. The pending expiration of the Build America Bond (BAB) program has pulled supply forward, and this is going to seesaw over the next several weeks. Since the BAB program was initiated, most issuers have structured their new issues with the sense that they will go to either the tax-exempt or taxable market, whichever is more advantageous at the time. It has been almost completely a supply management game since the market for these bonds was established and munis became truly bifurcated.
Target long-term bond yields :
“So what then might the Fed do if its target interest rate, the overnight federal funds rate, fell to zero?”
“One relatively straightforward extension of current procedures would be to try to stimulate spending by lowering rates further out along the Treasury term structure–that is, rates on government bonds of longer maturities.”
A more direct method, which I personally prefer, would be for the Fed to begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt not only would yields on medium-term Treasury securities fall, but (because of links operating through expectations of future interest rates) yields on longer-term public and private debt (such as mortgages) would likely fall as well.”
“Of course, if operating in relatively short-dated Treasury debt proved insufficient, the Fed could also attempt to cap yields of Treasury securities at still longer maturities … The most striking episode of bond-price pegging occurred during the years before the Federal Reserve-Treasury Accord of 1951. Prior to that agreement, which freed the Fed from its responsibility to fix yields on government debt, the Fed maintained a ceiling of 2-1/2 percent on long-term Treasury bonds for nearly a decade.”
“To repeat, I suspect that operating on rates on longer-term Treasuries would provide sufficient leverage for the Fed to achieve its goals in most plausible scenarios. If lowering yields on longer-dated Treasury securities proved insufficient to restart spending, however, the Fed might next consider attempting to influence directly the yields on privately issued securities.”