Should You Sell Your Bonds Before the Fed Sells Theirs?

The US Federal Reserve is set to start unwinding it $4.5 Trillion bond portfolio. Should you sell your bonds before the Fed sells theirs? CBS News reports that when the Fed shrinks its bond portfolio interest rates will go up. And what else will happen?

The Federal Reserve is getting set to announce Wednesday how it will unload its massive holdings of long-term bonds. Unwinding the $4.5 trillion portfolio would tend to put upward pressure on long-term rates, especially mortgage ones.

The Fed is hiking interest rates two ways. For short-term borrowings, it is boosting rates in increments of a quarter percentage point, and is expected to do that again on Wednesday. Then there are the long rates: Fed Chair Janet Yellen is widely anticipated to detail a plan to gradually lighten the Fed’s bond trove, which consists of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

“This will be measured and deliberate,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “The impact will be on the long end of the curve,” mainly affecting corporate bond and mortgage rates, whose yields often are correlated to 10-year Treasury notes.

What should you be doing with any short and long term bonds that you own and how will the Fed’s action affect your USD trades? The point of the Fed’s bond purchasing program was to keep interest rates as low as possible during the recovery from the Great Recession. Their program was successful and the economy is better, unemployment is at its lowest level in half a century and inflation is starting to raise its ugly head. The Fed will act to raise interest rates ahead of significant inflation so both bond selling and short term interest rate raises are sure bets. What should you be doing before the Fed sells their bonds and raises short term rates gradually higher?

How about the Economy?

The assumption underlying the Feds action is that the economy will slowly but surely continue to improve. Is that a certainty? Reuters reports that Fed rate hikes beyond June are not a sure thing. The point is that the expectation of Trump’s policies stimulating the economy is not that strong.

The U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates twice more this year, but conviction for a move beyond a widely expected rise this month has faded for many forecasters along with the outlook for inflation for most, a Reuters poll showed.

Growing doubts about the U.S. administration’s ability to pass tax and healthcare reforms through Congress, along with weak U.S. economic data, have pushed Treasury yields to the lowest since after Donald Trump’s shock election victory in November.

Still, the latest poll of 100 economists conducted this week showed the Fed was certain to push interest rates up by 25 basis points to 1.00-1.25 percent at the June 13-14 meeting.

The consensus view from the poll is for the central bank to follow that up with another 25 basis point increase in the third quarter to take the fed funds rate to 1.25-1.50 percent.

The Trump White House is stuck in a quagmire of its own making regarding Russian election hacking and firing the FBI director being seen as obstruction of justice. Meanwhile all of the election promises of lower taxes, repatriated foreign cash, and deregulation are going nowhere as the dollar fades. The dollar will rise with higher rates and bond selling and it will fall with a slowing economy. Take your pick.