The United States is supposed to be the strongest of the developed economies in 2015, but the persistent low yields in interest rates may signal something entirely different. It is widely expected that the U.S. Federal Reserve is about to embark on a rate hike campaign, but that is only for short-term rates via Fed Funds. The rest of the interest rate curve is set by simple supply and demand metrics, plus some fear and loathing, from the combined forces of the domestic and international participants of the bond market.
So, if interest rates are about to be hiked then there has to be a strong economy. But what does the 30-year Treasury yield of roughly 3% tell you?
For starters, the 30-year yield was down at a low of about 2.63% in August during the panic selling in March. After peaking at 3.14% on November 19, the 30-year Treasury has hit yields above 3.00% now for eight consecutive days.
Thursday brought up a 30-year Treasury Bond auction for some $16 billion — at a high yield of 3.07%. The coupon was 3.00%, and the price went off at $98.633963. The issue date is November 16, 2015 and the maturity date is November 15, 2045.
As a reminder, coupons sold at a discount create a higher yield than the stated coupon.
Of the $16 billion sold, some $38.53 billion was tendered in competitive bids. Primary dealers tendered some $24.174 billion and had $4.728 billion accepted. Indirect bidders, generally deemed as foreign and international monetary authorities, tendered $11.055 billion and had some $9.63 billion accepted.
This is one of those auctions which had stronger than expected demand. Sadly, a yield of close to 3% in the long bond just is not that reassuring of a great economy. It begs the question of just how much and how fast short-term interest rates can really be hiked.