Interbank market scan: The US House today begins voting on Biden American Rescue Plan; central banks, foreign exchange, cryptocurrency …

The Takeaway

Across seven of ten major currency pairs the dollar exhibited continued weakness after two pandemic related events. First, there was the meeting between President Joe Biden and ten Republican senators. The President released a statement that signaled that he preferred the Democratic-controlled Congress pursue the reconciliation, a stream-lined process for getting approval of $1.9 trillion in spending on Mr Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” The GOP senators wanted a package price tagged at $618 billion.

The second event will be actual voting on rules that provide instruction in the House on determining how revenue and spending targets be reconciled with appropriate changes in existing legislation. That vote begins today around 6:30 EST.

The main takeaway at this juncture is that the US government will have to borrow funds to finance Mr Biden’s plans and there is conjecture that Treasury will have to borrow more than the $1.9 trillion that Mr Biden is requesting. Central banks from emerging and commodity-driven economies are preparing to ramp up their reserves of the US dollar in order to buy up Treasurys when the debt is issued for purchase. Interest rates on the debt and yields are expected to inch up which theoretically should be accompanied by increased demand for the dollar. The Federal Reserve’s $120 billion per month of debt combined with other central purchases of US debt may work to create a supply of dollars to tamp down the dollar price.

Currency pairsExchange Rate as of 4:45 pm EST 1 February 2021The eventPost Event-Exchange Rate as of 2:00 pm EST 2 February 2021Impact
AUD/USD0.7641Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus0.7585USD strengthening
USD/CAD1.2776Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus1.2811CAD strengthening
USD/CNY6.4267Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus6.4551USD weakening
EUR/USD1.2135Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus1.2019USD strengthening
USD/INR72.8760Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus72.9415INR weakening
GBP/USD1.3699Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus1.3654USD strengthening
USD/JPY104.6400Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus105.0700USD strengthening
USD/MXN20.5641Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus20.1798USD weakening
USD/DKK6.1262Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus6.1874USD strengthening
USD/NOK8.5474Biden signals preference for reconciliation; Congressional Democrats prepare to vote on stimulus8.6173USD strengthening
Source: Federal Reserve and Reuters

The news scan

Both houses of Congress were preparing to take the first steps forward on U.S. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, with initial votes on Tuesday launching efforts to fast-track passage. U.S. Congress readies first steps toward $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill | Reuters

Several central banks have ventured into unusual territory in the opening weeks of this year, announcing currency sales in advance as they tread a delicate line between dulling the impact of a sliding dollar and dodging the ire of the US Treasury. Central banks take rare step of flagging currency sales in advance | Financial Times (ft.com) https://www.ft.com/content/0383f3a4-41a0-464a-b831-fd1a09a6b1b0

As the Treasury Department holds its largest auctions on record, global central banks could play a familiar role in helping to sop up the deluge of debt supply set to hit markets this year. Here’s why foreign central banks are set to reprise role as big buyer of U.S. government debt (msn.com)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced its current estimates of privately-held net marketable borrowing[1] for the January – March 2021 and April – June 2021 quarters[2]. TREASURY ANNOUNCES MARKETABLE BORROWING ESTIMATES | U.S. Department of the Treasury

As of 1:30 am AST, on the eve of a vote on impeachment, bond yields stay relatively flat…

RatesFederal Reserve as of 11 January 2021Bloomberg as of 13 January 2021 1:00 am AST
Federal Funds Rate0.080.08
Prime Rate3.253.25
3-month Treasury0.080.08
2-year Treasury0.140.14
10-year Treasury1.151.12
30-year Treasury1.881.87
Source: Federal Reserve, Bloomberg

House votes resolution asking Pence to use 25th amendment to remove Trump

Last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed the following House resolution in its attempts to remove President Donald Trump prior to the end of his term. House Res 21 reads as following:

This resolution calls upon Vice President Michael R. Pence (1) to immediately use his powers under section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments to declare that the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office, and (2) to transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of thHouse notice that he will be immediately assuming the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Vice-President Pence has reportedly said that he does not intend to invoke the 25th Amendment. This means that the House will likely move to the next stage of its strategy which is to vote articles of impeachment against Mr Trump. Given the Democrats majority in the House, passage is expected.

The articles of impeachment would then move to the Senate for a trial. Indications are that, unlike last year’s attempt to remove the President from office via impeachment where a Republican-controlled Senate voted not to remove the President, there may be enough support on the part of Senate Republicans to find Mr Trump liable for “high crimes and misdemeanors”, the standard under the U.S. Constitution for removal. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that Mr Trump’s behavior, where allegedly encouraged supporters to march last week on the Capitol, amounted to an impeachable offense.

The establishment wing of the Republican Party, now in damage control as a result of the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters and the resulting deaths of five people, would like nothing more than to move on from the Trump era and start laying the groundwork for the 2022 mid-term elections.

I don’t expect impeachment actions to have any bearing on pending policy actions designed to impact the economy. With only seven days left until the change in government, attempts to remove Mr Trump are designed to score political points with an electorate, a significant amount of whom believe the actions of individuals storming the Capitol amounted to an insurrection attacking the country’s representative institutions of democracy.

As of 10:59 am AST, dollar shows some strengthening as yields increase

PairsFederal Reserve as of 8 January 2021OANDA as of 11 January 2021OANDA as of 12 January 2021 10:59 am AST
GBP/USD1.35831.35031.35026
USD/CAD1.26981.27691.2769
USD/CNH6.47506.47826.4782
USD/DKK6.06976.11156.1115
EUR/USD1.22521.21671.2167
USD/INR73.310073.409373.4093
USD/MXN19.941020.120320.1203
USD/JPY103.8900104.1600104.1600
USD/NOK8.40748.51598.5159
USD/SEK8.20858.28078.2807
USD/CHF0.88430.88920.8892
Sources: Federal Reserve, OANDA
RatesFederal Reserve as of 8 January 2021Bloomberg as of 12 January 2021 10:59 am AST
Federal Funds Rate0.090.08
Prime Rate3.253.25
3-month Treasury0.080.08
2-year Treasury0.140.15
10-year Treasury1.131.17
30-year Treasury1.871.89
Sources: Federal Reserve, Bloomberg

As of 10:18 am AST, the dollar continues its weakening ways in light of job losses …

PairsFederal Reserve as of 4 January 2021OANDA as of 4 January 2021OANDA as of 8 January 2021 10:20 am AST
GBP/USD1.36621.36331.35822
USD/CAD1.27531.27261.26927
USD/CNH6.52506.45526.45624
USD/DKK6.08396.06576.05307
EUR/USD1.22301.22641.22875
USD/INR73.010072.936773.2355
USD/MXN19.892019.838219.8122
USD/JPY103.1900103.02103.53
USD/NOK8.57578.53008.42518
USD/SEK8.20958.20918.18760
USD/CHF0.88410.88150.88217
Sources: Federal Reserve, OANDA
RatesFederal Reserve as of 4 January 2021Bloomberg as of 8 January 2021 10:51 am AST
Federal Funds Rate0.090.08
Prime Rate3.253.25
3-month Treasury0.090.08
2-year Treasury0.110.14
10-year Treasury0.931.10
30-year Treasury1.661.87
Source: Bloomberg

Legal/Regulatory/Political Events Impacting Foreign Exchange Markets

An expected dire jobs report

The U.S. Department of Labor today reported that non-farm payroll employment fell by 140,000 jobs in December 2020. The unemployment rate remained at 6.7%, the same rate as reported in December 2020. Significant losses were in the retail and hospitality sectors, according to the Labor Department. Approximately 10.7 million people are out of work.

As of 9:46 am AST 3 December 2020, U.S. Treasury and Federal Funds rates indicate money is still cheap in America …

As of 9:46 am AST 3 December 2020, U.S. Treasury rates and Federal Funds rates are as follows:

3-month: .08%

6-month: .09%

12-month: .10%

2-year: .16%

10-year: .94%

30-year: 1.69%

Fed Funds Rate: 0.08%

Federal Reserve Target: 0.25%

Prime Rate: 3.25%

Source: Bloomberg

Major political/legal events impacting currencies

Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book finding moderate, modest US expansion

Yesterday, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System released its final Beige Book for 2020.  The Federal Reserve determined that US economic expansion is either moderate or modest at best.  A number of districts, including the Philadelphia district, have observed a slow down in growth with a spike in COVID-19 cases since early November.  Banks expect the number of borrower delinquencies to increase in 2021.  

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Treasury note yields; clarification of tax deductions relating to Paycheck Protection Program

As of 9:57 am AST 19 November 2020, U.S. Treasury rates and Federal Funds rates are as follows:

3-month: .08%

6-month: .09%

12-month: .10%

2-year: .17%

10-year: .86%

30-year: 1.58%

Fed Funds Rate: 0.08%

Federal Reserve Target: 0.25%

Prime Rate: 3.25%

Source: Bloomberg

Major political/legal event in the United States

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the following:

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance today clarifying the tax treatment of expenses where a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan has not been forgiven by the end of the year the loan was received. 

Since businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, the expenses are not deductible. This results in neither a tax benefit nor tax harm since the taxpayer has not paid anything out of pocket.

If a business reasonably believes that a PPP loan will be forgiven in the future, expenses related to the loan are not deductible, whether the business has filed for forgiveness or not.  Therefore, we encourage businesses to file for forgiveness as soon as possible.

In the case where a PPP loan was expected to be forgiven, and it is not, businesses will be able to deduct those expenses. 

“Today’s guidance provides taxpayers with greater clarity and flexibility,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “These provisions ensure that all small businesses receiving PPP loans are treated fairly, and we continue to encourage borrowers to file for loan forgiveness as quickly as possible.”

Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury

Foreign ownership of US Treasurys fall in September. Downtick in longer term rates …

As of 9:25 am AST 18 November 2020, U.S. Treasury rates and Federal Funds rates are as follows:

3-month: .08%

6-month: .08%

12-month: .11%

2-year: .17%

10-year: .85%

30-year: 1.59%

Fed Funds Rate: 0.08%

Federal Reserve Target: 0.25%

Prime Rate: 3.25%

Source: Bloomberg

Major political/legal event in the United States

Treasury releases data on foreign investment in the United States

Yesterday, the United States Department of the Treasury reported that “in September of all net foreign acquisitions of long-term securities, short-term U.S. securities, and banking flows was a net TIC outflow of $79.9 billion.  Of this, net foreign private outflows were $40.3 billion, and net foreign official outflows were $39.6 billion.”  The Treasury International Capital report also noted that there was a decline in foreign investor ownership of Treasury bills in the amount of $30.3 billion in September 2020.

Bond yields as Joe Biden inches closer to winning more Electoral College votes.

As of 3:14 pm 4 November 2020, U.S. Treasury rates and Federal Funds rates are as follows:

3-month: .09%

6-month: .10%

12-month: .12%

2-year: .14%

10-year: .76%

30-year: 1.54%

Fed Funds Rate: 0.08%

Federal Reserve Target: 0.25%

Prime Rate: 3.25%

Source: Bloomberg

Major event in the United States:  Ballot counting is continuing in the U.S. presidential elections. Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden is projected to win 227 Electoral College votes while Republican candidate Donald J. Trump is projected to garner 214 Electoral College votes.

In addition, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System conclude their Federal Open Market Committee meeting tomorrow.

Source: Reuters