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Perhaps Not the Twist the Fed Desired, Markets Plunge 3+ Percent

Anthony Randazzo
September 22, 2011, 5:10pm

Yesterday the FOMC opened the third act of its grand play, "How to Fail at Monetary Policy Even When Really Trying." James Groth framed the ridiculousness of the widely expected decision yesterday on OOC, and concluded, "continuing to experiment in the short-term with a range of policy tools is not only showing no economic benefit, but is creating huge uncertainty for individuals and businesses..."

So what did the market think about the FOMC's Operation Twist? The Daily Ticker has the story (emphasis mine):

An extraordinary day in the financial markets ended with stocks and commodities down sharply while the dollar and U.S. Treasuries rallied, sending the yield on the 10-year note to a record low.

After trading below 10,600 intraday, the Dow closed down 391 points, or 3.5%, to 10,734 while the S&P lost 3.2%. Stocks are now on track for their worst week since October 2008, Dow Jones reports. Meanwhile, gold shed 4%, silver plummeted 11%, copper tumbled 9% and oil fell 6.7% Thursday as traders unwound "risk on" positions funded with "cheap" dollars, which rose 1% vs. the euro.

I guess to be fair to the Fed, multi-hundred point swings in the stock markets are pretty much the norm these days, but this was a particularly big day of selling. Meanwhile, if the goal of the Fed is lower long-term interest rates, the yield curve flattening strategy has started out well:

Today was another historic day for the Treasury complex as yields in all but the 30-yr tumbled to record lows on global growth fears and the European sovereign debt crisis. The 10-yr yield briefly slide below 1.70% before ending the day at a record low close of 1.715%. A gain of more than four points in the long bond was responsible for its yield plunging 25 bps to 2.786% and to its lowest level since January 2009. The 30-yr yield is now just more than 25 bps above its all-time low of 2.519%. Severe flattening of the yield curve saw the 2-10-yr spread tighten 17 bps to 150.5 to its flattest level since January 2009. 

I think hedge fund manager Mark Dow summed things up best via twitter today: "Only two positions are working in this market: cash and fetal."


Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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