QE fundamentally changed finance. What commenced at the Federal Reserve with a post-mortgage finance bubble, $1 trillion Treasury buying operation morphed into open-ended purchases of Treasuries, MBS, corporate bonds and even corporate ETFs holding high-yield “junk” bonds. Markets assume it’s only a matter of time before the Federal Reserve adds equities to its buy list.
For years now, Treasury bonds (and agency securities) have traded at elevated prices – low yields – in anticipation of an inevitable resumption of QE operations/securities purchases. Conventional analysis has focused on persistent disinflationary pressures as the primary explanation for historically depressed bond yields. While not unreasonable, such analysis downplays the prevailing role played by exceptionally low Federal Reserve interest rates coupled with latent (and escalating) financial fragility. Meanwhile, near zero short-term rates and historically low Treasury and agency securities yields have spurred a desperate search for yields, significantly inflating the demand and pricing for