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Traders Are Panic-Selling T-Bills After Jack Lew Warns Of "Terrible" Debt Limit Accident

The one-month-ish Treasury Bills that mature November 18th are collapsing. Following comments this morning by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that the US will run out of cash on November 3rd and his warning of a "terrible" debt limit accident, the 11/18/15 T-Bills have seen yields explode from -1bp to 7bps - an unprecedented 8bps spike as investors panic-sell beyond the deadline.

 

WI 1month bills are over 11bps!

"Our best estimate is November 3rd is when we'll exhaust what we call extraordinary measures; those are things we can do to manage things. I will run out of things that I can manage on November 3rd," Lew told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

 

Lew insisted that a hike is not a commitment to new spending but an ability to pay the bills on money already spent. Conservatives have in the past targeted the borrowing limit as leverage in budget negotiations.

 

Lew dismissed the idea that the government could prioritize what bills to pay. "Once you no longer consider all of your obligations rock solid, you're no longer the full faith and credit of the United States."

 

"It's also not possible to pick and choose. We have about 80 million transactions a month. Our system wasn't set up not to pay," he added.

So that leaves less then 2 weeks for the dysfunctional GOP to agree to a debt ceiling increase... is it any wonder that traders are dumping anything beyond Nov 3rd en masse...

 

 

As The Wall Street Journal adds,

A selloff that started on Friday in T-bills deepened on Monday, sending the yield on the bill maturing on Nov. 12 to the highest level since 2013, when last time the market was rattled by debt ceiling fear. Monday's selloff spread to all four bills maturing during the course of November.

 

Few expect US to default because debt ceiling is a political issue and investors have experienced such episodes in 2013 and 2011. Still, many cut exposure to bills maturing close to the deadline of debt-ceiling to avoid hassels, as suggested by bill yields in December and January that traded below those on November. The yield on the bill due on Nov. 12 was recently at 0.17%, vs Friday's closing level of 0.036% and 0.005% Thursday.

For now concerns about Lew's warning of a terrible debt accident are limited to the bond market. As we said over the weekend when noting the record negative 1 Year Japanese T-Bills, "this is happening while equities ignore absolutely everything taking place in the world and trade purely on technicals and "hope" for even more future liquidity flow out of central banks."

One hopes the republicans who need to quickly decide how they will extend the debt ceiling are as concerned about the T-Bill market as they have been about stocks, or else the market will need to stage a violent wake up call in the next 2 weeks to mirror what is already taking place with T-Bills.