The Kamakura forecast for March shows 1 month Treasury bill rates rising steadily to 5.68% in February 2021, up 20 basis points from the peak forecasted last month. The 10 year U.S. Treasury yield is projected to rise steadily to 5.57% on February 28, 2021, 22 basis points lower than forecasted last month and 11 basis points lower than projected 1 month Treasury bill rates on the same date. The negative 18 basis point spread between 30 year U.S. dollar interest rate swaps and U.S. Treasury yields reflects the blurring of credit quality between these two yield curves. The U.S. government is no longer seen as risk free, and 4 of the 20 panel banks that determine U.S. dollar libor are receiving significant government assistance and are, in effect, sovereign credits. The negative 30 year spread results in an implied negative spread between 1 month libor and 1 month U.S. Treasury yields (investment basis) from 2018 to 2020.
Kamakura Chief Administrative Officer Martin Zorn said Tuesday, âIn the last few days there has been a dramatic lowering of intermediate term forward rates and a sharp increase in the forward rates from 2018 to 2021. This twist in the forward term structure is very dramatic. We continue to think that market participants who understand and act on these dynamics will dramatically outperform those who ignore implied future yield movements.â
The negative spread between interest rate swaps and US Treasuries implies an extended period of negative spreads between the Libor-swap curve and Treasuries and dramatic spread gyrations around mid 2011. This distortion comes about because the Libor Swap curve has two components with dramatically different credit risk. The short term rates are from the Libor market where in theory market participants can lose 100% of credit extended to banks. In the swap market, however, losses can be no more than the difference in the net present value of the swap between the origination date and the default date. Market participants generally ignore this credit differential.
The Kamakura interest rate forecasts are based on the forward interest rates embedded in the current U.S. Treasury yield curve and in the interest rate swap curve. These forward rates are extracted using the maximum smoothness forward rate approach first published by Kamakuraâs Donald R. van Deventer and Kenneth Adams in 1994 and modified in Financial Risk Analytics (1996) by Kamakuraâs Imai and van Deventer. The maximum smoothness approach is applied directly to forward rates in the case of U.S. Treasury yields and it is applied to forward credit spreads, relative to the U.S. Treasury curve, in the case of the swap curve.