Kamakura Releases 10 Year Monthly Forecast of U.S. Treasury Yields and Swap Spreads for May, 2011

New York, NY, USA - 16 May 2011

Honolulu-based Kamakura Corporation on Monday released its forecast for U.S. Treasury yields and interest rate swap spreads monthly for the next 10 years. The forecast this week is down moderately from last month at all maturities in the projected path of one month bill rates. The decline in the path of implied rates widens from seven months through thirty-seven months when it is 54 basis points lower than last month. U.S. dollar Libor-swap spreads to the U.S. Treasury curve also continue to imply short term Libor rates below the matched maturity U.S. Treasury yield for years into the future starting in 2018.

The Kamakura forecast for May shows 1 month Treasury bill rates rising steadily to 5.277% in April 2021, down 24.3 basis points from the peak forecasted last month. The 10 year U.S. Treasury yield is projected to rise steadily to 5.45% on April 30, 2021, 22 basis points lower than forecasted last month. The negative 31 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. For more on the panel members. The negative 30 year spread results in an implied negative spread between 1 month libor and 1 month U.S. Treasury yields (investment basis) beginning in 2015-2017 and again in 2019-2021.

Kamakura Chief Administrative Officer Martin Zorn said Monday, “Over the last month we have seen increases in volatility of commodity prices as well as the strengthening of the dollar. The decline in projected rates is consistent with our thesis last month that risk managers and market participants must prepare for increased interest rate volatility given market and political uncertainties.”

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 late 2011, as shown in this graph. 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 and that is what causes the gyrations.

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 Kamakura’s Donald R. van Deventer and Kenneth Adams in 1994 and modified in Financial Risk Analytics (1996) by Kamakura’s 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.

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