Record Short Bets against 10-Year Treasury Promise Turmoil

Record Short Bets against 10-Year Treasury Promise Turmoil by Wolf Richter – Wolf Street

A very crowded trade goes begging for a contrarian reaction.

The 10-year Treasury yield closed on Monday at 2.86% the highest since January 16, 2014, after briefly kissing 2.89% during the day. At the moment, it is holding at 2.85%. Bond prices fall when yields rise – and being short the 10-year Treasury, and thus betting on a rising yield, has become a very crowded and profitable trade for hedge funds and other speculators.

Short bets in 10-year Treasury futures rose to 939,351 contracts, the most ever, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data through February 6, cited by Bloomberg yesterday.

This record came even after the market turmoil on February 5, when the Dow plunged 4.6% and when, briefly, Treasuries soared, with the 10-year yield dropping 13 basis points, which would have made shorts very nervous. But apparently, they hung on, as their record short positions through February 6 shows, when the 10-year yield rose again and closed at 2.79%.

The next step is 3%. The last time the 10-year yield was 3% was in early January 2014, and then only for a few days at the end of a brief spike. In May 2013, it got close, but no cigar (2.98%). And before then, it was at 3% in July 2011.

That 3% is a key level for another reason. At around 3%, the 10-year becomes very alluring for long-term holders, given today’s dividend yields and other yields, and it will bring out more buyers.

The emergence of these additional buyers may coincide with short-sellers trying to take profits, which may conspire to pump up the price and push down the yield. And this, fired up by speculators trying to get out of a short position, would turn into a sharp snap-back rally for the 10-year Treasury, and a sharp drop in yields. This could take off even before the 10-year yield hits 3%, and it could catch some speculators by surprise.

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Wolf Richter

In his cynical, tongue-in-cheek manner, he muses on WOLF STREET about economic, business, and financial issues, Wall Street shenanigans, complex entanglements, and other things, debacles, and opportunities that catch his eye in the US, Europe, Japan, and occasionally China. WOLF STREET is the successor to his first platform… TP-Title-7-small-200px …whose ghastly name he finally abandoned in July 2014. Here’s the story on that. Wolf lives in San Francisco. He has over twenty years of C-level operations experience, including turnarounds and a VC-funded startup. He earned his BA and MBA in Texas and his MA in Oklahoma, worked in both states for years, including a decade as General Manager and COO of a large Ford dealership and its subsidiaries. But one day, he quit and went to France for seven weeks to open himself up to new possibilities, which degenerated into a life-altering three-year journey across 100 countries on all continents, much of it overland. And it almost swallowed him up.