If you are of the monetarist persuasion and truly believe that the Federal Reserve should exert strong control over the money supply to guide the economy, interest rates and inflation, you would be anticipating a rally in the bond market in the next few months. In emphasizing their reasoning, monetarists point to the 14 percent growth in the M1 monetary aggregate from the spring of 1982 through this spring. Interest rates fell and the economy grew at a very strong rate . . . The recovery was launched.
But as the economy strengthened during the first half of 1983, the Fed became concerned about the revival of inflation if the economy continued to grow at breakneck speed. The Fed, therefore, thought it prudent to slow down the economy and relieve some of the pressures they perceived. Credit was tightened in late spring, interest rates rose, the economy is now beginning to show some signs of weakness while the monetary aggregates, except for M1, have fallen within the growth targets set by the Fed.
A further slowing of the economy and money growth is projected for the fall, which in turn will allow interest rates to decline. The lower rates will then lead to greater economic activity, etc., etc., and, it is hoped, with a minimal increase in inflation through 1984.
A very plausible scenario. Yet, four consecutive weeks of declines in M1 (before this week's rise), plus three months of flat or down numbers in retail sales, as well as two moves by the Fed to supply reserves to the banking system last week have all failed to move the market. This would lead one to believe that there are other concerns that are hindering bond prices from advancing.
Perhaps the worldwide involvement of the United States in foreign hostilities, with its portent of no curtailments in defense spending, is a factor. And the continuous borrowing by the Treasury may be involved, since, including the last two weeks, the market must absorb $57 billion in Treasury offerings. Government dealers are swamped with inventory as hesitant buyers stay on the sidelines.
There are also many who believe the economy will continue to grow at a real rate of 6 percent over the remainder of the year, which could lead to an increase in short-term credit demands. But the monetarists see events going their way, with interest rates declining around the fourth quarter through the first half of 1984. If they are correct, a portfolio of short-term securities out to two years would be in order.
On Monday, the state of Michigan will offer $500 million of tax- exempt general obligation notes in minimums of $5,000. They will carry the highest note rating of Moody's Investors Service, MIG-1. There will be two maturities, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27 1984, and they should return around 6.30 percent.
The Treasury will offer a four-year note on Tuesday, a seven-year note on Wednesday and a 20-year bond on Thursday. All will be in $1,000 minimums and will be available, with no service charge, at the Treasury in Washington, or at any of the Federal Reserve banks. They may be purchased through banks and brokerage houses too, but for a fee. These issues should return 11.30 percent, 11.65 percent and 11.95 percent respectively.