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SSA

The Fed wait is over — but SSA problems are not

The US Federal Reserve’s rate rise on Wednesday was much like Chelsea Football Club’s sacking of its manager José Mourinho a day later — a momentous event that you could see coming a mile away.

But more importantly, just as Chelsea’s footballing problems run deeper than any mistakes by Mourinho, the uncertainty over when the Fed would bring a first rate rise in nearly a decade was far from being the only thing making funding conditions difficult for public sector borrowers.

Those issuers still have to contend with negative dollar swap spreads, the refusal of anti-establishment political parties to lie down and what is expected to be an extremely busy January.

And, despite the Fed raising rates, thoughts have turned to what happens next.

The Fed suggested on Wednesday that there will be a further 100bp of increases in 2016 — which could lead to a series of mini-panics in the lead up to every Federal Open Market Committee meeting next year.

There are also serious concerns over the health of the primary dealership model — this week, Commerzbank dropped out of Italy’s primary dealer list, following Deutsche Bank’s exit from Belgium last week.

Bankers are warning that more departures are likely next year as the cost of new regulations really starts to bite. Dwindling liquidity is only going to become a bigger problem as central banks move away from the super accommodative policies of the last few years — as started to happen in the US this week.

Unlike Mourinho’s constant criticisms of referees, the complaints made by SSA bankers of the officials who make the rules in their profession are — on liquidity, at least — justified.

The SSA market is not in nearly as much trouble as relegation threatened Chelsea, but it still looks far from being a Champions League contender.

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