After a long slide, the commercial paper (CP) market appeared to perk up this summer. The amount of CP outstanding, which peaked at $2.2 trillion in 2007, hit a low of $1.042 trillion dollars this June, then rose some $70 billion over the next six weeks, to $1.1 trillion. Optimists began to speculate that the downward trend was over. But the Federal Reserve's data for the week ended Aug. 25 showed the CP market had slipped about $25 billion, to $1.087 trillion. Is the CP market signaling that the economy is dipping back into a recession?
Actually, it's a case of two steps forward, one step back, says Robert Little, head of global short-term fixed-income origination at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Despite the fluctuations, "the market has stabilized," he says. "We're not seeing [significant] contraction."