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"Tapering may be a concern, but there are reasons why it may not be as much of one as many expect," Citigroup credit analysts said in a report for clients. "In fact, we have seen signs in recent trading that U.S. credit may be fairly immune to tapering headlines."
"Immune" may be a bit strong considering that the market almost always has some reaction to Fed statements, however benign or substantial.
But recent rate movement suggests that while yields may well go higher, the yield curve—or the difference between rates of different maturities—shows that the market may already have had its big reaction to tapering.
Almost immediately after Bernanke's initial tapering speech, the curve for investment-grade and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note jumped 0.8 percentage points while high yield rose 2.8 percentage points.
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But the Citi team pointed out that spreads stayed stable during the most recent tapering scare as economic data improved in early December.
"One of our basic (tenets) is that the markets are efficient ... maybe not perfectly, but at least reasonably," Citi said. "In this regard, it's important not to forget that the QE tapering topic has been in the news for over six months."
There are also two significant facts worth remembering about tapering: 1) The Fed has had ample supply for its operations since the government doubled the national debt over the past five years to more than $15 trillion. That is changing, though, with the lowest amount of debt issuance, at just over $2 trillion, a low since Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008; and 2) Government debt maturity is likely to be at its highest level ever at $1.4 trillion.
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Investors, then, may want to look beyond the headlines and knee-jerk market reaction when weighing the true substance of QE reductions.
"QE is obviously a huge source of direct demand in the rates space, and a large indirect source elsewhere. All else equal when tapering takes place demand in the rates markets will fall sharply, and of course a spillover effect will be felt among risk assets," Citi said. "But all else is not equal."
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him on Twitter