Posts tagged spoos
Are Bonds Setting a Trap?

The easiest way for U.S. bond markets to entice investors to abandon their obsession with a flattening yield curve—and whether it’ll soon invert—always was to steepen it. The spreads between 5y/10y and two-year yields have widened to 17bp and 30bp, respectively, about 10bp wider than at the end of August. More importantly, this move has occurred as a result of higher mid-to-long term yields. A few basis points don’t make a trend, but the combination of U.S. 5y and 10y bond yields pushing above 3% introduces a number of erstwhile dormant narratives into the mix. Perhaps the mythical neutral, or terminal, rate is higher than the Fed and markets think? Fed Chair Jerome Powell admitted recently that the FOMC probably doesn’t know where this rate is. This argument makes little sense in the context of the dots, which seem to imply that a policy rate of a bit over 3% in 12-to-18 months time is deemed restrictive. But it makes sense if this signal is no longer relevant for markets. The always optimistic David Zervos, the Chief Strategist for Jeffries, detects a shift at the Fed. “The most important takeaway here is that the probability of an aggressive late-cycle curve inversion has plummeted. (...) Maybe Jay goes there if we start ripping toward 3500 in spoos, but it won’t be because of the inflation or growth data.” 

Read More
As you were

On a headline level, 2018 has started exactly as 2017 finished. Stocks are up, U.S. short term rates are up—but the dollar has traded heavy—and economic data continue to tell a story of a synchronised upturn in global growth. The bears are furious, or perhaps just confused. Hussman recently published a prepper’s guide to a hypervalued market. And value investor extraordinaire—and famed bear—Jeremy Grantham from GMO invokes the “highest-priced markets in US history,” but also proclaims that we’re now in the  “melt-up phase” of the bull market. I am all for holding opposing views at the same time, but markets demand a view and a position. So which is it Mr. Grantham? Long, short, or flat? I am not holding my breath for an answer. I have long since left the extremes behind. Picture a spectrum with Hussman and GMO at one end, and the wet-behind-the-ears trader, who have never experienced a sizeable drawdown in Spoos, at the other end. Hint: You want to be somewhere in between.

Separating signal from noise is an important skill in this game, and markets currently are throwing a number of curve balls at investors. What better way to kick off 2018 than by highlighting the ones that matter.

Read More