Tag Archives: Bond Market

This is Not a Market, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

A supposed market in which the government intervenes to suppress price discovery is not a market. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:


René Magritte La trahison des images 1929“[Price discovery] is the process of determining the price of an asset in the marketplace through the interactions of buyers and sellers”, says Wikipedia. Perhaps not a perfect definition, but it’ll do. They add: “The futures and options market serve all important functions of price discovery.”

What follows from this is that markets need price discovery as much as price discovery needs markets. They are two sides of the same coin. Markets are the mechanism that makes price discovery possible, and vice versa. Functioning markets, that is.

Given the interdependence between the two, we must conclude that when there is no price discovery, there are no functioning markets. And a market that doesn’t function is not a market at all. Also, if you don’t have functioning markets, you have no investors. Who’s going to spend money purchasing things they can’t determine the value of? (I know: oh, wait..)

Ergo: we must wonder why everyone in the financial world, and the media, is still talking about ‘the markets’ (stocks, bonds et al) as if they still existed. Is it because they think there still is price discovery? Or do they think that even without price discovery, you can still have functioning markets? Or is their idea that a market is still a market even if it doesn’t function?

Or is it because they once started out as ‘investors’ or finance journalists, bankers or politicians, and wouldn’t know what to call themselves now, or simply can’t be bothered to think about such trivial matters?

Doesn’t a little warning voice pop up, somewhere in the back of their minds, in the middle of a sweaty sleepless night, that says perhaps they shouldn’t get this one wrong? Because if you think about, and treat, a ‘thing’, as something that it’s not at all, don’t you run the risk of getting it awfully wrong?

To continue reading: This is Not a Market

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BREAKING: Gravity Works, by Robert Gore

Are you ready for the inevitable?

Why did the stock market fall? The usual suspects are finding all sorts of “causes.” How about this one: when everyone is on the same side of the boat, driven by hope and greed or fear and loathing, the boat capsizes, no matter the economic “fundamentals” or political climate.

Since 2009 the world’s central bank’s have blown up their balance sheets and much of that newly created fiat debt found a home in equity and bond markets and cryptocurrencies. With few interruptions, most asset prices have rallied ever since.

Virtually every stock market sentiment and positioning indicator has, like the stock market itself, gone from new extreme to new extreme for months. Numerous commentators, including SLL, have been warning for months, even years. Pick a valuation measure and stocks, even after the last two weeks, are at peak valuations rivaled only by 1929, 2000, and 2007.

The only mystery was when they would give way. If they are now in fact giving way, then there’s no mystery about how bad it’s going to get. Very bad.

With the world more indebted than it’s ever been on both an absolute basis and relative to the world’s productive capacity, economies and markets are extremely sensitive to interest rates. The Treasury debt market has been the dark cloud on the horizon since short-term bill rates made their low in mid-2015. The Fed followed, as it almost always does, raising the federal funds rate target (from zero) for the first time in seven years December 2015.

That markets lead, not follow the Fed, is an inconvenient truth for the legions of commentators and analysts who routinely assert the Fed controls interest rates. It shoots a hole in a lot of theories and models. (For substantiation that the Fed follows the market, see The Socionomic Theory of Finance, Chapter 3, Robert Prechter.)

The ten-year note made its high in July 2016 and has been trending irregularly lower—and interest rates irregularly higher—since. Higher interest rates raise the cost of leveraged speculation, production, and consumption. Yet, leveraged speculators in the stock market only seem to have noticed rising yields the past couple of weeks.

Given that the government will be borrowing close to $1 trillion this year, yields are still absurdly low. Markets have been conditioned by interest rate suppression, negative yields, governmental debt monetization, QEs, central bank puts, and central banker public pronouncements to think absurdly low yields are forever. A competing hypothesis is that it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature or markets, and after nine years of this nonsense, when they blow they’re really going to blow. SLL endorses the competing hypothesis.

Small coteries of central banking bureaucrats can’t regulate or control multi-trillion dollar, yen, yuan, and euro economies and financial markets. Super-volcanic financial eruptions will expose other truths as well. Watch as rising interest rates and crashing equity markets and economies reveal central, core truths: governments are bereft of real resources, are desperate to acquire same, and will be inconceivably—by today’s standards—rapacious in doing so. That’s quite a statement, because even today they’re pretty damn larcenous.

A generalized crash will also clarify the central conflict of our time: government and it’s string-pullers, minions, beneficiaries, and cheerleaders versus everybody else. Such a characterization suggests a deepening of today’s polarization. Unfortunately, as order breaks down, it will be everybody else versus everybody else, too. Good-bye polarization, hello atomization.

And order will break down. Government always and everywhere rule by force, fraud, and intimidation, but force, fraud, and intimidation need to be paid, preferably in something that can be exchanged for groceries or shoes for the kids. History suggests that the government and central bank will depreciate (speaking of fraud) their fiat debt instruments—Federal Reserve Notes, US Treasury debt, and central bank credit balances—to their marginal cost of production, or zero.

When governments are bankrupt, their praetorians forage—a nice word for theft and extortion. They’ll be competing with hordes of foraging civilians, many of whom will be armed. In such a scenario, one identifiable group has a fighting chance, and it will involve fighting and lots of it. That, of course, is the group who have either been preparing for such a scenario for years or have the skill set and mental fortitude necessary to adapt to it. Much scorned, this group may get the last laugh, but it will be a grim one.

They overwhelmingly supported Trump. It will be a disappointment, but not a surprise, that one man is unable to reverse a collapse long in the making. However, their support for Trump indicates ideological cohesion, which will be absent from the rest of the population.

Take away the undeserved from the undeserving and you get a tantrum. Steal the earned from those who earned it and you get righteous rage. One’s a firecracker, the other a volcano. The game has been to impress upon the useful a moral obligation to support the useless, but the volcano’s about to blow, burying that obscene morality in lava and ash. Given the staggering levels of accumulated debt and promises, the useful know their talents, skills, hard work, productivity and futures have been mortgaged for the useless. This is the salient and intractable social division. No reconciliation is possible between the useful and those who believe themselves entitled to their enslavement.

The Useful and the Useless,” SLL, 3/23/17

When the government implodes, those on the receiving end of its largess are going to be united by only two things: their outrage and their inability to do anything about it. They’ll have all the solidarity of cannibals trying to eat one another.

Against that backdrop will be the group who wants to provide for itself…and knows how to do so. Individualism, self-sufficiency, and a love of freedom and inviolable liberties are not dead in America, but those who support them have been driven underground. They’ll stay underground come the collapse—advertising abilities and provisions will be an invitation to brutalization, robbery and murder—but they’ll fend off the rampaging hordes, survive, and reemerge.

Do they have to reemerge, can’t they just emerge to set things right without all the collapse and carnage? Unfortunately not. For those pinning their hopes on political education and action, what are the chances of convincing the half of the country that’s riding the government gravy train to hop off to prevent insolvency and ruin? The question answers itself. They’ll have to be pushed off.

Trump’s election was a cry of protest, and he’s ruffled some feathers. However, eight years of around-the-clock, 24/7 presidential effort couldn’t undo decades of ruinous policies, many of which Trump has actually embraced: out of control spending, deficits, debt, and empire.  Trump will be battling falling equity markets, rising interest rates, and swamp vermin.

Things have to get much worse before they can get better, but just as nothing goes up forever, nothing goes down forever. Collapse’s silver lining may be that it offers a chance for freedom and inviolable liberties to finally emerge from underground.

In the meantime, Doug “Uncola” Lynn’s recent article on The Burning Platform, “BABY STEPS: You’ve Been Woke. Now Exit the Matrix.” is an excellent wake up call and has a lot of useful information and links to other sources about preparing for the inevitable. Nobody is going to be 100 percent prepared, but there’s no excuse for being 0 percent prepared.

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Unleash The Debt: Why The Senate Budget Deal Is Sending Yields Surging, by Tyler Durden

It’s no mystery why yields are surging: supply and demand. There’s going to be a lot of government debt, and the central bank is now a seller of said debt. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

When we commented last night on the Senate’s proposed bipartisan “deficit-busting” spending deal – one which will raise spending caps by $300bn over the next two years and incorporate a suspension of the debt limit until March 2019 – we observed that “the agreement will achieve one thing – lead to a surge in US debt issuance, and – by implication – even higher yields, leading to an even steeper drop in the market, not to mention more frequent VIX-flaring episodes.

With yields jumping and stocks sliding, so far this prediction appears on target.

As a reminder, one month ago Goldman predicted that  US debt issuance would more than double, rising from $488bn in 2017 to $1,030 billion in 2018.

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Of course, now that the spending caps have been raised by $300 billion, this implications is that the US deficit will surge, and net Treasury debt supply – needed to fund the deficit – in 2018 will get even bigger, something which is duly reflected in today’s surging 10Y yield.

But how much will the proposed deal spike the US deficit by? In a note from BofA’s chief rates strategist, Mark Cabana, we find the answer:

Assuming the bill becomes law, our deficit and Treasury supply estimates will be marked higher.

Yesterday’s bipartisan Senate agreement included a deal to fund the government beyond 8 February and boost spending levels for defense and non-defense programs over the next two years. The $300bn increase over the next two years is modestly larger than we expected and caused us to raise our deficit forecasts by $35bn and $20bn to $825bn and $1,070bn, respectively, assuming the law passage (Table 1).

Not all of the cap increase will translate into direct spending in each fiscal year given actual outlays can be spread over several years. Moreover, some of the increase in the spending caps came from budget gimmicks that just shifted funding toward domestic nondefense spending from other budget provisions; this is why our deficit estimates boost is below the total cap increase. The increase in disaster relief spending was generally in line with our estimates, which did not result in any revisions.

To continue reading: Unleash The Debt: Why The Senate Budget Deal Is Sending Yields Surging

Death Star Headed for the U.S. Economy, by Bill Bonner

Unlike the one in Star Wars, there’s no way to blow up this Death Star. It will, in fact, blow up the global economy. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

PARIS – “Keep your eye on Friday,” the old-timers used to say.

When the pros are worried, they sell on Friday so they can spend the weekend without sweating.

When they are confident, they buy on Friday so they don’t miss out on weekend gains (when traders engage in electronic “after-hours” trading).

Last Friday, selling pressure left the Dow 666 points lower by the closing bell. And this morning, stock markets everywhere from Tokyo to London are sliding.

Markets go up and down. This market will go down, no doubt about it. If not now, later. That would be nothing new. Hardly worth mentioning.

But there’s more to the story: In addition to plunges for stocks and bonds, the entire financial system is headed for a long, painful destruction.

So far, hardly anyone notices.

Today’s New York Times makes no mention of the Death Star headed for the U.S. economy. Instead, all we find is the typical public nonsense.

Trump did this… Russia did that… Nunes… Mueller… Israel… Poland… blah-blah. If we’re right about what is coming, none of this will matter.

But that’s the way it works.

The old-timers also say that a bear market will always try to take as many investors down with it as possible.

It would not be unusual for stocks to recover… so that investors think the danger is over. And then – whack! – a real crash.

As always, we wait to find out. We will do our best to enjoy it… trying always to understand it.

We watch. We wonder. The dots come together – slowly, slowly… then all of a sudden.

To continue reading: Death Star Headed for the U.S. Economy

Bond Markets Really Are Signalling a Slowdown, by Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji

Historically, a steadily flattening yield curve has a reasonably good record of predicting recessions. From Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji at bloomberg.com:

Analysts shouldn’t dismiss the yield curve’s message just because inflation expectations have been declining in recent years. 

Exercise caution.

Photographer: Bildquelle/ullstein bild via Getty Images

When it comes to the economic outlook, the bond market is smarter than the stock market. That Wall Street adage appears to be on the money from a cyclical vantage point, with key indicators in the fixed-income markets independently corroborating slowdown signals from the Economic Cycle Research Institute’s leading indexes.

 The yield curve is widely considered to be among the most prescient indicators. That’s why its flattening this year has been troublesome for an otherwise optimistic consensus to explain away.
This hasn’t stopped optimistic analysts from dismissing the yield curve’s message on the grounds that inflation expectations have been declining in recent years, or that foreign central banks like the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan continue to artificially suppress their bond yields, pulling down U.S. yields. We’re reminded of Sir John Templeton’s warning that “this time it’s different” are the “four most costly words in the annals of investing” — but that’s effectively what it means to simply ignore the slowdown signals emanating from the fixed-income markets.

Of course, there’s no Holy Grail in the world of forecasting, which is why we look at a wide array of leading indexes that each includes many inputs. From that vantage point, the yield curve flattening actually makes a lot of sense. Growth in ECRI’s U.S. Short Leading Index, which doesn’t include the yield curve, has been falling since early this year (top line in chart), pointing to a U.S. growth rate cycle downturn that should become evident in coming months.

 

Next, please note the separate slowdown signal coming from the difference between the yields on junk bonds and investment-grade corporate bonds — also known as the quality spread (middle line, shown inverted). It has widened in recent months because the rising default risk for junk bonds during economic slowdowns makes their yields climb faster than those of investment grade bonds, which are less likely to default.

To continue reading: Bond Markets Really Are Signalling a Slowdown

The Flattening US “Yield Curve”? NIRP Refugees Did it, by Wolf Richter

Is a flattening yield curve signalling an impending recession. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Sez Fitch & Yellen

US Treasury securities are doing something that is worrying a lot of folks, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen: While short-term yields are rising in line with the Fed’s hikes of its target range for the federal funds rate, longer-term yield have done the opposite: they’ve been declining. This has flattened the “yield curve” to a level not seen since before the Financial Crisis.

This chart shows the yield curve of today’s yields (red line) across the maturity spectrum against the yields of exactly a year ago, after the rate hike at the time. Note how short-term yields on the left have risen in line with the rate hikes, while toward the right of the chart, long-term yields have fallen:

When long term yields fall below shorter term yields, the curve becomes “inverted.” This has been a reliable predictor of a recession or worse. And we’re getting closer. Today, the 10-year yield closed at just 0.53 percentage points above the two-year yield. This is the narrowest spread since August 2007.

However, in her post-FOMC-meeting press conference yesterday – where this conundrum came up hard and heavy – Yellen cautioned that “correlation does not imply causation.”

An inverted yield curve these days doesn’t necessarily cause a recession, she said. An inverted yield curve is itself a product of various factors. And one of those factors is heavy buying of long-dated US Treasuries by investors in countries on which central banks have inflicted their negative-interest-rate policies – the ravaged NIRP refugees hailing from Europe and Japan.

There are a lot of them, and they’re having an increasingly large problem that is only going to get worse next year – regardless of what the ECB will or will not do.

Fitch Ratings estimates that the total amount of global negative-yielding government debt is $9.7 trillion, with Japanese government debt accounting for $5.8 trillion and European government debt for $3.9 trillion.

To continue reading: The Flattening US “Yield Curve”? NIRP Refugees Did it

The Lowest Common Denominator, by Michael Lebowitz

Probably because most people don’t like to think or write about it, debt is one of SLL’s favorite subjects. Michael Lebowitz analyzes bond math and what it means for the debt-saturated US and global economies. From Lebowitz at 720global.com:

At a recent investment conference, hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller predicted that interest rates would continue rising. Specifically, he suggested that, consistent with the prospects for economic growth, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield could reach 6.00% over the next couple of years. Druckenmiller’s track record lends credence to his economic perspectives. While we would very much like to share his optimism, we find it difficult given the record levels of public and private debt.

Druckenmiller’s comments appear to be based largely on enthusiasm for the new administration’s proposals for increased infrastructure and military spending along with tax cuts and deregulation. This is consistent with the outlook of most investors today. Although proposals of this nature have stimulated economic growth in the past, today’s economic environment is dramatically different from prior periods. Investors and the market as a whole are failing to consider the importance of the confluence of the highest debt levels (outright and as a % of GDP) and the lowest interest rates (real and nominal) in the nation’s history. Because of the magnitude and extreme nature of these two factors, the economic sensitivity to interest rates is greater and more asymmetric now than it has ever been. Additionally, due the manner in which debt and interest rates have evolved over time, the amount of interest rate risk held by fixed income and equity investors poses unparalleled risks and remains, for the moment, grossly under-appreciated.

Proper assessment of future investment and economic conditions must carefully consider changes in the debt load and the interest rates at which new and existing debt will be serviced.

To continue reading: The Lowest Common Denominator