Tag Archives: Bonds

So What Do I Think about the “Crash” in Stocks? by Wolf Richter

So far, despite the pyrotechnics, markets have not crashed. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

A lot more will have to happen before this turns into a crash; and markets are not there yet.

With all this wailing in the media about stocks, you’d think there’s at least some blood in the streets. But no. Not a drop.

The Dow fell 4.6% today to 24,345. This 1,175-point drop, as it was endlessly repeated, was the biggest point-drop in history – but irrelevant given how relentlessly inflated the industrial average had become. The percentage drop today, combined with the drops of last week, took the Dow down just 8.5% from its all-time high on January 26.

For the year, the Dow is down merely 1.5%. I mean, what horror. The last time this sort of debacle happened was way back in ancient history of January and early February 2016.

The Dow is not even in a correction (defined as -10% from its recent high). But that messy Friday and Monday, following a record 410-day streak without a 5% decline, did break the recently pandemic illusion that you cannot lose money in stocks.

When the Dow gained 1,000 points in the shortest time ever, after having already booked the fastest-ever 1,000-point gains in prior months and years, no one was complaining about it. These rapid-fire 1,000-point-gains had become the new normal. So today, one of those 1,000-point gains has been unwound.

The S&P 500 dropped 113 points, or 4.1%, to 2,648. This took the index back to December 8, 2017. The past six trading days were the worst decline since … well, since the weeks leading up to February 7, 2016, at which point the S&P 500 was off 19%, not quite enough for a dip into an official bear market.

The Nasdaq fell 272 points today, or 3.8%, to 6,967, below 7,000 for the first time since the end of December, but remains, if barely, in positive territory for the year.

What’ll happen next? Dip buyers will come in, maybe at this very moment, or maybe later, and some of them will likely get plowed under, but there is way too much cash lined up in hedge funds specifically set up to profit from sell-offs. And dip-buyers have been rewarded relentlessly over the past eight years, and it’s not until the dip buyers get massively destroyed and stop dip-buying that the market is in real trouble.

Because nothing goes to heck in a straight line.

To continue reading; So What Do I Think about the “Crash” in Stocks?

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“It’s The Turning Point” – Bond, Stock Slump Sparks Worst Week For ‘Risk-Parity’ Since 2013 Tantrum, by Tyler Durden

Sometimes a few graphs are worth thousands of words. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Yesterday’s US equity market collapse and simultaneous bond market bloodbath was the biggest combined loss since December 2015, but perhaps more ominously, the week’s combined loss in bonds and stocks was the worst since Feb 2009.

Many suggested that Friday’s slump was GOP-memo-related, and it may well have removed some froth, but judging by the major correlation regime shift between stocks and bonds that started on Monday, we suspect this is something considerably more worrisome for investors.

Even JPMorgan admits that the bond market sell-off gathered pace over the past week raising concerns about its impact on equity markets. This is especially because the bond-equity correlation, which has been predominantly negative since theLehman crisis, has started creeping up towards positive territory.

The 90-day correlation between stock (SPY) and bond (TLT) markets has surged ominously in the last few weeks…

In turn this raises concerns about de-risking by multi-asset investors who depend on this correlation staying in negative territory such as risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds? How worried should we be about de-risking by these two types of investors?

Very.

Judging by the impact on Risk-Parity funds yesterday (worst single-day performance since August 2015’s flash-crash)…

And this week (worst weekly drop in Risk-Parity funds since June 2013’s Bernanke Taper Tantrum)

As mentioned above, these types of investors benefit from the structurally negative correlation between bonds and equities as this negative correlation suppresses the volatility of bond/equity portfolios allowing these investors to apply higher leverage and thus boost their returns. But, as JPMorgan points out, the opposite takes place when this correlation turns positive: the volatility of bond/equity portfolios increases, inducing these investors to de-lever.

In the past, just as we have seen this year, these risk-parity-correlation tantrums have been cushioned by equity market inflows, and we note that, in particular, YTD equity ETF flows have surpassed the $100bn mark, a record high pace.

If these equity ETF flows, which JPMorgan believes are largely driven by retail investors, start reversing, not only would the equity market retrench, but the resultant rise in bond-equity correlation would likely induce de-risking by risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds, magnifying the eventual equity market sell-off.

To continue reading: “It’s The Turning Point” – Bond, Stock Slump Sparks Worst Week For ‘Risk-Parity’ Since 2013 Tantrum

Ray Dalio Says Bond Bear Market Has Begun, Expects Historic Crash, by Tyler Burden

Here is what the head of the world’s largest hedge fund has to say about the bond market. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Joining the likes of Bill Gross and Jeffrey Gundlach, and echoing his ominous DV01-crash warning to the NY Fed from October 2016, Bridgewater’s billionaire founder and CEO Ray Dalio told Bloomberg  TV that the bond market has “slipped into a bear phase” and warned that a rise in yields could spark the biggest crisis for fixed-income investors in almost 40 years.

“A 1 percent rise in bond yields will produce the largest bear market in bonds that we have seen since 1980 to 1981,”Bridgewater Associates founder Dalio said in a Bloomberg TV interview in Davos on Wednesday. We’re in a bear market, he said.

Readers may recall that when addressing the NY Fed in October 2016, Dalio made virtually the same prediction when he commented on the bond market’s DV01:

… it would only take a 100 basis point rise in Treasury bond yields to trigger the worst price decline in bonds since the 1981 bond market crash. And since those interest rates are embedded in the pricing of all investment assets, that would send them all much lower.

Dalio is referring to the record DV01 in the bond market, which according to the latest OFR report released in December, has risen to $1.2 trillion: that’s the P&L loss from a 100bps rise in rates.

The watchdog found that “valuations are also elevated” in bond markets. Of particular interest is the OFR’s discussion on duration. Picking up where we left off in June 2016, and calculates that “at current duration levels, a 1 percentage point increase in interest rates would lead to a decline of almost $1.2 trillion in the securities underlying the index.”

 

To continue reading: Ray Dalio Says Bond Bear Market Has Begun, Expects Historic Crash

What Will Rising Mortgage Rates Do to Housing Bubble 2? by Wolf Richter

Rising interest rates will increase the cost of financing a house with a mortgage. If they go up enough, expect the housing market to falter. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Oops, they’re already rising.

The US government bond market has further soured this week, with Treasuries selling off across the spectrum. When bond prices fall, yields rise. For example, the two-year Treasury yield rose to 2.06% on Friday, the highest since September 2008.

In the chart, note the determined spike of 79 basis points since September 8, 2017. That was the month when the Fed announced the highly telegraphed details of its QE Unwind.

September as month of the QE-Unwind announcement keeps cropping up. All kinds of things began to happen, at first quietly, without drawing much attention. But then the trajectory just kept going.

The three-year yield, which had gone nowhere for the first eight months of 2017, rose to 2.20% on Friday, the highest since October 1, 2008. It has spiked 82 basis points since September 8:

The ten-year yield – the benchmark for financial markets that most influences US mortgage rates – jumped to 2.66% late Friday.

This is particularly interesting because the 10-year yield had declined from March 2017 into August despite the Fed’s three rate hikes last year, and rising short-term yields.

At 2.66%, the 10-year yield has reached its highest level since April 2014, when the “Taper Tantrum” was winding down. That Taper Tantrum was the bond market’s way of saying “we’re shocked and appalled,” when Chairman Bernanke dropped hints the Fed might eventually begin tapering what the market had called “QE Infinity.”

The 10-year yield has now doubled since the historic intraday low on July 7, 2016 of 1.32% (it closed that day at 1.37%, a historic closing low):

Friday capped four weeks of pain in the Treasury market. But it has not impacted yet the corporate bond market, and the spread in yields between Treasuries and corporate bonds, and particularly junk bonds, has further narrowed. And it has not yet impacted the stock market, and there has been no adjustment in the market’s risk pricing yet.

To continue reading: What Will Rising Mortgage Rates Do to Housing Bubble 2?

Bond Market Smells Inflation, Begins to React, by Wolf Richter

The bond market probably topped out in July 2016. Interest rates are starting to move up again. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Inflation expectations now exceed the Fed’s target.

The 10-year US Treasury yield breached 2.5% on January 9 and hasn’t looked back since, closing on Friday at 2.55%. The three year yield closed at 2.12%, the highest since October 2008. The two year yield, after breaching 2% on Friday intraday, closed at 1.99%, the highest since September 2008.

Bond prices fall when yields rise. And the selloff in three-year maturities and below shows that the short end of the bond market is reacting to the Fed’s rate-hike environment.

The moves in the 10-year yield, however, defied the Fed in much of 2017, with the yield actually dropping. With long-term yields falling and short-term yields rising, the yield curve “flattened,” and there were fears that the yield curve would “invert,” with 10-year yields dropping below two-year yields – a scenario that has proven dreadful in the past, including just before the Financial Crisis. But recently, the 10-year yield too has begun to respond.

Though the “new Fed” in 2018 hasn’t fully taken shape yet, with several key vacancies still to be filled, there is already tough talk even among the “doves.” And that’s where tough talk matters.

On Thursday it was New York Fed President William Dudley who outlined the “two macroeconomic concerns” he is “worried about”: “The risk of economic overheating,” and that the markets are blowing off the Fed. In the end, the Fed “may have to press harder on the brakes,” he said.

On Friday, it was Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren who told the Wall Street Journal that he expected “more than three” rate hikes this year to get this under control before it’s too late. “I don’t want to get to a situation where we have to tighten more quickly,” he said, citing specifically the “fairly ebullient financial markets,” and the risks of waiting too long.

These “doves” are worried that the Fed will have to speed up its rate hikes to get a grip on asset price inflation, wage inflation, and consumer price inflation before they become difficult to control.

To continue reading: Bond Market Smells Inflation, Begins to React, by Wolf Richter

Fed Tightens, “and so far, Nothing Has Blown Up”, by Wolf Richter

The end of the world will come on its own timetable, not the Fed’s. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Gundlach frets about bonds during QE unwind, rate hikes, tax cuts, and rising deficits.

“A tax cut will reduce revenue and it will grow the deficit and therefore, it will probably grow bond supply, and perhaps boost economic growth,” DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said on an investor webcast on Tuesday. And if it does, “it is going to be bond unfriendly.”

And possibly in a big way.

It’s a “strange environment” for cutting corporate taxes as the economy is already in its eighth year of expansion, he said, according to Reuters, which reported the webcast. He reiterated his prediction that the 10-year Treasury yield could reach 6% over the next “four years or so.”

Let that sink in for a moment. The last time the 10-year Treasury yield was at 6% (on the way down) was in August 2000! Four years from now, 6% would be a two-decade high-water mark.

“I don’t think it is at all strange to think we can tack on something like 75 basis points, on average, with volatility of course, per year for the next four years or so,” he said.

The 10-year yield is currently 2.36%, and sliding, as opposed to the shorter maturities whose yields have surged: the three-month yield reached 1.30% today and the two-year yield jumped to 1.83%, the highest since September 2008.

When bond yields rise, bond prices fall by definition. The 10-year yield is still very low. But if it rises from this level to 6% over the next few years, there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth along the way by bond investors, and it’s not going to be a fun time for a bond-fund manager to navigate this environment.

To continue reading: Fed Tightens, “and so far, Nothing Has Blown Up

Chinese Stock Rout Resumes As Top Fund Sees “High Probability” Of Bond Carnage, by Tyler Durden

Chinese bond yields, for both the top quality and junk, are rising. That may have implications not just for other Chinese markets, like stocks, but for other countries’ markets. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In early November, we discussed how commentators were disturbed by the sell-off in Chinese government bonds after the Party Congress, which saw yields rise to 4.0%. The anomaly was that yields in less-liquid, unsecured Chinese corporate bonds had barely moved. Some sleuthing on the part of the Wall Street Journal discovered that the most likely explanation was that redemptions in China’s shadow banking sector, especially in the infamous $4 trillion Wealth Management Products (WMP), meant that cash needed to be raised…quickly. Highly liquid government bonds were the easiest option. Furthermore, retaining the higher-yielding corporate bonds was handy in meeting the guaranteed returns in the WMP Ponzi schemes.

The relative stability in corporate bond yields was short-lived, with the Chinese bond sell-off spreading to the corporate sector as November progressed. Besides the post-Congress focus on deleveraging, the mainstream explanation was that investors were differentiating between good and bad credits ahead of more than $1 trillion of local bonds maturing in 2018-19. The spin was positive as it would lead to capital being channeled more productively.

Needless to say, this was not how we viewed it. From our perspective, it looked like the emergence of cascading sell-offs within Chinese financial markets which have been abused by excessive leverage and Ponzi characteristics. Recent plunges in Chinese equities have strengthened our conviction. Indeed, as the new trading week opened, equities were hit again, as we pointed out last night and as Bloomberg observes this morning:

After taking a breather in the wake of a battering Thursday, Chinese shares resumed their decline Monday, with some previously high-flying consumer and technology companies among the hardest hit. The CSI 300 Index of large-cap stocks was down 1.3 percent as of the mid-day trading break, with ZTE Corp. and BOE Technology Group Co. both falling more than 6 percent…“Institutional investors are choosing to cash in toward year-end as valuations are near historic highs and market sentiment deteriorated after official media targeted Moutai,” said Shen Zhengyang, Shanghai-based analyst at Northeast Securities Co. He said the market “lacks steam” for further gains.