Tag Archives: Bonds

If you are looking for truth in markets, in bonds there are fewer lies. By Bill Blaine

The bond market has often been a canary in the coal mine for stocks, and it may well happen again. From Bill Blaine at morningporridge.com:

“Believe whatever you want about equities, but in bonds there is truth..”

This morning – The Stock Market Rollercoaster will continue a while longer, but a decisive divergence point is coming! Corporate debt is likely to crack on rising rates, price distortion, forgotten risk metrics, and rising defaults. It will signal the perilous financial health of some sectors – bursting the current bubble violently. Anyone for the last few choc-ices?

But first: a rumbustious Saturday evening in Dubai followed the Calcutta Cup Rugby Match between Scotland and England. I make that 2.5 in a row to Scotland – (I’m counting Scotland reversing a 40 point first-half deficit into second-half draw in 2019 as a win!). Interesting..  my nation of 5 million Scrappy Socialists with our paranoid fascination for blue face paint, blue flags, bagpipes and sharp pointy things, consistently thumps 60mm Englishmen who voted for Boris.

Is there a lesson in there somewhere…?

Meanwhile, back to the Unreal World, let me introduce you to a new Blain’s market mantra:  If you are looking for truth in markets, in bonds there are fewer lies.

Aren’t we having fun in the equity market. Up, Down, Shake it all about. Amazon down 15% one day and up 13% the next. Facebook among the most volatile stocks on the block. Around the globe investors wake up wondering if it’s a risk on or off day, wholly uncertain what they believe about equity market uncertainty… The question is why…?

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Treasury Yields & Mortgage Rates Spike: Markets Begin to Grapple with Quantitative Tightening, by Wolf Richter

Unless we get massive deflation in a hurry (unlikely) bonds may be the single worst investment out there. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The two-year Treasury yield started rising in late September, from about 0.23%, and ended the year at 0.73%. In the five trading days since then, it jumped to 0.87%, the highest since February 28, 2020. Most of the jump occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, triggered by the hawkish Fed minutes on Wednesday.

Markets are finally and in baby steps starting to take the Fed seriously. And the most reckless Fed ever – it’s still printing money hand-over-fist and repressing short-term interest rates to near 0%, despite the worst inflation in 40 years – is finally and in baby steps, after some kind of come-to-Jesus moment late last year, starting to take inflation seriously. Treasury yields are now responding:

Jawboning about Quantitative Tightening.

Even though the Fed hasn’t actually done any hawkish thing, and is still printing money and repressing interest rates to near 0%, it is laying the groundwork with innumerable warnings all over the place, from the FOMC post-meeting presser on December 15, when Powell said everything would move faster, to hawkish speeches by Fed governors, to the very hawkish minutes of the FOMC meeting, which put Quantitative Tightening in black-and-white.

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Will Risk Parity Blow Up…??? by Harris “Kuppy” Kupperman

You own bonds to offset the risks of stocks and vice versa, but what happens when they both go down in extended bear markets? From Harris “Kuppy” Kupperman at wolfstreet.com:

When something that is this widely adopted blows up, it tends to blow up spectacularly.

By Harris “Kuppy” Kupperman, founder of Praetorian Capital, Adventures in Capitalism:

For four decades, the US stock market has traded up and to the right. During those brief moments of setback, treasuries rallied strongly. The fact that these two asset classes seemed to offset each other, creating a smoothed-out return profile, was not lost on certain fund managers who created portfolios comprised of the two. Then, to better market this portfolio to the sorts of institutional investors who cannot bear drawdowns, the overriding strategy was given the pseudo-intellectual sounding Risk Parity moniker.

Over time, the reliability of Risk Parity funds has astonished most observers, especially after being tested by fire during the GFC. As a result, portfolio managers took the logical next step and added copious leverage—because in finance, when you do a back-test, every return stream works better with leverage.

Naturally, as Risk Parity continued to produce returns, inflows bloated these funds. Risk Parity strategies, in one form or another, now dominate many institutional asset allocations. While everyone makes their sausage a bit differently, trillions in notional value are now managed using this strategy—long equities, long treasuries. Are they highly-leveraged time-bombs??

Taking a step back, it’s important to ask, what created this smooth stream of Risk Parity returns? Was it investor brilliance or was it a four-decade period of declining interest rates that systematically increased equity market multiples while reducing bond yields? What if all the sausage-making was just noise?

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A Reckoning of Economic Excess, by Bill Bonner

An inflationary rescue by the world’s central banks will not prevent the financial asset and economic meltdown that’s coming. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

He who takes what isn’t his’n
Pays it back or goes to prison

– 19th century American businessman Daniel Drew

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – What we were looking for in the Evergrande story was a hint… a clue… an advance warning of things to come.

What happens when you can’t pay your debts? How does it end?

With a bang of inflation? Or a whimper of deflation?

Our prediction: Both.

Every bubble blows up. Every excess has to be resolved. And every debt gets settled – one way or another.

Typically, a bubble brings on a case of “irrational exuberance.”

The irrationally exuberant investor pays too much for his assets. The irrationally exuberant businessman stretches too far… borrows too much… and over-extends himself. The irrationally exuberant empire invades Afghanistan.

But no one and nothing is ever evergrande, of course. It is only occasionally grand.

And when the occasion passes… so does the grandeur.

Too Much Excess

“And then what?” is our question today.

We have the answer, too: the end of the world as we have known it.

An excess of private investment usually produces an excess of capacity… and excess output. Too much, in other words.

Then, when the Bubble Epoch passes… the excess is usually reckoned with in a DEFLATION. Prices fall… until demand picks up enough to clear the market.

The investors and producers, who misjudged the situation, and their suppliers and employees, suffer the losses.

That’s what happened in America after the crash of 1929.

Private industry had expanded in the Roaring Twenties… By the 1930s, it produced far more autos and electrical appliances than the market could absorb.

Prices – for stocks, as well as consumer items – collapsed. The price of milk, for example, fell so low that dairy farmers dumped it on the ground rather than sell it.

Stock prices dropped for nearly three years, from 377 Dow points in October, 1929, to only 44 in July of 1932.

Then, it took 25 more years, a Great Depression, and World War II for prices to recover.

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Why I No Longer Invest In Stocks And Bonds, by Paul Rosenberg

Paul Rosenberg’s reasons for not investing do not include that stocks and bonds are at absurd valuation levels, particularly bonds. However, that’s not to say his reasons don’t make sense, they do. From Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

I’ve touched upon this subject in my subscription newsletter, but I had no plans to write anything more until I got a note from a friend, mentioning a particular investment analyst and his views on investing over the next few years. I had to agree that it was brilliant analysis, but at the same time I knew that I’d never do anything about it, because I simply can’t bring myself to put money into “the markets” anymore.

As a young man I spent time learning the nuts and bolts of investing: Price to earning ratios, book values, charting, puts, calls, covered positions, and so on. And when I had extra money, I tended to put it into the markets and use my tools. But I can no longer do that, and I think explaining why may be useful.

There are three reasons for this conviction of mine, and so I’ll list them below. But I’m listing them in reverse order, because reason number one stands above the others: By itself it would prevent me from investing in the usual way. I think all three reasons are strong, but reason number one is pivotal.

Reason #3

Reason number three is simply that the markets no longer make sense. In fact, I’ve now taken to calling them “exchanges,” not wishing to denigrate the concept of markets.

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Billionaire hedge fund manager urges diversification out of the dollar, by Simon Black

Why would you want to stay in a currency its sponsors are hell-bent on debasing? From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Ray Dalio is the founder of one of the largest investment firms in the world and has amassed a personal fortune nearing $20 billion from his business and investment acumen.

In short, he understands money and finance in way that most people never will. And it’s for this reason that his latest insights are so noteworthy.

In a recent, self-published article entitled “Why in the World Would You Own Bonds When. . .”, Dalio makes some blunt assertions about the alarming US national debt, the decline of the dollar, and other negative trends in the Land of the Free.

Here’s a summary of the major points:

1) Interest rates are now so low that “investing in bonds (and most financial assets) has become stupid.”

Dalio points out that bond yields are so low today that investors would essentially have to wait more than 500 years to break even on their bond investments after adjusting for inflation.

That’s why sensible people are already ditching the bond market.

JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon recently said he wouldn’t touch a US government 10-year Treasury Note “with a ten foot pole.” Neither would Dalio, as he told Bloomberg this month.

2) This is a big problem for Uncle Sam. Investors are ditching US government bonds at a time when the US is “overspending and overborrowing”.

They just passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus, and they have another $3 trillion spending package ready to go, plus plenty of momentum for Universal Basic Income, health care, Green New Deal, and just about everything else.

In short, the government is going to have to sell a LOT of bonds (i.e. increase the debt) at a time when investing in bonds has become stupid.

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Getting Out Before the Crash… 5 Secrets to Spot Market Tops, by Doug Casey

It all seems so easy, just buy low and sell high (or sell high and buy low). So how come so many people do the exact opposite? From doug Casey at internationalman.com:

market tops
 
International Man: Markets have extreme emotions. They can go from irrational exuberance—where it seems everyone is swinging from the chandeliers—to a bottom-of-the-barrel bear market where people don’t even want to look at the business section.

Why is assessing the psychology of the market so important?

Doug Casey: The market, as Warren Buffett has pointed out, can be either a weighing machine or a voting machine. You can make money in the market either way, but you have to recognize which machine is giving you signals.

Although Mr. Market sees and knows almost everything, he pays the most attention to the voting machine, because he’s basically bipolar, a manic-depressive. As a result, not only do you have to deal with the psychological aberrations of millions of other people who are running in a crowd and voting with their dollars, but much more important, you have to deal with your own psychology. You are, after all, part of the market.

The only thing you can control, however, is your own psychology, not that of the market’s other participants. Once again quoting Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”

It’s a matter of having good psychological judgment. Everybody wants to be a contrarian, and perhaps they think they are a contrarian. But, in reality, it’s hard to be a contrarian.

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Unhinged….. And Then Some! by David Stockman

Buy stocks because bonds are so central-bank suppressed that they’re the guaranteed investment from hell. That’s what passes for wisdom on Wall Street these days. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com via lewrockwell.com:

Jerome Powell puts you in mind of the boy who killed both of his parents and then threw himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he was an orphan!

That’s what JayPo essentially did in his presser yesterday while trying to explain that the most hideous equity market bubble in history is actually not that at all:

“If you look at P/Es they’re historically high, but in a world where the risk-free rate is going to be low for a sustained period, the equity premium, which is really the reward you get for taking equity risk, would be what you’d look at,” Powell said.

“Admittedly P/Es are high but that’s maybe not as relevant in a world where we think the 10-year Treasury is going to be lower than it’s been historically from a return perspective,” Powell said.

Right. The Fed has essentially murdered the bond yield. So relatively speaking, grossly inflated stocks are a bargain compared to dead-in-the-water bonds.

Bloomberg even has a chart to prove all this based on the so-called “Fed model”:

The S&P 500’s earnings yield – profit relative to share price – is 2.5 percentage points higher than the yield on 10-year Treasury notes. The comparison, loosely labeled the Fed model, sits well above what the spread was before the burst of the internet bubble, when bonds yielded more than equities by that measure.

Then again, the “earnings yield” is not exactly cash you can take to the bank, unlike a bond coupon as meager as it might be at present. The former is just a computational hope that today’s vastly inflated stock prices relative to earnings stay inflated indefinitely, world without end.

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The Empire Will Strike Back: Dollar Supremacy Is the Fed’s Imperial Mandate, by Charles Hugh Smith

At this point the dollar is a buy and bonds and precious metals are a sell. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Triffin’s Paradox demands painful trade-offs to issue a reserve currency, and it demands the issuing central bank serve two competing audiences and markets.

Judging by the headlines and pundit chatter, the U.S. dollar is about to slide directly to zero. This sense of certitude is interesting, given that no empire prospered by devaluing its currency. Rather, devaluing the currency is a sure path to dissolution and collapse of the empire. This dynamic–devaluation leads to decline and collapse–is not exactly a secret.

So what all those proclaiming the death of the USD are saying is the Imperial Project is consciously choosing suicide, all to boost the U.S. stock market which is now little more than a signaling mechanism and a means of accelerating wealth inequality, as the billionaire class and the billionaire wannabe’s in the top .01% are the primary winners as stocks reach new highs.

(Recall that the U.S. economy is best described as anything goes and winners take most.)

Taking it one step further, those predicting the collapse of the U.S. dollar are predicting that not only will the Empire choose suicide, so will the billionaires because what will their fortunes be worth if the USD goes to zero?

The USD-is-dead crowd (and it is a crowd) present the demise as ordained by some mysterious force, as if the Empire has no will or power to resist the inevitable slide to zero. The helpless giant can only watch as the Federal Reserve debauches the dollar to boost stocks and float the mountains of debt required to keep the U.S. economy from imploding.

The USD-is-dead crowd also seems to overlook the inconvenient fact that all the other issuers of fiat currency are busy debauching their currencies, too by the same mechanisms: the endless digital printing of new currency, distributed to already-insanely-wealthy financiers and corporations. (Debt-serfs can “save themselves” by borrowing more, heh.)

We get it: digitally printing trillions in excess of actual productivity eventually destroys the purchasing power of the over-issued currency. We also get the need to keep interest rates at near-zero so governments can fund endless trillions in stimulus and other giveaways–billions to the billionaires and a trickle of bread-and-circuses to the debt-serfs.

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How to Survive the “Deep State”, by Doug Casey

The deep state will be your enemy, not your friend, when collapse finally arrives. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

Almost everyone looks for a political solution to problems. However, once a Deep State situation has taken over, only a revolution or a dictatorship can turn it around, and probably only in a small country.

Maybe you’re thinking you should get behind somebody like Ron Paul (I didn’t say Rand Paul), should such a person materialize. That would be futile.

Here’s what would happen in the totally impossible scenario that this person was elected and tried to act like a Lee Kuan Yew or an Augusto Pinochet against the Deep State:

First, there would be a “sit-down” with the top dogs of the Praetorian agencies and a bunch of Pentagon officers to explain the way things work.

Then, should he survive, he would be impeached by the running dogs of Congress.

Then, should he survive, whipped dog Americans would revolt at the prospect of having their doggy dishes broken.

Remember, your fellow Americans not only elected Obama, but re-elected him. Do you expect they’ll be more rational as the Greater Depression deepens? Maybe you think the police and the military will somehow help. Forget it…they’re part of the problem. They’re here to protect and serve their colleagues first, then their employer (the State), and only then the public. But the whipped dog likes to parrot: “Thank you for your service.” Which is further proof that there’s no hope.

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