Category Archives: Bonds

Entire German Yield Curve Drops Below Zero For First Time Ever

Somewhere, Albert Edwards is dancing a jig as the ice age he predicted will grip the world, appears to finally be here.

While global equities are sharply lower today following the end of the US-China trade ceasefire, it’s nothing compared to what is going on in the bond market, where one day after the 10Y US Treasury plunged a whopping 6% to 1.832% – the biggest one day drop since Brexit – to the lowest since the Trump election…

… the real show is in Germany, where not only did German 10Y Bunds tumble to the lowest on record, sliding to -0.503%, far below the ECB’s -0.40% deposit rate, the highlight was the plunge in 30Y yield, which today dropped below 0%…

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… dragging the entire German yield curve in negative territory for the first time ever.

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Enter “Japanification”: as Bloomberg notes, “the move will add to fears that the region’s economic slowdown is being driven by more structural factors akin to Japan’s lost decade”, which is ironic because not even Japan’s 30Ys trade negative. Germany’s bond market is widely perceived as being one of the world’s safest, with investors lured in by the liquidity and credit quality offered. Funds still looking to extract a positive return from European sovereign assets have been forced further out the yield curve or into riskier debt markets such as Italy. And as of today, anyone investing in German paper is guaranteed to lose money if holding to maturity.

“It underlines that the hunt for yield, or rather hunt to avoid negative yields, is accelerating day by day,” said Arne Lohmann Rasmussen, head of fixed-income research at Danske Bank A/S. “It just makes things more complicated.”

In addition to fears about a German recession sparked by the renewed Trump tariff threat, Germany’s bond market is also plagued by a problem of scarcity, with the government mandated by law to effectively maintain a budget surplus. The ECB holds nearly a third of the existing debt, leaving less to trade, which has helped to compress yields even further.

“It is a combination of a very uncertain economic outlook, a central bank that left all doors open in terms of new easing measures, the absence of inflation and vigorous search for yield,” said Nordea Bank chief strategist Jan von Gerich. “It was almost bound to happen.”

Source: ZeroHedge

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Recession Signs Are Hitting Europe; Is Lagarde Up For The Challenge?

Rhine River At Dangerously Low Water Levels Could Cause Production Hell For German Firms

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Prepare To Be Vastly Richer or Poorer After The Fed Introduces Negative Interest Rates

Summary
  • Negative interest rates are little understood in the U.S., and this may lead to very expensive mistakes by many investors.
  • The move to negative interest rates can be extremely profitable – but investors have to be prepared before it happens or the opportunities will be gone.
  • Detailed analysis of how the Fed using trillions in quantitative easing to force negative interest rates can directly create hundreds of billions of dollars in profits for sophisticated insiders.
  • When we “follow the money”, quantitative easing in a new recession would use monetary creation to force artificially high prices and vastly overpay knowledgeable investors.

(Daniel Amerman) “Following the money” can be a good way of unraveling complexity. Sometimes what the technical jargon is covering up can be as simple as Insider A handing money over to Insider B in massive quantities – and when we understand that, our whole perspective can change.

In this analysis, we will explore how a potential future of negative interest rates in combination with quantitative easing could become one of the largest re-distributions of wealth in U.S. history, with hundreds of billions of dollars in profits going disproportionately to insiders – at the expense of the general public. As illustrated with a step by step example when we follow the money – $279 billion out of every $1 trillion in newly created money could end up going straight into the hands of organizations and individuals who make up a relatively small percentage of the nation.

If there is another recession, then the Federal Reserve intends to engage in what could become the largest round of monetary creation in U.S. history. Those dollars will be quite real, and the reason for their creation is to spend them. A big chunk of that spending will become profits going straight into the pockets of investors. This won’t actually be a closed game – anyone can try for a share of those new Federal Reserve dollars, but first, they have to understand that the game exists, and then they need to learn how it is played.

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Hedge Fund Closures Exceed Launches For The Third Straight Quarter

Global hedge fund liquidations exceeded launches for the third straight quarter as a result of a tougher capital raising environment, according to Bloomberg.

During the first quarter of this year, about 213 funds closed compared to 136 that opened. Liquidations remained steady from the quarter prior and launches were up about 23%. 

But hedge fund startups remain under pressure due to poor performance and investors grappling with high fees. $17.8 billion was pulled from hedge funds during the first 3 months of the year, marking the fourth consecutive quarterly outflow. Additionally, the industry has seen a number of funds shut down or return capital, including Highbridge Capital Management and Duane Park Capital.

The average management fee for funds that launched in the first quarter was down 10 bps to 1.19%, while the average incentive fee increased to 18.79% from 17.9% in 2018.

Hedge funds on average were up 3% in the first quarter on an asset weighted basis, which lagged the S&P index by a stunning 10.7% with dividends reinvested over the same period. 

In May we had noted that the broader S&P 500 had trounced the average hedge fund, returning 18% YTD, and charging precisely nothing for this out performance. 

Also in late May, we documented shocking losses from Horseman Global. The fund’s losses more than doubled in April, when the fund was down a was a staggering 12%, which brought its total loss YTD to more than 25%. 

In early June, we wrote about Neil Woodford, the UK’s equivalent of David Tepper, blocking redemptions from his £3.7bn equity income fund after serial under performance led to an investor exodus, “inflicting a serious blow to the reputation of the UK’s highest-profile fund manager.”

Source: ZeroHedge

As China’s Banking System Freezes, SHIBOR Tumbles To Lowest In A Decade

One trading day after we reported that China was “Hit By “Significant Banking Stress” as SHIBOR (Shanghi Interbank Offered Rate) tumbled to recession levels, and less than a week after we warned that China’s interbank market was freezing up in the aftermath of the Baoshang Bank collapse and subsequent seizure, which led to a surge in interbank repo rates and a spike in Negotiable Certificates of Deposit (NCD) rates…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/china%20repo%20rates.jpg?itok=IUQDoORO

… China’s banking stress has taken a turn for the worse, and on Monday, China’s overnight repurchase rate dropped to its lowest level in nearly 10 years, after the central bank’s repeated liquidity injections to ease credit concerns in small-to-medium banks: The rate fell as much as 11 basis points to 0.9861% on Monday, before being fixed at exactly 1.000%.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/shibor%20on%206.24.jpg?itok=i2icegOc

Seeking to ease funding strains after the Baoshang collapse and to unfreeze the financial channels in the banking sector, the PBOC has been injecting cash into the financial system to soothe credit risk concerns in smaller banks following the seizure of Baoshang Bank, which sent shockwaves through China’s markets.

Also helping drive the rate lower is China’s move to allow brokerages to issue more debt, said ANZ Bank’s Zhaopeng Xing, quoted by Bloomberg. As a result, at least five brokerages had their short-term debt quotas increased by the People’s Bank of China in recent days, according to filings.

The improved access to shorter-term debt will cut costs for brokerages compared with alternative funding sources such as bond issuance. The flipside, of course, is that the lower overnight funding rates drop, the greater the investor skepticism that China’s massive, $40 trillion financial system is doing ok, especially since the last time overnight funding rates were this low, the near-collapse of the global financial system was still fresh and the S&P was trading in the triple-digits.

Commenting on the ongoing collapse in SHIBOR, Commodore Research wrote overnight that “low SHIBOR lending rates are supposed to be supportive and accommodative in nature — but rates are now at the lowest level seen this decade and  are very likely an indication that China is facing significant banking stress at the moment. It is extremely rare for the overnight SHIBOR lending rate to be set as low as 1.00%. This previously had not all been seen this decade, and the last time it occurred was during the financial crisis in 2008 – 2009.”

Meanwhile, as the world’s biggest financial time bomb ticks ever louder, traders and analysts are blissfully oblivious, focusing instead on central banks admitting that the recession is imminent and trying to spin how a world war with Iran would be bullish for stocks.

Source: ZeroHedge

“On The Precipice”

Authored by Kevin Ludolph via Crescat Capital,

Dear Investors:

The US stock market is retesting its all-time highs at record valuations yet again. We strongly believe it is poised to fail. The problem for bullish late-cycle momentum investors trying to play a breakout to new highs here is the oncoming freight train of deteriorating macro-economic conditions.

US corporate profit growth, year-over-year, for the S&P 500 already fully evaporated in the first quarter of 2019 and is heading toward outright decline for the full year based on earnings estimate revision trends. Note the alligator jaws divergence in the chart below between the S&P 500 and its underlying expected earnings for 2019. Expected earnings for 2019 already trended down sharply in the first quarter and have started trending down again after the May trade war escalation.

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Global Negative Yielding Debt Soars By $700 Billion In One Day To Record $13 Trillion

The “deflationary ice age” predicted by SocGen’s Albert Edwards some 25 years ago is upon us.

The one-two punch of a dovish Draghi and Powell unleashing the “deflationary spirits” has resulted not only in the S&P hitting a new all time high, but in an unprecedneted flight to safety as investors freak out that a recession may be imminent (judging by the forceful jawboning by central bankers hinting of imminent easing), pushing gold above $1,400 – its highest price since 2013 – and global yields to new all time lows.

As a result, the total notional amount of global debt trading with negative yields soared by $700 billion in just one day, and a whopping $1.2 trillion this week, the biggest weekly increase in at least three years.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/weekly%20change%20in%20neg%20debt.jpg?itok=jz-AGpp9

This has pushed the amount of negative yielding debt to a new all time high of $13 trillion.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/global%20neg%20yielding%20debt_0.jpg?itok=IY5FU-OA

Europe in particular is, for lack of a better word, a disaster.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/european%20bonds.png?itok=NjhgsEAs

We won’t paraphrase everything else we said in the context of this very troubling observation (see our latest post from yesterday discussing the surge in (-) yielding debt), we’ll just repeat the big picture summary: such a collapse in yields is not bullish, or indicative of a new golden age for the global economy. Quite the contrary – it signifies that debt investors are more confident than ever that the global growth rate is collapsing and only central bank intervention may possibly delay (not prevent) the world sliding into recession. Worse, rates are set to only drop, because as Rabobank’s Michael Every wrote yesterday “if the Fed do cut ahead then yields fall, more so at the shorter end; but if they don’t cut then yields still fall, but more so at the longer end (now around 2.02%).”

His conclusion: “Either way US (and global) yields are going to fall – which tells its own sad story.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Fed, QE, And Why Rates Are Going To Zero

Summary

  • On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in his opening remarks at a monetary policy conference in Chicago, raised concerns about the rising trade tensions in the U.S.
  • The extremely negative environment that existed, particularly in the asset markets, provided a fertile starting point for monetary interventions.
  • Given rates are already negative in many parts of the world, which will likely be even more negative during a global recessionary environment, zero yields will still remain more attractive to foreign investors.
  • This idea was discussed in more depth with members of my private investing community, Real Investment Advice PRO.

(Lance Roberts) On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in his opening remarks at a monetary policy conference in Chicago, raised concerns about the rising trade tensions in the U.S.,

“We do not know how or when these issues will be resolved. As always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective.”

However, while there was nothing “new” in that comment, it was his following statement that sent “shorts” scrambling to cover.

“In short, the proximity of interest rates to the ELB has become the preeminent monetary policy challenge of our time, tainting all manner of issues with ELB risk and imbuing many old challenges with greater significance.

“Perhaps it is time to retire the term ‘unconventional’ when referring to tools that were used in the crisis. We know that tools like these are likely to be needed in some form in future ELB spells, which we hope will be rare.”

As Zerohedge noted:

“To translate that statement, not only is the Fed ready to cut rates, but it may take ‘unconventional’ tools during the next recession, i.e., NIRP and even more QE.”

This is a very interesting statement considering that these tools, which were indeed unconventional“emergency” measures at the time, have now become standard operating procedure for the Fed.

Yet, these “policy tools” are still untested.

Clearly, QE worked well in lifting asset prices, but not so much for the economy. In other words, QE was ultimately a massive “wealth transfer” from the middle class to the rich which has created one of the greatest wealth gaps in the history of the U.S., not to mention an asset bubble of historic proportions.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/3/8/saupload_Household-NetWorth-GDP-030519.png

However, they have yet to operate within the confines of an economic recession or a mean-reverting event in the financial markets. In simpler terms, no one knows for certain whether the bubbles created by monetary policies are infinitely sustainable? Or, what the consequences will be if they aren’t.

The other concern with restarting monetary policy at this stage of the financial cycle is the backdrop is not conducive for “emergency measures” to be effective. As we wrote in “QE, Then, Now, & Why It May Not Work:”

“If the market fell into a recession tomorrow, the Fed would be starting with roughly a $4 Trillion balance sheet with interest rates 2% lower than they were in 2009. In other words, the ability of the Fed to ‘bail out’ the markets today, is much more limited than it was in 2008.

But there is more to the story than just the Fed’s balance sheet and funds rate. The entire backdrop is completely reversed. The table below compares a variety of financial and economic factors from 2009 to present.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/3/8/saupload_Economy-Then-Vs-Now-030519.png

“The critical point here is that QE and rate reductions have the MOST effect when the economy, markets, and investors have been ‘blown out,’ deviations from the ‘norm’ are negatively extended, confidence is hugely negative.

In other words, there is nowhere to go but up.”

The extremely negative environment that existed, particularly in the asset markets, provided a fertile starting point for monetary interventions. Today, as shown in the table above, the economic and fundamental backdrop could not be more diametrically opposed.

This suggests that the Fed’s ability to stem the decline of the next recession, or offset a financial shock to the economy from falling asset prices, may be much more limited than the Fed, and most investors, currently believe.

While Powell is hinting at QE4, it likely will only be employed when rate reductions aren’t enough. Such was noted in 2016 by David Reifschneider, deputy director of the division of research and statistics for the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., released a staff working paper entitled “Gauging The Ability Of The FOMC To Respond To Future Recessions.”

The conclusion was simply this:

“Simulations of the FRB/US model of a severe recession suggest that large-scale asset purchases and forward guidance about the future path of the federal funds rate should be able to provide enough additional accommodation to fully compensate for a more limited [ability] to cut short-term interest rates in most, but probably not all, circumstances.”

In effect, Powell has become aware he has become caught in a liquidity trap. Without continued “emergency measures” the markets, and subsequently economic growth, cannot be sustained. This is where David compared three policy approaches to offset the next recession:

  1. Fed funds goes into negative territory, but there is no breakdown in the structure of economic relationships.
  2. Fed funds returns to zero and keeps it there long enough for unemployment to return to baseline.
  3. Fed funds returns to zero and the FOMC augments it with additional $2-4 Trillion of QE and forward guidance.

This is exactly the prescription that Jerome Powell laid out on Tuesday, suggesting the Fed is already factoring in a scenario in which a shock to the economy leads to additional QE of either $2 trillion, or in a worst-case scenario, $4 trillion, effectively doubling the current size of the Fed’s balance sheet.

This is also why 10-year Treasury rates are going to ZERO.

Why Rates Are Going To Zero

I have been discussing over the last couple of years why the death of the bond bull market has been greatly exaggerated. To wit:

“There is an assumption that because interest rates are low, that the bond bull market has come to its inevitable conclusion. The problem with this assumption is three-fold:

  1. All interest rates are relative. With more than $10-Trillion in debt globally sporting negative interest rates, the assumption that rates in the U.S. are about to spike higher is likely wrong. Higher yields in U.S. debt attracts flows of capital from countries with negative yields which push rates lower in the U.S. Given the current push by Central Banks globally to suppress interest rates to keep nascent economic growth going, an eventual zero-yield on U.S. debt is not unrealistic.
  2. The coming budget deficit balloon. Given the lack of fiscal policy controls in Washington, and promises of continued largesse in the future, the budget deficit is set to swell back to $1 Trillion or more in the coming years. This will require more government bond issuance to fund future expenditures which will be magnified during the next recessionary spat as tax revenue falls.
  3. Central Banks will continue to be a buyer of bonds to maintain the current status quo, but will become more aggressive buyers during the next recession. The next QE program by the Fed to offset the next economic recession will likely be $2-4 Trillion which will push the 10-year yield towards zero.”

It’s item #3 that is most important.

In “Debt & Deficits: A Slow Motion Train Wreck”, I laid out the data constructs behind the points above.

However, it was in April 2016, when I stated that with more government spending, a budget deficit heading towards $1 Trillion, and real economic growth running well below expectations, the demand for bonds would continue to grow. Even from a purely technical perspective, the trend of interest rates suggested at that time a rate below one percent was likely during the next economic recession.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/6/7/saupload_10-yr-interest-rates-bollingerbands-060419.png

Outside of other events such as the S&L Crisis, Asian Contagion, Long-Term Capital Management, etc. which all drove money out of stocks and into bonds pushing rates lower, recessionary environments are especially prone at suppressing rates further. But, given the inflation of multiple asset bubbles, a credit-driven event that impacts the corporate bond market will drive rates to zero.

Furthermore, given rates are already negative in many parts of the world, which will likely be even more negative during a global recessionary environment, zero yields will still remain more attractive to foreign investors. This will be from both a potential capital appreciation perspective (expectations of negative rates in the U.S.) and the perceived safety and liquidity of the U.S. Treasury market.

Rates are ultimately directly impacted by the strength of economic growth and the demand for credit. While short-term dynamics may move rates, ultimately, the fundamentals, combined with the demand for safety and liquidity, will be the ultimate arbiter.

With the majority of yield curves that we track now inverted, many economic indicators flashing red, and financial markets dependent on “Fed action” rather than strong fundamentals, it is likely the bond market already knows a problem in brewing.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/6/7/saupload_Inverted-Yield-Curve-060419.png

However, while I am fairly certain the “facts” will play out as they have historically, rest assured that if the “facts” do indeed change, I will gladly change my view.

Currently, there is NO evidence that a change of facts has occurred.

Of course, we aren’t the only ones expecting rates to go to zero. As Bloomberg noted:

“Billionaire Stan Druckenmiller said he could see the Fed funds rate going to zero in the next 18 months if the economy softens and that he recently piled into Treasuries as the U.S. trade war with China escalated.

‘When the Trump tweet went out, I went from 93% invested to net flat, and bought a bunch of Treasuries,’ Druckenmiller said Monday evening, referring to the May 5 tweet from President Donald Trump threatening an increase in tariffs on China. ‘Not because I’m trying to make money, I just don’t want to play in this environment.'”

It has taken a massive amount of interventions by Central Banks to keep economies afloat globally over the last decade, and there is rising evidence that growth is beginning to decelerate.

While another $2-4 Trillion in QE might indeed be successful in further inflating the third bubble in asset prices since the turn of the century, there is a finite ability to continue to pull forward future consumption to stimulate economic activity. In other words, there are only so many autos, houses, etc., which can be purchased within a given cycle.

There is evidence the cycle peak has been reached.

If I am correct, and the effectiveness of rate reductions and QE are diminished due to the reasons detailed herein, the subsequent destruction to the “wealth effect” will be far larger than currently imagined. There is a limit to just how many bonds the Federal Reserve can buy and a deep recession will likely find the Fed powerless to offset much of the negative effects.

If more “QE” works, great.

But, as investors, with our retirement savings at risk, what if it doesn’t?

Source: by Lance Roberts | Seeking Alpha