Category Archives: Bonds

From Russia With Love?

Russia Dumps US Treasuries As Rates Climb

As predicted, Russia has reduced its holdings of US Treasuries as US rates continue to rise.

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But Russia is a relatively small player in the US Treasury market (unless they are using proxies like postage-stamp sized Luxembourg, Ireland or the Cayman Islands).

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As The Federal Reserve SLOWLY unwinds its balance sheet, the Confounded Interest blog is surprised that Japan and China have not unloaded MORE of their Treasury holdings.

Source: Confounded Interest

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Mortgage Rates Surge The Most Since Trump’s Election, Hit New Seven Year High

With US consumers suddenly dreading to see the bottom line on their next 401(k) statement, they now have the housing market to worry about.

As interest rates spiked in the past month, one direct consequence is that U.S. mortgage rates, already at a seven-year high, surged by the most since the Trump elections.

According to the latest weekly Freddie Mac statement, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped to 4.9%, up from 4.71% last week and the highest since mid-April 2011. It was the biggest weekly increase since Nov. 17, 2016, when the 30-year average surged 37 basis points.

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With this week’s jump, the monthly payment on a $300,000, 30-year loan has climbed to $1,592, up from $1,424 in the beginning of the year, when the average rate was 3.95%.

Even before this week’s spike, the rise in mortgage rates had cut into affordability for buyers, especially in markets where home prices have been climbing faster than incomes, which as we discussed earlier this week, is virtually all. That’s led to a sharp slowdown in sales of both new and existing homes: last month the NAR reported that contracts to buy previously owned properties declined in August by the most in seven months, as purchasing a new home becomes increasingly unaffordable.

“With the escalation of prices, it could be that borrowers are running out of breath,” said Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

“Rising rates paired with high and escalating home prices is putting downward pressure on purchase demand,” Khater told Bloomberg, adding that while rates are still historically low, “the primary hurdle for many borrowers today is the down payment, and that is the reason home sales have decreased in many high-priced markets.”

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Meanwhile, lenders and real-estate agents say that, even now, all but the most qualified buyers making large down payments face borrowing rates of 5%. And while rates have been edging higher in recent months, “the last week we’ve seen an explosion higher in mortgage rates,” said Rodney Anderson, a mortgage lender in the Dallas area quoted by the WSJ.

Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that once-hot markets are showing signs of cooling down. Bill Nelson, president of Your Home Free, a Dallas-based real-estate brokerage, said that in the neighborhoods where he works, the number of homes experiencing price cuts is more than double the number that are going into contract.

The rise in rates could have far-reaching effects for the mortgage industry. Some lenders—particularly non-banks that don’t have other lines of business —could take on riskier customers to keep up their level of loan volume, or be forced to sell themselves. Many U.S. mortgage lenders, including some of the biggest players, didn’t exist a decade ago and only know a low-rate environment, and many younger buyers can’t remember a time when rates were higher.

Meanwhile, in more bad news for the banks, higher rates will kill off any lingering possibility of a refinancing boom, which bailed out the mortgage industry in the years right after the 2008 financial crisis. If rates hit 5%, the pool of homeowners who would qualify for and benefit from a refinance will shrink to 1.55 million, according to mortgage-data and technology firm Black Knight Inc. That would be down about 64% since the start of the year, and the smallest pool since 2008.

Naturally, hardest hit by the rising rates will be young and first-time buyers who tend to make smaller down payments than older buyers who have built up equity in their previous homes, and middle-income buyers, who can least afford the extra cost. Khater said that about 45% of the loans that Freddie Mac is backing are to first-time buyers, up from about 30% normally, which also means that rising rates could have an even bigger impact on the market than usual.

Younger buyers are also more likely to be shocked by higher rates because they don’t remember when rates were more than 18% in the early 1980s, or more recently, the first decade of the 2000s, when rates hovered around 5% to 7%.

“There’s almost a generation that has been used to seeing 3% or 4% rates that’s now seeing 5% rates,” said Vishal Garg, founder and chief executive of Better Mortgage.

Source: ZeroHedge

When The Fed Comes Marching Home: Mortgage Refinancing Applications Killed, Purchase Applications Stalled by Fed Rate Hikes

It was inevitable. Federal Reserve rate hikes and balance sheet shrinkage is having the predictive effect: killing mortgage refinancing applications.

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And, mortgage purchases applications SA have stalled in terms of growth with Fed rate hikes and balance sheet shrinkage.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2018) – Mortgage applications decreased 1.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 5, 2018.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 1.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an un-adjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent from one week earlier. The un-adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 2 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.0 percent of total applications from 39.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.3 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.5 percent from 10.2 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged at 10.0 percent from the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.8 percent from 0.7 percent the week prior.

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Yes, The Fed has begun its bomb run.

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Source: Confounded Interest

Liquidity Crisis Looms As Global Bond Curve Nears “The Rubicon” Level

(Nedbank) The first half of 2018 was dominated by tighter global financial conditions amid the contraction in Global $-Liquidity, which resulted in the stronger US dollar weighing heavily on the performance of risks assets, particularly EM assets.

GLOBAL BOND YIELDS ON THE MOVE AMID TIGHTER GLOBAL FINANCIAL CONDITIONS

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Global bond yields are on the rise again, led by the US Treasury yields, which as we have highlighted in numerous reports, is the world’s risk-free rate.

The JPM Global Bond yield, after being in a tight channel, has now begun to accelerate higher. There is scope for the JPM Global Bond yield to rise another 20-30bps, close to 2.70%, which is the ‘Rubicon level’ for global financial markets, in our view.

If the JPM Global Bond yield rises above 2.70%, the cost of global capital would rise further, unleashing another risk-off phase. Our view is that 2.70% will hold, for the time being.

We believe the global bond yield will eventually break above 2.70%, amid the contraction in Global $-Liquidity.

GLOBAL LIQUIDITY CRUNCH NEARING AS GLOBAL YIELD CURVE FLATTENS/INVERTS

A stronger US dollar and the global cost of capital rising is the perfect cocktail, in our opinion, for a liquidity crunch.

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Major liquidity crunches often occur when yield curves around the world flatten or invert. Currently, the global yield curve is inverted; this is an ominous sign for the global economy and financial markets, especially overvalued stocks markets like the US.

The US economy remains robust, but we believe a global liquidity crunch will weigh on the economy. Hence, we believe a US downturn is closer than most market participants are predicting.

GLOBAL VELOCITY OF MONEY WOULD LOSE MOMENTUM

The traditional velocity of money indicator can be calculated only on a quarterly basis (lagged). Hence, we have developed our own velocity of money indicator that can be calculated on a monthly basis.

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Our Velocity of Money Indicator (VoM)is a proprietary indicator that we monitor closely. It is a modernized version of Irving Fisher’s work on the Quantity Theory of Money, MV=PQ.

We believe it is a useful indicator to understand the ‘animal spirits’ of the global economy and a leading indicator when compared to PMIs, stock prices and business cycle indicators, at times.

The cost of capital and Global $-Liquidity tend to lead the credit cycle (cobweb theory), which in turn filters through to prospects for the real economy.

Prospects for global growth and risk assets are likely to be dented over the next 6-12 months, as the rising cost of capital globally will likely weigh on the global economy’s ability to generate liquidity – this is already being indicated by our Global VoM indicator.

Source: ZeroHedge

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The “VaR Shock” Is Back: Global Bonds Lose $880 Billion In One Week

 

 

Debts & Deficits: A Slow Motion Train Wreck

Europe’s Junk Bond Bubble Has Finally Burst

Home Builder Stocks Decline As Fed Hikes Rates And Unwinds

The bloom is off the rose for home builders. Yes, it had been a great run, fueled by The Fed’s zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) and asset purchases (QE). But despite a roaring economy, SPDR S&P Home builders ETF have been falling since January as The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) sticks to their guns and keeps normalizing interest rates.

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Yes, the Fed Dots Plot project indicates that there is still upside momentum to short-term interest rates.

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And the Fed’s System Open Market Accounts (SOMA) show a declining inventory of Treasury Notes and Bonds to let mature.

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Source: Confounded Interest

 

Bonds Experienced Biggest Bloodbath Since Trump’s Election

Yields spiked by the most since Nov 2016 (the day of and following President Trump’s election).

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NOTE – After 1430ET, bond were suddenly bid (and stocks sold off).

30Y yields spiked to the highest since Sept 2014…

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10Y yields spiked to the highest since June 2011…

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5Y yields spiked to the highest since Oct 2008…

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The yield curve steepened dramatically…

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All of which is fascinating given that Treasury Futures net speculative positioning is already at record shorts…

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The entire global developed sovereign bond market saw yields surge

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…observations and serious concerns from a trader.

JGB Market Enters “Uncharted Territory” As Bond Rout Goes Global

“Monster Move” In Treasuries Unleashes Global Market Rout

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Fed Chair Powell Hints He May Soon Crash The Market

Source: ZeroHedge

Janet Yellen Says It’s Time For “Alarm” As Leveraged Loan Bubble Runs Amok

The deluge of leveraged loans is getting increasingly difficult to regulate as it takes over Wall Street. A new report brings up a perfect example of this: Bomgar Corp., who just lined up $439 million in loans. It was the company’s third trip to the debt markets this year and estimates have the company’s leverage potentially spiking as high as 15 times its earnings going forward, raising the obvious question of the risk profile of these loans.

As rates move higher like they are now, the loans – whose interest rates reference such floating instruments as LIBOR or Prime – pay out more. As a result, as the Fed tightens the money supply, defaults tend to increase as the interest expenses rise and as the overall cost of capital increases. And because an increasing amount of the financing for these loans is done outside of the traditional banking sector, regulators and agencies like the Federal Reserve aren’t able to do much to rein it in. The market for leveraged loans and junk bonds is now over $2 trillion. 

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Escalating the risk of the unbridled loan explosion, none other than Janet Yellen – who is directly responsible for the current loan bubble – recently told Bloomberg that “regulators should sound the alarm. They should make it clear to the public and the Congress there are things they are concerned about and they don’t have the tools to fix it.”

Thanks Janet.

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As we noted recently, the risks of such loans defaulting are obvious, including loss of jobs and risk to companies on both the borrowing and the lending side. 

Tobias Adrian, a former senior vice president at the New York Fed who’s now the IMF’s financial markets chief, told Bloomberg: “…supporting growth is important, but future downside risks also need to be considered.” He also stated that regulators had “limited tools to rein in nonbank credit”.

But you’d never know this by listening to the Federal Reserve. According to Fed chairman Jerome Powell, during his press conference Wednesday, the Fed doesn’t see any risks right now. Powell said that “overall vulnerabilities” were “moderate”. He also stated that banks today “take much less risk than they used to”… We’ll pause for the obligatory golf clap. 


Goldman Warns Of A Default Wave As $1.3 Trillion In Debt Is Set To Mature


The lenders for the Bomgar deal included Jefferies Financial Group Inc. and Golub Capital BDC Inc., names that are outside the reach of the Fed. The company itself used the astounding defense that its pro forma leverage may only be “about seven times earnings”, which for some reason they seem to think is manageable, despite it obviously being an aggressive amount of leverage.

And since lenders may not ultimately wind up being the ones that pay the piper in the case of a default, the standards are lax on all sides. These types of loans are generally either bought by mutual funds or sometimes packaged into other securities that are sold to investors.

Of course, the harder that regulators squeeze to try to prevent these types of loans, the quicker that the market slips past them evolves. Trying to tighten loan standards has instead resulted in the market shifting to less regulated lenders, including companies like KKR & Co., Jefferies and Nomura. Hedge funds are next.

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The history of regulating leveraged loans goes back to 2013, when the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued guidance that told banks what acceptable leverage was. It restricted traditional banks from participating in the riskiest of these deals. Jerome Powell in 2015 said that this type of regulation would stop “a return to pre-crisis conditions”. Yes, the same Jerome Powell who today doesn’t see any risk. 

Of course, Wall Street lobbied against this back then, as did Republican lawmakers, declaring it as an overreach of regulation. And so now that the market has evolved in its wake, the leveraged loan market has started to run amok again.

Joseph Otting, the former banker who leads the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is quoted as stating in February that: “…institutions should have the right to do the leveraged lending they want as long as they have the capital and personnel to manage that.”

Trying to put a favorable spin on current events, Richard Taft, the OCC’s deputy comptroller for credit risk, stated this month: “There isn’t anything going on in the market right now that would cause us to increase our supervision of that because we are always looking at that type of portfolio.”

Increased demand also means that yields won’t rise much even though loan quality has gotten worse. Investors may not be compensated for the risk that they’re taking, as we pointed out recently. We quoted Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, who stated: “It’s not a good time to be buying bank loans”.

He also noted something troubling which we have discussed on numerous prior occasions: the collapse in lender protections which are worse than usual as there’s a smaller pool of creditors to absorb losses, and as covenant protection has never been weaker.

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Source: ZeroHedge