We know, we know, a mortgage meltdown sounds like a claim coming out of left field. However, it comes from a potentially big issue that no one is paying attention to—the fact that the Fed is winding down its massive $1.6tn+ mortgage bond portfolio. As the Fed has begun to unwind its MBS portfolio, there are growing worries over the economy and real estate market. This could lead to a mortgage shock. Spreads between MBS and Treasuries have already risen as investors have grown nervous about oversupply.
FINSUM: So this is more of a technical issue than a fundamental one, but given the confluence of negative sentiment and oversupply, there is certainly some significant risk on the horizon for MBS.
If you could time travel back to December, it would be hard to find anyone in the world that would have thought that six months later, ten-year Treasury yields would be back under 2%. The turnaround has been so stark and so dramatic, that it is hard to fathom. The yield is now at its lowest level since 2016, with investors fearful of the economy and anticipating several Fed rate cuts.
FINSUM: The big question is what this means. Consider that the yield curve has been inverted for over 90 days. This seems like a very clear recession signal, yet economic data continues to hold up.
There was a lot of anxiety yesterday about what the Fed might do. The big banks were taking the opposite side of markets, saying that the pace of rate cuts that investors expected were unrealistic. Then Fed chief Powell spoke and it became clear that markets were right, the Fed is completely dovish and has fallen in line with investor expectations. Powell signaled that rate cuts were on the immediate horizon, which has led markets to up their odds-making of a rate cut in July to 100%.
FINSUM: Powell was about as dovish as a central banker ever gets short of the middle of a crisis. For us this is quite an unusual situation—an economy doing well with both of the Fed’s dual targets being met, yet there is an undeniable sentiment towards cutting rates.
On paper, right now seems like a great time for dividend stocks. The rate environment is trending downward, which is very beneficial, and dividend stocks tend to provide a safe haven for a possible bear market or recession. But which to choose? You need to be careful to select stocks with sustainable payouts or they will have a high beta in a down market. With that in mind, take a look at these 5 dividend stocks: Exxon Mobil (4.6%), Chevron (3.9%), Excelon (2.9%), Prologis (2.6%), and NextEra Energy (2.4%).
FINSUM: These are pretty energy heavy, but the bigger point here is that it is a good time to buy dividend payers.
Bloomberg has published a very interesting article arguing that China’s economy and financial system might be on the edge of implosion. The publication mentions that the government’s bailout of Baoshang Bank last month has put money markets on edge, and for the first time, short-term lending between big institutions has started to freeze up. For the first time in decades, lenders are facing the prospect of defaults and haircuts on loans to other financial institutions. This has led funding costs for companies to shoot higher.
FINSUM: As is the norm with China, we have little direct insight into this. However, if you take a step back and look at the overall pressure on the economy from the trade war and combine it with the data above, it does sound like something very nasty could be brewing.