Displaying items by tag: inflation

Treasury yields jumped higher following the hotter than expected March CPI report. The 10-year Treasury yield moved above 4.5%. It has now retraced more than 50% of its decline from its previous high in late October above 5%, which took it to a low of 3.8% in late December, when dovish hopes of aggressive rate cuts by the Fed peaked.

Clearly, recent labor market and inflation data have not been consistent with this narrative. In March, prices rose by 3.5% annually and 0.4% monthly, above expectations of a 3.4% annual increase and 0.3% monthly gain. Core CPI also came in above expectations. 

Instead of trending lower, inflation is accelerating. Now, some believe that the Fed may not be able to cut rates given the stickiness of inflation. Additionally, economic data remains robust, which also means the Fed can be patient before it actually starts lowering the policy rate. 

Some of the major contributors to the inflation report were shelter and energy costs. Both were up 0.4% and 2.2% on a monthly basis and 5.7% and 2.7% on an annual basis. Shelter, in particular, is interesting because its expected deceleration was central to the thesis that falling inflation falling would compel the Fed to cut.


Finsum: The March CPI came in stronger than expected, leading to an increase in Treasury yields. As a result, we are seeing increasing chatter that the Fed may not cut at all. 

Published in Bonds: Total Market

Following the better than expected March jobs report showing a gain of 303,000 jobs, Treasury yields moved higher across the curve. The 10-year yield initially rose 14 basis points to a new 2024 high of 4.43% before backing off a bit. Overall, the jobs report reduces the urgency of the Federal Reserve to cut rates given the labor market’s resilience.

Going into the report, consensus expectations were for an increase of 200,000 jobs, which would be a softening from the 270,000 jobs added in February. It adds to the data showing inflation moving sideways rather than lower over the past couple of months. 

Yields also rose on Thursday following comments from Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, questioning the likelihood of rate cuts if inflation continues to linger above 2%. As a result, the odds of the Fed not cutting rates at the May and June meetings have increased. 

Some other positives from the report were the unemployment rate declining to 3.8%, despite an increase in the labor force participation rate to 62.7%. Average hourly wages increased by 0.3% on a monthly basis and by 4.1% annually. Both figures were in line with expectations. Job gains were strong across the board, with the biggest contributors being healthcare, government, leisure and hospitality, and construction. 


Finsum: Treasury yields moved higher following a stronger than expected March jobs report. Overall, the report led to a decrease in the odds of a rate cut at upcoming Fed meetings.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Friday, 29 March 2024 05:52

Implications of a New Regime in Fixed Income

The last 40 years have been defined by lower inflation, creating a generous tailwind for fixed income. Now, AllianceBernstein believes that we are in the midst of a transition to a new regime that will feature lower growth and higher inflation. In this environment, the firm believes that fixed income investors need to make appropriate adjustments. 

It believes that inflation will be structurally higher in the coming decades due to deglobalization and demographics. Deglobalization means that supply chains will be reshored, undoing some of the deflationary trends of the last 40 years, and it will result in higher inflation due to greater manufacturing costs and wages. With an aging population, there is a smaller pool of available workers, which will also contribute to inflationary pressures. Both deglobalization and demographic trends will weigh on economic growth as well. 

Due to these factors, AllianceBernstein forecasts that 2% inflation is now the lower bound rather than a target. It believes that frequent spikes in inflation, as experienced from 2021 to 2022, will also become commonplace. This is a consequence of governments with large amounts of debt and future liabilities. Policymakers will be incentivized to ‘inflate’ away the debt rather than make painful cuts to spending. Additionally, lower rates will help contain financing costs.


Finsum: The last 40 years were great for fixed income due to inflation trending lower along with interest rates. AllianceBernstein believes this era is over, and we are moving into a new period defined by lower growth and higher inflation.

 

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Thursday, 28 March 2024 06:17

Annuities Could Be Pension Replacement

In the face of escalating inflation, Americans are increasingly longing for the retirement security once provided by pensions, a sentiment reflected in a survey revealing widespread concerns about the reliability of existing retirement plans such as 401(k)s.

 

 This shift away from traditional pensions stems from their expense and risk for companies, leading to the widespread adoption of defined contribution plans like 401(k)s, which place the onus of retirement planning on employees. However, the recent surge in inflation has exposed the vulnerabilities of 401(k)s, particularly for older adults nearing retirement. 

 

To address this, there's a growing interest in annuities, which offer a guaranteed income stream and can be seen as a modern iteration of traditional pensions. Annuities, available in various forms including fixed and variable, provide retirees with a way to insure their income stream, offering stability in an uncertain financial landscape and potentially bridging the gap left by the decline of pensions and shortcomings of 401(k)s.


Finsum: Annuities can offer a more secure return and replace the void left by pensions for many Americans.

Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 15 March 2024 04:04

Bonds Weaken Following February CPI Data

Bond yields modestly rose following the February consumer price index (CPI) report which came in slightly hotter than expected. Overall, it confirms the status quo of the Fed continuing to hold rates ‘higher for longer’. Yields on the 10-year Treasury rose by 5.1 basis points to close at 4.16%, while the 2-Year note yield was up 5 basis points to close at 4.58%. 

 

The report showed that the CPI rose by 0.4% on a monthly basis and 3.2% annually. Economists were looking for a 0.4% monthly increase and 3.1% annual. While the headline figure was mostly in-line with expectations, Core CPI was hotter than expected at 3.8% vs 3.6% and 0.4% vs 0.3%. The largest contributors were energy which was up 2.6% and shelter at 0.4% which comprised 60% of the gain.

 

Based on recent comments by Chair Powell and other FOMC members, the Fed is unlikely to begin cutting unless inflation resumes dropping or there are signs of the labor market starting to crack. Current probabilities indicate that the Federal Reserve is likely to hold rates steady at the upcoming FOMC meeting, especially with no major economic data expected that could shift their thinking. 


 

Finsum: The February jobs report resulted in a slight rally for bonds as it increased the odds of a rate cut in June. Most strength was concentrated on the short-end of the curve.

 

Published in Bonds: Total Market
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