Bonds: Total Market
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The fixed income market is in some of the worst shapes in recent memory. Both government and corporate debt have lost a 15 year high of 4.4% this year. Regardless if inflation is being driven by central banks and trillion-dollar stimulus or the supply chain disruptions Powell is claiming the bottom line is inflation is eating at the ‘fixed income’ bond investors have relied on. The U.K., Euro area, and Japan haven’t exactly been a shelter dropping 7.5%, 8%, and 9.8% respectively. On top of all of this, the Fed and other central banks are tightening, eroding the value of existing bonds. There has been shelter if investors are willing to look to emerging markets, such as China but overall investors need to be more flexible and can’t rely on index bond investing to survive.
FINSUM: High-yield corporate debt is where investors are going to have to look domestically to get the return after inflation they are used to.
The debt clock is reading ten minutes to midnight for Congress which seems gridlocked in a game of chicken that could cost the public. Goldman Sachs issued an internal note late last week that there is a material risk that congress fails to reach a consensus on increasing the debt limit. Mitch McConnell is currently reviewing two plans to present Dems that would allow them to reach a consensus on raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Yellen reiterated that the government will be cash poor to pay the bills if Congress fails to raise the ceiling. Some are calling for the Treasury to mint a $1 trillion coin in order to finance if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling but Goldman says this scenario is unlikely.
FINSUM: Congress always comes around to raise the debt ceiling, but a new wave of Democrats and Republicans pose new risks that a mutual agreement can be met.
Fed Governor Lael Brainard issued comments on Thursday regarding the Fed’s position on climate change. Brainard said the Fed is developing a series of scenario tools to model the risk of climate change to the financial system. The models will see how our financial system holds up to hypothetical climate change hazards such as floods, droughts, and fires. This will bring the Fed closer to the rest of the leading central banks around the world, such as the ECB and Bank of England, who already are doing this at a minimum. Many progressive Democrats have been critical of the Powell Fed for their lack of green policy and financial regulation and this is a correction step that may allow Powell to get renominated in 2022.
FINSUM: These action steps are important by the Fed, but they will not be accompanied by any regulatory steps, meaning banks won’t be punished for over-exposure to climate risks. Thus, the risk to asset prices seems lower.