Displaying items by tag: Treasuries
Don’t look know, but market could be facing a big risk in September. Investors will remember that Congress voted to suspend the debt limit until March 1st. That date has come and passed and now the Treasury is using extraordinary measures to meet the US’ payment obligations. However, it says it will exhaust those options by September, meaning the US could end up in a major cash crunch.
FINSUM: Get ready for another early autumn political crisis over the budget, deficit, and debt ceiling.
Something very odd is going on in the minds of investors. Data on the economy continues to come out very strongly, with Q1 growth at 3.2%, and the market are nothing short of astonishing, up 25% since its December low. But at the same time, many investors and analysts think the Fed will cut rates. The reason why is disinflation, or the fact that the inflation number refuses to rise to the Fed’s target. Looking more broadly, you also have weakening in China and a slowdown in Europe, so there are macro headwinds that could wound the US. Analysts tend to fall in one camp or the other on hikes, with some, like Scott Minerd of Guggenheim, calling the idea “plainly wrong”.
FINSUM: It is very hard to predict what the Fed will do because their u-turn earlier this year caught everyone by surprise. Our bet is that if the current data holds steady, there won’t be any hikes.
For the last eight weeks or so we have been running a “recession watch” theme in articles, but the data is lately looking so good that we are feeling silly. New GDP data was released today and it was nothing short of a blowout. The US expanded 3.2% in the first quarter despite a government shutdown and winter weather. The growth was almost a full percentage point ahead of expectations and well beyond the 2.2% growth of the fourth quarter.
FINSUM: These recession fears seem pretty well put to bed in our opinion. Back in Q4, the declines in a number of indicators seemed to show we may be headed for a recession, but the strong reversal in data suggests this was just an aberration. The market doesn’t seem convinced, though, as Treasuries rallied on this news!
Investors have been very worried about the yield curve’s recent inversion, and with good reason—an inversion is the most reliable indicator of a forthcoming recession. That said, there are two important factors to note. The first, of which most readers will be aware, is that it takes an average of 18 months for a recession to arrive once the curve inverts. However, the second factor, which is less well understood, is that the specific pairing of yield curves that are inverted also makes a difference. The media and market have been totally focused on how the 3-month and ten-year yield has inverted, but the best indicator historically has been the two-year and ten-year, which is still 18 basis points or so shy of an inversion.
FINSUM: The signal from the 2- and 10-year pairing has been a much better indicator. Accordingly, the inversion the market has been obsessing about may be less relevant.
What is the biggest short-term risk to markets? Is it a recession, China trade relations, and EU meltdown? None of the above. Rather, it is the upside risk of better economic data. A short burst of good US economic data, and the resulting comments from the Fed, could send US bond markets into a tailspin after the huge rallies of the last several weeks. The market for long-term Treasuries looks overbought, which means a reversal in economic data could bring a lot of volatility which could even whiplash equities.
FINSUM: At this point, a round of good economic data, and a stray hawkish comment from the Fed, would deeply wound bonds and hurt equities too (because everyone would again grow fearful of hikes).