Bonds: Total Market

(New York)

The yield curve is very close to inverting, an action that is widely considered to be the strongest and most reliable indicator of a forthcoming recession. Investors are afraid of it, and with good reason. So what is the best way to approach one’s portfolio as a dreaded inversion looms? The first tip is to re-evaluate any bank stocks you own. Banks become less profitable as the yield curve flattens, so they could see some big losses. Secondly, mentally prepare that returns over the next five years are probably going to be a lot lower than in the previous five. Be selective with your purchases and be defensive. Finally, don’t be too afraid to buy stocks you have a high conviction on, and that hold strong risk/reward profiles.

FINSUM: These seem like sound tips. Another obvious one is to buy stocks and bonds that will perform better in this kind of environment, such as strong dividend growing stocks or floating rate bonds.

(New York)

There has been a lot of focus, including both worry and skepticism, surrounding the potential inversion of the yield curve. The two and ten-year Treasury are now just 20 bp apart. Because yield curve inversions have been a very reliable indicator of recession, many are worried. However, some are skeptical that the current near-inversion means much because of how distorted long-term bond prices have become because of quantitative easing. The reality though, according to the FT, is that it doesn’t matter if long-term yields are artificially low. Because the market believes in the predictive power of inversions, companies, consumers, and investors will act as though we are headed into a recession, and thus create one in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

FINSUM: This is an interesting argument that relies strongly on the concept of herd mentality amongst investors. We tend to agree that an inversion may cause an adverse reaction in the economy and markets.

(New York)

Investors in fixed income need to be aware of a brand new loophole that was just opened to Delaware-based companies. A new provision allows companies (specifically LLCs) to split in two and divide their assets and liabilities between them as they see fit. The rule would allow companies to put certain assets beyond the reach of creditors, for instance putting debt in one entity and assets in another. The big problem is that most bonds don’t have provisions to protect against this behavior because it didn’t exist as a concept or legal process until it was approved this month. Another issue is that many contracts are written from the perspective of New York law, but that might have not much weight with Delaware-based rules.

FINSUM: This is a messy problem for anyone who owns private or smaller company debt. We thought investors should be made aware right away.

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