Bonds: Total Market

(New York)

A lot of investors are worried about the potential for an inverted yield curve, and not just because of what it could mean for markets and the economy. If you are holding long-term bonds that will be yielding less than shorter-term bonds, you are likely going to be incentivized to reshuffle your holdings. Accordingly, Citigroup has come out with a first of its kind product that allows retail investors to fully redeem the principal on their bonds if the yield curve inverts. According to Bloomberg the “30-year constant maturity swap rate can sink as much as 10 basis points below the two-year rate before holders start incurring losses”. Continuing, “The products pay a coupon and return full principal as long as the spread remains greater than that level”.

FINSUM: This seems a bit sophisticated for most retail investors, but it is definitely an interesting product and potentially a good one for hedging.

(New York)

It is no secret that credit has expanded mightily in the last several years. The investment grade corporate bond market has completely ballooned, but leveraged loans have been another important area of growth. And while the risk of IG corporate bonds is well understood, the risks of the latter are less apparent. Leveraged loans are popular right now because they have floating rates, but those rates are a big risk. The reason why is not in the extra payments themselves, but because most leveraged loans are issued to refinance existing debt. The issue is that when corporate borrowers come back to the market to refinance, they might find many less lenders and much higher rates. The is so because as rates rise, other safer asset classes become more attractive.

FINSUM: The whole corporate sector has been binging on low rates for years, and there is bound to be a reckoning. The scale of that reckoning is the big question.


This has been a week of divergent views on bonds. Earlier this week we ran a story arguing that there would be no bear market in Treasuries. It was a solid argument. However, now there is a contention out there that ten-years, specifically, might struggle. The reason why is that demand at auction has been falling for the bonds just at a time when the US needs to issue more and more to cover its deficit. In addition to excess supply, the other big issue seems to be that short-term Treasuries are yielding so much relative to ten-years, that there is little incentive to buy them.

FINSUM: In one sense this is bad, but in another good. The downside is that holders of ten-years (which are a huge component of fixed income indexes) will be hurt as yields rise. But on the positive side, this is exactly the kind of force that keeps the yield curve from inverting as longer-term yields rise alongside shorter-term ones.

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