Displaying items by tag: yields
One of the Financial Times’ most respected columnists has just published an article making a grim comparison. Saying that he dreads even mentioning it, John Authers argues that the current state of markets and the context of the losses are very similar to the summer of 2007, or the eve of the Financial Crisis. In particular, just like then, stocks moved higher even as bond yields did, all until a yield threshold is broken, when stocks finally panic. Then, even though fixed income started the worries, equity investors flee into the safety of bonds. The important extension of the argument is that all the associated fallout will not occur this time, as the economy is stronger and more balanced.
FINSUM: So this is only a half comparison. The actual market event may be similar, but the condition of the economy, and its link to markets is very different, and almost inarguably better this time around.
One of the guiding ideologies of the bond market over the last few years has been to buy the dips. Every time that bond yields have risen some, it has been smart to go long bonds as they inevitably came back down. However, this time looks very different. The difference is that central banks are no longer fixed to their ultra-low rates policy, which means there is no big magnet that pulls rates and yields ever downward.
FINSUM: So in our view what is really happening right now is a market wide price discovery period for bonds. Because the underlying situation is changing, no one is comfortable judging bond yields and prices. This worry has spread to equities, but in our view the root anxiety is in fixed income.
We appear to be in the middle of a long-absent bout of volatility for both stocks and bonds. After a year of almost no volatility, all the major US indices fell strongly last week. The market is also off to a rocky start today. Now, Barron’s is arguing that this could be the beginning of an ugly ride. The reason why is that the recent trend of stocks and bonds being negatively correlated is ending. While for many years bond prices would rise when stocks fell, and vice versa, the opposite is happening now. Because the market fears rate hikes, bonds and stocks are falling in unison, with nothing to give the market comfort. For that reason, the “bond cushion” that has protected markets since the Crisis, appears to be gone.
FINSUM: The whole paradigm of markets is changing right now. Stock investors cannot simply flee into Treasuries as they have for years, which means there is little place a hide—a fact which could bring more serious losses.
MLPs can perform well during periods of rising rates, such as in the last tightening cycle. While they are broadly more risky than bonds, they can provide good returns. Many MLPs collect inflation hedged payments, so they should perform better than bonds in a tightening environment. As an asset class, MLPs have been holding back on payouts, but these should accelerate in 2019 and 2020. Three names to look at are Enterprise Product Partners, yielding 6.1%, Magellan Midstream Partners, yielding 5.2%, and Antero Midstream Partners, yielding 4.8%.
FINSUM: Those yields look really juicy don’t they? And they are moderately inflation hedged, which is also quite promising. Worth a look.
There has been A LOT of talk lately about a bond bear market. The idea is that rates are now in a secular rising cycle led by a hawkish Fed and rising inflation. The issue with that view is two-fold. Firstly, the bond market “experts” calling for the bear market are well-served if it comes true because of the strategies they use. And secondly, there isn’t really evidence of much inflation and the Fed is not looking overly hawkish. The one really worrying thing is that the economy has been performing well, which does lend itself to rising rates and more money flowing into risk assets.
FINSUM: We think all these worries are premature. We have a new Fed chief coming in which now one is sure about, and there just isn’t much inflation. Plus, there are tens of millions of people retiring who will need income investments.