(New York)

In what comes as a very important sign for the wider US economy, lower rates and yields are apparently not flowing through to mortgages in the way that many expected. One of the bright economic spots in the big market volatility recently has been the hope that much lower rates would stimulate more housing demand. Mortgages rates have actually risen by 20 bp since March 5th despite the huge fall in Treasury yields. Even since mid-February (when the market was peaking), mortgage rates have only dropped 15 bp to 3.35% for a 30-year fixed.

FINSUM: This is very important because it takes a 75 bp fall for a typical homeowner to save money on a refinancing. We are not even close to that yet, so hard to see any economic boost coming.

(New York)

The bond market responded in a big way to President’s Trump’s hints at stimulus today with yields rising sharply. Markets have been hoping central banks may step in to support the economy, and Trump himself has made some bold hints about what may be in store. In particular, the President is favoring a potentially major tax cut to help support the economy. More specifically, Trump is focusing on payroll tax cuts among other options. However, some news outlets say the administration is far from enacting specific policies.

FINSUM: Our bet is Trump will try to unleash a big tax cut combined with other stimulus measures. He knows he needs to keep the economy afloat to get re-elected, so support measures seem very likely.

(New York)

Sudden downturns and crises have a knack for exposing underlying weakness in asset classes, and this coronavirus shock looks likely to expose corporate bonds. As investors will know, there are trillions of Dollars worth of bonds hanging on the lower cusp of investment grade at the same time as high yield issuance has surged in recent years. A quick reversal in economic fortunes could quickly cause soaring yields, delinquency, and bankruptcies. This would lead to a sharp drop in bond prices and potential economic disruptions.

FINSUM: Two key points to make on this story. Firstly, the corporate bond market is now worth $10 tn, 10x the size of 2001. Secondly, because many high yield bonds are illiquid and difficult to trade in periods of uncertainty, investors will try to offload other assets instead, which can spread the panic to other asset classes.

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