Inflation may be peaking, or at least that is what Treasury bulls are thinking. A rally started at the 20-year note and worked its way to shorter term rates this week: the 30-year yield fell 13 basis points and the ten-year yield fell by 12 basis points. Declining yields were driven by investors flooding into these treasury markets. Still, investors are pricing in a half-point rate increase by the Fed in the next two meetings with an almost 100% chance of reading the tea leaves in the options markets. The rally was really suppressed by Bank of America’s Forecast which said inflation peaked in March and will be on the decline. Similar patterns took place on the long end of the government bond market in the Euro areas as well with Germany and the U.K. seeing their yields fall.
Finsum: The flood in the TIPS market suggests that bond investors still see some persistent inflation in the near term.
The most recent week of April saw a mass exodus in the global bond market as investors were fleeing in concerns of economic growth. Based on a report from Refinitiv Lipper investors dropped $14.5 billion in bond investment, over ten times the losses from the previous week. Ten year treasury rose sharply to a near three year high, which sent bond prices falling. While inflation is rampant, March actually saw a little bit of relief in core prices as inflation was mainly driven by food and energy. One area of bond funds that hasn’t seen investors scared off is inflation protected funds which are on their seventh straight week of gains and inflows. More concerning than just the tightening cycle is the growth that could result in overtightening which could send the economy reeling.
Finsum: This could be the bottom of the bond market, investors should prepare for a little bit of a rally if supply chains free up.
It's never too early to begin thinking about tax-loss harvesting and there is a ripe situation in the bond market. The yield curve has been on the rise due to Fed tightening and inflation. Rising yields mean lower bond prices and ETF owners have taken a bath. Selling off those funds right now could give you a tax advantage later this year. However, investors should get out of the fixed income route altogether. Markets are beginning to show signs of a recession or straight volatility so replacing your bond ETF with another fixed-income ETF could help in the case of a recession. Or if bond prices begin to take off it's a good option to have some skin in the game.
Finsum: The wash rule makes harvesting losses in equity markets a bit difficult, but the plethora of bond funds and options gives investors better ability to harvest losses now.
The bond market has taken a beating and investment-grade debt has been anything but a safe haven for income investors. This has been one of the third-worst stretches in history as the YTD returns have been -10.5% which is only bested by the Lehman collapse in late 2008 where returns crept to -14.3% and Volcker’s days of battling high inflation and hiking rates. Investors are selling off investment-grade debt as the risk-free rates on Treasuries are climbing as the Fed’s tightening cycle is beginning. These rising yields are all corporate bond ETFs and driving returns down, but things could get worse as rates will only continue to rise and inflation is only beginning.
Finsum: Income investors need to look to active funds or abroad if they want relief in the bond market.
Stagflation has been out of the public lexicon since the Greenspan era, but as inflation begins to gradually creep up again that word is beginning to seem like a higher probability. Inflation has climbed to 8.5% and growth is expected to slow dramatically for 2021Q1 to 1.7%. Small-cap is a great option during these times because they are a great alternative partially in Finance. Preferred Bank is a great option with earnings estimates rising and is moving into a bullish category on Wallstreet. Others to watch out for are Mercantile Bank Corp and Old Second Bancorp as they are also well-positioned small-cap financials to stave off stagflation.
Finsum: It's amazing that equities are the most stabilizing force on Wallstreet right now, but small-cap might just be the play as volatility rises.