Italy looks like it is in bad shape. It is openly defying the EU’s budget rules by running an excessive deficit, and what’s worse, it looks likely to be downgraded to junk status by ratings agencies. Moody’s already downgraded the country to Baa3, its lowest investment grade rating and just one rung above junk status. Yields have been swinging wildly on the country’s bonds as a result.

FINSUM: We are quite worried about the implications if Italy gets downgraded to junk, as it could mean lots of funds need to sell the bonds because of their mandates. What kind of sell-off could that spark?

(New York)

Barron’s ran an interesting article today chronicling the market views of famed investor Leon Cooperman. The legendary hedge fund manager argues that investors should stay away from bonds, but that stocks are “fundamentally cheap”. “My world is cash and stocks … I think bonds are the bubble”, says Cooperman. He argues that a big downturn in stocks is not in the cards because the economy “if anything, is too strong”.

FINSUM: This argument makes sense, bonds do seem overvalued. However, what if stocks and bonds are too pricey? That seems logical too.

(New York)

Short-term bonds are looking like an ever better buy right now. Two-year Treasury yields are at 2.87%, up from 1.55% a year ago, and well over the 1.9% average yield of the S&P 500. That means the spread between the two- and ten-year notes is only about 28 basis points. Considering the latter has significantly more rate risk, two-year bonds like a good bet right now.

FINSUM: There are many ultra short-term bond funds out there to choose from. Actually, given the breadth of ETFs in the space, there has never been a better or cheaper time to play defense in this kind of rate environment.

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