6 Sep 2016

Lower For Longer: The View from Tokyo

Several years ago, I was convinced that bond yields were likely to move higher simply because they were at historic lows.  As time went on and bond yields fell to even more historic lows, I changed my tune. People asked me how much lower they could go and while I didn’t really know the answer, I would simply quote the yields in Germany and Japan, which were lower. Then, I… Read More

6 Jul 2016

Negative Swiss Yields Get Even Crazier

One of the more striking headlines yesterday was that Swiss government bonds now have negative yields out 50 years – that’s right, 50 years! That’s a little hard to fathom, partly because we don’t have bonds that extend that far, but also because 50 years is such a long time.  I mean, if I bought a 50 year bond, I’d be in my 90s before I got my money back. Forget inflation, I’m just talking… Read More

5 Jul 2016

Why Did Stocks and Bonds Gain Last Week?

One of the interesting things about the stock rally last week is that bonds also rallied.  Over longer periods, stocks and bonds are lowly correlated, which means that they are generally independent from each other. Over very short periods, especially when there is a lot of activity, stocks and bonds are usually negatively correlated.  If you had told me that stocks would rebound sharply last week and gain 3.27 percent, which reversed most… Read More

22 Jun 2016

A Cloud on the Horizon

“Businesses are Falling Behind on Their Loans Like it’s 2008.”   This is a headline that popped up on my Bloomberg TOP news screen recently.  Since the financial crisis, every bank I have talked to has been focused on increasing C&I lending.  After being snake bit by real estate, banks have all chased after commercial loans.  That makes a headline like this particularly alarming and a situation worth further investigation. Looking… Read More

21 Jun 2016

Bond Market Continues to Surprise

Even though I was on vacation, I couldn’t resist checking market results right before bed (and sometimes during the day).  I was shocked by two benchmark yields: the German 10-year below zero and the US 10-year at 1.57 percent. German 10-year yields have never been negative and the US 10-year has was just 0.18 percent off its all-time low of 1.39 percent, set back in July 2012.  At one point,… Read More

20 May 2016

Know A Banker? Love a Banker?

Yesterday, Ryan Craft and Cliff Reynolds sent out their email newsletter, ALM Insights.  If you don’t know what ALM stands for, it just means that you’re not a banker (it stands for Asset Liability Management). As you know, banks take deposits from folks like you and me and lend the money out to consumers and businesses.  But they can’t loan out all of the money that they take in, they… Read More

19 May 2016

Yield Curve Swiftly Shifting

When looking at the shape of the yield curve it’s easy to see that a lot has changed. Low yields overall have certainly pinched bond investors and made them look elsewhere for returns, but not all investors are so flexible. For banks who are restricted in terms of the investments that they are allowed to hold, the decision of where in the bond market to invest is an important one… Read More

27 Apr 2016

Corporate Bond Risks and Returns in the News

Yesterday, I was in the middle of updating a chart about the basic risk and return characteristics of corporate bonds when Standard and Poor’s announced they were downgrading bonds issued by Exxon-Mobile from AAA to AA+. It’s a shame to see another company lose their prime rating – there are now only two companies that have an AAA-rating.  Exxon had held the prime rating since 1930, if you include predecessor entities,… Read More

6 Apr 2016

Yield Curve Madness

Bond yields continued their downward march and fell to a five-week low yesterday as the yield on the 10-year US Treasury hit 1.73 percent.  After starting the year at 2.24 percent, the benchmark yield dropped to 1.63 percent when the stock market bottomed out on February 11th and then climbed to 1.98 percent before falling again. As low as your yields are today, they are among the highest in the… Read More

5 Apr 2016

Capital Markets in Perspective

We all know that the first quarter was a wild ride as the S&P 500 fell -10.29 percent through February 11th and then rocketed back over the rest of the quarter and finished in the black. When I tallied up the results for the first quarter, I have to admit that I was surprised by the range of returns within the major asset classes, from the -5.4 percent decline in… Read More