22 Nov 2017

The Curve is Falling… The Curve is Falling!

The yield curve has been a very hot topic lately in the financial news media.  Multiple times a day, there are commentators pointing to the yield curve as a sign that markets are on the verge of imploding.  Is it time to panic? The Federal Reserve has continued to push short term rates higher throughout 2017.  Long term rates have responded by falling 10 bps.  This has led to a… Read More

30 Oct 2017

How the Fed Could Change

According to reports Friday, President Trump is expected to announce his choice for Fed Chair sometime next week. Sources in the White House say the list of candidates has been narrowed down to three, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Fed Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economics professor John Taylor. The “Taylor Rule”, named after the same Taylor who is being considered by President Trump, was first introduced in an… Read More

2 Aug 2017

The End of LIBOR

LIBOR’s reign as “The World’s Most Important Number” is almost over and the banking world is in for a period of transition as a result. The problem isn’t because of dwindling usage, but because of issues in the way it has been calculated and manipulated over time. While LIBOR is used as a reference rate in a wide range of lending products, it is actually calculated from a survey of… Read More

17 Apr 2017

The Fed’s Next Move

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserved used a variety of tactics to stabilize the economy and financial system.  First they cut interest rates, but when they got to zero and couldn’t cut anymore, they started buying bonds in the open market in a process call quantitative easing (QE). The program was controversial because a lot of people thought that it would stoke inflation.  While that didn’t come to… Read More

13 Mar 2017

Meet the Fed’s FOMC

The Federal Reserve will obviously be in focus this week and we talk about the Fed and its members a lot and I suspect that not everyone quite knows how the Fed works.  Today is a quick primer. The Federal Reserve System was created by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 to serve as a formal lender of last resort to banks during panics and times of a liquidity crisis…. Read More

19 Dec 2016

Bond Market Fascinations: An Interview

Since the election, interest rates have risen across the curve.  The Federal Reserve raised short term interest rates last week for the first time this year, but perhaps more importantly, longer term rates have also risen, which means falling bond prices. Right now, the Barclays Aggregate Bond index is still positive for the year, but the gains are muted, especially compared to the 5.8 percent gain that they enjoyed just… Read More

30 Nov 2016

Inflation On The Horizon

Interest rates are higher and once again it has a lot of investors paying attention to the interest rate risk in their portfolio. Since the Ten-year yield dropped to 2% at the depth of the financial crisis we have had multiple periods of volatility in the bond market when rates rose only to fall back down or in some cases go even lower. Each time the reason was a little… Read More

21 Nov 2016

Bond Rally and Rout to Nowhere

It’s not a stretch to say that 2016 has been full of surprises! One of the big surprises from our perspective up until the election was the decline in interest rates and corresponding strong return that bonds delivered. I wrote about the surprising decline in yields as early as February and was going a little bananas as yields throughout the world went negative (here, here and here).  We never went… Read More

15 Nov 2016

Trump and the Reflation Trade

At this point, my view is that most of the market activity since the election can really be broken down into two distinct categories. The first category are stock sectors that clearly stand to win or lose from expected changes in government policy.  The most obvious winner is bank stocks, which will benefit from lighter regulation.  The big loser is hospital stocks that will lose Obamacare related revenue. The second… Read More

12 Sep 2016

The End of Summer Break

The end of summer was notably quiet, but summer is over and judging from Friday’s market reaction, it appears that volatility may be back. The chart below shows the expected volatility priced in to options as measured by the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index (VIX). You can see the volatility was high at the start of the year when we suffered a 10 percent correction.  Expected volatility cooled… Read More