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

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

29 Aug 2016

Yellen Speaks, Market Yawns

Yellen’s long-awaited speech delivered little in the way of surprises, but she did say that ‘the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months.’ Still, consistent with previous statements, she reiterated that the outlook remained uncertain and that Federal Reserve policy is not on a preset course. The bulk of her speech outlined the Fed’s current toolkit, which includes rate cuts, asset purchases (quantitative… Read More