Economic Bears Throw in the Towel

By Kevin Muir

Don’t you love it how, now – after the biggest sell-off in fixed income in decades – suddenly everyone is bearish?

Long-time readers will know how I am a Kodiak Brown when it comes to fixed-income, but even I can’t bring myself to sell into this hole. I mean, c’mon – do you really think that waiting for your guru to announce on CNBC that two closes above 3.25% for the 30-year bond constitutes a trading strategy?

The always insightful Trevor Noren from 13D Global Research recently tweeted a chart from the WSJ’s Daily Shot that demonstrated the true extent of the bond market’s oversold nature:

Continue reading Economic Bears Throw in the Towel

Extremes in Bond Market Sentiment

By Callum Thomas

3 Quickfire charts on US bond market sentiment… some of these sentiment charts are clearly at an extreme – and that’s usually when you go looking for contrarian signals.  But then I look at a lot of charts on the bond market and it’s quite easy to make a case for a major trend change.

1. Speculative futures positioning:  The standout here is speculative futures positioning in the 30 year… gone from around neutral to extreme short.  Total capitulation.

Continue reading Extremes in Bond Market Sentiment

The “Big Bond Short” Illusion

By Kevin Muir

Before we even start, I want to point out I deserve zero credit for this next idea. All of the following insightful observations are brought to you by Adam Collins of Movement Capital. Adam’s work on COT data is second-to-none and he is a must-follow.

Over the past few months I have struggled with a glaring inconsistency.

The CFTC’s Committment of Trader’s (COT) data for the 10-year US treasury note has displayed a large increase in the size of the net speculative short position, yet this is at odds with what I observed in terms of market sentiment amongst traders and portfolio managers.

This increase in speculative net shorts has pushed it to a record position.

Continue reading The “Big Bond Short” Illusion

Bond Market Volatility

By Callum Thomas

Following on from yesterday’s post on Cross Asset Volatility, the chart of today is a focus on bond volatility.  Specifically what we’ve got here is a look at the rolling annual sum of daily changes in the US 10 year treasury bond yield which exceeded varying hurdles (the smallest hurdle being 5 basis points).  What the chart shows is a collapse in bond volatility.  What’s interesting about this is that the smallest hurdle indicator is starting to turn up, and typically when these types of indicators turn up from such low levels it can mark a major turning point.  The issue is that a rise in volatility can come in a falling yield environment as well as a rising yield environment.

Continue reading Bond Market Volatility

Extreme Positioning in Stocks vs. Bonds

By Callum Thomas

As I was updating my various charts and models, something weird caught my eye.  This peculiar chart shows speculative futures positioning in equities (aggregated across all US index futures) and bonds (US 10 year treasury futures)… and most notably, the spread between them.  With bond traders the most crowded short in recent history, the spread between bonds vs equities positioning is at an extreme.

So what?  Let’s break it down: if traders are short bonds they expect yields to rise (which usually happens as a result of higher growth and inflation outcomes), and if traders are long equities they expect stocks to go up (which similarly hangs on a supportive growth backdrop).  So basically what we’ve got here is traders doubling down on a view that growth and inflation heats up even further from here.  They may be right.  But if they’re wrong, there will be a lot of scrambling to cover positions (aka the long awaited return of market volatility).  So if you’re looking for latent pressure building up in the markets, you’ve found it in this chart.

 

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Midsummer Walkabout

By Tim Knight

I actually like it when we get past June 20. Knowing that each day has less sun is like a gift to me. I can’t say why. It just feels like a sense of relief.

Let’s look at some ETFs together. It would make a better narrative for me to order these differently, but I’m going to be lazy and leave them alphabetical.

First is commodities, which I think will roll over beneath the red horizontal I’ve drawn. Crude oil, in particular, I believe will drag this lower.

The diamonds remain in a long-term and intermediate-term uptrend. Short-term, it’s starting to gently turn lower, but as you can see from the moving averages, it’s going to take a LOT of damage to break this bull run.

Continue reading Midsummer Walkabout

Inversion Alert! Treasury Slope Plummeting Towards 0 BPS

By Anthony B. Sanders

Corporate Debt To GDP May Be At Credit Cycle High

One of the effects of The Federal Reserve’s zero interest policy (ZIRP) was the massive expansion of both consumer and corporate debt. The US may be at a credit cycle peak (Corporate Debt-to-GDP).

corporate debt to gdp 2

Which brings me to the UST 10Y-2Y slope, plummeting towards inversion (now at 24.5 BPS). The last time we saw the 10Y-2Y slope so flat was in early August 2007, 4 months before The Great Recession began.

Continue reading Inversion Alert! Treasury Slope Plummeting Towards 0 BPS

The Next 7 Years

By Charlie Bilello

What returns are you expecting from stocks and bonds over the next 7 years?

This is a question that GMO (one of the largest and most respected asset managers) attempts to answer on a quarterly basis.

Their most recent forecast was downright depressing: -2.2% per year from large cap U.S. stocks and +1.9% per year from U.S. bonds. If correct, it would mean a 60/40 portfolio of U.S. stocks and bonds would generate a return of -0.6% per year over the next 7 years.

By comparison, GMO is expecting +3% per year from cash, implying that there is little to be gained today from taking risk.

Source: GMO.com. Note: Nominal Total Return derived from GMO’s real return and adding their inflation assumption of 2.2% per year.

Continue reading The Next 7 Years

The Current Message From the Most Useful Sentiment Indicator

By Steve Saville

As I’ve noted in the past, the Commitments of Traders (COT) information is nothing other than a sentiment indicator. Moreover, for some markets, including gold, silver, copper, the major currencies and Treasury bonds, the COT reports are by far the best indicators of sentiment. This is because they reflect how the broad category known as speculators is betting. Sentiment surveys, on the other hand, focus on a relatively small sample and are, by definition, based on what people say rather than what they are doing. That’s why for some markets, including the ones mentioned above, I put far more emphasis on the COT data than on sentiment surveys.

In this post I’ll summarise the COT situations for five markets with the help of charts from “Gold Charts ‘R’ Us“. I’ll be focusing on the net positioning of speculators in the futures markets, although useful information can also be gleaned from gross positioning and open interest.

Note that what I refer to as the total speculative net position takes into account the net positions of large speculators (non-commercials) and small traders (the ‘non-reportables’) and is the inverse of the commercial net position. The blue bars in the middle sections of the charts that follow indicate the commercial net position, so the inverse of each of these bars is considered to be the total speculative net position.

I’ll start with gold.

Continue reading The Current Message From the Most Useful Sentiment Indicator

IG vs. HY Redux

By Kevin Muir

Last week’s piece about the widening of investment-grade credit versus high-yield got so many intelligent responses, I thought instead of writing on a new topic today, I would take the lazy route and simply share the insights.

Quick recap – although most risk-on indicators are sitting near recent highs, investment-grade bonds have had a terrible six months.

So in no particular order, here are some of the explanations for this widening of IG OAS credit spreads:

Continue reading IG vs. HY Redux

The #1 Rule in Investing

By Charlie Bilello

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffett

With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the #1 rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.”

In fact, the entire notion is absurd. Anyone who has ever invested in the history of the world has lost money at one time or another. Buffett himself lost close to 50% on two separate occasions. Being in a drawdown is the norm, not the exception. That is the price you pay in exchange for a higher return than a risk-free savings account.

So what is the number 1 rule in investing? That’s an impossible question, but if I had to pick just one it would be the Peter Lynch line about “knowing what you own and why you own it.” For if you don’t get that one right, you won’t hold any investment long enough to reap the benefits of compounding. You can have the best assets/strategy in the world but if you don’t understand what it is you will abandon it at the first sign of trouble. And believe me when I tell you that there will be many times of trouble.

Most advisors nowadays focus on asset allocation for their clients, typically a diversified mix of stocks and bonds. This is a good start, for asset allocation is the most important determinant of portfolio returns.

Continue reading The #1 Rule in Investing

A West Coast State of Mind

By James Howard Kunstler

Driving south on I-5 into Seattle, the Cascadia Subduction Zone came to mind, especially when the highway dipped into a gloomy tunnel beneath Seattle’s relatively new skyscraper district. This fault line runs along the Pacific coast from north of Vancouver down into California. The western “plates” move implacably east and downward under the North American plate, building up massive tectonic forces that can produce some of the most violent megathrust earthquakes on the planet.

The zone also accounts for a chain of volcanoes that tend to produce titanic explosions rather than eruptions of lava and ash as seen in the hula movies. The most recent expression of this tendency was Mt. St. Helens in 1980, an impressive cataclysm by the standards of our fine-tuned complex civilization, but a junior event of its type compared to, say, the blow-off of Mt. Mazama 7,500 years ago, which left Crater Lake for the tourists. A publicity-shy correspondent writes:

Continue reading A West Coast State of Mind