Are We All Behind the Curve? What Are Bonds Telling?

by Michael J. Howell14. January 2014 08:25
The medium-term yield component of long-term bond yields has been rapidly expanding – we measure this by ‘bootstrapping’ the implied 5-year yields, 5-years out (or 5s at 5).This implied forward yield, or ‘core’ yield, is the major influence on the more widely-quoted 10- year spot rate, the traditional bond benchmark. Think of these spot yields as comprising 'core' component, refecting economics, and a short-term premium or discount measuring the effect of monetary policy. The 'core' component provides the most efficient guide to where future spot yields will settle as roll-down effects dissipate. In the past six months, US 5s at 5 moved up by 60bp to 4.26% and they stand at a 127bp yield premium to spot 10-year Treasuries. In Germany, the 5s at 5 yield rose by 49bp over the period to 3.27%, or a 116bp yield premium to 10-year Bunds. For the UK, the equivalent 5s at 5 yield hit 4.32%, up 48bp in six months, and also sit at 116bp premium to 10-year Gilts. Only in Japan did 5s at 5 fall (by 15bp) to 1.23%, although they are at a 49bp yield premium to 10-year JGBs. The 5s at 5 component is rising both faster than 10-year spot yields and is doing so because of increasing real interest rates. In turn, this may be because the marginal return on industrial capital is itself expanding once again, which we ascribe both to DM cyclical economic recovery and to the structural slowdown in China. The bottom line is that bond yields are not only rising faster than investors think, but the structure of forward rates tells us that they have already risen a lot. As we argue in a report published today, most investors are behind the curve.

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What Do Central Banks Do?

by Michael J. Howell11. March 2013 12:11

Prompted by yet another claim, this time by the great house of Goldman that Central Bank QE push up bond prices and push down yields by circa 100-125bp, it is worth looking at the facts and the theory. QE1, QE2 and now QE3 have seen generic 10 year yields rise. The ending of QE1 and QE2 saw 10 year yields fall. It is really that simple. If the 10 year bond represents the risk free asset for many long-term funds, then Central Bank balance sheet expansion will likely lower the risk premia on other risky assets and raise the risk premia on bonds. In short, the yield curve will steepen after each QE: it did and it is again now. Why the fuss? Surely, this is exactly what policy-makers want to do? Falling long-term yields would signal their failure not their success!

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