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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It looks as if after all the talk, all the back-and-forth and all the market swings, the U.S. and China have finally reached the terms of a “phase-one” trade deal.The message from the world’s biggest bond market: Don’t get too excited about what that means for the economic outlook.For the first half of the U.S. trading session, long-term U.S. yields surged by 10 basis points, on pace for one of the three largest increases of 2019, on the news that U.S. negotiators were offering to cut existing tariffs on Chinese imports by 50% and also cancel the tariffs that were set to take effect on Dec. 15. But then the Treasury Department auctioned $16 billion of 30-year bonds at 1 p.m. New York time, which provided a reality check of what a small agreement between the world’s two largest economies would mean.Not only did the auction price at a yield 2 basis points lower than the market was indicating before the offering, but primary dealers, which are required to submit bids, took a record-low 15.5% share. That means investors who weren’t obligated to buy the longest-dated Treasuries rushed to take advantage of the trade-induced sell-off. Simply put, this sort of demand is rare. Yields ended the trading session off their highs.It’s perilous to read too much into a single Treasury auction. And last month’s 30-year bond sale also set a record for low primary-dealer takedown, at 20.7%, so Thursday’s result could just be continuing that trend.Still, if investors believed that this potential trade deal was truly a game-changer for markets and the global economy, I doubt they’d be so shortsighted to jump at a 10 basis-point move to the highest yield in a month. The effective duration of 30-year Treasuries is about 22 years, according to ICE Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data, meaning that another 10 basis-point increase would saddle owners of these new bonds with a 2.2% loss. If yields rose in the next six months to where they were as recently as April, bondholders would stand to lose more than 20%.I once called long-dated Treasuries one of the most dangerous parts of the bond market. And in July 2016, when yields hit record lows, it was for good reason: It takes a tiny shift in interest rates to cause huge gains or losses. There’s no credit spread to fall back on, as there is with corporate bonds. They’re not like two- or three-year notes, which are closely tethered to the Federal Reserve’s policy decisions. Rather, 30-year bonds are entirely subject to the whims of markets. Case in point: Recession fears reached a fever pitch in August, and long-bond yields tumbled to a record low. For a brief moment, 30-year Treasury bonds yielded less than three-month bills.Judging by the Fed’s confidence coming out of its meeting this week, the economic doomsday scenario appears to be in the rearview mirror. But the prospect of a somewhat stagnant economy is still the consensus. A Bloomberg survey shows analysts expect U.S. real gross domestic product to grow just 1.8% in 2020, the slowest pace since 2016. That could change with a trade agreement. Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics, said “a deal that takes tariffs back to May 2019 levels, and provides certainty that the truce will hold, could deliver a 0.6% boost to global GDP.”For now, the deal seems to be that the U.S. will not introduce a new wave of tariffs on about $160 billion of consumer goods on Dec. 15 in exchange for a promise by China to buy more U.S. agricultural goods. Officials also apparently discussed possible reductions of existing duties on Chinese products. The bond market has already voiced its opinion: Not impressed.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco is poised to pay a combined $64 million to the banks that arranged the world’s largest initial public offering, a letdown for the Wall Street firms that pitched aggressively for a spot on the deal, people with knowledge of the matter said.The Gulf oil giant plans to pay the top local banks on the deal -- known as joint global coordinators -- 39 million riyals ($10.4 million) apiece, according to the people. The top foreign banks on the deal are set to each get 13 million riyals, or the equivalent of $3.5 million, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.The figures represent the base fee being paid by Aramco, which will decide the amount of discretionary incentive fees at a later date, the people said. If Aramco opts to dole out additional money, most of it would likely go to the domestic banks that brought in the bulk of the IPO orders.Aramco raised $25.6 billion in its share sale, which became a local affair after foreign fund managers shunned its premium valuation. The base fee, representing 0.25% of the funds raised, pales in comparison to other large deals.IPO banks globally earned average fees equal to 4.1% of the deal size this year, up from 3.6% last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which raised $25 billion in its 2014 IPO, paid about $300 million to its underwriters including performance fees.Saudi Arabia didn’t need the Wall Street firms’ international networks after it scrapped roadshows outside the Middle East, turning instead to local retail buyers and wealthy families to shore up the deal. The foreign underwriters on the deal will barely make enough to cover their costs, Bloomberg News has reported.Aramco will pay local banks serving as bookrunners, a more junior role, about 5 million riyals each while foreign banks in that position will be paid about 2 million riyals apiece, the people said. The company declined to comment.(Updates with details of fee breakdown in third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Dinesh Nair.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Algethami in Riyadh at email@example.com;Matthew Martin in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org;Archana Narayanan in Dubai at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Stefania Bianchi at email@example.com, Michael HythaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The Fed kept interest rates unchanged at the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Meeting and forecasts reflect no change of rate throughout 2020.
Bank of America is incentivizing customers to do more of their day-to-day simple transactions digitally by paying them $15. It is cheaper for the bank and informs customers about options they may not know.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the Fed could "adjust the details" of its balance sheet policies and repo operations to prevent another flare-up in money markets.
Bank of America today announced that its artificial intelligence (AI)-driven virtual financial assistant, Erica®, has surpassed 10 million users since its nationwide rollout in June 2018 and is on track to complete 100 million client requests in the coming weeks. These milestones coincide with the introduction of several new Erica insights within the bank’s award-winning mobile app that offer clients personalized, proactive guidance to help them stay on top of their finances.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- For those following 2020 market outlooks, the past two days have been dominated by BlackRock Inc. The world’s largest money manager began unveiling its calls for the coming year on Monday, and on Tuesday it added TV appearances and journalist discussions with its most senior investors and strategists around the globe.The broadest takeaway is that 2019’s “extraordinary returns” across asset classes won’t continue over the next 12 months. That’s not particularly riveting, though, given that BlackRock itself said in 2016 that investors should expect smaller gains for pretty much everything in the coming five years. In 2017, Bill Gross made a similar call. And around this time last year, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and recent mentor to hip-hop entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs, argued investors “need to prepare for lower expected returns in the future.” After the longest expansion in U.S. history, it’s a fairly safe call to make.A bolder call from the money manager: Inflation poses the biggest risk in 2020 — or, at least, it’s what investors don’t seem to have on their radar. Here’s how BlackRock Vice Chairman Philipp Hildebrand explained it on Bloomberg TV:“The market is not expecting anything around inflation, basically, and I suspect that when we see each other a year from now, look back at this, we will say ‘wow, inflation actually was a bit more of a story than we thought.’ Again, I don’t think we need to worry. I don’t want in any way to paint the picture of dramatic inflation, but I do think when you look at the details, when you look at the employment report, when you look even at the latest European numbers, wage pressures are at peak expansion levels, so I do expect that inflation is one of the underappreciated risks for 2020.”Hildebrand is a former Swiss National Bank president, so he’s intimately familiar with global central bankers’ inability to stoke price growth in the wake of the global financial crisis. Critics might dismiss the outlook for relying on the Phillips Curve and other assumptions that don’t truly stand up to scrutiny in this economy. Just last week, University of Michigan survey data showed Americans expect prices to rise by just 2.3% annually over the next five to 10 years, matching the lowest level on record. The thing is, BlackRock is hardly alone in thinking 2020 might finally be the year inflation stages a comeback. And the advice is simple: Buy Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.Bank of New York Mellon Corp.’s 2020 macro outlook is titled “Inflation Insurance Is Underrated.” Bank of America Corp.’s best technical trade for next year is to buy U.S. 10-year TIPS breakevens. Even Steven Major at HSBC Holdings Plc, who has one of the lowest year-end 2020 forecasts for 10-year U.S. yields, at 1.5%, said TIPS appear “underappreciated” and “offer attractive diversification properties.” Citigroup Inc. strategists went so far as to raise the specter of stagflation: “We see some upside risks to inflation. If these materialize against a weaker growth backdrop, it would be a bad combination for risk assets.” BlackRock, too, is pondering whether the push toward de-globalization will push prices higher because of supply shocks while economic growth slows. It lists stagflation as a “potential regime shift” from the current one, dubbed “slowdown.”Now, betting on higher-than-expected inflation isn’t as cheap as it was two months ago. The 10-year breakeven rate dipped to 1.47 percentage points on Oct. 8, the lowest in more than three years. It has climbed to 1.7 percentage points since then. The measure reflects the difference between yields for nominal and inflation-linked bonds. When it’s low, it indicates traders don’t see much reason to shield themselves from accelerating price growth over the next decade. The recent peak was 2.2 percentage points in May 2018.This talk about reviving inflation happens to coincide with the recent death of Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who famously tamed double-digit price growth. As David Beckworth, a former economist at the Treasury Department, noted on Twitter, spiraling inflation was viewed by some Americans in the 1970s and early 1980s as the most important issue facing the country.That context is crucial because it’s unclear what a meaningful bump higher in inflation would mean to a general public that hasn’t seen the core consumer price index at 2.5% in more than a decade, or at 3% since the mid-1990s (it peaked at 13.6% in 1980). Would it rattle the American consumer’s seemingly unshakable confidence? Or is this just more of Wall Street and the Fed getting worked up over tenths of percentage points in a measure that some consider detached from reality anyway?Crucially, the Fed appears willing to tolerate higher inflation in something of a “make-up strategy” after years of undershooting 2%. Typically, stocks and other risky assets might balk at quicker price growth on bets that the central bank would raise interest rates. But it’s difficult to even fathom what sort of conditions would make Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues consider increasing the fed funds rate again after reducing it three times in as many months. That means inflation in 2020 might not produce the usual chain reaction.Even if the inflation rebound story isn’t persuasive, consider this: TIPS are on pace to top Treasuries again in 2019, which would be the third year in the past four that the inflation-linked securities outperformed. They may not be the sexiest investment out there, but in BlackRock’s eyes, TIPS are for winners.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose...
When it comes to investing in bank stocks, a flattening yield curve, Fed rate cuts and illiquid capital markets are typically considered red flags that send investors running for the hills.
(Bloomberg) -- Investors are eagerly lining up backup financing just in case the U.S. repo market, which worried Wall Street when it went haywire in mid-September, sees turmoil at the end of the year.For the third straight Monday, the Federal Reserve conducted funding operations designed to give traders extra liquidity around Dec. 31, a time when repo liquidity has historically dried up. All three were oversubscribed, meaning market participants bid for more than the central bank was offering. The latest one got requests for $43 billion versus the $25 billion maximum.Year-end isn’t the only challenge for a business that, among other things, is used to finance the purchase of Treasuries. Pressure could also resurface around Dec. 16, when new U.S. debt is distributed to investors, while at the same time quarterly corporate tax payments push up the Treasury Department’s cash balance.That money is parked at the nation’s central bank, and increases to that amount are generally matched by decreases in the balances of other institutions with deposits at the Fed -- in other words, banks. So while the Fed is currently seeking to bolster bank reserves to calm funding markets, an increase in the Treasury’s cash balance could stir up trouble.“There will be pressure in the middle of the month, just like there will be pressure at the end of the year,” said Mark Cabana, head of U.S. interest rate strategy at Bank of America Corp. He expects usage of the Fed’s overnight repo operations to increase on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. While there will be “some signs of stress,” the presence of the Fed in the market means that there’s unlikely to be a repeat of September’s turmoil, he added.The payment of corporate taxes in mid-September was one of the factors highlighted by many observers as potentially contributing to the spike in repo rates around three months ago. In response to that upheaval, which saw the overnight rate for general collateral repo climbing to 10% from around 2%, the Fed started injecting liquidity into the repo market from Sept. 17. It has also been buying Treasury bills to add reserves to the system.The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 28-day operation on Monday -- which matures on Jan. 6 -- was the last of three term operations currently scheduled to provide funding past year-end. Traders will be watching for any announcements from the central bank about plans for additional term-repo operations beyond the 13-day and 14-day actions scheduled for later this week. The next release of details is due to take place Thursday.The size of the Dec. 9 operation was increased last week to $25 billion from its initial amount of $15 billion after the central bank’s second year-end offering was oversubscribed. Market participants had submitted $42.55 billion in bids for the 42-day term action that took place a week ago, which was more than the $25 billion available. That term offering had also been upsized after the bids for the Fed’s first year-end operation on Nov. 25 exceeded the amount offered.BMO Capital Markets Strategist Jon Hill said that while he’s neither surprised by the takeup for the most recent term action nor worried at this stage, it would be “concerning” if term operations are still oversubscribed when Dec. 26 rolls around. “If it’s looking scary, the Fed could do more.”The recent tumult has spurred debate about the causes of friction in the repo market and potential solutions. The Bank for International Settlements on Sunday released a report suggesting that there is a structural problem in the market and that it wasn’t just a temporary hiccup. A group of smaller broker-dealers, meanwhile, has proposed several options to reduce how much the funding market relies on just a few players.\--With assistance from Benjamin Purvis and Debarati Roy.To contact the reporter on this story: Alexandra Harris in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Purvis at email@example.com, Nick BakerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. is expanding commission-free trading -- again.The lender said it will give unlimited free stock trades to all customers on its Merrill Edge Self-Directed platform, seven weeks after handing that perk to members of its Preferred Rewards loyalty program. The move, announced in a statement Monday, follows Charles Schwab Corp.’s decision to eliminate charges and acquire TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. for about $26 billion. It all underscores fierce competition in the discount-brokerage business.“Everyone is aggressive right now, because the question is: How do you prove value, how do you attract clients?” Aron Levine, Bank of America’s head of consumer banking and investments, said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure that all clients who are interested in our platform have access to it in a comparable way to the rest of the industry.”As other firms face pressure to bulk up through mergers, Bank of America will focus on boosting activity among its existing clients, Levine said. The company has about 66 million consumer and small business clients.“We look at a client holistically,” Levine said. That means the lender can make money on customers’ broader financial activities, including banking, credit cards and mortgages, rather than focusing purely on brokerage revenue. Any lost revenue from the latest move will be marginal, given 87% of trades were already commission-free, he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Lananh Nguyen in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at email@example.com, David Scheer, Daniel TaubFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Bank of America today announced the expansion of unlimited commission-free online stock, ETF and option trading to all Merrill Edge Self-Directed investors.1 Zero-dollar trades, together with the firm’s powerful combination of personalized guidance, straightforward tools, professional expertise and the industry-leading Preferred Rewards program, ensure Bank of America and Merrill clients can pursue their financial goals through a complete continuum of banking and investing solutions.
(Bloomberg) -- If Steve Cohen’s bid for the New York Mets succeeds, he’ll find himself in familiar company.Hedge fund managers and private equity titans are an increasingly common sight in the owners’ boxes of Major League Baseball teams, including former trader John Henry at Boston’s Fenway Park, Guggenheim Partners’ Mark Walter at Dodger Stadium and Crescent Capital’s Mark Attanasio at Miller Park in Milwaukee.And it’s not just America’s Pastime. Pro football franchises, basketball teams and soccer clubs also are attracting the financial elite. Last year, David Tepper bought the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The principal owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors is former venture capitalist Joe Lacob, while Platinum Equity founder Tom Gores owns the Detroit Pistons.“One of the great sources of the kind of liquid capital you need to buy a sports team are people in the finance industry,” said Marc Ganis, president of consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. “Tepper could simply write the check for the Carolina Panthers. Literally write the check. And Steve Cohen is the same.”The lure is no longer just the prospect of owning a trophy asset or hanging out with famous athletes, although that still resonates. These days there’s also a cold-eyed appraisal of teams as an increasingly astute financial bet, backed by a mix of real estate, media and technology.“Steve is a consummate businessperson who will bring insights to the way the sport is evolving to the team management,” Leo Hindery, founder and former chief executive officer of the Yankees’ broadcast network, said of the hedge fund titan in an interview this week.Cohen’s proposed bid underlines the astronomical cost of teams in major markets these days. Fred Wilpon, the Met’s principal owner, made his money in real estate. He assumed control of the franchise in 2002 at a valuation of just $391 million.Cohen — one of the most successful hedge fund managers in history with a net worth in excess of $9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — is negotiating to buy an 80% stake that values the team at a league-record $2.6 billion. That’s a 550% increase in less than two decades.Jerry Richardson paid about $200 million in 1993 for the rights to start the Panthers. Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management, paid $2.3 billion for the franchise last year. The Milwaukee Bucks, worth $18 million in 1985, fetched $550 million when the NBA team was sold to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens in 2014.It’s a similar story with soccer. The enterprise value of the 32 most prominent European clubs increased to $41 billion at the start of 2019, up 35% from three years earlier, according to a KPMG report.Finance is the source of 106 fortunes on the Bloomberg index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. That’s about double the number of those who made their money from technology. Outside of the top 500 are scores more with the means to pay the price tags the biggest sports teams now command.When the Panthers came up for sale, three billionaires with financial backgrounds dominated the bidding war, with Tepper ultimately beating out Ben Navarro, founder of Sherman Financial Group LLC, and investor Alan Kestenbaum.“I don’t want to own a trophy asset,” Kestenbaum said during the bidding. “An investment of this size has to continue to grow in value.”That remains a distinct possibility, even at today’s elevated prices. Long-suffering sports fans — buffeted by ownership changes and rising ticket prices — tend to remain loyal to their teams, while the seemingly evergreen allure of live sports has kept the value of television rights packages buoyant.The appeal is such that it’s not just individuals investing. Last month, private equity firm Silver Lake Management bought a piece of City Football Group Ltd., owner of the Manchester City soccer team, valuing the parent at $5 billion. CVC Capital Partners bought a minority stake in England’s top rugby league last year having previously owned race series Formula One for a decade before selling it to John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. for $4.4 billion.Owning such illiquid assets requires a high tolerance for risk and a healthy balance sheet. But that’s second nature to many of the mega-wealthy financiers now filling board rooms. For hedge fund executives used to the volatility of capital markets, the limited supply of these teams is appealing. Even when an owner has sold under duress — such as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling or the Panthers’ Richardson — the price they received set records.Plenty of financiers have doubled down on these types of investments. In addition to the Red Sox, Henry owns England’s Liverpool Football Club and half of Nascar’s Roush Fenway Racing team. Major League Soccer’s board of governors agreed Thursday to move forward on the final steps toward granting the latest expansion team to Charlotte, North Carolina. The bid was led by Tepper.His growing taste for sports teams is no surprise to those in the industry.“There’s a competitiveness in the finance sector at the highest levels, which translates very well into the sports industry,” said Ganis, the consultant. “It’s wins, it’s losses, it’s zero sum games. It’s kill or be killed. That has a lot of similarity to the sports industry where at the end of the season there are winners and losers.”\--With assistance from Tom Maloney, Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams.To contact the author of this story: Tom Metcalf in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Crabill at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- About a year ago to the day, the U.S. yield curve inverted for the first time during this business cycle. Sure, it wasn’t the part that has historically predicted future recessions, but it foreshadowed the more consequential inversion — the part of the curve from three months to 10 years — which happened in March and lasted for much of the rest of the year through mid-October.This wasn’t much of a shock to Wall Street. Even in December 2017, many strategists saw an inverted yield curve as largely inevitable, with short- and longer-dated maturities meeting somewhere between 2% and 2.5%. That’s just what happened. It was enough to spur the Federal Reserve into action. The central bank proceeded to slash its benchmark lending rate by 75 basis points in just three months. Now the curve looks positively normal again.“Inverted Yield Curve’s Recession Flag Already Looks So Last Year,” a recent Bloomberg News article declared. Indeed, the prospect of the curve steepening in 2020 is drawing money from BlackRock Inc. and Aviva Investors, among others, Liz Capo McCormick and John Ainger reported. Praveen Korapaty, chief global rates strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told them the spread between two- and 10-year yields will be wider in most sovereign debt markets. PGIM Fixed Income’s chief economist Nathan Sheets said “the global economy has skirted the recession threat.”Yet beneath that bravado, the fear of another bout of yield-curve inversion remains alive and well on Wall Street.John Briggs at NatWest Markets, for instance, predicts the curve from three months to 10 years (or two to 10 years) will invert again, possibly for a couple of months, because the Fed will resist cutting rates again after its 2019 “mid-cycle adjustment.” “I see the economy slowing to below trend growth, the market seeing it and recognizing the Fed needs to do more, especially with inflation low, but the Fed will be slow to respond,” he said in an email. Then there’s Societe Generale, which is calling for the U.S. economy to fall into a recession and for 10-year Treasury yields to end 2020 at 1.2%, which would be a record low. Even though the curve doesn’t invert in the bank’s quarter-end forecasts, it’s quite possible during a bond rally, according to Subadra Rajappa, SocGen’s head of U.S. rates strategy.“Over time, if the data weakens, the curve will likely bull flatten and possibly invert akin to what we saw in August,” she said. “If the data continue to deteriorate and the economy goes into a recession as per our expectations, then we expect the Fed to act swiftly to provide accommodation.”To be clear, another yield-curve inversion is by no means the consensus. The prevailing expectation is that the economy is in “a good place” (to borrow Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s line) and that Treasury yields will probably drift higher, particularly if the U.S. and China reach any kind of trade agreement. In that scenario, central bankers will be just fine leaving monetary policy where it is.Bank of America Corp.’s Mark Cabana summed up the bond market’s base case at the bank’s year-ahead conference in Manhattan: There will probably be no breakout higher in U.S. economic growth (capping long-term yields) but also no need for the Fed to cut aggressively (propping up short-term yields). That should leave the curve range-bound in 2020.That range, though, is not all that far from zero. Ten-year Treasury yields are now 20 basis points higher than those on two-year notes, and 22 basis points more than three-month bills. At the end of 2018, those spreads were nearly the same — 19 basis points and 31 basis points, respectively. That is to say, it’s not much of a stretch to envision the curve flattening in a hurry if anxious bond traders clash with a patient Fed.For now, traders seem to be pinning their hopes on resilient American consumers powering the global economy, using evidence of strong holiday shopping numbers to back their thesis. My colleague Karl Smith isn’t so sure that’s the best strategy, given that the spending is actually weakening relative to 2018, plus it usually serves as a lagging indicator anyway. Markets are also on alert for any cracks in the U.S. labor market, which has been the bastion of this record-long recovery. November’s jobs numbers will be released Friday.As for the Fed, its interest-rate moves are a clunky way to fine-tune the world’s largest economy. But that’s not the case for addressing angst around the U.S. yield curve. If the central bank doesn’t like its shape, it has the policy tools to directly and immediately bend it back.It comes down to which scenario Fed officials consider a bigger risk in 2020: Allowing the Treasury curve to remain flat or inverted, or moving too quickly toward the lower bound of interest rates? Judging by dissents around the more recent decisions, this is very much an open question.To get another inversion, “you’d need a Fed that wants to hold policy constant through a period of economic weakness: front end remains anchored near current levels due to policy expectations, long end drops due to diminishing growth/inflation forecasts,” said Jon Hill at BMO Capital Markets. “Not impossible by any means.” An inversion would probably come in the first or second quarter of 2020, fellow BMO interest-rate strategist Ian Lyngen said, though that’s not his base case.That sounds about right. Fed officials seem satisfied with dropping rates by the same amount as their predecessors did during other mid-cycle adjustments. Now they want to wait and see how lower interest rates trickle into the economy, perhaps making them more entrenched over the next several months. It’s hard to say for sure, though, given that Treasury yields have behaved since the central bank’s last meeting. The market simply hasn’t tested the Fed’s resolve.Relative calm like that rarely lasts, particularly when one tweet on trade sends investors into a tizzy. The path forward is almost never as linear as year-ahead forecasts make it appear.The same is true for the yield curve. We might very well be past “peak inversion,” but ruling out another push below zero could be a premature wager.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
President Trump's latest hints at a delay in the U.S.-China trade agreement causes the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury note to hit the lowest in the last four months.
Ireland's central bank will leave its mortgage-lending limits unchanged for the second straight year in 2020, saying on Wednesday that the measures have been effective in keeping house prices from climbing significantly higher. The central bank introduced limits in 2015 capping how much banks can lend for the purchase of a home relative to its value and the borrowers' income, in a bid to prevent any repeat of the excessive lending that devastated the economy a decade ago. The central bank did announce that it would not force local lenders to hold more capital under two buffers it levies on them - the countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) and Other Systemically Important Institutions (O-SIIs).
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Stay in one part of the market long enough and you’re bound to know which strategists tend to be bullish and which ones seem permanently bearish. U.S. Treasuries are no exception. Just consider these two divergent views from the ranks of the Federal Reserve’s primary dealers:Steven Major at HSBC Holdings Plc is among those who have long believed in lower-for-longer U.S. interest rates. He and I talked in mid-2016, when Treasury yields hit all-time lows, about how structural forces such as an aging global population create a nearly insatiable demand for safe fixed-income assets. He predicts the benchmark 10-year yield will finish 2020 at around 1.5%, compared with a median estimate of 2% in a Bloomberg survey. That’s bullish.His polar opposite might just be Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Dating to at least mid-2017, Stanley’s prediction for the 10-year Treasury yield has always exceeded the median estimate.(1)That hasn’t changed for 2020 — he’s the only analyst among the 49 surveyed to see the benchmark U.S. yield back at 3% at the end of next year. That’s bearish.And then there’s John Dunham, who shatters the conventional labels. Dunham, managing partner at John Dunham and Associates, is more bearish on bonds in the coming months than anyone. He predicts 10-year yields will soar to 2.75% by the end of June and climb to 3.03% by the end of September. Even Stanley sees them merely gliding to 2.5% at mid-year and then 2.8% at the end of the third quarter. In Dunham’s scenario, current owners of 10-year notes would face a roughly 10% loss in 10 months.If Dunham’s right, though, those investors ought to hold on for dear life. By mid-2021, he suddenly becomes one of the biggest bond bulls on Wall Street, forecasting 10-year yields at 1.3% for the rest of that year. For those keeping track at home, that’s an even lower forecast than Major’s 1.5% estimate for year-end 2020.This type of market swing, of course, is hardly unprecedented. In fact, the 10-year Treasury yield plunged from 3.25% in November 2018 to just 1.43% in early September as bond traders shifted from expecting more Fed interest-rate increases to rapidly pricing in easier monetary policy. That 182-basis-point range is right in line with the type of move that Dunham envisions. Just on Tuesday, long-term Treasury yields tumbled 10 basis points, the sharpest drop since August.Still, few analysts (if any at all) actually come out and predict that sort of volatility. The tried-and-true playbook is to call for interest rates to rise gradually or fall from their current levels and then tweak those forecasts as the market moves. You just don’t see a forecast slice through the median and average as drastically as Dunham’s does.So, what explains such a turn of events? To Dunham, it’s fairly straightforward: Inflation will take off for a short period in 2020, followed by a recession after the U.S. presidential election (he hasn’t predicted who will win it). He explained his view to me over the phone:“I believe that the administration is going to just do everything it can to crank out money into the economy until the election, just to keep it going. And after the election, they’re not going to ... That in many ways is driving our forecast for a recession happening right after the election. Usually the first quarter is terrible anyway, so that makes good sense that the first quarter would be the time we would tumble into recession.When you start looking at business cost factors, the employment cost index has really been rising rapidly since the recession, we’re seeing the dollar up a lot, that takes up prices. The only thing that’s really been holding things down is commodity prices have been relatively flat. That’s going to turn at some point.We’ve been thinking — and I’ve been wrong about this, admittedly — that there will be decent inflation coming up for a while. We don’t model the Federal Reserve as independent, we model it as a trailing factor. It follows interest rates. That’s why we have them pushing up interest rates, up to that point that we hit recession.”While Dunham doubts the Fed has any ability to stoke inflation, it’s worth noting that just this week, the Financial Times published an article that said the central bank was considering a rule that would allow price growth to run above its 2% target in a “make-up strategy” for years of undershooting its goal. That has interest-rate strategists like Mark Cabana at Bank of America Corp. thinking that current market-implied inflation rates are probably too low.Dunham has called for a recession before. He said in mid-2015 that “we’re now at the peak of the business cycle. And over the next year, year-and-a-half, the business cycle is going to start to turn back into recession.” While that didn’t quite pan out, in that period here’s what did happen: The U.S. stock market swooned, real gross domestic product nearly turned negative and 10-year Treasury yields fell to unprecedented lows.His recession timeline also matches up with the historical signal given by the inverted U.S. yield curve. Three-month Treasury bills yielded more than 10-year notes for much of the period between late May and mid-October. That has usually indicated an economic downturn within 18 months or so. The curve from two to 10 years flipped to negative for a brief stretch in August. Cast those dates 18 months forward, and it’s right around the turn of the calendar from 2020 to 2021.Whether the world’s biggest economy follows that traditional rule of thumb is anyone’s guess. And, to be sure, the Fed has tried time and again to lift inflation only to see its preferred gauge remain stubbornly below 2% for almost all of the past decade. A lot will have to go right — and then wrong — for Dunham’s forecast to play out.At the same time, the likelihood that Treasury yields will hug the median in the coming year seems about equally as far-fetched. Last December, the median analyst forecast for where the 10-year yield would be at the end of 2019 was 3.32%. That’s shaping up to be off by about 150 basis points. It was a closer call in 2018, thanks in large part to the end-of-year bond rally, but the December 2017 consensus still wound up missing by a quarter-point.In other words, predicting the future is hard. Might as well forecast boldly.(1) I'm not including estimates that are a month or two from expiring, which all tend to converge to the prevailing yield level.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Dec.03 -- Adarsh Sinha, co-head of Asia FX and rates strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, discusses his investment outlook and the top 10 trades for 2020. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets: Asia.”