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China research trip – A look at the Chinese property market and shadow banking sector

There is a lot of debate surrounding the future of China’s economy. There are the pessimists, who will cite the inevitable collapse of a debt-powered housing bubble.  There are others that say these concerns are overblown and that despite slowing, China is still the world’s second largest economy and its growth rate is far superior than anything seen in the developed world.

From time to time we…

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EM corporate bonds: spreads are attractive compared to developed markets

Emerging market (“EM”) corporate bonds are a fast-growing segment of the fixed income market. The hard-currency (USD, EUR, GBP and CHF) EM bond market has doubled in size since 2010 and is now worth over $1.3 trillion – which makes it as big as the US high-yield market. Including local-currency bonds, the Bank of International Settlements estimated that the EM corporate bond market was worth ne…

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Mini Bonds – who is buying them?

One of the many unintended consequences of structurally low interest rates over the past few years has been the emergence of mini-bonds in the UK. These are typically non-tradable debt instruments issued by companies directly to individual investors*. We’ve commented before on one such bond issued by Chilango, a London based vendor of Mexican food, and highlighted some of the risks relative to …

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“A grip on the public finances”. Redeeming war loans as UK borrowing rises.

As you know, we’ve always been fascinated by the UK’s War Loans and have written about them repeatedly on this blog (here’s what we wrote in 2011 when we suggested that they should be redeemed). Bonds and war go together hand in hand, and for most of history rising government debt levels have been directly caused by the cost of financing conflicts, or the reparations afterwards. The several out…

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Two devils in the US inflation detail

US inflation has been surprisingly low for a few months after a peak in May 2014. According to the latest data released in September, core CPI (i.e. excluding food & energy) stands at just 1.7% with much of this weakness caused by declining goods prices. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average price of imports, excluding fuel, has not increased in six months. A stronger…

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Bad loans in banks to be regulated by ECB total €879 billion

Happy Halloween. It’s time for some scary charts.

Halloween is around the corner and that can only mean one thing… scary chart time. Every year around this time, we highlight economic variables and statistics that could give central bankers nightmares. If stuff like non-performing loans, bad forecasts and big numbers scare you then it is probably time to turn off your computer screen and forget you ever saw this blog. The following is not for …

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€1tn increase required in ECB balance sheet to return to mid-2012 levels

Who’s the biggest winner if ECB buys corporates? The French

With the European Central Bank (ECB) purchasing €1.7bn of covered bonds last week, the Eurozone’s “QE-lite” programme has well and truly begun. Although the focus to date has been on covered and asset backed bonds, an article from Reuters last week spurred the market, due to a rumour that the ECB would soon be considering an extension to include secondary market corporate bond purchases. Althou…

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Ten reasons to like US high yield today

Global growth concerns, fears of a less accommodative Fed, and limited high yield market liquidity coupled with complacent and crowded investor positioning has served to reprice the US high yield market over the past few months. Following on from the worst quarterly performance in Q3 2014 for some three years, the US high yield market arguably now offers a significantly more attractive entry po…

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US Jobless claims as a percentage of the labour force is now at multi-decade lows

I blogged last year about the state of the US labour market and given the recent release of September’s initial jobless claims data, this seems like a good time to revisit these ideas.

US Initial Jobless Claims is an unemployment indicator which tracks the number of people who have filed jobless claims for the first time, representing the flow of people receiving unemployment benefits.  The Sep…

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Drifting apart: The decoupling of USD and EUR credit spreads

The decoupling of European and U.S. yields has been one of the key bond market themes in 2014 and therefore a much-discussed topic in our blog and elsewhere. Over the past two and a half months, however, a second type of transatlantic decoupling has emerged, this time with regards to credit spreads.

Let’s first have a look at the relative year-to-date (YTD) performance of USD and EUR investment…

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