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Either the demographic bond models are broken, or yields are headed to 10%.

For fixed income fund managers it was once the case that if you understood the evolution of the relative sizes of the various cohorts of the young, the working, and the retired in a population, you could predict bond returns.  Lots of workers relative to the “unproductive” young or elderly meant low wage pressures, lots of demand for savings assets such as bonds, and lower government borrowing….

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With zero yields, the advantages of bonds over cash are gone

When investors buy or sell financial assets they try to analyse likely outcomes. This basically revolves around three main issues.

  1. What is the capital upside?
  1. What is the capital downside?
  1. What income is earned from the security?

The dramatic fall in bond yields means that this traditional approach to investing will have to be examined.

One way to do this is to model real world outcomes. …

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Mind the gap: what record low recovery rates mean for high yield investors

In order to assess value in credit markets, bond investors usually make some assumption about the future path of corporate default rates. This assumption generally stems from macroeconomic forecasts (strong/weak growth = low/high defaults rates) or sector specific events (like oil price movements). Following this, it is possible to get an indication of whether investors are being over- or under…

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Richard Woolnough’s views on the U.S. economy and bond markets. A video.

In the second part of the video from our recent New York research trip, M&G’s Richard Woolnough takes a look at three more topics. Firstly, the U.S. labour market is strong and inflationary pressures are building. The Federal Reserve is currently on hold due to external events, but maybe not for long. Secondly, while the lower oil price by and large is beneficial for Western economies, bond val…

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What I am doing to protect against Brexit… or Bremain.

Over the last few days and weeks, as the odds of a vote to leave in the referendum have moved from a remote possibility to somewhat less so, market participants have spent more and more time wondering about how they are positioned going into the vote, relative to their benchmark, their peer group, or their risk budget. The significant moves that we have seen in recent trading sessions show pret…

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China’s rising domestic bond defaults could spell offshore bond market rout

Chaori Solar and Baoding Tianwei will forever remain in the history of China’s bond market. In March 2014 the former became the first defaulter in the country’s onshore bond market whilst the latter turned out to be the first state-owned enterprise (SOE) default in China in April 2015. Since then, 24 other bond defaults occurred in the country, the majority of which in the manufacturing, metals…

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Russia Trip Notes – catching a cold but still standing up

Russian corporate bonds were one of the best performing asset classes last year, with a total return for the JPM CEMBI Russia index of +26%, despite Russia’s GDP dropping by -3.7% on the back of a hugely challenging economic backdrop and geopolitical headwinds. I recently spent a week in the cold of Moscow’s early spring, meeting banks and corporates to help me assess whether the economic sanct…

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US inflation expectations are rising fast, but inflation is rising faster

2015 saw global inflation risk premia collapse, led by the developed world. US, UK and European annual inflation rates spent most of the year at or around zero with numerous dips into negative territory. Short dated breakevens correspondingly fell to levels that we last saw during the financial crisis (well, to be fair, they went far lower back then, but we are still at crisis levels today), an…

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Growth fears, deflation, rising defaults, tricky markets – a good time to buy US high yield?

It’s been a difficult past few months for all risk assets, including the high yield markets. Weakest of all has been the US, with negative returns of almost 10% over the past year. As part of this re-pricing, spreads have widened significantly, with the US high yield market touching almost 900bps over treasuries. All-in yields also briefly peaked above 10% last month.

Underlying this has been …

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The new wedge in US inflation linked bonds

The new wedge in US inflation linked bonds

There has long been a well-known ‘wedge’ in the UK index linked bond market, since the bonds pay RPI and the Bank of England targets CPI. The wedge is the difference between these two price indices, and over the long term is thought to be approximately 1%. So over the long term, and with all sorts of caveats, RPI will be around 1% higher than CPI. The reasons for the wedge are essentially that …

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