Peripheral Europe is still facing a debt crisis, despite appearances

Earlier this week, 5 and 10 year Spanish yields fell to the lowest levels since Q4 2010. The rally was no doubt kick started by Mario Draghi’s “do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” comment, and was given further fuel by the improvement in Eurozone economic data over the latter half of 2012, which was probably due in part to Draghi. However, the peripheral rally has continued this year in …

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Lessons from Zimbabwe

Stefan took some time off over Easter for a quick holiday in Zimbabwe and, as always, he remained on the lookout for economic insights.

As the only country to experience hyperinflation this millennium, Zimbabwe can certainly provide valuable lessons. From late 2008 its inflation was estimated to be running at a staggering 489,000,000,000% on an annual basis. The economy collapsed, and the popul…

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20/20 hindsight – looking at three year government bond market returns

Investors in government bonds – historically seen as a low volatile and safe asset class – have had to get to grips with assessing credit risk as well as duration risk in their portfolios. It is simply no longer the case that investors can safely lend to a government without first assessing the government’s willingness and ability to pay back the borrowed sum. This has had a large impact on gov…

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Panoramic: The effect of globalisation on corporate bond valuations

Corporate bonds have had an incredible run over the past few years. A combination of sub-par growth, the sovereign crisis in Europe and massive amounts of QE on a global scale has driven government bond yields down to historically low levels. At the same time, corporate bond spreads have tightened significantly from the crazy levels we saw in 2009. This has meant double-digit annualised returns…

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Old Lady sells her bonds

Back in 2009 the Bank of England (the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street) began buying a portfolio of investment grade bonds to provide funding to UK corporates, to aid liquidity in the corporate bond market and to supplement their QE purchases of gilts. Last Friday this investor sold its last corporate bonds.

This has been a great success from a profit point of view. The attached chart shows the …

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Caveat emptor – new deals in the high yield market

The volume of new bond deals in the European high yield market has been very strong this year. One (unscientific) measure of this has been the growing pile of bond prospectuses on the desk; already the 2013 pile is more than halfway up the 2012 pile after just three months.

A marginally more robust measure is the data below published by Morgan Stanley. The year to date number of €25.2 bn is ru…

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Should we worry about recent rises in capacity utilisation?

In recent years the use of capacity utilisation (CU) as a leading indicator for inflation, and hence for interest rates, has fallen somewhat out of favour. The large amount of spare capacity in the developed world in 2009-10 failed to translate into the substantial deflation that many had anticipated. Most economists and investors are eagerly focussing on U.S. labour market data instead, given …

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Beware the demise of the Hungarian forint

Guest contributor – Tolani Benson (Financials/Sovereign analyst, M&G Credit Analysis team)

Hungary has a substantial amount of debt outstanding – the IMF estimates levels were around €75bn at the end of last year, corresponding to 74% of GDP. Its local currency debt makes up a decent proportion of emerging market indices, constituting a not insignificant 4.6% of the widely used JPMorgan GBI-EM …

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Germany doesn’t like its own fiscal union, so why would it ever agree upon a European one?

If I asked you how the structural problems of the Eurozone may be resolved, I am sure that the suggestion of a fiscal union in which transfer payments will be made by the “rich” Northern member states to the “poor” ones in the South of Europe would rank amongst the top answers. I’ve been wondering for a while if the member states could ever agree upon major fiscal transfer payments and if it wo…

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UK inflation: the Bank of England would have to generate significant disinflation in the majority of goods we consume to hit the 2% inflation target, killing any recovery. Food and administered price rises are the problems.

With the UK’s 2% CPI inflation target having now been exceeded for 39 consecutive months, last week’s budget formally acknowledged the on-going situation and changed the Bank of England’s remit.

Although chancellor George Osborne maintains that medium-term price stability represents “an essential pre-requisite for economic prosperity”, the updated remit simultaneously introduces the concept of …

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