High yield – it’s pickin’ time

It’s fair to say that we have been toning down our view on the high yield market of late. We could well see returns in the high single digits for 2013, but the potential for more substantial capital gains is less apparent in today’s context.

This does, however, ignore quite a powerful feature of the current high yield environment – the scope for exploiting opportunities and pricing dislocations…

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Nominal GDP targeting for the UK, coming sometime, maybe?

This speech by Mark Carney, incoming Bank of England Governor, to the CFA Institute in Toronto, is potentially very important for UK monetary policy. He appears to suggest that targeting a level of Nominal GDP (NGDP) can be more powerful than an inflation target. Importantly he also emphasises the “history dependence” of such a policy regime, and that “bygones are not bygones”. Central bankers …

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The chart annoying every Aussie consumer

In 2012, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate five times and by a total of 1.25%. That is a big move in interest rates for an economy growing at 3.1%, an unemployment rate of 5.4% and inflation sitting bang-on target at 2.0%. The RBA cash rate is now equal to the 50-year low seen during the 2009 recession. So what has got the RBA so nervous?

One word: consumption. Around 54% of Austr…

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Chinese housing market, not so magic – will the dragon run out of puff?

In the last ten years, around the world, we’ve seen a series of housing led credit booms inflict heavy recessions on economies. We seem to be seeing the same thing happening today in parts of China.

Deutsche Bank’s excellent economist Torsten Slok has produced the following graph; which clearly shows how unaffordable house prices are becoming, relative to incomes, in some major Chinese cities….

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Why we love the US dollar, and worry about EM currencies

The US dollar has been one of the worst performing currencies in the world in the last decade, but we think it is ripe for a rally. We expect the US dollar’s correlation with risky assets to steadily change (in fact this is already happening). We believe that the US monetary policy transmission mechanism is actually working fine. We are bullish on US growth, particularly in relation to other re…

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Do Central Banks tell us too much for our own good?

I read in The Times last week that the Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (a panel of economists and Bank of England alumni) thinks that the Bank of England should announce a freeze on UK rates for an extended period of time. The Federal Reserve also had this policy (now replaced by even more explicit guidance about the unemployment rate and inflation levels), as did the Bank of Canada. In the pa…

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Contingent capital notes – bank equity’s best friend?

As investors, the majority of our time is spent pricing risk with an increasing amount of that spent trying to value optionality. We’ve always had to price the optionality inherent in owning certain bonds. For instance what’s the likelihood of a call option sold to a bond issuer being exercised? What’s the likelihood of an early refinancing, or perhaps a change of control? These and other optio…

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Judgement Day – RPI Damp Squib

Today has seen the release of the decision by the National Statistician about what to do with the Retail Prices Index. We were told of the consultation in September last year, and were presented with 4 options, ranging from 1) to do nothing, to 4) to make RPI as much like CPI as possible.

Our view was always that the consultation arose as a result of the desire to correct an error made in the c…

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Five guidelines for European high yield peripheral investing

2012 was a very good year for the European high yield market, total return coming in at 27.2% . Whilst we do not expect to see the same magnitude of performance in 2013, there are still some interesting pockets of value in the market. One of these is the “peripheral” region of Europe. In line with JFK’s sentiment above, we think it’s very important to engage pragmatically with Spanish, Italian…

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Should the people of Middle Earth have done Quantitative Easing to mitigate against Smaug’s tight monetary policy?

Any blog that begins with the words “Smaug the dragon is typically viewed as a fiscal phenomenon…” has immediately got my attention. Please read The Macroeconomics of Middle Earth by Frances Woolley. Woolley compares the size of the dragon’s hoard with a picture of the gold reserves at the Bank of England – although it is likely that Smaug is the beneficial owner of his gold, rather than a cust…

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