An interview with Diane Coyle: GDP A Brief but Affectionate History. And win a copy of the book.

One of my favourite economic reads of 2014 was Diane Coyle’s book about an economic statistic – GDP. Whilst monarchs had been trying to take inventories of the national wealth since the Doomsday Book and earlier (so they could tax it!), the idea that you should rigorously measure economic activity is under one hundred years old. But the concept of Gross Domestic Product has now become central …

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The zero bound debate – are negative rates a tightening of policy?

Matt’s and James’s recent blogs outlined some of the issues markets face when rates go negative. This is obviously no longer just a theoretical debate, but has real investment implications. Why do investors accept sub-zero rates when they can hold cash ?

To recap using Swiss Francs for example, it makes sense for a saver from a purely economic view not to deposit a Swiss Franc note into a negat…

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Coming to a bond market near you: “A Brave New World: Zero Yield Corporate Bonds”

Picture the scene: a meeting room, 40 floors up, plate glass floor-to-ceiling windows with views of central London in the background. At the polished mahogany table sits Hans Schmidt, the CFO of a major consumer global goods company. In walks Chad “Ace” Jefferson III, the latest in a long line of investment bankers assigned to cover his company. Behind Chad follows an entourage of five impeccab…

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Demurrage – a tale of gold, cash and mercenaries

Historically I’ve struggled with the concept of gold as an investment. Presumably if you bought gold for this purpose you would want to store it somewhere safe and insure it. However, investors in gold should account for the fact that there is a cost to sleeping well at night. Vaults and insurance don’t come for free, and that cost can be thought of as a negative yield or the demurrage of gold….

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We are nowhere near the zero bound

Guest contributor – Eric Lonergan (Fund manager on M&G’s macro hedge-funds and multi-asset team, and author of “Money”)

We need more cash, not less.

Many economists just assume that central banks have hit “the zero bound” on interest rates and that conventional policy is thereby exhausted. Take Ken Rogoff’s bizarre proposal as an example:

Let’s forget about the idea of phasing out paper curren…

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2015-01AD blog

Europe needs a German fiscal stimulus package but won’t get it

The German government can theoretically borrow at negative yields if it were to issue short maturity debt today. Longer maturity debt is also yielding a record low amount. Could the collapse in yields be a blessing for Germany and Europe? Two economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) seem to think so. Indeed, the German government’s narrow-minded pursuit of the “black zero” (a balance…

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How steep is the USD IG credit spread curve?

Is now the time to buy long-dated USD IG corporate bonds?

Credit curves are usually upwards sloping; as you’d expect, investors require more of a credit risk term premium for lending for a long time than for a short time, all else being equal. As the charts below show however, the steepness of USD IG non-financial credit curves has become rather extreme in 2014. At year end, the asset swap (ASW) spread differential between c. 25 years and c. 2 years w…

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Long US Treasury bonds are overvalued by 250 bps. Discuss.

As we started 2014 the US Treasury market was expecting 10 year yields to be at 4.13% in a decade’s time. This 10 year 10 year forward yield, derived from the yield curve, is a good measure of where the bond market believes yields get to if you “look through the cycle”, and disregard short term economic trends and noise. I wrote about it here and suggested that we were approaching the top of th…

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Emerging market fixed income – 2014 performance

Emerging Market debt: 2014 returns post-mortem and 2015 outlook

2014 was quite an eventful year for Emerging market (EM) fixed income. After a period of strong performance which lasted all the way to September, markets corrected significantly in the latter part of the year as the escalation of the Russia crisis and the plunging oil prices triggered the most significant drawdown since the “taper tantrum” of June 2013. All in all, emerging markets still poste…

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EM Asia corporate bonds have outperformed in recent sell-off

After the December rout, where is the value in EM corporates?

It’s this time of the year when banks and other investment research providers have released their outlooks for the coming year. For the EM corporate bond asset class, Asia was forecast to be the best performer in 2015, with most top picks being in India and China.

Most 2015 outlooks were released in late November or early December, when EM USD corporate bonds were boasting a solid 6.1% total re…

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