Author profile

Ben Lord

Years in the bond markets: 15

Specialist subjects: Corporate bonds, inflation markets, financial institutions and credit default swaps

Likes: Almost all sport (not sure about dressage), Saturdays, cooking

Heroes: Ron Burgundy, Superman, P.G. Wodehouse

A problem with U.S. average hourly earnings, and why it may be understating the true picture

The last time the US had an unemployment rate below 5% and inflation expectations around 2%, the Fed funds rate was above 5% and had been aggressively hiked in the preceding period. Yellen’s Fed has been happy to let rates stay low amongst a tight and tightening labour market because wage growth has been lower than one would expect for a jobs market as healthy as this one. So, slow growth of wa…

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CPI wHat?

In the UK, as of next month the official measure of consumer prices will become CPIH, with the H standing for housing.  As at today, the only difference between CPI and CPIH is the inclusion of owner-occupied housing in the latter, on a rental equivalence basis (“how much would it cost to rent the home I own?”, a similar measure to the Owners’ Equivalent Rent component of US CPI), which has a w…

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Five observations about Inflation

1. We are at the point of peak oil pass through: January and February 2016 saw oil prices reach their lows ($34.25 Brent January 20th and $26.21 WTI, February 11th), so this week’s inflation numbers will see some high year-on-year oil price base effects, as will February’s. This is one of the main reasons why we have been seeing significant rises in inflation in recent months.

2. The upward mar…

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Mortgages and monetary policy in the US and UK

The cost of new mortgage borrowing and payments on outstanding household debt can have a large impact on the rate of growth of an economy. For this reason, central bankers are interested in the transmission mechanism of monetary policy. It has been shown that interest rates can have a stronger influence on an economy where there are a high proportion of variable rather than fixed-rate mortgages…

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Tantrums and tidbits: Government bond market déjà vu

I have been overwhelmed by a sense of déjà vu of late. Talk of rates not rising again this cycle (US), ever again (Europe), or even being cut even further (UK, Japan) prevails. Quantitative easing continues apace and could be set to broaden further, be that in its duration or via the inclusion of new types of assets. Economic growth appears to be stalling, corporate profitability is showing lat…

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The BoE and ECB render the US bond market the only game in town

Now that the Bank of England has commenced purchases of gilts and committed to a programme of corporate bond buybacks, alongside similar measures being presently undertaken by the ECB, it is worth taking a step back and thinking about valuations in sterling fixed income.

Let’s take a brief look at what has happened so far in 2016 in government bonds. The ultra-long conventional gilt has returne…

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The rise in UK inflation expectations since Brexit

I wrote ahead of the UK referendum that I felt front end index-linked bonds were a good way to play the uncertainty surrounding the result, given the fact that they have crucial non-binary hedge characteristics. Since the result, breakevens (i.e. the market’s expectation of future inflation) have behaved exactly as expected, rallying. The chart below shows how nominal yields have collapsed to r…

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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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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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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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