Author profile

Stefan Isaacs

Years in the bond markets: 16

Specialist subjects: European credit and high yield corporate bonds

Likes: Football, music, summer, classic cars & travelling

Heroes: Scotland's finest export - Bill Shankly

Five years on from “whatever it takes”

Today marks five years on from Mario Draghi’s now famous ‘whatever it takes’ remarks, widely credited with sparking a reversal in the Eurozone’s fortunes.

Below are five charts offering some insights into the European Central Bank’s successes and failures in the ensuing period, as well as some of the challenges that remain.

  1. Funding costs in the periphery

Five years ago, funding costs for the …

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Poor old ECB. Damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t.

The votes are in and it’s pretty unanimous. Despite Mario Draghi’s best efforts to persuade otherwise, the market is clear that today’s announcements are tantamount to tapering. Frankly anything less than an extension of Euro 80bn per month, irrespective of the duration, was likely to have been taken as such, with scant evidence of the inflation target being achieved during the forecast horizon…

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President-elect Trump. 5 predictions on what happens next in the global economy and markets

The votes are in and it is clear. For the second time in 2016 we have had a major rejection of the political status quo. Following on from the shock UK referendum result, a Trump victory is further evidence that many believe that we have reached peak globalisation and income inequality. The perceived losers of globalisation have turned the incumbent political system on its head, and with it we …

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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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A Germanic problem

I attended a conference last week where European Central Bank (ECB) bashing was approaching fever pitch. The crux of the argument goes a little something like this:

“The ECB have lost the plot. Monetary policy has become impotent. The ECB is at the lower bound and the law of diminishing returns results only in an ever greater misallocation of resources, punishing savers and rewarding speculatio…

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Has the ECB reached the limits of monetary policy?

The simple answer is a no. Eric Lonergan in a guest blog has already (see here) debunked the idea that central banks are at the zero bound. And since then the market has become increasingly confident that the ECB will cut its deposit rate further into negative territory at tomorrow’s meeting. And it has reason to do so. Inflation and growth will be lower than the Bank had forecast a mere three …

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Damsels in distress – Chesapeake and distressed exchanges

2009 through 2013 were some very good years for the US high yield market. And the energy subset was no exception. Returning  51%, 13%, 9%, 12% & 6% in each of those years, it’s not surprising that the BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Energy Index practically trebled in size. Voracious issuance, much of it to fund shale oil development, was met with equally intense buy-side demand and with it ca…

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Leverage ain’t always a shareholder’s best friend

The temptation to ‘juice-up’ shareholder returns with low yielding corporate debt has been too much to bear for many companies and their investors in recent years. This fad has been well documented and though it may not be a trend we creditors like to observe, we haven’t been entirely surprised to see it play out in 2015 given the seemingly large valuation disconnect between the cost of debt an…

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BHP turns to the bond markets for help

It has been a rough ride for metal and mining giant BHP Billiton. Revenues have come under persistent pressure due to weakening commodity prices. Despite one of the strongest balance sheets in the sector, promises made to shareholders have proven tough to keep.

With these commitments in mind the company turned to a nervous bond market earlier this week for some $6.44bn equivalent of hybrid deb…

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XPO Logistics. A $2bn high yield transaction and why we didn’t play.

As value investors we would generally assert that every financial asset has its price. Few bond market offerings tick all the boxes, but if we are to be suitably compensated, and subject to certain red lines, we are generally sanguine.

Yesterday saw XPO Logistics, a third party US based logistics firm raise $2bn equivalent of debt across Euros and Dollars to part fund its acquisition of Norbert…

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