Posts tagged: bond market

US long-term rates: Not going back to “normal” anytime soon

As rates have risen, investors have, once again, started asking the perennial question: Is the bond bull market over and are rates normalizing? In thinking about bond yields, it is important to keep longer-term factors in mind that have nothing to do with central bank policy. Low yields have correlated with two, related longer-term trends: low nominal GDP (NGDP) and an aging population. The reason they’re related is that an aging population means slower growth in the workforce, and in turn, slower economic growth.

An aging population impacts rates through a second mechanism. As consumers age, their borrowing and investing patterns shift. Older households tend to borrow less and demonstrate a preference for income, in the process raising the demand and lowering the supply of bonds. The net result is that older populations tend to be associated with lower real, or inflation-adjused interest rates. This dynamic has been at work for decades and helps explain why low yields predated the financial crisis.

Because the population will not get younger any time soon, what would need to change to push rates back to “normal”? In terms of the real economy, the simple answer is faster nominal growth. Looking back over the past 60 years, the level of nominal growth has been the key to understanding the level of rates. During this period, a smoothed average of nominal growth explains almost 60% of the variation in long-term rates (see the chart below).

 

chart-gdp-treasury-yield

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Something important about the global bond market (as of Feb. 28, 2017)

           Source: J.P.Morgan Asset Management

 

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10-Year Treasury Yield and S&P 500: where negative correlation starts?

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10Y UST and S&P500: long term trends

“Over the same 30-year period that global stocks have delivered their stellar +7.5% real return, a constant maturity portfolio of 30-year U.S. Treasuries has delivered a no less impressive +6.2% real,” GMO’s Ben Inker writes.

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Global Bond Market as of March 31, 2015

“The chart below shows the difference between estimated Global bond demand and supply. This mismatch aids in returns for fixed income, as more investors look to invest (creating more demand) with less supply to satisfy these needs. The left chart breaks down the sources of demand, showing that monetary easing has created a large portion of this demand as developed market central banks continue to purchase bonds to stimulate their economies.

The next slide highlights the growth in the fixed income markets and provides some data points to highlight some of the diversification benefits of different markets. Read more »

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