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Posts Tagged ‘long-term trends’

It’s A Bull, Bull, Bull World

November 30th, 2022 by Kurt L. Smith

After forty years of bull market in financial assets, one can only imagine how difficult a change in trend may be to recognize. We live in a bull market world, enjoy the bull market experience and we have been doing so, for so long, we believe it is just the way things are.

The bull market has existed for both stocks and bonds for decades. Rather than serve to diversify one’s portfolio, stocks and bonds have been in a tortoise/hare race to the top. Unlimited optimism, or even abundant optimism, can only push bond prices so high, but for stocks, truly the sky was the limit.

So, it might make sense that the bond market might be the first to signal the bull market is over. The bond market performance story for 2022 has not yet been fully written, but unprecedented, the word used in these letters over the past several months, will surely be included.

Yet despite a treasury bond trading at half its value over a two-plus-year span, you would think investors would recognize this as a bond bear market. Staring at not only the worst bond market return in decades, but perhaps ever, we saw bond prices soar in November with Bloomberg saying last week “municipal bonds are having their best month in almost four decades.”

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Merely Gaining Steam

April 28th, 2022 by Kurt L. Smith

Last month I discussed whether the bond bear market had finished its first leg down or was it merely gaining steam. Over the past few weeks, we got an answer to that question.

I also discussed the importance of stocks moving to new highs or there is a risk for a larger correction. What is a larger correction? I believe we can place Netflix (NFLX – NASDAQ) as the new poster child for the definition of larger correction. At its recent price of $193.50 on April 27, 2022 (all prices and yields per Bloomberg), Netflix is down 72% from its all-time high of $700 set just five months earlier on November 11, 2021. Again, merely gaining steam.

The “What, me worry?” crowd continues to fiddle while Rome burns. The losses in bellwether US treasury notes and bonds over the past several months is unprecedented. The losses in the NASDAQ for April 2022 may be among the worst months ever. 3% mortgages are now 5% mortgages and inflation is, pick a number, 8%?

My get-out-of-bonds mantra for the past two years has now morphed into get-out-of stocks. Normalcy was exceeded months ago and is now moving toward extreme, yet capitulation evades us. Instead, we are looking at wave after wave of continued downward prices for financial assets.

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Streaks End

November 30th, 2021 by Kurt L. Smith

Streaks don’t last forever. This past weekend in college football proved that. The college football playoffs this year will not include Clemson, Ohio State or Oklahoma. Despite all reason, the best talent, and the fact we all love winners, the playoff runs for these schools has ended. Only Alabama’s hope remains. 

Time will tell whether this is but a minor setback for these perennial powerhouses or one of long-lasting stature. I know the differences. I am a (now) long suffering Texas Longhorn fan. 

I also called the end of the bond bull market as March 6, 2000. An almost forty-year winning streak for the bond market is now over, yet many do not share my certitude, even after twenty-one ridiculously long months. 

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Bonds (Don’t) Move

January 20th, 2021 by Kurt L. Smith

Everyone can agree bond yields are low. Another way of saying that is, everyone can agree bond prices are high. But unlike the unhinged high prices of stocks, bonds are tethered to a maturity. The assumption of course being that the bond will be paid at time of maturity.

This risk of being paid (or not) is usually compared against what many consider to be the risk-free rate of US Treasury securities. Thus, Treasuries represent a non-credit risk option as they are assumed to be paid; the government will simply print more money to redeem them. All other (US) bonds do not have this feature of printing additional money; therefore, they are considered spread products.

As you know I recommended selling your bond products (mutual funds primarily), marking March 6th as the high-water mark for bonds. To say that March was a volatile month borders on understatement, but we witnessed US Treasury notes and bonds trade at their all-time highs in March.

The ten-year, Treasury note receives the most attention in the marketplace. For most of 2020 the note yielded less than 1%, again, a low yield in anyone’s book (and a high price). But recently the yield has moved over 1% leading to, well, the focus of this letter.

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We Are All Traders Now

September 23rd, 2020 by Kurt L. Smith

Over the past couple of months, we have witnessed what it is like to be winners. Investors of stocks and bonds have watched their portfolios move higher with interest rates at or near historic lows, bond prices are unbelievable high. And the effects of high bond prices have reverberated across asset classes.

I pick on bonds because they are “fixed income”. There is only so much income a bond generates (it’s coupon amount) and for only so long (it’s maturity). So, when interest rates are near zero, the price of the bond is approximately, or near, the sum of all of its cash flows (coupons plus maturity or par amount).

A 1% ten year noncallable bond that sold at 100, would be priced at 110 if interest rates moved to 0%. At .50%, the bond would be priced at approximately 105, still a nice 5% gain from no-or-low interest rates to even lower rates.

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Protect Yourself

July 15th, 2020 by Kurt L. Smith

In my opinion, markets perform like markets. Narratives may try to explain them, but the narrative is a lie. The market did not go up because of ‘X’ or ‘Y’, the market just went up.

For the past several years I have been writing about the end of something, specifically the end of asset (stock, bonds, gold) prices rising trend. This was the case at the beginning of the year, as well, before we learned to spell corona.

Six plus months into this lousy year, just where are we? Let’s start with bonds because it is easier, or should be, to recognize a top or the top in bond prices when the price of a bond is just about the sum of all cash flows to be received throughout the life of the bond because the yield isn’t worth noting as a discount.

Look at this month’s bond sale from Tarrant County College District, Texas (below). Are those yields just not ridiculous? Would you entrust your money to a governmental entity for any length of time at those low (no) yields?

As discussed in my March 6th letter, earlier this year, whether you buy these yields or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is these are the yields that are used to price mutual funds and other portfolios of bonds. These low (no) yields, along with their treasury and corporate counterparts mean tens of trillions of dollars of fixed income portfolios are priced so fully as to negate future upside.

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Bonds Rolled Over (Again)

November 18th, 2019 by Kurt L. Smith

From the front pages this summer, the story on bonds is they are no longer a story. Prices have rolled over as yields have risen and investors who bought on the price dips lately may be rethinking their commitment.

I have spent most of the last few years, as well as the last few months telling you this was the end of the run, not the beginning of a new one. The performance of the bond market over these years fits my description.

After several years of higher yields and lower bond prices, the bond market began a price correction late last year. But it was the performance of long-term treasury bonds in July and August of this year that received the out-sized attention. One of the longest treasury bonds, the 2.875% of 2049, rallied from about 100 in May, to 105 in July and 122 in August (source: Bloomberg, with prices rounded for conversation sake). Quite a move for a bond yielding less than 3%.

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The Bigger Picture

October 15th, 2019 by Kurt L. Smith

Summer was extended down here in Dallas. Ninety-plus degree days almost every day in September. Seemingly the same thing every day, like the markets these past many months. Change will happen, though it seemingly hasn’t yet.

When we drew our line in the sand, almost two years ago, that the next move for stocks would be down, little did we know how long the wait might be. Obviously I stand by my call because I bring it up often. More importantly it still holds up well. What have you missed in stocks?

But if you haven’t sold some of your stocks you haven’t built up your cash and you haven’t increased your commitment to The Select ApproachTM. Unlike every other investor, you have The Select ApproachTM as an alternative to stocks, bonds, gold, commodities, real estate, private equity and whatever other mash up you may or may not have tried.

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Sell Bonds

September 12th, 2019 by Kurt L. Smith

The Select ApproachTM believes the bond market correction of the past nine months is now over.

Last month we talked about the giddiness of bonds and that giddiness delivered bonds onto the front pages of the major dailies. The New York Times on August 28th probably marked the high prices with this headline “While Wall St. Talks of a Recession, Bond Investors Make a Killing. You should have bought bonds. They’re going great.”

The NY Times also included a nice chart of year to date returns. “Thirty year Treasury bond +26.4%, Long-term bonds +23.5%, Investment-grade corporates +14.1% and Ten Year Treasury notes +12.6%.” Indeed, stellar returns essentially describes the bond market correction of the past nine months.

In order to reap the rewards of this year’s bond market moves, one must sell. Not your Select ApproachTM bonds, but everything else. This market move was a trade, and a short-term one at that, and now it is over. The bond market is in a long-term bear market since 2012. Prices move down (yields rise) setting the trend and in order for the market to continue to lower prices, a correction needs to occur. Ebb and flow happens but the important part is the direction of the trend for bond prices is lower.

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The Topping Process Continues

August 8th, 2019 by Kurt L. Smith

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off almost 2,000 points in just a few days recently. The Dow now trades at the same level as it did back in January 2018.

Bonds meanwhile continue their move higher in price (lower in yield) as unlike stocks, their corrective move had added momentum. When it comes to bonds, we hear statements like highest prices (or lowest yields) since 2016. That’s because the current bond market rally is a correction of the downward price trend in bonds that dates back to 2016 (for me 2012).

Last month’s letter discussed how I expected asset prices of bonds, stocks and gold to soon complete. We have seen the initial move down for stocks and I look for similar strong downward moves to begin in bonds and gold at any time.

“At any time” is the operative word. Last month’s market focus was based on the movements of the asset markets over the past weeks as well as the past several years. Markets behave like markets, despite the actions of central bankers or presidents, war or peace. So last month’s giddy didn’t indicate a continuation of trend, but rather the end of a move.

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NEWS FEED

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