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Posts Tagged ‘long-term trends’

Thankfully, We Own Municipals

May 4th, 2018 by Kurt L. Smith

Three percent ten year US Treasury notes have generated recent buzz with the highest interest rates in over four years. More interesting may be the yield on two year treasury notes at over 2.50%, the highest yield in over nine years.

Lower for longer? This mantra for investing in both bonds and stocks has blown up. Interest rates are not lower and haven’t been lower for many years. My job is not to convince believers of the mantra that they have it wrong. Besides, despite rising interest rates, performance figures haven’t changed appreciably one way or the other. We continue to move forward with our approach.

Our municipal bond market is a relatively puny player in the world of financial assets. With $3.8 trillion outstanding in municipal bonds, municipals make up a small portion of the $40 trillion US bond market (SIFMA). Black Rock and Vanguard each manage more financial assets than the entire municipal bond market.

In the scheme of things, municipals do not matter. In the great buildup of the $40 trillion US bond market, municipals have become but a rounding error or an opportunity for diversification, whether warranted or not. (more…)

Remember Credit Quality?

April 2nd, 2018 by Kurt L. Smith

Since November’s letter, Top of Tops, I’ve discussed the unfolding progress of the new bear markets in both stocks and bonds. While recognizing the risks of an impending bond market crash, we instead were treated to the beginning of a stock market crash.

On March 23rd the Dow closed at 23,533, essentially even with the November 1st close. But what a wild five months it has been for stocks. Almost straight up to the all-time high of 26,617 January 26th, to a 12% sell off in a mere ten days to a new closing low as of this writing.

I don’t just see possible horrific losses for stocks unfolding, I see probable horrific losses for stocks unfolding. This is why I have referenced the 1987 stock market crash (down 22% in one day, down 40% over eight weeks). The seemingly impossible has happened before. Who knows, this time it may be worse.

Conventional wisdom may direct investor’s funds towards bonds if such a stock market panic unfolds. That would be a mistake in my opinion. While stocks attempted to bounce since their 12% sell-off and have failed, bonds did rally. But this rally happened in the midst of a larger bond market sell-off.  With an overall downtrend for both stocks and bonds, if both do get aligned and move strongly lower together the resultant fear could heighten concerns of a crash in financial asset values. (more…)

Not The Same As The Old Year

January 11th, 2018 by Kurt L. Smith

Happy 2018 to you and yours! I hope 2017 was a good year for you and may 2018 be wonderful.

One always tries to keep the wind at your back and this appears to be the consensus with investors. Optimism is extremely high and the business press (and stock market performance) reflects this sentiment.

This is the definition of trend. To be the trend it must show general tendency AND it needs to continue long enough to get noticed. The trend is your friend because you are an investor, not a trader. The trend can provide you sound grounding to make decisions as well as a framework for what may come.

These past several months we have discussed the next move in the continuing trend for bonds as well as a change in the trend for stocks. Bonds hit their high in price (low in yield) on September 8th. Since then, rates have slowly risen, while I believed they would move up faster. The ten year US Treasury was 2.01% in September, a 2.47% high in November and a new 2.50% high in December. Two year treasuries were 1.25% in September, 1.78% higher in November and a new 1.92% high in December and 1.97% this past week.

The reason I continue to write about bond yields is because it is important to know the trend. I marked the end of the bond bull market back in 2012. Buyers of long-term bonds back in 2012 invested in low yields, their current bond value is less to boot as rates have risen and bond prices have fallen. (more…)

They Are All Markets

December 15th, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

Well, so much for Top of Tops. Last month’s market call that both bonds and stocks were headed lower, proved premature. The September-October bond market decline failed to gather downward momentum while stocks added another leg upward.

While 1,000 Dow points isn’t what it used to be (lately about 4%, whereas 10% or more in years of yore), it is still 1,000 points. For me, a 1,000 points of wrong, but that’s the way markets can behave.

Take Bitcoin, everyone’s favorite (new) subject. In what appeared to be a  frothy, over-extended market, Bitcoin merely added another fifty percent.  And that was just last week!

Does one have to do with the other? Can the frothiness of Bitcoin and the added leg up in stocks or the pause in the bond bear market be related? Yes, they are all related: they are all markets. (more…)

Top of Tops

November 6th, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

Relish in all of the good news? Certainly you must be joking? All-time highs for stocks and bond yields seemingly at low-forever yields (meaning high forever prices) and I want to rain on this parade? In a word, just one word, yes!

The reason why I have been keeping you apprised of the albeit slow changes in the bond market is because the trend change is beyond important: it is generational. Who knew that the next and most impactful move in the bond market would also occur at the all-time high for stock prices?

We have been keeping score vis-à-vis the ten year US Treasury note. Indeed the note did hit a low of 2.01% on September 8th and yields hit 2.47% on October 27th. Not the radical change I had predicted last month, but not bad and moving in the right direction.

I am focused on bonds and the bond market as reflected by yields on the ten year treasury. We can also look at the bellwether thirty year which should be at a low here at 2.85% up from 2.63% on September 8th. These low yields certainly fit the narrative of low yields. They will not remain low for much longer; certainly not forever. (more…)

Moving Ahead

August 3rd, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

Narratives make great stories, coaxing investors to invest but rarely the impetus to sell.  Narratives, the stories about why the market is behaving this way or that, add fuels to the fire of salesmanship and lines up well for the growing herd, the multitude of trend followers. 

The great narrative of the past few years has been yields are (and will forever be) low, so you should add riskier assets to your portfolio. This narrative has been in place so long ( for years) it appears it will never change.

Our approach shows otherwise. In the incredibly unique world of municipal bond investing, opportunities have existed in high quality credits that are not available in any other asset class. In a world focused on scale, size, generic products and spread, the municipal bond market offers this as well as alternatives to this. (more…)

The Plan Unfolds

July 13th, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

It has been twelve months since the end of the hockey-sticked shape mania of long-term bond prices. Markets don’t trend in straight lines, so over the past twelve months I have used this letter to help you navigate where we are on the journey towards a collapse in long-term bond prices.

The July 2017 letter called the top in long-term bond pricing while subsequent letters followed the initial move to December lows and last month’s call that the correction was over. After a correction price high on June 12th, long-term bonds have declined in price for the past twelve trading days (as of the writing of this letter).

Of course it may be better to be lucky than good, but I will accept any good fortune that comes our way. This letter provides me the opportunity to put forth my opinion, however much in the minority it may be, and I intend to take the opportunity because I believe it is quite important when a collapse in the long-term bond market is involved. (more…)

It Only Takes One

April 10th, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

After four months of sideways price (yield) action in bonds, one might tend to believe nothing has changed or nothing is happening. Thankfully the municipal bond market offers us tens of thousands of unique opportunities over a similar timespan.

Ten year treasury notes doubled in yield from 1.32% to 2.64% in the second half of 2016, but for 2017 the market has traded in a narrow range. This corrective phase may already be complete or we may have more time to diddle. The important takeaway is that I believe the market for longer-term bonds will resolve into much higher yields and much lower prices. (more…)

Rates Rise; Who Cares?

March 8th, 2017 by Kurt L. Smith

These are heady times in the stock market. As market indexes set historical all-time highs, who cares about bonds? Stocks are all the buzz.

Back in August my letter was First Bonds, Now Stocks. “If you liked the bond market rally this year, then I think you will really enjoy the stock market rally which appears to be gathering steam.” Gather it has. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded at 17,063 on June 27th, 2016; on March 1st, 2017 it was 21,169 for a 24% rise.

Meanwhile the bubble on Bonds did indeed burst as ten year Treasury yields bottomed at 1.32% on July 6, 2016, before doubling to 2.64% on December 15th. So while stocks were gaining steam, bond prices were indeed weakening as yields doubled. As the Dow rallied, ten year Treasury bonds sank, producing an 11% price loss into the December yield highs. The long bellwether Treasury bond was down 22% in price over the same period.

Both the rise in stock prices and the fall in Bond prices were expected. After bond prices bottomed in December we expected prices to bounce and indeed the bounce appears to be over such that prices are trending lower again as the yield on the ten year treasury is back over 2.50%.

January’s Letter, Lines In the Sand noted Big Bill Gross’s line at 2.60% for the ten year treasury.  At just over 2.50% as March begins, we are within striking distance. (more…)

The Wait Is Over

December 7th, 2016 by Kurt L. Smith

I love it when a plan comes together. The August letter, First Bonds, Now Stocks, could not have been more spot on. The latest rally in Bonds began to reverse in July and it appears the first move towards a Bond Bear Market is now in place. And indeed the excitement the markets reserved for Bonds earlier this year did indeed move to Stocks with a recent exclamation point capping a three thousand point move up in the Dow that began in February.

For those of you reading the press clippings of these latest moves, please remember the narratives are worthless. Trends do not extend forever and long-time readers of this letter know I have been preparing for a change in the long-term trends of Stocks and Bonds for some time.

My excitement that my long wait may finally be over is based on the excitement both the Stock and Bond markets registered in 2016. Soaring prices, plunging and even negative yields, characterized the Bond market all spring long. Prices topped (and yields bottomed) in July with the bellwether thirty year US Treasury bond at 2.08%; by the first of December it was over 3.08%, an almost 50% jump in yield and 19% plunge in price. (more…)

NEWS FEED

The $247 trillion global debt bomb washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-2…