Bonds Are Getting More Interest

We are likely entering a much more stimulating era. Bond markets are becoming interesting again and will command more attention from investors.

Excesses are building up. The government acknowledges few limits on spending (see Modern Monetary Theory Goes Mainstream). There are no fiscal hawks left in Washington. The Federal Reserve is partially monetizing the debt, by buying around $120BN per month. They have somehow convinced themselves that left unchecked bond yields would constrain economic activity, even though rates globally are low by any reasonable measure.

The FOMC is actively seeking higher inflation, insisting that when it appears it’ll be temporary and therefore insufficient to draw a policy response. They’ve also ruled out inflation in food and energy (always temporary and mean-reverting), housing (they always ignore this – see Why You Can’t Trust Reported Inflation Numbers), and many commodities (Covid-related logistical problems that will resolve themselves) as sources of concern.

Only rising wages will prompt them into action (see The Fed’s Narrowing Definition Of Inflation). The doctrine driving monetary policy is that it’s better to be late than early in tightening. Prior tightening cycles were often preceded by a concern that the Fed was late. Such fears may last longer than in the past, since this time tardiness is their intent.

Such circumstances create uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates, a key support under equity markets. They also make it more important for investors to consider inflation separately from interest rates, since the FOMC is relaxing the tether that historically connects them.

For much of the past five years nominal and real interest rates stayed close, reflecting stable inflation expectations. Covid and the resulting uber-stimulus have altered the relationship. Real interest rates have stayed negative – an implicit forecast of stealth monetization of debt.

View single page >> |

Disclosure: We are invested in all the components of the American Energy Independence Index via the ETF that ...

How did you like this article? Let us know so we can better customize your reading experience.


Leave a comment to automatically be entered into our contest to win a free Echo Show.