The bond bubble theorists aren’t going to be happy about this report from RAB Capital. Their analysts believe there is room for a “massive decline” in government bond yields in the coming years as central bankers attempt to fend off deflation. Bloomberg elaborated on the report:
“Interest rates cannot go up meaningfully for a very long time” in either country, the report said. U.S. Treasury yields have yet to fall far enough relative to the Fed’s target rate for loans between banks to reflect this prospect, he wrote. The same holds true for yields on U.K. gilts by comparison with the Bank of England’s base rate, in his view.
The 20-year Treasury yield ended last week at 3.49 percent after declining 1.2 percentage points from this year’s high, set on April 5. Twenty-year gilts yielded 3.91 percent after falling 0.83 point from a Feb. 19 peak. The gaps between the yields and benchmark rates — 3.24 points and 3.41 points, respectively — were still close to 40-year highs, according to the report.
“Further purchases of bonds by central banks can only accelerate this inevitable adjustment” in yields, Joshi wrote, adding that the bull market in fixed-income securities “is far from over.”
The Fed may have to buy more debt to head off deflation, according to Joshi, who described this so-called quantitative easing as “the greatest pawn-broking scheme” ever implemented. Fed policy makers decided last month to keep the central bank’s securities holdings at $2.05 trillion by reinvesting proceeds from maturing mortgage-backed bonds into Treasuries.
It’s an interesting chart and analysis, however, the one thing I would point out is that rates tend to converge (1:1) when the Fed is fighting off an inflation threat. The periods shown on the above chart shows when the Fed raised rates substantially and inverted the yield curve. In other words, the bond market was less concerned with inflation than the Fed was. Perhaps more importantly, however, the economy was smoking hot when rates converged. While I don’t disagree that rates are likely to remain low for some time, the implication that rates could converge appears a bit misleading. 10 year rates in Japan are sub 1% after 20 year of malaise while the overnight rate remains near zero. Are we headed there? I am not that pessimistic, but “extended period” appears to be an appropriate description of the current interest rate environment. “Massive decline” in yields? Let’s hope not.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.