Keith Wade (Schroders) | Clearly, Japan’s debt is significantly higher than the US’. However, it is stable rather than rising. This reflects the poor position of US government finances before Covid-19, where the budget deficit was running at 6.3% of GDP at a time when the economy was doing well with unemployment at less than 4%, a 50-year low. (In net terms the comparison is less stark with Japan at 180% GDP versus 114% in the US).
Today Spain issued €1.403 M at a new auction of bonds and securities, within the average range predicted. And it did so selling the 10-year bond with a negative yield for the first time in history. In fact, in the secondary market, the Spanish bond has been marking historical minimums for weeks. Until now, this “anomaly” was something typical of countries like Germany, with well balanced public accounts. Spain and Portugal have already joined this club. The Portuguese bond yield fell to -0.013% on Tuesday.
Bonds from the European Union have become popular among Japanese investors. Already in July, Japanese funds bought record amount of Italian debt. However in September, they purchased a net 235 billion yen ($2.15 billion) of Spanish bonds, while selling a net 127.7 billion yen of Italian paper during the month, the data from Japan’s Ministry of Finance showed.
According to Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater, 90% of governments’ attempts to reflate their economies have ultimately been successful over the past 200 years. In other words, after a few years of monetised deficits, trials and errors by policymakers, inflation will eventually rise.
Markus Allenspach, Head Fixed Income Research, Julius Baer | At this stage, the corporate bond market needs support from the Federal Reserve to digest the negative news flow, such as the net tightening of lending standards for commercial and industrial loans in the senior loan officers’ survey published yesterday or the numerous cyclical data showing the depth of the contraction in the current quarter.
On Thursday, the Treasury raised €6.535,6 billion in a new auction of long-term bonds, exceeding the €6.5 billion top of the range. Total demand was EUR 12.407,77 million, which is 1.9 times the amount finally awarded. However, costs have risen once again and even doubled the yield on the bonds.
Markus Allenspach (Julius Baer) | Step by step, the policy mix is changing around the globe. Most impressive fiscal support packages are in the making in the US with USD 1 trillion to USD 1.2 trillion, in Spain with EUR 200 billion, in France with EUR 345 billion and in Germany with guarantees of up to EUR 550 billion, tax cuts and waivers of social contributions.
Stock and bond investors seem to have very different assessments of the impact of the virus: despite a pickup in realised volatility, equity markets (especially in the developed world) have reached new highs over the last couple of weeks. The VIX index rose above 17 at the end of last week, but is well below the levels seen in August 2019 in the midst of the US-China trade war (24.6) or at the end of December 2018 when recession fears gripped markets (36). Implied earnings growth rates for equities remain solidly positive, even for the MSCI Emerging Markets index (about 5% over the next year). The view from the equity market seems clear: COVID-19 is a risk but should not derail the supportive context for corporate earnings and stock prices.
The bond has a nominal amount of 500 million euros and will pay a fixed interest rate of 2,025% per year until May 5, 2027 (redemption date). As of this date, the bond will carry a fixed rate equivalent to a 7-year swap plus a margin of 2,663% until February 5, 2030. From this date until May 5, 2047 the margin will be 2,913% and from then it will be 3,663%.
Chris Iggo (Axa IM) | Suddenly the Brexit stakes have been raised. Prime Minister Johnson has made a call that convincing the world that he is prepared to leave the EU without a deal and that he is prepared to take risks with democratic and parliamentary convention are worth it if it results in the UK and the EU reaching a compromise withdrawal agreement before October 31st. It is a gamble and the tactics are being challenged by both political and public responses. Yet an alternative course of action is hard to see given the lack of credible anti-no-deal strategies so far. If Johnson’s bet pays off, the UK leaves the EU with a deal, sterling rallies, and confidence to the economic outlook can return. If not, economic and political chaos will continue and probably worsen. I said I would adhere to “Sober September” – that might prove to be very challenging!