Part 2 of our series on bonds “Bonds – Is Credit Growth Hitting its Limits?” discussed the likelihood that the demand to borrow could stay weak, keeping the demand curve from shifting right and therefore playing an important role in keeping a lid on higher interest rates. In this final article of the series we focus on factors that investors should consider to help gauge demand for bonds.
In “Bonds – More Than Meets the Eye”, we proposed that despite historically low interest rates there may be opportunities in Treasury Bonds to earn total returns well in excess of their current low yields. In this article, the second installment of a three part series, we analyze some important factors which help determine where interest rates might be headed in the near term. This article focuses on the demand side of the supply/demand curve to understand pricing pressures. Part 3 of this series will emphasize the supply side of the curve and key determinants of interest rates including economic growth and inflation.
When buying equities, some investors plan for a short holding period, seeking to capitalize on short-term price fluctuations – “a trade”. Others plan on a longer holding period based on economic or fundamental analysis – “a long-term strategic investment”. Regardless of which tactic is employed, few schedule a specific day, month or even year for divestiture. Contrast this with the bond investor’s strategy, whereby many bondholders seek to hold their investment to its maturity date. Those bond investors possessing this predilection are likely unaware of potential opportunities that trading bonds offers. In this era of historically low yields the opportunity for outsized returns may be significantly larger than current yields advertise if one considers selling a bond prior to its maturity.
The chart above plots the performance of the Commodity Research Bureau (CRB) index, a benchmark measuring the prices of 19 diverse commodities. The legend is purposefully omitted so that we may pose the following question: If the lines represent one indicator, why are there 3 lines? The answer lies not in the commodity prices underlying the index, but in the currency used to express the prices. The blue line represents the CRB index as it is commonly expressed, in U.S. dollars (USD). The green line is denominated in euros and the black line in Brazilian reals. This graph highlights that the currency in which a commodity is denominated can have a meaningful effect on prices.
Historically, periods of USD appreciation have led to outflows of investment dollars resulting in economic hardship, crisis and even regime change in emerging market nations. The 1997-1998 Asian crisis, the related default of Russia and the collapse of the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, for instance, were precipitated by a strong USD and a rapid reversal of capital flows from Asia back to the U.S. It is estimated the crisis resulted in the repatriation of $250-$500 billion.
Over the past year, the real trade-weighted U.S. dollar (USD) index increased over 10%, fostering a slowing of global economic growth, increased volatility in financial markets and plummeting commodity prices. This serves as a reminder of the influence the USD has on global trade and asset markets. Periods of dollar appreciation, as highlighted in the graph below, are not well understood by the investing public as there have been only two major appreciation periods since the removal of the gold standard in 1971. The potential consequences from a third major USD appreciation can have a significant effect on expected asset class returns.
Here is a list that I’ve developed for Individual investors to know the answers to or ask before investing their risk capital with a Commodity Trading Advisor or Professional Money Manager. This checklist is ever evolving as new information comes to light or the dynamics change in the market place. Our hope in providing this […]
In order to fully get the “error” in selling grain at harvest and then buying calls to replace that grain, so as to still participate in possible higher prices you need to understand how carrying charges work in the grain markets. The definition of “carrying charges” is: an expense or effective cost arising from unproductive […]
Buying (Long) a Call Option: A basic option strategy to be familiar with and learn the advantages and disadvantages of is buying a Call Option (Long Call). Buying a call option is the opposite of buying a put option, in that a buying a call gives you the right, but not the obligation to buy […]
When you trade the markets, you really don’t know the exact probability of winning or losing on a given trade. Additionally you won’t know exactly how much you will profit or lose. What a CTA does is extensive historical testing on his / her concepts, and trading strategies to get an idea of what to […]
A futures or commodity market is “locked-limit” when trading is suspended due to prices moving the exchange-stipulated daily limit, this can happen for one day (it can even lock-limit and then trade off), or if given a news event monumental in nature, the market may stay “locked” for as many days needed for market participants […]
When a CTA or Money Manager is testing or back-testing their entry signals one of the most important aspects they look at is if the technique’s they are using has a distinct “edge”, for the time-frame they are trading (short-term, swing, long-term, etc). Positive price movement is when the market goes in the direction of […]
Success in trading is measured in terms of the growth of the account balance. A CTA is not expected to play God and call every twist and turn in the market correctly at all times. As a matter of fact, some professional and proven CTA’s systems are only correct 25-30% of the time and they […]