I'm wondering if the fed will rachet rates as they have been slowing but surely doing...then it's not so sure what Eric is presuming..or if like landing a bloated C3 carrier we will bump into another growth period...Magical Thinking
Date: 1/18/2006 12:43:02 PM ( 14 y ) ... viewed 1713 times
Dear A-Letter Reader:
Over the last two years, investors have barely kept pace with inflation in benchmark intermediate term US Treasury bonds. After enjoying a massive rally since 2000, bond yields hit a 40 year low in 2003 at 3.3%. Despite thirteen Federal Reserve rate hikes since June 2004, bond yields have actually declined twenty basis points (0.20%), a worrisome signal Chairman Greenspan called a "conundrum" last fall. Yield curve inversion is a dangerous anomaly because it portends to economic weakness; the last three inversions all resulted in economic recessions.
Indeed, the bond market might be signaling big trouble for the US economy in 2006. The benchmark yield curve, or the difference between the two-year and ten-year Treasury yields, inverted in late December. An inverted yield curve occurs when short-term interest rates yield more than long-term interest rates. This phenomenon is a rarity in bond markets and typically indicates that bond investors think the US Federal Reserve is tightning the monetary screws too aggressively. If this is the case, then there is a good chance that the United States might suffer a recession later this year, especially if the yield curve stays inverted.
Historically, US Treasury bonds have positively correlated to common stocks. In market history, that relationship did sever during the Great Depression as stocks collapsed from 1929 to 1932 while bonds surged. Another break in that relationship developed in the post 1997 era as the Asian economic crisis and the near demise of hedge fund Long Term Capital Management drove investors into Treasury bonds en masse. In fact, since 1997, every time the stock market has corrected sharply, Treasury bonds have provided a negative correlation to equities. This means that T-bonds potentially serve as an ideal asset allocation tool amid market mayhem, protecting portfolios.
If yield curve inversion continues through the first quarter of 2006, investors would be well advised to purchase long-term Treasury bonds. An inverted yield curve spells big trouble for corporate earnings; an investment allocation to bonds would offset any stock market losses ahead of a major economic downturn or bear market.
Bonds did a great job protecting capital during the last bear market from 2000 to 2002. I expect this relationship will repeat itself this year if yield curve inversion continues.
ERIC N. ROSEMAN, Montreal, Quebec
Editor, Renegade Investor
Web site: http://www.eas.ca
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