The January Effect

Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

Hangover or Party On

US investors have enjoyed a year’s worth of returns in seven weeks. This has been a rally of everything – except oil. Even real estate has had its moment in the sun. US Equities are approaching overbought territory and will probably get there by the end of December. US Treasuries – long and short – will get there in January, at the current rate of progress. But US and European credit is already there. There has to be some sort of reaction to recent strength. We expect credit markets to weaken first, which will be used to justify the recession narrative, which will then impact equities. Government bonds may continue their rally for a while, but we think the big theme for the year will be the US budget deficit. Round 1 is in January, the next one is in Q4. Bond vigilantes are not dead, just sleeping.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Focus on Fixed Income

Friday, November 17th, 2023

High Yield has the best yield to volatility ratio

Our top-down models are now overweight fixed income, so maybe it is time to work out exactly which categories we want to own and why. We have always liked the yield to volatility ratio, chiefly because it is a good lead indicator of the Sharpe ratio, which an asset will deliver. It contains more information than a study of spreads relative to benchmark, and avoids the underlying assumption that these are somehow mean-reverting. High Yield scores very well on this metric and has done for most of the last two years, which is why we have it as the only category in our fixed income model, where we are overweight relative to benchmark.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Stall Speed

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

US equities may be on the verge of a short-term correction

One of our key indicators for US equities is flashing amber. The recommended weighting when compared with a portfolio of 10-year Treasuries and cash has fallen to a level where it historically continues down to zero more often than not. This could be accomplished by a correction in equities or a rally in bonds – very probably a mixture of both. However, we are more optimistic about the medium-term future. We don’t think this correction would indicate an upcoming US recession. It’s very difficult to have one, when the Federal budget deficit is over 6%. In our view, the correction in equities is a necessary pre-condition for putting a short-term floor under the Treasury market.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

All Trussed Up & Nowhere to Go

Friday, October 6th, 2023

US fiscal profligacy is the new ingredient in this bond crisis

This is a companion piece to last week’s note about the US 10-year Treasury – Why Yields Could Go to 6%. We think we are in a new trading range of 4.3-5.3% and that the biggest single reason for the change is the administration’s plan for 6% budget deficits until the end of the decade. We think there is a significant risk that it will be self-defeating, and that it is too close for comfort to the Liz Truss plan in the UK. We also think that the Fed is happy for bond markets to preach the virtues of fiscal restraint to the administration and is unlikely to ease rates in the absence of a financial accident. The latter is, of course, the most likely outcome of such a dramatic rise in yields.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Why Yields Could Go to 6%

Friday, September 29th, 2023

But not immediately

We think investors should re-acquaint themselves with the relationship between nominal GDP and 10-year Treasury yields. Over the last 60 years there has been a good relationship between yields and the three-year trend in nominal GDP growth. At the end of Q2 2023, yields were far too low in relation to this trend, much lower than they were in the 1970’s before Chairman Volcker tightened monetary policy in the 1980’s. This sent yields to the top of the range in relation to GDP in just four years. We think that Chairman Powell’s higher for longer stance, coupled with ongoing QT of $900 billion a year, will eventually be as influential in boosting Treasury yields above the trend rate of growth, possibly for a period of several years. We use a variety of forecasting techniques, all of which suggest yields in excess of 6.0% sometime in 2026, but maybe earlier.

Filed under: Categories: , , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

The Next Ten Percent

Friday, September 15th, 2023

What happens if US equities have a correction

We think that US equities may be vulnerable to a correction over the next two to three months. Our models suggest that the Technology sector may be about to underperform and that this could put pressure on other related sectors which have also performed strongly this year. We identify three separate trades which may be able to mitigate some of the impact: long-dated US Treasuries, large cap Japanese equities and Energy equities in the US and Europe. The rationale behind each idea is discussed in detail in the note, but the key point is that they are largely unrelated and therefore offer an interesting diversification strategy as well.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Three Big Risks

Friday, August 4th, 2023

Dollar, oil and Treasury yields

Our models suggest that the near-term outlook for crude oil and 10-year Treasury yields is higher, while the trade weighted dollar is lower. This is not the consensus view. More importantly, we think that the medium-term risk-case for Treasury yields and the US dollar is much worse than the consensus is prepared to consider. It is hard to imagine a world of high and rising yields, if you have spent your career in an era of falling yields. The same is true of the dollar but in reverse. Investors ought to make the effort to do so, lest they are unpleasantly surprised.

Filed under: Categories: , , , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

False Sense of Security

Monday, July 10th, 2023

7-10 year Treasuries offer no hedge against equity declines

We are mystified by the ongoing strength of the long end of the US yield curve. We fully acknowledge our bias towards a higher-for-longer view of inflation. Even so, we don’t understand why investors are willing to put up with lower yields and higher volatility than they could get by investing in shorter-dated Treasuries. Over the last 18 months, 7-10 year US Treasuries have delivered absolutely no protection against a decline in US equities. In fact, they have a tendency to decline at the same time and this downside beta has been getting worse. The same relationship affects all Treasury maturities from 1-3, all the way out to 10-20, but the 7-10 year index has the worst beta.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Some Safety Plays May Not Work

Friday, April 7th, 2023

Positive correlation between equities and bonds still a threat

The top-down consensus is rightly gloomy about the outlook for earnings estimates and equity benchmarks in the US. The problem is that the market shares this analysis and still refuses to go down. We need an additional catalyst to shake us out of the current trading range. A mild US recession is not the main risk to balanced portfolios, provided bonds rise while equities fall. What we worry about is a bear market in everything, if the current regime of positive correlation between equities and bonds continues. There are ways to mitigate this, by lowering the beta in your equity portfolio, increasing exposure to Europe (and anywhere else that may benefit from a weak dollar) and increased exposure to cash and money market funds.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Bull Market in Cash

Friday, March 3rd, 2023

Bonds are not the best hedge for equities

The 40-year bull market in bonds is over and investors will have to adapt. We argued last time that cash should have a much more important role as the risk-free asset against which all investment propositions are evaluated. This week, we look at how cash has interacted with equities and government bonds over the last two years. We find that a three-asset portfolio, using our standard process, has significantly outperformed our standard equity/bond model, in both the US and Europe. Returns are higher in both absolute and relative terms and drawdowns are much lower. We think investors should consider raising their benchmark cash weighting to somewhere between 15-20%, with a pro-rata reduction in both equities and bonds. Some of this new cash weighting could be held in foreign currency.

Filed under: Categories: , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN