What is an Inverted Bond?

Bond market predicts a recession ahead

Inverted bond chart, also known as the yield curve inversion, is a powerful economic indicator that has garnered significant attention in recent years. In simple terms, an inverted bond chart is when the yield on short-term bonds exceeds the yield on long-term bonds. This event is considered a warning sign of an impending economic recession. In this article, we will explore what an inverted bond chart is, how it works, and what it means for investors.

What is an Inverted Bond Chart?

A bond is essentially an IOU issued by a borrower, such as a company or a government, to an investor. The bond pays interest to the investor at a certain rate, also known as the yield. The yield on a bond is determined by the prevailing interest rates in the economy and the creditworthiness of the borrower. Generally, the longer the maturity of the bond, the higher the yield investors demand. This is because investors demand a premium for lending their money for a longer period, as there is more risk involved.

An inverted bond chart is when the yield on short-term bonds exceeds the yield on long-term bonds. This is a rare occurrence and happens when investors lose confidence in the economy’s future prospects. Normally, investors expect to receive a higher yield on long-term bonds because they are taking a greater risk by lending their money for a longer period. However, when investors are worried about the economy’s prospects, they demand higher yields on short-term bonds as they are more concerned about the immediate future. This demand for short-term bonds drives down their yields and causes the yield curve to invert.

How Does an Inverted Bond Chart Work?

An inverted bond chart works by reflecting the market’s expectations of future economic growth and inflation. When investors are optimistic about the economy’s future prospects, they demand lower yields on short-term bonds as they believe that interest rates will remain low in the future. This optimism drives up the yields on long-term bonds as investors are willing to lend their money for a longer period.

Conversely, when investors are pessimistic about the economy’s future prospects, they demand higher yields on short-term bonds as they believe that interest rates will rise in the future. This pessimism drives down the yields on long-term bonds as investors are less willing to lend their money for a longer period. This creates an inverted bond chart as the yields on short-term bonds exceed those on long-term bonds.

What Does an Inverted Bond Chart Mean for Investors?

An inverted bond chart is a warning sign of an impending economic recession. Historically, every recession in the United States since 1950 has been preceded by an inverted yield curve. This is because an inverted bond chart signals that investors are worried about the future prospects of the economy and are demanding higher yields on short-term bonds. This demand for short-term bonds drives down their yields and causes the yield curve to invert.

Investors should take an inverted bond chart seriously, as it indicates that the economy is likely to experience a slowdown in the near future. This can have significant implications for their investment portfolios. During a recession, the stock market tends to perform poorly, and investors may experience significant losses if they are not properly diversified. Additionally, companies may cut dividends, leading to a decrease in income for investors who rely on dividends for income.

Investors should consider adjusting their portfolios in response to an inverted bond chart. This may involve reducing exposure to stocks and increasing exposure to bonds, particularly those with short maturities. Short-term bonds are less affected by changes in interest rates and are less volatile than long-term bonds, making them a good option for investors during a recession. Investors may also consider investing in defensive stocks, such as utilities and consumer staples, as these tend to perform well during economic downturns.

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Ambac shares jump on its legal victory!

Bank of America to pay $1.84B to Ambac Financial to resolve pending lawsuits

In a regulatory filing, Bank of America (BAC) disclosed that the corporation and certain wholly owned subsidiaries entered into an agreement with Ambac Assurance Corporation (AMBC) to resolve all pending Ambac lawsuits against the corporation and its subsidiaries previously disclosed in the corporation’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended 2021, and in prior U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports.

As disclosed in those filings, the pending lawsuits, with damages claims of more than $3B, were brought by Ambac against Countrywide entities and other legacy entities related to bond insurance policies that Ambac provided before the 2008 financial crisis.

Under the terms of the agreement, in exchange for the corporation’s payment of $1.84B to Ambac, Ambac, among other things, will cause all pending litigation between the parties to be dismissed with prejudice, and release the corporation and its subsidiaries from all outstanding claims related to Ambac’s issuance of bond insurance policies for certain of the corporation’s and legacy entities’ securitized pools of residential mortgage loans.

The corporation previously accrued for certain amounts of the settlement payment. As a result of the previous accruals and in consideration of the settlement payment, Bank of America said it expects to incur a pre-tax expense in the third quarter of 2022 of approximately $354M, or 3c per share on an after tax basis.

Ambac had been seeking to recover billions of dollars in claims it paid out on bonds originally underwritten by Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America acquired after the mortgage firm’s collapse during the financial crisis. BofA has already paid more than $50 billion to resolve regulatory probes and litigation stemming from its $4 billion purchase of Countrywide.

A trial was underway before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed and was expected to last months. The eventual final payment from Bank of America will resolve all legal matters, according to the filing.

Ambac shares are up 14% to $14.55.

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Rail Traffic Declines as Growth Slows!

North American rail traffic down 1% for the week ending September 17

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 17. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 490,654 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending September 17 were 239,528 carloads, up 2% compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 251,126 containers and trailers, down 7.3% compared to 2021.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021.

They included coal, up 3,948 carloads, to 72,774; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,491 carloads, to 35,163; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2,185 carloads, to 13,879.

Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included metallic ores and metals, down 3,192 carloads, to 21,581; miscellaneous carloads, down 1,623 carloads, to 8,250; and forest products, down 1,362 carloads, to 9,076. North American rail volume for the week ending September 17, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 342,034 carloads, up 3.5% compared with the same week last year, and 341,595 intermodal units, down 4.7% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,629 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8%.

North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2022 was 25,025,034 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4% compared with 2021.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP) and Trinity Industries (TRN), Greenbrier (GBX), FreightCar America (RAIL) and Wabtec (WAB).

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Beige Book says housing is slowing amid high inflation

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace.

But there was a big “however,” something the Fed typically does not express:

“several Districts reported grow signs of a slowdown in demand, and contacts in five Districts noted concerns over an increased risk of a recession.”

Most Districts reported moderation in consumer spending as higher food and gas prices diminished households’ discretionary income.

Federal Reserve Regions

Auto sales were sluggish with low inventories still impacting.

Leisure travel was “healthy.” Manufacturing was mixed. Non-financial services firms saw stable to slightly higher demand. Housing demand weakened.

As in the prior report, the outlook for future economic growth was mostly negative.

Employment generally continued to rise at a moderate pace and conditions were tight overall.

Jerome Powell, FOMC Chair

But there was some sign of modest improvement in labor availability.

Most Districts reported wage growth.

“Substantial” price increases were reported across all Districts, at all stages of consumption, with food, commodities, and energy (particularly fuel) cost remaining “significant.”

There was some moderation in construction materials.

Pricing power was steady, but firms in some sectors like travel and hospitality, were able to pass through sizeable increases to consumers. That is seen persisting through the year.

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IMF warns of global slowdown

International Monetary Fund cuts global growth forecast

IMF cuts global growth forecast and warns that the rebound in global financial markets “appears disconnected from shifts in underlying economic prospects”.

The fund now expects global GDP to shrink -4.9% this year, from -3.0% expected in April.

For next year, the IMF sees a rebound of 5.4%, also lower than the 5.8% projected two months ago with downward revisions reflecting the deep scars from a larger than expected supply shock during lockdowns as well as a continued hit to demand from social distancing and other virus measures.

Orange color designates economic downgrades

The IMF warned that for nations struggling to control the spread of the virus a longer lockdown will also take a toll on growth.

“With the relentless spread of the pandemic, prospects of long lasting negative consequences for livelihoods, job security and inequality have grown more daunting”, according to the fund’s update to the World Economic Outlook.

Advanced economies are expected to lead the downdraft with a -8.0% rate, versus -6.1% in the prior forecast.

The outlook on the U.S. was downgraded to -8.0% from -5.9%.

The projection on the Euro Area was knocked down to -10.2% from -7.5%. The UK is also seen posting a -10.2% contraction versus -6.5% previously. Japan was revised to -5.8% from -5.2%.

Emerging market and developing economies are seen falling -3.0% versus -1.0% in the April forecast. China is expected to expand 1.0%, though down from the prior 1.2%.

The largest revision was seen with India where the prior 1.9% growth rate was revised to a -4.5% contraction. World trade volume is projected tumbling at a -11.9% pace this year, a downgrade from -11.0% previously, though is expected to bounce back to an 8.0% growth rate in 2021.

Consumer prices in Advanced economies is seen slowing to 0.3% versus the prior estimate of 0.5%, and is down from a 1.4% pace in 2019.

Several central bank officials have also tried to reign in optimism about the recovery as markets seem to run away with the recovery story.

India’s economy is expected to hit hard with Covid-19

Massive monetary and fiscal support may help to kick-start a rebound, but as ECB chief economist Lane warned today, it will take a long time to reach pre-crisis levels.

The Bank o Japan’s summary of opinion warned that a prolonged negative impact of virus developments on the economic outlook looks unavoidable. And China’s Beige Book expects a contraction for China’s economy this year. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, announced a joint travel advisory.

All individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 into any of the three states must quarantine for 14 days, the governors announced.

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Coronavirus induced slowdown is coming!

U.S. factory orders undershot estimates in January

U.S. factory orders undershot estimates in January, with declines of -0.5% for the headline and -0.1% ex-transportation, alongside a -0.1% factory inventory drop. Note that this report reflects the period prior to the spread of Covid-19 or Coronavirus.

Covid-19 spreads across the World.

The undershoot reflected declines of -0.8% for nondurable shipments and orders, and -0.2% for nondurable inventories, after downward December revisions, with a headwind for both from energy prices.

Factory Orders Slow in January

The equipment data from the durables report were revised modestly lower, alongside slight downward tweaks in the December levels for orders, shipments, and inventories.

The data still show encouraging January gains for most of the equipment data despite downward bumps, but lean shipments and inventory data, with January pull-backs for transportation and defense after December gains.

Analysts still expect a Q4 GDP growth boost to 2.2% from 2.1% but with -$1 B revisions for both factory inventories and equipment spending.

Factory orders fall in January

Analysts expect GDP growth of 2.0% in Q1, with a -5% (was -4%) Q1 contraction rate for real equipment spending after an estimated -4.8% (was -4.4%) Q4 pace. Analysts expect a -$20 B Q1 inventory subtraction that leaves a $9 B liquidation rate, with a big hit to inventories from reduced imports from China.

Analysts assume a -0.1% (was flat) January business inventory drop after a flat (was 0.1%) figure in December.

Earlier, we had a blog regarding slow down in truck sales was flashing an economic slowdown on the horizon. Read the blog here.

Feds Panic

Fed funds futures have continued to rally as the market prices in another 25 bps of easing at the upcoming March 17, 18 FOMC, on top of this week’s 50 bp reduction.

FOMC emergency 50bp rate cut may have hurt the market.

The market is also supported from flight from risk with declines of over 2% on Wall Street in pre-open action.

The futures are now fully priced for a 25 bps easing in two weeks, to be followed by another 25 bps at the April 28, 29 FOMC with about 75% risk, while June is now seeing about a 50-50 bet for yet one more 25 bp cut at the June 9, 10 FOMC.

Jerome Powell gives in to WH pressure and cuts rates.

That would see the policy band at 0% to 0.50%. Analysts continue believe the Fed and the markets are over-reacting and analysts doubt the economic impact of COVID-19 will be as disastrous as the market’s are pricing in.

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