Hawkish Jackson Hole Surprise Will Pop Credit's Summer Bubble
Comment of the Day

August 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hawkish Jackson Hole Surprise Will Pop Credit's Summer Bubble

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Any sign from this week’s Jackson Hole symposium of more aggressive rate hikes to come will whack credit markets, which have already started to give back summer gains. Misplaced optimism about the US inflation and economic outlook squeezed spreads to unsustainably tight levels, leaving debt vulnerable to a fall that will be exacerbated by dwindling liquidity.

US high-grade bonds got overbought as fund inflows chased better returns, despite a barrage of issuance which will likely resume in September. The high-duration debt stands to lose most from a more hawkish Fed.

Spreads have almost 25 bps to go before hitting the July wide at 160 bps, but investors are keeping powder dry for a move back to May 2020 levels above 180 bps. That would be a fairly extreme move for a market that tends to move in 1-2 bps daily increments, but pre-Labor Day lack of liquidity provides scope to gap out.

Junk’s summer gains were led by the riskiest bonds, which would be battered most by a higher rates/lower growth environment. Some are waiting for a pummeling to 800 bps -- from 432 bps currently -- before buying in.

Eoin Treacy's view

The biggest factor in the underperformance of portfolios from the beginning of the year had been the strong correlation between bonds and equities. They both fell at the same time and played havoc with the 60/40 portfolio set up. That relationship stopped working from early this month. Treasury prices resumed falling but stock prices rebounded.

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