An investor appeared to make sensible decisions with her family’s savings – avoiding her home country of Greece, picking a safe haven and bonds rather than equities. But as FT Alphaville reporter Lisa Pollack explains, the Dutch bank that issued the bonds she chose was nationalised and all was lost – a consequence of new legislation on bank resolutions.
Those hoping for a “great rotation” from bonds to stocks might start by looking for smaller rotations within the equity market. James Mackintosh, investment editor, says the signs are far from uniformly supportive of the bigger rotation.
One extra chart, before the video: monthly total returns on the US benchmark 10-year Treasury bond per month. January saw a loss of 1.94 per cent, including coupon payments, which isn’t great. But it is slightly less than last March’s loss, or October 2011, and pales in comparison with some of the monthly losses in the past. As the chart shows, this is far from solid evidence of the bond bubble bursting. Read more
Investors are desperately hoping for a return to normal markets, which would mean the end of the risk-on, risk-off paradigm. Risk-on, risk-off – which sees the price of pretty much all asset classes move together – has retreated a little, but is still a force in global markets.
One example is the global flow of money out of havens. Today’s video and column highlights one aspect of that: the rise in the US bond yield above that of neighbour Canada, as investors shift from the safety of US Treasuries to prefer the growth prospects further north. Rather than going away, this is typical of the risk-on phase of the risk-on, risk-off cycle. Read more
Contrarians are usually a grumpy lot, constantly being ridiculed for making mad investments, only to have those that work out dismissed as pure luck.
2012 gave plenty of examples, with pretty much any mainstream equities the clearest (almost no one wanted them in January, everyone does now). For the more adventurous contrarian, Greek bonds bought at the start of the year and held through the default have returned 100 per cent, including coupons, while Portuguese bonds are up 79 per cent on the same basis. Read more
Lee Buchheit is a man worth listening to. The Cleary Gottlieb lawyer wiped €100bn off Greece’s debts when he restructured the country’s bonds at the expense of the private sector, in just the latest in a long line of sovereign defaults he has overseen.
Now he’s airing his thoughts on the options for Spain and Italy, jointly with Mitu Gulati of Duke Law School – and rather bravely, he’s due to speak about it in Portugal next week.
His key message is that Spain is running on borrowed time, and should get on with a Uruguay-style debt reprofiling as soon as possible, extending maturity dates on bonds far into the future but continuing to pay interest. Read more
The euro is down (perhaps rationally: if the euro solution is to print money, debasement offsets the continued existence of the currency). Just as important for the technically-minded is that the euro failed to break its 30-day moving average, at $1.237.
The German 2-year yield has set a new low, coming close to -0.1% before recovering a little. Flight capital, in other words, is still headed for Germany. Longer dated German bond yields remain wider than last week, but are still tighter than at the start of July. There is not much confidence that Draghi will succeed in the face of the Bundesbank’s opposition.
On the plus side, Spanish yields continue to improve, with the 10-year having now plunged a full percentage point since last Tuesday, and short-dated yields also dropping sharply. Again, though, things remain worse at the end of July than they were at the start.
The two most important eurozone charts after the turn
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This blog is about asset allocation at the global level. It is an ongoing attempt to explain why investors and markets behave the way they do.
John Authers officially takes the "Long View", while James Mackintosh takes the "Short View" when it comes to investment decisions. In practice both of us end up taking both long- and short-term views, and occasionally disagreeing with each other; all comments and disagreements are very welcome.
James Mackintosh is the Financial Times' Investment Editor, writing and presenting the daily Short View column and video. In 16 years at the FT his posts have included comment editor, motor industry editor and hedge funds correspondent, as well as spells in the Parliamentary lobby and Paris. He was the first reporter hired for FT.com, joining two weeks before it launched.
James has a degree in philosophy and psychology from the University of Oxford, where he spent two further years in post-graduate study of philosophy. If he wasn't here, he'd be skiing.
John Authers is the Financial Times' Senior Investment Columnist, writing the Saturday Long View and a regular Monday column. In a 22-year career at the FT, his previous posts have included global head of the Lex column, investment editor, US markets editor, Mexico City bureau chief and US banking correspondent. His latest book is The Fearful Rise of Markets.
John has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford, and an MBA from Columbia University. Perhaps more interestingly, he captained the highest scoring team in the history of University Challenge while at Oxford, and also once sung in Pavarotti's backing choir.