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Weekly Commentary: Peak Monetary Stimulus

Weekly Commentary: Peak Monetary Stimulus

Not again. Bloomberg is referring to “the bond market riddle.” The Financial Times went with the headline, “US Government Bond Investors Left Bewildered by ‘Bonkers’ Market Move.” It’s been three weeks of declining Treasury yields in the face of robust economic data (and surging commodities prices!). Too soon to be discussing a new “conundrum,” but I am finding the various explanations of Treasury market behavior interesting – if not convincing.

Treasury market sentiment had turned negative. A decent short position had developed, and it’s perfectly reasonable to expect the occasional squeeze. Squeezes, after all, have become commonplace throughout the markets. But could there be something more fundamental unfolding?

Over the years, I’ve relied upon a “Core vs. Periphery” model of market instability as a key facet of my analytical framework. Instability and financial crises typically emerge at the “periphery” – at the fringe where the structurally weakest and most vulnerable to risk aversion and tightening financial conditions – reside. I believe this dynamic is already in play for the global Bubble, with the emerging markets earlier in the year experiencing an opening round of instability. Are we in the “quiet” before the next EM storm?

The dog that didn’t bark. Ten-year Treasury yields are down 18 bps this month. Meanwhile, the dollar index dropped 2.5% to a six-week low. Why haven’t the emerging markets mustered a more impressive rally, especially considering the degree of bearish sentiment that had developed? Could this be as good as it gets? The week’s developments lent support to the latent fragility at the “Periphery” thesis. Are central bank responses to liquidity overabundance and mounting inflationary pressures an escalating risk to fragile EM Bubbles?
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