Yields have been on the rise this week in the midst of a bond market sell-off.
Two-year borrowing costs hit their highest level in a decade Wednesday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury climbed to 2.816%. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield hit a four-month high of 3.07%.
What’s going on here?
The economy is strong!
Or so the mainstream financial talking heads tell use every day.
Meanwhile, one of the best predictors of a looming inflation is flashing red.
The yield curve between the two and 10-year Treasuries narrowed to around 34 basis points this week. That’s the lowest level since 2007 – right before the financial crisis. Even more troubling, the global yield curve has inverted for the first time since 2007.
We’ve written a lot about government debt and warning signs in the Treasuries market. The US government needs to sell over a trillion dollars in bonds a year over the next few years to finance its skyrocketing deficit. Who exactly will buy all of these government bonds remains unclear and the impact on interest rates could send shockwaves through the entire US economy.
Equally troubling, but less often discussed, are the risks piling up in the corporate bond market.
The Russians are dumping US Treasuries and buying gold.
As we reported earlier this week, the three largest holders of US Treasuries are not in a buying mood. In fact, they’re selling. The Japanese disposed of $12.3 billion in US debt. Meanwhile, Chinese Treasury holdings fell by $5.8 billion. The Federal Reserve has shed about $70 billion in US bonds since launching its tightening program last fall. So far, individual and institutional investors have picked up the slack.
Lost in the latest data about Treasury holdings was the fact that Russia dumped nearly half of its US debt in April. But even as it divests itself from US bonds, Russia’s total reserves have grown as the country adds to its gold holdings.
In his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff hit a number of subjects including oil prices, bond prices, Bitcoin, the dollar and tariffs. Peter said he thinks we’re seeing a lot of movement in a number of markets that are counter to the long-term trends. For instance, oil dropped late last week, but he expects it’s long-term trend to continue upward. The dollar has picked up strength, but the broader trend is toward a weaker dollar. And bond yields fell, but the overall trajectory for interest rates is up.
The US government has hit borrowing levels not seen since the peak of the financial crisis.
The US Treasury’s net borrowing totaled $488 billion from January through March, according to a statement released Monday. That was $47 billion more than the department’s estimate. It was also a record for first quarter borrowing, according to Bloomberg.
He’s been dubbed the “Bond King,” but Jeffery Gundlach isn’t particularly bullish on bonds right now – at least not US government bonds. And he’s certainly not bullish on stocks. Gundlach has his eyes on gold.
Gundlach heads DoubleLine Capital, overseeing some $119 billion in assets. During a speech at the 2018 Sohn Investment Conference last week, he said an “explosive, potential energy” of a huge “head-and-shoulders bottom” base was signaling a move of $1,000 in gold prices.