January 16, 2018

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

FT – Why are so many Americans crowdfunding their healthcare? – Barney Jopson 1/10

FT – A power shift in the Middle East – Nick Butler 1/14

  • “The opening of the Zohr gasfield is a big opportunity for Egypt’s energy ambitions.”

NYT – Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone? – Nellie Bowles 1/12

The New Yorker – The Psychology of Inequality – Elizabeth Kolbert 1/15

  • “Researchers find that much of the damage done by being poor comes from feeling poor.”

Markets / Economy

FT – Bond markets: Is the bull run over? – Robin Wigglesworth 1/12

  • “This year will probably mark the first since the financial crisis where major central banks start shrinking their market footprint, reawakening concerns over the $50tn global bond market where governments, companies and banks raise vital funding.”
  • “The end of the bond bull market has been called before. Last year, many analysts predicted a gloomy outlook. Instead, global fixed income enjoyed its best year in a decade, returning 7.4% to investors in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate bond index. Few believe bonds will replicate those gains in 2018. But many investors say it is far too early to read the market’s last rites, given some of the long-term global forces — such as the inflation-subduing forces of demographics and technology — that keep yields suppressed.”
  • “But investors now face a shift in central bank policy.”
  • “The Fed started cautiously shrinking its balance sheet last year. This month the ECB’s bond-buying fell by half to €30bn a month, and analysts expect the program to end this year. For the first time in a decade, central banks will probably be withdrawing money from markets by the end of 2018.”
  • “The primary cause for this week’s bond ructions — which saw the 10-year Treasury yield rise to a nine-month high of nearly 2.6% — was data that showed the BoJ’s purchases of long-dated bonds had slowed, with the sell-off then exacerbated by reports, later denied, that China was considering reducing its Treasury purchases.”
  • “While the Japanese central bank will still buy as many bonds as needed to keep the 10-year government yield pinned at zero, the deceleration was enough to cause the global debt market to shiver. ‘The market reaction shows just how sensitive it is to any whiff of the central banks being less aggressive,’ Mr Peters (Gregory Peters, a senior portfolio manager at PGIM Fixed Income) says.”
  • “At the same time, supply of freshly-issued government debt is expected to rise. In 2017, the central banks of the US, Europe, Japan and the UK bought about $170bn more government bonds than were issued, meaning the net supply actually contracted. But BNP Paribas estimates that markets will have to absorb $600bn of debt in 2018.”
  • “Another potential risk for investors is whether 2018 is the year when inflation finally emerges from its slumber.”
  • “Ageing demographics is pushing a global savings glut into safer fixed income and helping keep inflationary forces at bay, aided by technology that is proving to be a deflationary force across a range of global industries. Jim Reid, a Deutsche Bank strategist, says that bond market squalls might become more frequent as central banks tighten their monetary spigot, but argues that it would take accelerating inflation ‘to really turbo charge any bond sell-off’.”
  • “Derivatives contracts indicate that investors believe the 10-year Treasury yield will be below the 3% mark in two, five and even 10 years’ time. Equivalent German and Japanese bond futures show that investors think their benchmark bond yields will stay below 2% and 1% respectively over the same timeframes.”
  • “Highlighting the ravenous demand for safe fixed income returns, droves of buyers were attracted this week to the auctions of 10 and 30-year US government debt, helping quell the turbulence.”

Real Estate

AZ Republic – Home buyers with popular millennial names buying more Arizona homes, analysis says – Catherine Reagor 1/14

FT – Chill winds in Swedish housing market – Katie Martin 1/15

Finance

NYT – What’s $27 Billion to Wall Street? An Alarming Drop in Revenue – Emily Flitter and Kate Kelly 1/11

  • “For more than a decade, the world’s top investment banks practically minted money from the buying and selling of bonds, currencies and other complex securities. For many banks, the business became their lifeblood.”
  • “Now, a combination of tough regulations, new technologies, calm markets and changing customer behavior has left that type of trading a shadow of its former self — and much of Wall Street trying to redefine itself.”
  • “Five years ago, fixed-income trading — so called because its keystone product, bonds, typically provides a fixed payout — generated nearly $103 billion in income for the top 12 investment banks, according to Coalition, a London research firm.”
  • “By 2016, that had fallen to less than $76 billion — down $27 billion from the peak.”

FT – Bitcoin investors struggle to cash out new fortunes – Kate Beioley and James Pickford 1/12

  • “UK mortgage lenders refuse to accept deposits because of money laundering fears.”

 

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