How will a bond bear market affect stocks?

10-Year Treasury yields broke out of their triangular consolidation at 3.00%, while the Trend Index recovered above zero signaling a fresh advance.

10-year Treasury Yield

Importance of resistance at 3.00% is best illustrated on a long-term monthly chart. Yields declined for more than three decades (since 1981) in a bond bull market but the rise above 3.00% completes a double-bottom reversal, warning of rising yields and a bond bear market. Target for the advance is 4.50%.

10-year Treasury Yield

The yield differential between 10-year and 3-month Treasuries has declined since 2010, prompting discussion as to whether a flat yield curve will cause a recession.  Interesting that the yield differential recovered almost 20 basis points in September, with long-term yields rising faster than short-term. Penetration of the descending trendline would suggest that an imminent negative yield curve is unlikely.

10-year Treasury Yield

How would a bond bear market affect stocks?

Capital losses from rising yields on long-maturity bonds would increase demand for shorter maturities, driving down short-term yields and causing a steeper yield curve. A bullish sign for stocks.

Inflation is low and the rise in long-term yields is likely to be gradual. Another bullish sign.

The last bond bear market lasted from the early 1950s to a peak in September 1981. Higher interest rates were driven by rising inflation ( indicated below by percentage change in the GDP implicit price deflator). The 1975 spike in inflation was caused by the OPEC oil embargo in retaliation for US support of Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

1950 to 1981: 10-Year Treasury Yields and GDP Implicit Price Deflator

Stock prices continued to climb during the bond bear market, apart from a 1973 – 1974 setback, but the Price-Earnings ratio fell sharply in ’73-’74 and only recovered 10 years later, in the mid-1980s.

1950 to 1981: S&P 500 and PE Ratio

Alarmists may jump to the conclusion that a bond bear market would lead to a similar massive fall in earnings multiples but there were other factors in play in 1975 to 1985.

First, crude prices spiked after the OPEC oil embargo and only retreated in the mid-1980s.

1960 to 1985: West Texas Intermediate Crude prices

The rise of Japan also threatened US dominance in global markets.

1960 to 1985: Nikkei 225 Index

We should rather examine the period prior to 1973 as indicative of a typical bond bear market. The S&P 500 Price-Earnings ratio was largely unaffected by rising yields. Real interest rates actually decreased during the period, with the gap between 10-year yields and the inflation rate only widening near the 1981 peak.

At present, real interest rates are near record lows.

1981 to 2018: 10-Year Treasury Yields and GDP Implicit Price Deflator

We can expect real interest rates to rise over time but that is unlikely to have a significant impact on earnings multiples — unless there is a strong surge in long-term yields ahead of inflation.

 

Asia steadies

China’s Shanghai Composite Index steadied and is again testing resistance at 3100. Breakout would signal a primary up-trend. Rising troughs on Twiggs Money Flow indicate buying pressure.

Shanghai Composite Index

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rallied for another test of resistance at 17000. Breakout above 17000 would suggest a primary up-trend. Follow-through above 17600, completing a broad double-bottom, would confirm. Further consolidation, however, is more likely.

Nikkei 225 Index

India’s BSE Sensex broke out of its narrow rectangle at 28000, signaling another advance. Expect a test of the 2015 high at 30000. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow now appears misleading.

SENSEX

Why Japan Should Rearm by Brahma Chellaney | Project Syndicate

….It is Japan’s security, not its economy, that merits the most concern today – and Japan knows it. After decades of contentedly relying on the US for protection, Japan is being shaken out of its complacency by fast-changing security and power dynamics in Asia, especially the rise of an increasingly muscular and revisionist China vying for regional hegemony.

….China has not hesitated to display its growing might. In the strategically vital South China Sea, the People’s Republic has built artificial islands and military outposts, and it has captured the disputed Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. In the East China Sea, it has unilaterally declared an air-defense identification zone covering territories that it claims but does not control.

With US President Barack Obama hesitating to impose any costs on China for these aggressive moves…..the reality is that ensuring long-term peace in Asia demands a stronger defense posture for Japan.

….Would Japan need to become a truly independent military power, with formidable deterrent capabilities like those of the UK or France?

The short answer is yes. While Japan should not abandon its security treaty with the US, it can and should rearm, with an exclusive focus on defense…..

Read more at: Why Japan Should Rearm by Brahma Chellaney | Project Syndicate

China: Deja vu all over again

The Shanghai Composite today found support at 3500 today after plunging more than 8% on Monday. The large divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow continues to warn of selling pressure.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target calculation: 4000 – ( 5000 – 4000 ) = 3000

Japan’s Lost Decade

From Wikipedia:

The Japanese asset price bubble….. was an economic bubble in Japan from 1986 to 1991 in which real estate and stock market prices were greatly inflated. The bubble was characterized by rapid acceleration of asset prices and overheated economic activity, as well as an uncontrolled money supply and credit expansion. More specifically, over-confidence and speculation regarding asset and stock prices had been closely associated with excessive monetary easing policy at the time.

By August 1990, the Nikkei stock index had plummeted to half its peak by the time of the fifth monetary tightening by the Bank of Japan (BOJ)…..the economy’s decline continued for more than a decade. This decline resulted in a huge accumulation of non-performing assets loans (NPL), causing difficulties for many financial institutions. The bursting of the Japanese asset price bubble contributed to what many call the Lost Decade.

“…uncontrolled money supply and credit expansion….overheated stock market and real estate bubble.” Sound familiar? It should. We are witnessing a re-run but this time in China. Wait, there’s more…..

…..At the end of August 1987, the BOJ signaled the possibility of tightening the monetary policy, but decided to delay the decision in view of economic uncertainty related to Black Monday (October 19, 1987) in the US.

…..BOJ reluctance to tighten the monetary policy was in spite of the fact that the economy went into expansion in the second half of 1987. The Japanese economy had just recovered from the “endaka recession” ….. closely linked to the Plaza Accord of September 1985, which led to the strong appreciation of the Japanese yen.

…..in order to overcome the “endaka” recession and stimulate the local economy, an aggressive fiscal policy was adopted, mainly through expansion of public investment. Simultaneously, the BOJ declared that curbing the yen’s appreciation was a “national priority”……

Global stock market crash leads to prolonged monetary easing…… aggressive expansion of public investment to stimulate the domestic economy…..central bank efforts to curb appreciation of the currency. We all know how this ends. We’ve seen the movie before.

It’s like deja-vu, all over again. ~ Yogi Berra

How Indonesia and the Philippines Solved Their Maritime Dispute | The Diplomat

Arif Havas Oegroseno is Indonesia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, and President of the 20th Meeting of the States Parties of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982:

There are two important lessons arising from the negotiations between Indonesia and the Philippines over their bilateral maritime boundaries. Firstly, whether you like it or not, the current prevailing law to settle maritime boundaries is UNCLOS. This is true regardless of your historical record, even if it is 115 years old. If a rectangular line map from a century-old Treaty had to be aligned with UNCLOS, aligning a dash-line map that was created only in the mid-1940s with UNCLOS should be relatively problem-free. While there is a difference in shape between the rectangular line of the Treaty of Paris that the Philippines previously used with Indonesia, and the nine dash-line map that China currently bases its maritime claims in the South China Sea on, they share one similarity: both are unilateral expressions of claims that are not based on international law. The first Indonesia-Philippines maritime boundary signifies the emergence of a state practice whereby in a maritime boundary dispute a unilateral proclamation of maps will eventually be aligned with prevailing international law. Secondly, the claimants need not look far to see how countries in the region can work together for the larger interest over a large swath of waters devoid of maritime boundaries…..It is my conviction that all claimant states in the South China Sea, especially China, which is also a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, carry the moral, political, and legal responsibility of creating peace and stability in the world and are able to work together peacefully.

Read more at How Indonesia and the Philippines Solved Their Maritime Dispute | The Diplomat.

China’s Investment-Driven Growth “Miracle”

Worth Wray quotes Michael Pettis from his 2013 book, Avoiding the Fall: China’s Economic Restructuring, about the future path of China’s debt-laden economy:

Every country that has followed a consumption-repressing, investment-driven growth model like China’s has ended with an unsustainable debt burden caused by wasted debt-financed investment. This has always led to either a debt crisis or a lost decade of very low growth.

I couldn’t agree more. China is no different to Japan or Brazil. Investment-driven growth is only sustainable where investment earns a higher return than the long-term cost of servicing the debt. With diminishing returns on additional investment, returns dwindle and a debt/investment imbalance develops.

Keynesian thinking goes even further, however, suggesting that a fiscal deficit can be used to fund expenditure that does not earn a return, whether public fountains or school libraries. But that is short-term thinking, as Keynes indirectly acknowledged with his response “in the long run we are all dead.” In the long run, as with Japan, the government ends up with a huge pile of public debt and no income from investment assets with which to service the interest, let alone repay the principal.

The effect of a Chinese slow-down is likely to be similar to that of Japan in the early 1990s — just on a larger scale.

Read more at John Mauldin’s Thoughts from the Frontline: Can Central Planners Revive China’s Economic Miracle?

Two cheers for higher Japanese bond yields in the spirit of Milton Friedman | The Market Monetarist

Market monetarist Lars Christensen gives an insight into rising Japanese (JGB) bond yields:

…..the markets do not think that the Japanese government is about to go bankrupt. In fact completely in parallel with the increase in inflation expectations the markets’ perception of the Japanese government’s default risk have decreased significantly. Hence, the 5-year Credit Default Swap on Japan has dropped from around 225bp in October last year just after Mr. Abe was elected Prime Minister to around 70bp today!

Read more at Two cheers for higher Japanese bond yields in the spirit of Milton Friedman | The Market Monetarist.

Carney Warns Europe Faces Decade of Stagnation Without Key Reforms | WSJ

Nirmala Menon at WSJ quotes Mark Carney, incoming governor of the Bank of England:

Mr. Carney, currently Canada’s top central banker, said Europe can draw lessons from Japan on the dangers of taking half measures……..“Deep challenges persist in its financial system. Without sustained and significant reforms, a decade of stagnation threatens,” Mr. Carney said in his final public address as governor of the Bank of Canada.

Read more at Carney Warns Europe Faces Decade of Stagnation Without Key Reforms – Real Time Economics – WSJ.