It’s past 2.75%; Do you know where your risk is?

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The good news is I thought the ten-year Treasury was going to get to 2.75% sometime in 2018. The bad news is I didn’t think it would get there the first month of the year! We are at the rate levels where many wise market prognosticators, such as Jeff Gundlach at Doubleline and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, have said the wheels will start coming off the risk-asset cart. With regard to where we are in rates, when you look at economic performance, both global and domestic, economic assessments from the world’s major central banks with regard to projected growth and inflation, fiscal stimulus, and the potential for a large increase in the government budget deficit, suddenly a 2.75% to 3% ten-year Treasury rate looks just about right. Moreover, as we have just seen with the employment numbers this morning, wage inflation is picking up as average hourly earnings (year over year) increased 2.9%. To me, it just does not make sense that we are near what would be considered “full-employment,” our $18 trillion economy is growing at a robust 3%, labor productivity is reported to be weak, and inflation is not yet upon us. If I had given that answer in my college macroeconomics 101 exam I would have gotten an F!The good news is that right now we are heading higher in rates because the economy is firing on all cylinders. Consumer spending is up, as are wages (which could offset higher consumer borrowing rates). Corporate earnings continue to be strong, important asset values like housing are solid, and the 2017 tax reform hasn’t even kicked in yet. Therefore, the question is, do higher rates and perhaps a more aggressive Fed wallop stocks and other risk assets (as respected market participants predict) to the point where we have a financial market disruption that ends up reversing the course of rates? I think that is a decent probability due to what I would call the excesses of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing program.The problem is, in my opinion, we have too many people invested in bond funds that have probably more interest rate duration and more credit spread duration than they realize. In January, even as underlying Treasury rates rose, the stock market soared and high-yield spreads continued to tighten. Therefore, when investors look at their statements, even as rates increased, corporate spreads (both investment grade and high yield) tightened, offsetting the rise in underlying rates, keeping prices relatively firm. In February, however, investment grade and high-yield spreads have increased, along with underlying yields. That creates a situation where investors, who were essentially funneled by the Fed into relatively high-risk bond funds, are going to see some pretty sizeable losses in February. That could be a problem as these investors look at that statement and realize that they have done really well for a long time, but perhaps it is time that they look toward safer investments, especially now that the yield on those safer investments has increased. continue reading »last_img read more

Governor Wolf Orders Commonwealth Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Firefighter Erik Hirner

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Flag Order,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf has ordered the Commonwealth flag at the Capitol Complex and at all Commonwealth facilities in the counties of Lehigh and Berks to fly at half-staff to honor fallen firefighter Erik Hirner.Erik Hirner, a resident of North Catasauqua, Northampton County, and an 11-year veteran of the Reading Fire Department, Berks County, died from injuries after his vehicle was struck by another while en route to work on Sunday, May 27, 2018.The Commonwealth flag shall be lowered immediately, Thursday, May 31, 2018, through sunset on the day of interment. All Pennsylvanians are invited to participate in this tribute.The United States flag shall remain at full staff during this tribute. May 31, 2018center_img Governor Wolf Orders Commonwealth Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Firefighter Erik Hirnerlast_img read more