Global Opportunities Beyond the Radar

Speculating on Bonds: A Hedge Against Fear?

 

Quantum Wealth Summary

 

 


 

There’s no hiding it: we’ve had one hell of a good time this past decade.

From 2009 to 2021, we experienced an unprecedented bull run.

Stocks. Crypto. Property. Everything was going up, up, up. And every man, woman, and child (along with their dog, cat, and goldfish) seemed to throw caution to the wind.

They engaged in full-blown greed. They borrowed and speculated. Then they borrowed and speculated some more.

How? Why?

Well, just look at what the Federal Reserve in America did to interest rates:

 

Source: Visual Capitalist

 

Well, it’s a given. Where America goes, the rest of the world follows. Two fear events — the Global Financial Crisis and Covid — encouraged central bankers to loosen monetary policy. Both times, they used it like a defibrillator to shock the global economy back to life. By all accounts, it worked. Maybe a bit too well:

The mania was extraordinary. Most people couldn’t wait to jump on board this runaway freight train. But they didn’t pay attention to the fact that the engine was overheating — and a painful reckoning was due.

Say hello to inflation.

 

Source: bluesyemre

 

There are four key reasons why inflation is hitting us so hard now:

There’s no easy fix for these issues. They are complex moving parts. But Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has declared that he will be uncompromising in his effort to fight inflation:

‘These lessons are guiding us as we use our tools to bring inflation down. We are taking forceful and rapid steps to moderate demand so that it comes into better alignment with supply, and to keep inflation expectations anchored. We will keep at it until we are confident the job is done.’

In other words, Powell and other central bankers will be relentless in pushing up interest rates. There’s a sense of urgency in delivering this bitter medicine now:

‘While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.’

Yes, indeed.

Now, of course, this isn’t necessarily the message that folks want to hear. Borrowers have had it so easy this past decade that a sudden tightening of the belt is bound to hurt.

This is why the market has been floundering for a sense of direction lately.

Stocks. Crypto. Property. Everything has been dipping. And every man, woman, and child (along with their dog, cat, and goldfish) seem to be gripped by existential terror now.

The cost of borrowing is escalating.

Debt will keep on getting more expensive.

But wait. Hold on. To be fair, this isn’t actually the end of the world. It’s just a return to normal. ‘Normalising’ interest rates after a period of being so low. If we put our emotions aside, this new policy sounds reasonable. Maybe even desirable.

Interestingly enough, one group of speculators are feeling optimistic about the way things are going. As interest rates climb, government bond yields will also climb, which means that government bond prices will tend to fall.

So these speculators have embraced a contrarian investment strategy, trying to take advantage of this bearish trend. They are going short and betting against government bond prices. Their instrument of choice is an inverse ETF that’s up over 29% this year.

Can these gains continue? Is there more juice left in the tank? Well, let’s find out…

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