Broken clocks get a bad rap…at least they are right twice a day. Many are the objects, individuals and/or institutions who are lucky to be right once a day… or even once a year. Consider, for example, those poor souls who continuously predict rising interest rates. These “bond bears” have not been right once in the last 30 years.
The lesson is clear: Better to be a broken clock than a bond bear.
But even if bond bears are not right even once-a-three-decades, perhaps they will prove to be right once-a-generation… and perhaps that moment is now, or almost now.
So says James Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. In a recent issue of his esteemed newsletter, Grant observed, “Today’s stunted interest rates, though not exactly unprecedented, are rare and remarkable. The world over, creditors are living on the equivalent of birdseed. Investors who once disdained sky-high yields today settle for crumbs…What are they thinking today?”
Grant answers his own question. Today’s bond buyers believe that “in an overleveraged economy, inflation is unachievable. So is growth, they have lately begun to insist. As for us, we hold a candle for both growth and inflation — and, in consequence, for our long anticipated, long overdue bond bear market.”
Grant hangs most of his prediction on fifth-grade arithmetic…or maybe advanced fourth grade: Debts are rising a lot. Revenues, not so much.
“Like a well fed teenager,” says Grant, “the national debt keeps growing and growing. On December 31, it bumped its head against the statutory ceiling that never seems to contain it. That would be $16.394 trillion, or the cash equivalent of 360.7 million pounds of $100 bills.”
Meanwhile, as the national debt continuously inflates by millions of pounds of hundred dollar bills, the national tax receipts struggle to keep pace.
“In the past 10 years to fiscal 2012,” Grant observes, “the compound annual growth in federal receipts worked out to 2.8%, that of federal outlays, 5.8%. In as much as the growth in receipts was much below the historical median (which, since 1967, had been 6.75% a year), one might — just for argument’s sake — say that the country had an income problem.”
Rapidly growing debt, coupled with slowly growing revenue, often creates a toxic environment for bonds. Bottom line: Grant is bearish on long-dated US Treasurys.
Eric Fryfor The Daily Reckoning
Eric J. Fry, Agora Financial's Editorial Director, has been a specialist in international equities for nearly two decades. He was a professional portfolio manager for more than 10 years, specializing in international investment strategies and short-selling. Following his successes in professional money management, Mr. Fry joined the Wall Street-based publishing operations of James Grant, editor of the prestigious Grant's Interest Rate Observer. Working alongside Grant, Mr. Fry produced Grant's International and Apogee Research, institutional research products dedicated to international investment opportunities and short selling.
Mr. Fry subsequently joined Agora Inc., as Editorial Director. In this role, Mr. Fry supervises the editorial and research processes of numerous investment letters and services. Mr. Fry also publishes investment insights and commentary under his own byline as Editor of The Daily Reckoning. Mr. Fry authored the first comprehensive guide to investing internationally with American Depository Receipts. His views and investment insights have appeared in numerous publications including Time, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Business Week, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Money.
Grant was bearish on bonds in 2008 as well. I think that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series before bonds go down.
As long $US is a world reserve currency this debt game can go on forever! The Fed Reserve just prints more money out of thin air, puts it on books as debt so in theory if the government ever pays the debt back (with real money) it’s supposed to cancel out. All that will happen is $US will slowly depreciate vs currencies that are not getting inflated by their reserve back….now which currencies are those?!!, since almost all currencies are getting the same inflation treatment nothing will happen as long as uncle sam uses his big stick to exchange his junk paper currency for hard assets
More than a decade ago, Addison Wiggin helped co-found the Daily Reckoning with Bill Bonner. Today, he recalls this life-changing experience, and explains how - despite being rooted in the world of finance - it is and will always be about much more than money. Read on...
Halloween is tonight! And just in case you waited until the last second to think about what you're going to wear, here are four costume ideas you can easily put together in about 10 minutes or less. With these costumes you'll be the hit of your friend's party - provided you're friends with a bunch of economists. (Downloadable masks included...) Happy Halloween!
The financial news is full of misinformation - reported by unreliable pundits and taken at face value by an easily swayed public that doesn't really no better. That's why today, Bill Bonner relays the four basic truths he's discovered during his 30 year career in the financial industry to help you make sense of it all. Read on...
For those who doubt the effectiveness of the Swiss Gold Initiative, Grant Williams has a few startling charts to show you. Today, he relays just how popular this movement is, and how you can actually influence the outcome... no matter where in the world you call home. Read on...
For most of the year, no one wanted small cap stocks in their portfolios. But over the last three weeks, few sectors of the market have performed better than small caps. Greg Guenthner explains how to use this to your advantage... and what to expect for the rest of 2014. Read on...