Bond yields in the era of high inflation

TVC:US10Y   US Government Bonds 10 YR Yield
As you can see on the main chart, 10y bond yields have broken above their downwards channel and are now back at their 2013-2018 highs. Based on technical analysis we don't have a confirmation that the trend has fully reversed until we get a close above 3.2%, but we are pretty close to breaking above that level too. Now we aren't only seeing the 10y yields rise, as all kinds of maturities are rising at the same time and are rising pretty fast. The trend is showing no signs of exhaustion and this could get pretty ugly for the world economy, as the Fed has barely raised rates so far and they are threatening to raise rates by 0.5% at every meeting in 2022.

Many analysts claim that the bond market is broken and that yields will rise even further, but are they correct? Well the truth is that the way bond market topped (yields bottomed) in March 2020 is definitely an indication that a bull market is over. Currently the market has broken below most major support lines and seems to be accelerating rather than decelerating, while the correction from the peak is indicating that the bull market is over, as during bull markets corrections tend to stay within a certain range, and this correction is way larger than any previous corrections.

At the same time the 2y year yields are above 2.5%, a level that they 'shouldn't' have broken if the bond bull was intact. The reason behind this is that usually 2y bond yields would never go above the peak of the Fed Funds Rate and during the last hiking cycle the FFR had peak at 2.5%. Currently the 2y yields look like the formed the perfect round bottom (bullish technical pattern) and have broken above their downwards channel and could also be headed higher in the medium to long term (an indication that the bond bull could be over).

However not everything is really bearish for bonds at the moment and there is some hope for the bull market, even if that means we only get a strong bounce before going lower. As the 10y and 30y yields haven't broken above their resistance levels yet, it might be a good time to start buying bonds. Why? Well as yields are at resistance, bonds are close to support. The actual bonds are so oversold, that the current move might be getting totally irrational. Yes inflation is going up, yes inflation could go higher and inflation expectations keep rising, but the rate of inflation could come down. Not only that, but the Fed is so trapped that everyone knows they can't really raise rates much more or sell bonds without breaking the market. Financial conditions have already tightened so much, that investors will eventually run to the safety of bonds which finally have a pretty attractive yield.

Of course my reasoning doesn't just rely on some random fundamental analysis, but also some technical factors. The first one has to do with how this break of the trendline could be a trap and this move is headed straight into a very important area in which there is strong support. On TLT there is a major gap at an area that was support, it was broken and then the market quickly closed back above it. That's the perfect place to go long. The second one has to do with the fact that the yield curve had inverted and has now un-inverted itself. Usually inversions happen close to the bottom of the bond market (peak in yields) and therefore this could be another useful signal that a bottom isn't far away. Again this doesn't mean that someone has to go long right now or go long big, just that maybe its time to cut down shorts and put on some small longs. Personally I like to move between being a bond bull or bear based on the data and not have dogmatic views about what will happen in the future.

Finally I'd like to talk a bit about junk bonds, which are at the same level they were when the Fed had raised rates at 2.5% and kept saying that they would keep hiking. With so much debt in the world, the Fed threatening to keep hiking rates and the global economy being in shambles due to Covid-19, aging demographics, supply chain issues, lockdowns in China, the Russia-Ukraine war and commodity shortages, it is hard for someone to really see how owning junk bonds is a good long term bet here. Shorting junk bonds is probably the best bet someone could take at this stage, if he/she believes that there is going to be a major collapse either in the stock market or the bond market.

What I find very interesting is how resilient American companies have proven to be, and how after so many major crashes since 2008, now junk bonds are rallying against treasuries. By looking at the HYG/TLT ratio, we can see how they have outperformed since the March 2020 crash, potentially due to how much the US government has support those companies and how much more the private sector has benefited from low rates and money printing compared to the public sector. By adding to the mix how strong stocks have been over the last 2 years despite all the negative events, we can make sense of why junk bonds are outperforming us treasuries. Maybe this is also a major sign that buying stocks is a much better idea in the long term than buying bonds, and that the stock bull market is still intact, but that's a topic which I will discuss in another idea.

In conclusion, the bond bull could be over. There are several signs indicating extreme weakness in bonds as inflation expectations keep rising and the Fed is unwilling to support the bond market. Yet we are at levels that not buying bonds seems like the wrong decision, even if buying them would only for a short time period only.


The information and publications are not meant to be, and do not constitute, financial, investment, trading, or other types of advice or recommendations supplied or endorsed by TradingView. Read more in the Terms of Use.