Monday, March 5, 2018

PT Jones is Bearish on Bonds Too

From an interview posted on ZH:

Allison Nathan: You’ve said that you would rather hold a burning coal than a 10-year Treasury. Why?

Paul Tudor Jones: The bear market in bonds is the natural upshot of the bull market in monetary and fiscal laxity. My view on bonds is based on three major factors. First, there is a huge flow of funds imbalance with supply overwhelming demand. We are in a unique historical situation with the Fed stepping away from the market while the US government is significantly increasing its auction sizes. I assume bonds will fall until the peak in full Treasury auction sizes, which I don’t think will be before 2Q2019. At the current pace, next February we might have a quarterly auction of $20bn 30-years vs. $15bn recently. That is so big it will only clear at substantially lower prices.

Second, economic momentum is now overwhelming the pace of the monetary policy response. We’re in the third-longest economic expansion in history. Yet we’ve somehow managed to pass a tax cut and a spending bill, which together will give us a budget deficit of 5% of GDP—unprecedented in peacetime outside of recessions. This reminds me of the late 1960s when we experimented with low rates and fiscal stimulus to keep the economy at full employment and fund the Vietnam War. Today we don’t have a recession, let alone a war. We are setting the stage for accelerating inflation, just as we did in the late ‘60s.

Finally, and most importantly, adverse valuations are becoming more glaring. Bonds are the most expensive they’ve ever been by virtually any metric. They’re overvalued and over-owned. Valuations haven’t been that relevant in recent years because of central bank manipulation outside of the US, but with the Fed in motion and the US economy in fifth gear, they start to matter a lot. I believe we’re at that critical threshold right now.
You can see our writings on bonds under the IEF tag and our most recent post from November with a summary.

Basically, we think that Trump will be remembered for inaugurating a bond bear market, and not much else. It is shocking how little discussion there is of the November 2016 "Trump bond crash," and bonds have continued to set new low after new low since then.

We are expressing this through January 2020 puts on the 10 year bond, where the current implied volatility is 4.8%.  Our breakeven on the options purchase is about a 2.5% decline in value which would require only about another 33 bps rise in rates.

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