In my Q1 market review, I mentioned that both U.S. bonds and stocks were down together for the quarter, and that was a relatively rare occurrence. I mentioned that only happened 8 other times in the previous 30 years. This was concerning for a few clients.
The primary reason it was concerning for some clients is that I generally have portfolios positioned more conservatively than I would in a more “neutral” environment. In other words, I have a targeted range to which I am bound for each client and am currently positioned on the conservative end of that range for most clients. The reason for the relatively conservative positioning is that I am concerned about stock market valuations (i.e. stocks are about as, or more, expensive as they were in 1929 and 2000…depending on the metric).
So when both bonds and stocks decline together it makes folks nervous. After all, isn’t the idea that bonds will hold up when stocks are declining? To add insult to injury, bonds actually declined MORE than stocks in the first quarter. As a result, several clients asked me, “Why did that happen?” “Will it continue?” “Is this still the right strategy?” Continue reading “Question I Was Asked In Several Quarterly Client Meetings”
A couple days ago I emailed a commentary about how I’m managing clients’ bond sleeves. As a brief refresher, I’m avoiding high yield / junk bonds and over-weighting Treasury bonds relative to investment-grade corporate bonds. That commentary was very high level focused on the historical performance of each segment during times of economic and market stress. Today, I’m going to get a little deeper into the weeds.
- The credit quality of the investment-grade bond market is deteriorating
- Corporations have been piling on debt so leverage is at all-time highs
- High yield bond prices beginning to roll over
Continue reading “Bonds, Part 2: Corporate Debt Fundamentals Worsening”
As discussed at length, I have significant concerns about U.S. stock market valuations and what that may portend for the next bear market. After all, the most reliable valuation metrics are indicating the U.S. stock market is more expensive than ever before (including 1929 and 2000).
Although valuations aren’t useful for short-term trading, valuations do provide insight into the potential severity of the next downturn. So whether the next bear market has already kicked off with the January 26th peak or starts 12 months from now, the key to understand is it will likely be commensurate with the extremity of current valuations (i.e. severe).
A couple proactive approaches I’ve offered for consideration to preserve financial independence is either (1) under-weight U.S. stocks in favor of other asset classes, including bonds, and/or (2) incorporate “put options” to insulate portfolios from a significant stock market decline. Today, I’ll focus on what I’m doing within the bond sleeve of portfolios I manage. Continue reading “How I’m Managing Bond Investments At This Stage in the Cycle”
This note was first published to my email subscribers on 1/10/2018.
Early this morning, at 4:26 AM CST to be exact, Bloomberg broke a story that senior officials in the Chinese government are considering reducing or halting purchases of U.S. Treasury Bonds. This caused stock futures to drop, USD to drop, and bond yields to spike (i.e. bond prices to fall) before the open.
So what is this all about and why is it such a big deal? Continue reading “China and U.S. Treasuries…What was this morning’s news all about?”