Bond timing

Hunt for Yield

26.April 2021

Thanks to quantitative easing, we see record-low interest rates. While yields for short to intermediate maturities in the US are lower than the inflation but still positive, other developed markets such as Japan or European countries even have bond yields negative. Still, it does not implicate that investors have withdrawn from the fixed income markets. Both individual and institutional investors still participate in bond trading. However, the critical question is how these conditions influence the investors. Does their behavior change? Do they reach for yield and prefer riskier bonds in the search for (positive) real yields? In this blog post, we present three novel research papers that offer insights into this topic.

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ESG Investing in Fixed Income

5.November 2020

Corporate bonds and equities of the same firm should share the same fundamentals, but does this preposition hold for the ESG scores and their implications? In the equity market, there is convincing literature that states that ESG scores lower risks or even can improve the performance of portfolios. However, it was shown that the ESG implications could not be universally applied to all countries and their markets. Novel research by Slimane et al. (2020) examines the role of the ESG in the fixed market. The paper shows that the fixed income market is probably some years behind the equity market, but the ESG is also emerging in the fixed income. The performance of ESG outperformers compared to underperformers is continually rising. In Europe, the difference is already economically significant; the rest of the world seems to lag a little. Therefore, the ESG might have a bright future also in the corporate bond market. So far, the results are promising…

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Implied Volatility Indexes for European Government Bond Markets

28.October 2020

Volatility indexes are essential parts of the financial markets. They offer investable opportunities and exposure to the volatility, but most importantly, those indexes offer forward-looking measures of option-implied uncertainty. Therefore, such indexes are often used as indicators of risk or sentiment in the markets. For example, the well-known VIX index is often called the fear-index. The volatility indexes are not exclusive to the equity market. There are fixed-income option-implied volatility indexes for US Treasury futures, but the European fixed income market lacks such index. This novel research paper by Jaroslav Baran and Jan Voříšek fills this gap and proposes volatility indexes, connected to the euro bond futures using the Cboe TYVIX (US Treasury implied volatility index) (2018) methodology. As a result, the TYVIX and euro bond futures volatility indexes are directly comparable.

Authors: Jaroslav Baran and Jan Voříšek

Title: Volatility indices and implied uncertainty measures of European government bond futures

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Reverse Flight to Liquidity in Fixed Income

7.August 2020

Recent corona-crisis turbulence brought us many unexpected things, and one observation is connected with the fixed-income market. The conventional wisdom says that there is a flight to liquidity during troubled times and crises. Traditionally, liquid assets are US Treasuries or high-quality corporate bonds. Therefore, in theory, the pandemic should have been connected with buying pressure of high-quality liquid assets. However, as shown by a novel, insightful research from Ha, Xiao and Zeng, the exact opposite held. There was a very unusual sellout of liquid assets such as high quality fixed income as mutual funds tried to meet their redemption requests.

Authors: Yiming Ma, Kairong Xiao and Yao Zeng

Title: Mutual Fund Liquidity Transformation and Reverse Flight to Liquidity

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Stocks Not For the Long Run?

21.May 2020

There are very few observations of the attributes of financial markets that are considered by most of the investors as nearly permanent facts. One of the most often cited examples is that over the long interval stocks outperform bonds. But is it really such truth? Over how long interval? 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? As the new and better historical data are becoming available for analysis, they show interesting findings. Let’s show one example. There exist one very long interval during which the return of stocks was nearly equal to bonds. What do you think is the length of such an interval in the case of the US? It’s 150 years! Yes, that’s correct, there was a one-and-half-century long period in the history of the United States when the performance of stocks and bonds was nearly identical. We do not imply that it will be the case in the 21st century. But an important research paper written by Edward McQuarrie shows that investors must prepare for even the most unexpected possibilities when they are making their asset allocation decisions.

Author: McQuarrie

Title: The US Bond Market before 1926: Investor Total Return from 1793, Comparing Federal, Municipal and Corporate Bonds Part II: 1857 to 1926

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