ABEWeekly 01072021

Market Update  

 

“If opportunity does knock, build a door” – Milton Berle 

 Well, we all knew it was inevitable, Westpac now expect that the RBA will begin its tightening cycle in the first quarter of 2023 with a 0.15% lift in the cash rate. That is expected to be followed by two more increases in 2023 of 0.25% each lifting the cash rate by year’s end to 0.75%. That said the RBA will keep a close eye on inflation, expected to remain between 2-3%, and will also be very measured in its tightening cycle given the prominent levels of household debt. Using those broad guidelines, Westpac are pencilling in two further 0.25% rate increases in 2024 lifting the terminal cash rate to 1.25% by November 2024. On the back of this we will start to experience a further steepening of the yield curve in the next two years. 

For everyone that has a mortgage, APRA guidelines will instruct lenders to ‘stress test’ the ability of loan applicants to make repayments if their mortgage rate increases from around 2% to over 4%. In effect, if the mortgage rate were to increase by more than 2.5% lenders would be uncomfortable with potential risks of mortgage stress for some borrowers. The reality is the RBA is very aware of the sensitives at hand (see chart below) so, despite current forecasts of marginal increases to interest rates, these can at the very worst be delayed. 

The US are setting up for a similar outlook. Westpac is already forecasting that the FOMC will begin its tightening cycle in December 2022 and raise the Federal Funds Rate to 0.875% by June 2023. It seems reasonable to expect a resting neutral Federal Funds Rate will be higher than the RBA’s 1.25% – given the much-reduced sensitivity of the US household sector to the US official interest rate. (The neutral rate of interest is the interest rate that supports the economy at full employment/maximum output while keeping inflation constant.) 

So, it looks like the most favourable solution/investment, from a fixed income perspective, will be, to have a diversified portfolio of both fixed and floating rate bonds available via The Bond Exchange, for both wholesale and retail investors. It is important to point out yet again, that Australian investors are massively underweight fixed income and overly exposed to risky and very volatile assets. Recent statistics suggest that SMSF’s on average, hold less that 2% in fixed income, with the rest in either shares or property. This is fine when these asset classes are performing but we have seen what happens when “risk off” mentality hits markets. The beauty of bonds is that you know your income stream up front (companies can change dividend payout ratios) your capital is protected, and you know at maturity you will receive the face value, normally $100.  

One last point is that the debt levels worldwide over the past 18 months have increased at an unprecedent speed and level resulting in a world that is much more leveraged than ever before. This means a slight increase in funding cost (or unwinding of the massive QE programs) will have a far greater impact and no one at this stage knows what the breaking point will be We have already seen a massive steeping in the yield over the past six months and the long end has had a sell off with yield peaking at over 2% back in March from a low of 0.70% late last year. 

The chart below gives a clear indication of what households are thinking on the future of interest rates – there has been a surge to 40% as a percentage of total outstanding loans suggesting, not surprisingly that there is a concern amongst the public on what is to come potentially. 

  • As part of our feature this week I thought we would look at how one of the world’s most successful investors does it, and by that I am referring to Warren Buffet. Buffett follows the Benjamin Graham school of value investing, which looks for securities whose prices are unjustifiably low based on their intrinsic worth. There is not a universally accepted way to determine intrinsic worth, but it is most often estimated by analysing a company’s fundamentals. Like bargain hunters, the value investor searches for stocks/bonds believed to be undervalued by the market, or stocks/bonds that are valuable but not recognized by most other buyers. 

 ABE Bonds of interest 

High demand for SSAs and other safe investments as credit spreads tightening.

There has been significant demand in the above names. We continue to build interest in these names and others. 

Australian Bond Exchange Pty. Ltd. (“ABE”) provides both general and specific financial product advice. This document and any information, advice or recommendation has been provided by ABE without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should before acting on any information, advice or recommendation from ABE consider the appropriateness of the information, advice or recommendation, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this document, or any information, advice or recommendation, relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product, you should obtain a product disclosure document relating to the product and consider the document before making any decision about whether to acquire the product. ABE, its directors, representatives, employees or related parties may have an interest in any companies or entities, or any financial product issued by companies and entities, and may earn revenue from the sale or purchase of any financial product, referred to in this document or in any information, advice or recommendation. Neither ABE, nor any of its directors, representatives, employees, or agents, make any representation or warranty as to the reliability, accuracy, or completeness, of this document or any information, advice or recommendation. Nor do they accept any liability or responsibility arising in any way (including negligence) for errors in, or omissions from, this document or any information, advice or recommendation. Any reference to credit ratings of companies, entities or financial products must only be relied upon by a “wholesale client” as that term is defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). ABE strongly recommends that you seek independent accounting, financial, taxation, and legal advice, tailored to your specific objectives, financial situation or needs, prior to making any investment decision. ABE does not make a market in the securities or products that may be referred to in this document.