By Bryan Rich
July 13, 2016, 5:00pm EST
Earlier this week we talked about the disconnect between yields and stocks.
The move lower in German yields, given the contagion risk in Europe that people have feared from Brexit, as we’ve discussed, has also dragged down U.S. yields. With that, the U.S. 10 year yield, post-Brexit, has traded to new record lows.
So we have record highs in U.S. stocks, and record lows in U.S. yields.
For people looking for the next reason to be worried, this is where they are hanging their hats. But is the uneasiness associated with this divergence warranted?
Let’s take a look at the chart…
Now, you can see from the chart, we recently breached the record lows of 2012 in U.S. yields (the green line).
For a little back-story: Back in 2012, Europe was on the verge of a sovereign debt defaults that would have blown up the euro and the European Union. The ECB stepped in and promised to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, which included the threat of buying unlimited Italian and Spanish government bonds (the real threatening spot in the crisis). That sent bond market speculators, which had been running up the yields in Spanish and Italian debt to unsustainable levels, swiftly hitting the exit doors. At the height of that threat, global capital was pouring into U.S. government debt, which sent the 10 year yield to record lows. Still, U.S. stocks at the time were in solid shape, UP nearly 8% on the year in the face of record low bond yields.
What happened when the ECB stepped in and curtailed the threat? U.S. yields bounced aggressively. And U.S. stocks went even more sharply higher, finishing the year up 16%. In fact, the U.S. 10 year yield more than doubled (to as high as 3%) over the next seventeen months, and the S&P 500 added to 2012 gains, going another 32% higher in 2013.
So we have a very similar scenario now — and the drag on U.S. yields is, again, Europe and the threat to the euro and European Union.
And again, U.S. yields have hit new record lows, and stocks are putting up a solid year, as of July (the same month the tide turned in 2012).
We would argue, for the many reasons we’ve discussed in our daily notes, that stocks are in the sweet spot. As long as a global economic shock doesn’t occur, which is what central banks have proven very capable of managing over the past seven years, U.S. stocks should continue to benefit from the incentives of record low interest rates. And when market rates/yields rise, it’s only because the clouds of uncertainty clear. That’s very good for stocks too.
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