One of the first cautionary signals to emerge during the market’s two-year topping process was the failure of spreads on low grade corporate bonds to return to their early-2018 cycle “tights,” despite last year’s surge to new stock market highs.
One of the key pillars of the bullish case has been the supposedly “benign” trend in corporate credit. While that’s been true for holders of the popular junk bond ETFs (HYG and JNK), the broader credit picture is not as reassuring.
While we still believe flattening is the more likely scenario over the medium term, we do feel the recent flattening move is a bit overdone and there are several divergences that suggest a short-term steepening correction is in store.
Our current view is the lift-off will be December or later. Assuming inflation will pick up and the Fed hikes the rate by the end of 2015, stocks will perform relatively well, with international stocks a better bet than U.S. stocks.
Don’t think we’ve seen a cyclical top, because that would mean everything essentially topped at the same time. Breadth has yet to peak in this cycle and that is one reason we expect the market to move higher over the near term.
During the past several years, it has become fashionable to believe that bond investors are more sophisticated than stock investors. Personally we don’t buy that bond investors have any edge in intelligence or diligence.