Bond market in focus

Most stock investors, myself included, tend to focus solely on how the stock market is doing. I own almost entirely stocks and so do my clients, so why focus on bond markets?

For starters, bonds are alternatives to stocks. If bond yields rise high enough, some people will sell stocks to buy bonds. If bond yields are climbing, like they have been lately, then it may lead investors to sell stocks and buy bonds.

Bonds are also a strong indicator of inflation. If bond yields are climbing, it means bond investors are probably worried about inflation. With governments around the world printing money to get the world economy going again, this worry is not unjustified. Inflation is bad for stocks in the short run, so increasing bond yields are a bad sign for stocks in the short run. If you remember the 20% stock market crash that happened in one day in 1987, you might also like to know that bond yields had been rising and the dollar sinking for months beforehand. Sounds like today in some ways…

Bond markets are good indicators of financial stress, too. When investors become worried about credit issues, they frequently flood into U.S. Treasuries, which leads to declining interest rates. Lately, interest rates have been going the other direction, indicating that worries about credit issues are declining and the economy may be recovering. This could be signaling the end of the credit crisis, and/or the beginning of a dollar crisis.

Bond markets are as vital to understanding the economy and investing as stock markets. They frequently signal economic, credit, and inflation changes long before stock markets do. It’s important to pay attention to bond markets for this reason.

As I’ve highlighted above, interest rates have been climbing recently. Interest rates climb when bond prices go down, and are an indication that stock markets may decline because of competition with bonds or worries about inflation. Increasing interest rates can also mean the credit crisis may be ending, the economy may be improving, and investors may becoming increasingly concerned about the value of the U.S. dollar.

These are important things to consider.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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