RISING AMERICAN INTEREST RATES, FALLING US STOCKS
Listen to “Agitation”, jazz music from Miles Davis.
Let’s focus on the American horizon and the exciting US Treasury and S+P 500 marketplaces.
Since around spring 2020, and particularly since August 2022, and especially in recent months, the UST marketplace has suffered noteworthy capital destruction due to falling prices. A glorious bull move in the S+P 500 followed 3/23/20’s dismal bottom at 2192. The S+P 500 thereafter exploded upward, more than doubling, to establish a thrilling record high on 1/4/22 at 4819. After an agonizing bear slump to October 2022’s bottom, a significant joyful stock rally ensued. The S+P 500 approached January 2022’s peak, reaching a summit on 7/27/23 at 4607. The S+P 500 probably has commenced a bear trend, though its slump from its July 2023 peak has been moderate thus far.
“Long Run Historical Entanglement: US Interest Rate and Stock Trends” (7/6/23) concluded: “Many times over the past century, significantly increasing United States interest rates have preceded a major peak, or at least a noteworthy top, in key stock marketplace benchmarks such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S+P 500. The yield climb sometimes has occurred over a rather extended time span. The arithmetical (basis point) change has not always been large. Sometimes the yield advance has extended past the time of the stock pinnacle.”
“Given the historic pattern in which UST [US Treasury; focus on the UST 10 year note] yield increases “lead” to peaks in key American stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500, do signs of a noteworthy rising yield trend exist on the interest rate front? Yes.” And “the pattern of rising UST 10 year note yields likely is leading to another peak in the S+P 500. This stock marketplace peak will probably occur relatively soon, probably within the next few weeks or months. However, even if the S+P 500 continues to climb, it probably will not exceed its January 2022 peak by much if at all.”
The UST 10 year note yield increased since 3/9/20’s major bottom at .31 percent, accelerating upward from 8/4/21’s 1.13pc to 6/14/22’s 3.50 pc. The S+P 500 peaked during this rising yield trend on 1/4/22 at 4819. The UST 10 year note yield, after sliding down to 8/2/22’s 2.51 percent resumed its yield ascent. It made another important interim yield low with 4/6/23’s 3.25pc. With 8/22/23’s 4.37 percent, the UST 10 year pierced 10/21/22’s 4.34 percent high, achieved around the time of the S+P 500’s crucial trough on 10/13/22 at 3492. The UST 10 year note price kept falling, and the UST yield reached 4.81 percent on 10/3/23. A dramatic UST 10 year yield climb over five percent and toward 6/13/07’s 5.32 percent Goldilocks Era summit would further unnerve many UST (and stock) holders.
In some circumstances, rising interest rates can indicate or portend adequate (good) real GDP growth, and thus from some perspectives (up to some point), increasing UST yields (falling debt prices) are designated as “good”. And investors in interest rate instruments of course want a decent (and real) return relative to inflation, so rising yields have been a blessing for many of them, at least to some extent.
However, many institutions and individuals bought low-yielding UST during the Fed’s yield repression era. Their interest income during the past couple of years likely fell beneath inflation heights represented by the consumer price index. Many of these interest rate instrument owners probably have suffered some noteworthy mark-to-market damage to their principal; so have numerous other recent buyers given the rising rate trend of recent months. Nowadays, the average maturity of total outstanding marketable UST debt is about six years.
From the price perspective, review the CME’s UST 10 year note (nearest futures continuation contract) as a rough guide to the capital consequences of recent trends. (In practice, this contract sometimes prices relative to deliverable grade instruments with a maturity somewhat different from ten years.) The UST 10 year peaked at about 140-22 on 3/9/20. Its recent low is 10/3/23’s 106-20 (as of 300pm EST), an eviscerating 24.2 percent tumble (and beneath 10/21/22’s 108-26). From 8/2/22’s interim price high of 122-02, 10/3/23’s level drops 12.6 percent. Excitement (emotions) will increase if the price heads closer to 104-00 (6/13/07 price bottom 104-04; 6/28/06 low 104-01).
The CME UST five year note’s price peak (nearest futures continuation) occurred at about 126-08 on 8/7/20 (126-07 on 1/8/21). It nosedived 17.2 percent to 10/3/23’s 104-18 (under 10/21/22’s roughly 105-15). An attack on price support around 103-00 (7/5/06; 103-02 on 6/13/07) will boost anxiety.
In America, a substantial amount of household net worth resides in debt securities (not only in US Treasuries) and equity shares (not just the S+P 500 playground). Read the fine print of the Federal Reserve’s Z.1, “Financial Accounts of the United States” (9/8/23; see Tables B.101, B.101.e, and B.101.h). As of end 2Q23, total assets for households and nonprofit organizations combined were about $174.4 trillion (net worth was $154.3 trillion), the great majority of which resided in the household domain. As of end 2Q23, for households and nonprofit organizations combined, debt securities at market value were about $10.9 trillion, or around 6.2 percent of total assets (9.3pc of total financial assets). Equity shares in 2Q23 had a value of about 44.7 trillion dollars, or 25.6 percent of total assets (almost 38.3pc of total financial assets).
Consumers represent about two-thirds of United States GDP. If they suffer substantial wounds to their net worth, to what extent will they slash their spending?
Many Wall Street and Main Street stock investment communities preach the wisdom of buying good (or high) quality American stocks for some version of the misty long run. To what extent are such stock bulls married to their positions?
For the twenty-two US stock marketplace “bear” trends summarized in “US Stocks Over the Long Run: Bear Marketplace History” (8/4/23), the average percentage decline from the peak to the trough is about 33.9 percent. The average duration of the descent from the summit to the bottom is approximately 14.2 months.
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Financial Agitation (10-3-23)