This week, the Chinese bond market has again been under selling pressure. The yield on 10-year Chinese government bonds once again flirted with the 4%, the highest in 3 years.
The Pboc (the Chinese Central Bank) intervened twice this week by injecting liquidity into the market, for a total amount of 810 billion yuan or USD 122bn , the largest injection since mid-January.
Should we worry? No. The movement began just after the end of the C.C.P congress (end of October) when the Chinese authorities signaled clearly that they would continue their fight against high leveraged finance, ie shadow banking.
This has resulted in massive sales from Chinese government bondholders notably from mutual funds that are the second largest holders of Chinese state bonds. They feared a tightening of financial conditions. China’s interest rates have been low so far because of the loose Pboc’s monetary policy. The orientation has not changed but the action of the Chinese monetary policy is now more focused.
The Pboc intervened in the market by injecting liquidity in order to reduce volatility and it will continue to intervene if necessary to correct the excesses of the financial markets.
The Chinese central bank must find an equilibrium between its deleveraging campaign and the stabilization of Chinese financial markets so as not to penalize economic activity.
Does this question the attractiveness of the Chinese bond market for international investors? and the willingness of the Chinese authorities to open their bond market?
At 4%, Chinese government bonds remain attractive compared to their counterparts in developed countries, helped by a stabilized yuan. China’s deleveraging campaign is rather a positive signal sent to international investors. China will not come back on the opening of its bond market to international investors because of the internationalization of the yuan. China’s economic activity remains sound. This is only a moment of turbulence to pass …
The Federal Reserve has kept unchanged its main interest rate in the corridor [0.25; 0.50%]. It will continue to reinvest the proceeds of its portfolio.
5 points to keep in mind
In the press release the main change is related to the absence of reference to the global economy. It’s no more a source of break in the short term. The message on the economy is focused on the domestic side and on its momentum
On this point the Fed is not worried. The central bank notices that employment and consumers’ real income follow strong trajectories. Nevertheless there are remarks on the low dynamics of investment and net exports.
The balance of risks on growth and on inflation is not mentioned. The risk of a break in the economic momentum has been reduced in association with the withdrawal of references to the global context.
The Fed doesn’t give signals on a possible rate hike at its next meeting in June. There is no specific message focused on June meeting, contrary to what was seen in October’s press release before the December meeting during which the Fed increased its main rate. Nevertheless the door remains open if it’s necessary. I doubt that the economic momentum will improve rapidly. I’m not convinced by the systematic catch-up of the second quarter (see the graph at the bottom of the post)
There will be another question in June. The global environment will probably be more complicated. The Fed’s next meeting will be on June 14th and 15th. This will be just before the Brexit referendum (June 23rd). Nobody knows the issue of the referendum but it could create uncertainty in the UK and in Europe. Moreover we will also have general elections in Spain (before June 26 probably), the second round in Austrian presidential elections and we don’t know yet how the Greek issue will be solved. In other words, if systemic uncertainty grows on Europe, US assets could be perceived as safe haven. Therefore, in this environment the Fed could keep its rate unchanged at its June meeting.
Higher bonds yields in the Euro Area could suggest that the economic situation is on the way to normalization and that areas of shades, that characterized the current situation, will fade rapidly. This suggests that the first three months of the massive quantitative easing program from the ECB have been sufficient to definitely improve the growth prospects of the Eurozone.
Isn’t it a bit too fast?
In other words, are there pressures on the economy that could rapidly push the ECB to change its monetary policy? The main question is there: will the ECB be forced to change its monetary policy?
Implicit rates on 3 month Euribor contracts with maturity in 2017 or 2018 show strong expectations with interest rates that are much higher than those currently recorded. This seems to be excessive and not consistent with the stage of the business cycle. Continue reading →