Ignore for a second what’s going on with the stock market. The mainstream news cycle is currently discussing the benchmark indices’ stagnant performance as of late, which is a valid point. With geopolitical concerns and domestic strife rampant, it’s no wonder equities are taking a breather. But what’s truly insightful is the bond market.
In a prior Crush The Street article, I discussed that the premium of buying the 30-year Treasury note versus the 10-year note dipped to multi-year lows. This is an unusual dynamic in the bond market, as the time risk of holding a 30-year note to maturity should logically necessitate a higher reward potential.
It just doesn’t make sense to buy a 30-year ticket if you can get a 10-year ticket for roughly the same yield. Yet here we are.
While most of the attention was focused on the stock market, the bond market moved further into the aforementioned rabbit hole. Earlier today, the 10-year note’s yield rose to 2.98%; in the meantime, the 30-year yield also increased, but by a smaller magnitude to settle at 3.15%.
To put it another way, the premium for buying the longer-term note in the bond market is now less than 6%. With a few more moves in the current trend, we’ll see parity between the two yields!
To put this into perspective, the last time we saw the reward premium in the bond market decline to single digits was in 2007. Back then, the premium was only 0.4%, so technically below single digits. One year prior to that, buying the 30-year note actually came at a 11.7% penalty!
Needless to say, we all know what happened to the stock market after 2007…
Going back even more, the reward premium dropped sharply during the late 1970s to early 1980s. History records this period as a tumultuous time, with the Cold War peaking in vitriol and immense suspicion, while our economic standing deteriorated rapidly.
I can’t help but note some of the parallels to our time, such as Ronald Reagan being a former actor, while Donald Trump is a former reality TV star. Also, both Presidents had uniquely close relationships with their Russian counterparts, but I digress.
The issue that I want to stress about the bond market is this: no one wants to take a long-term bet on the United States. If they did, the premium for the 30-year note would be much higher. That indicates that insiders know the time may be short; certainly, a lot shorter than most everyday Americans assume.
You don’t want to be caught out. Don’t let the daily dance and the large numbers in the stock market fool you. Equities may not be in trouble now, but the bond market is signaling tough times ahead.