Yields Hit 2023 Highs Amid Bond Market Uncertainty: Hedge Funds Short Treasuries
August 5, 2023
An intriguing narrative is currently being spun within the bond market. Although this narrative may be tricky to identify, it’s straightforward to see a few underlying trends, especially with yields reaching record highs in 2023. The turmoil commenced a week ago due to the Bank of Japan’s policy adjustments. Since then, the US’s credit status has been downgraded by Fitch, and the Treasury has augmented the volume of long-term debt sales to cater to escalating borrowing requirements. This situation arises as hedge funds have been massively shorting Treasuries, leading Bill Ackman to wager against the 30-year bond. However, other notable figures, like Warren Buffett, have since stated that this is one issue that investors need not worry about.
The Influence of Labor Market Resilience
Bond observers are keenly tracking the fortitude of the labor market, considering the likelihood of the data-focused Fed having to keep escalating its policy rate in response to potent readings. Wednesday’s ADP private sector job report was impressive, and though it may not indicate what the government’s monthly figures will look like, investors are taking special interest in the nonfarm payrolls release at 8:30 AM ET today.
Economic Expectations and Revisions
Economists are anticipating the addition of 200K new jobs in July, a modest decrease from the 209K reported in June. The unemployment rate is expected to remain steady at 3.6%. Other points to keep an eye on include the Labor Department’s revisions to the figures for June and May, and the average hourly earnings growth, which is projected to drop to 4.2% Y/Y from 4.4% in June. A slowdown in this area could indicate the Fed’s rate hikes’ intended impact on the economy and assist the Fed in easing its battle against inflation.
Overcoming Cognitive Biases
According to analyst Christopher Robb’s report “July Jobs Report Likely Bolsters Soft Landing Narrative”, cognitive bias is a harmful aspect of human thought that can mislead even the best among us. Wall Street, like any industry or group, functions like a tribe in some respects. It has a set belief system about monetary policy and inflation that has blinded many in finance and led to erroneous conclusions. Correctly maneuvering through economic cycles is a complex task in the first place, and it’s even more so when faced with unprecedented simultaneous demand and supply shocks. Recognizing that many traditionally insightful correlations may no longer apply is crucial to successfully navigate today’s markets.