Update on Global High Yield Debt Issuance Volumes

Here is a small addendum to our recent articles on the corporate debt bubble (“A Dangerous Boom in Unsound Corporate Debt”) and the associated derivatives-berg, which is intended to hedge both the credit and interest rate risk this credit boom has given rise to (“A Perilous Derivatives-Berg”).

We recently combed through John Hussman's weekly commentaries, one of which contained an up-to-date chart of global high yield debt issuance per quarter from Q1 2006 to Q2 2014. Both global issuance volume and the number of deals are depicted on the chart. As you can see, we have long left all previous records in the dust.

 

hi-yieldGlobal high yield debt issuance in USD billion per quarter, plus the number of offerings, via John Hussman.

 

How Compressed Risk Premiums Unwind

This low-grade debt bubble is undoubtedly going to prove to be the Achilles heel of the current inflationary boom period – even though many market participants strenuously deny it by relying on the 12 month default forecasts published by rating agencies (which show not even the smallest cloud on the horizon – in other words, it's all good). As the next chart shows, risk premiums have become extremely compressed. Mr. Hussman had something very interesting to say on that particular topic, namely:

 

“As we saw in multiple early selloffs and recoveries near the 2007, 2000, and 1929 bull market peaks (the only peaks that rival the present one), the “buy the dip” mentality can introduce periodic recovery attempts even in markets that are quite precarious from a full cycle perspective. Still, it's helpful to be aware of how compressed risk premiums unwind. They rarely do so in one fell swoop, but they also rarely do so gradually and diagonally. Compressed risk premiums normalize in spikes.

As a market cycle completes and a bull market gives way to a bear market, you’ll notice an increasing tendency for negative day-to-day news stories to be associated with market “reactions” that seem completely out of proportion. The key to understanding these reactions, as I observed at the 2007 peak, is to recognize that abrupt market weakness is generally the result of low risk premiums being pressed higher. Low and expanding risk premiums are at the root of nearly every abrupt market loss. 

Day-to-day news stories are merely opportunities for depressed risk premiums to shift up toward more normal levels, but the normalization itself is inevitable, and the spike in risk premiums (decline in prices) need not be proportional or “justifiable” by the news at all.

Remember this because when investors see the market plunging on news items that seem like “nothing,” they’re often tempted to buy into what clearly seems to be an overreaction. We saw this throughout the 2000-2002 plunge as well as the 2007-2009 plunge.”

 

(emphasis added)

This is an important observations regarding the connection between news releases and financial markets. The news are actually rarely the cause of market movements (which more often than not makes the attempts in the financial press to “explain” day-to-day market movements incredibly comical).

Market participants only use news as triggers when it suits them, in other words, when they seem to confirm what they were going to do anyway. The important point is not whether news emerge that are seemingly associated with market moves; the important point is the degree of overvaluation and leverage.

 

Hi Yield, effective

Effective yield of the Merrill US high yield master II index – currently at 5.5%. Similar levels of return-free risk were on offer in 2005-2007 – click to enlarge.

 

Comforting Myths

Hence there rarely seems to be a “reason” for why market crashes happen. Market observers are e.g. debating to this day what actually “caused” the crash of 1987. It is in the nature of the beast that once liquidity evaporates sufficiently that not all bubble activities can be sustained at once any longer, bids begin to become scarce in one market segment after another. Eventually, they can disappear altogether – and sellers suddenly find they are selling into a vacuum.

Once this happens, the usual sequence of margin calls and forced selling does the rest. Risk premiums normalize abruptly, and there doesn't need to be an obvious reason for this to happen. Mr. Hussmann inter alia cites Kenneth Galbraith's description of the crash of 1929 in this context. Galbraith correctly remarked that when the crash occurred, no-one knew that a depression was lying dead ahead. The crash itself would have been in the cards regardless of what happened later. Anything could have broken the bubble, as Galbraith put it. The crash merely adjusted a situation that had become unsustainable.

After an extended credit boom, leverage can be assumed to have seeped into every nook and cranny of the markets.  In the stock market, we see it in record high margin debt and the tiny cash reserves held by mutual funds and other investors. In fixed interest rate securities, investors are encouraged by low volatility and the seeming absence of risk to lever up, as their returns on newly issued debt begin to shrink along with falling interest rates. In so doing, the risks are usually judged by looking at market history. In every bubble, a new myth emerges that seemingly justifies such investment decisions.

In the housing bubble, the myth of choice was that house prices could never fall on a nationwide basis. After all, history showed it had never happened before. It was held that eventually, problems may emerge in some regions or some sub-sectors of the credit markets, but they would remain localized and “well contained” (the favorite phrase employed by assorted officials when the bubble began to fray at the edges). In the current bubble the myth of choice is that “past crises have shown that defaults on high yield corporate debt never exceed certain manageable levels”.

Why is this a myth? After all, it is a historically correct view. It is a myth for one reason only: in all of history, there has never been a bigger bubble in junk debt than now (just as the real estate and mortgage credit bubble were unique in their extent). Therefore, economic history actually has little to say about the current situation, except for the general statement that compressed risk premiums have a tendency to one day readjust out of the blue and quite abruptly. Economic history can definitely not be used to assert that the risks are small. They are in fact huge and continue to grow.

 

Conclusion

Compressed risk premiums can never be sustained “forever”. They are so to speak sowing the seeds of their own demise. Most market participants believe they will be able to get out in time, but that is never the case – in fact, it is literally impossible for the majority to do so, because someone must buy what others sell (by definition, this means someone will be caught holding the bag when the tide goes out). In reality, it is ever only a tiny minority that manages to sell near the market peak, not least because investors have assimilated the lesson that “every dip is a buying opportunity”. This will be true until it one day isn't anymore (the search for reasons will then predictably yield the well-known phrase “no-one could have seen it coming”).

 

Charts by John Hussman, St. Louis Federal Reserve Research

 

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

One Response to “Comfortable Myths About High Yield Debt”

  • Hans:

    Neither of these two charts are very comforting.

    Somewhere, down the road, at which mile marker I do not known,
    there will be a very bad crash.

    The first responders (Central Banks) will appear at the ghastly site
    and utter, there is nothing we can do, other than to carry away the corps.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Yanking the Bank of Japan’s Chain
      Mathematical Certainties Based on the simple reflection that arithmetic is more than just an abstraction, we offer a modest observation.  The social safety nets of industrialized economies, including the United States, have frayed at the edges.  Soon the safety net’s fabric will snap. This recognition is not an opinion.  Rather, it’s a matter of basic arithmetic.  The economy cannot sustain the government obligations that have been piled up upon it over the last 70...
  • Prepare for Another Market Face Pounding
      “Better than Goldilocks” “Markets make opinions,” goes the old Wall Street adage.  Indeed, this sounds like a nifty thing to say.  But what does it really mean?   The bears discover Mrs. Locks in their bed and it seems they are less than happy. [PT]   Perhaps this means that after a long period of rising stocks prices otherwise intelligent people conceive of clever explanations for why the good times will carry on.  Moreover, if the market goes up for...
  • The Future of the Third World
      Decolonization The British Empire was the largest in history. At the end of World War II Britain had to start pulling out from its colonies. A major part of the reason was, ironically, the economic prosperity that had come through industrialization, massive improvements in transportation, and the advent of telecommunications, ethnic and religious respect, freedom of speech, and other liberties offered by the empire.   The colors represent the colonies of various nations...
  • What Went Wrong With the 21st Century?
      Fools and Rascals   And it’s time, time, time And it’s time, time, time It’s time, time, time that you love And it’s time, time, time… - Tom  Waits   Tom Waits rasps about time   POITOU, FRANCE – “So how much did you make last night?” “We made about $15,000,” came the reply from our eldest son, a keen cryptocurrency investor. “Bitcoin briefly pierced the $3,500 mark – an all-time high. The market cap of the...
  • Bitcoin Forked – Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      A Fork in the Cryptographic Road So bitcoin forked. You did not know this. Well, if you’re saving in gold perhaps not. If you’re betting in the crypto-coin casino, you knew it, bet on it, and now we assume are happily diving into your greater quantity of dollars after the fork.   Bitcoin, daily – adding the current price of BCH (the new type of Bitcoin all holders of BTC can claim at a 1:1 ratio), the gain since the “fork” amounts to roughly $1,000 at the time we...
  • Czar vs. Pope
      Vladimir the Great Sums Up Pope Francis the Fake Vladimir Putin has once again demonstrated why he is the most perceptive, farsighted, and for a politician, the most honest world leader to come around in quite a while.  If it had not been for his patient and wise statesmanship, the world may have already been embroiled in an all-encompassing global conflagration with the possibility of thermonuclear destruction.   Vladimir Putin is sizing up Pope Francis with his “good...
  • Seasonality: Will Patterns that Worked in the Past Also Work in the Future?
      Historians of the Future Every investor makes trading decisions based on what happened in the past – there is no other way. What really interests us is the future though. After all, what happens in the future ultimately determines investment success.   When in doubt, you can always try to reach the pasture...  In Human Action, Ludwig von Mises described stock market speculators as akin to “historians of the future”. This is without a doubt the most trenchant definition of...
  • Bitcoin Has No Yield, but Gold Does – Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Bitcoin and Credit Transactions Last week, we said:   It is commonly accepted to say the dollar is “printed”, but we can see from this line of thinking it is really borrowed. There is a real borrower on the other side of the transaction, and that borrower has powerful motivations to keep paying to service the debt. Bitcoin has no backing. Bitcoin is created out of thin air, the way people say of the dollar. The quantity of bitcoins created may be strictly limited by...
  • Is Historically Low Volatility About to Expand?
      Suspicion Asleep You have probably noticed it already: stock market volatility has recently all but disappeared. This raises an important question for every investor: Has the market established a permanent plateau of low volatility, or is the current period of low volatility just the calm before the storm?   All quiet on the VIX front... what can possibly happen? [PT] - click to enlarge.   When such questions regarding future market trends arise, it is often...
  • Why There Will Be No 11th Hour Debt Ceiling Deal
      Milestones in the Pursuit of Insolvency A new milestone on the American populaces’ collective pursuit of insolvency was reached this week. According to a report published on Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total U.S. household debt jumped to a new record high of $12.84 trillion during the second quarter. This included an increase of $552 billion from a year ago.   US consumer debt is making new all time highs – while this post GFC surge is actually...
  • Will They Haul Off Trump’s Statue, Too?
      Confused by Shadows POITOU, FRANCE – This week, we are talking about theperishable nature of gods. Yesterday, the city fathers of our hometown of Baltimore let it be known that it was time to toss out the old deities.   The Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in Baltimore, which the mayor inter alia wants to remove. Suddenly it has become fashionable to erase the memory of an important part of US history all over the country. By experience, this...
  • Bad Ideas About Money and Bitcoin
      How We Got Used to Fiat Money Most false or irrational ideas about money are not new. For example, take the idea that government can just fix the price of one monetary asset against another. Some people think that we can have a gold standard by such a decree today. This idea goes back at least as far as the Coinage Act of 1792, when the government fixed 371.25 grains of silver to the same value as 24.75 grains of gold, or a ratio of 15 to 1. This caused problems because the market...

Support Acting Man

j9TJzzN

Austrian Theory and Investment

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com