High-yield bonds became very popular in the 1980`s and is better known as junk bonds, and that is an interesting investment which is widely used for corporate takeovers. It became popular because high-yield bonds outperformed traditional bonds on average.
30 years earlier (1950`s), high-yield bonds were fallen angels. Companies that had issued bonds when they were healthy was falling on hard times, and high-yield investors were buying bonds in turnarounds.
High-yield bonds were financed unproven businesses in the 1980`s, and was issued for speculation, and now those bonds are issued by highly leveraged companies. High-yield bonds on the market today is with a high degree of variety, and they trend with the stock market, but can act like bonds other times.
To show this, I have printed out iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG) with SPDR S&P 500 (SPY).
The Yield line is inverted. If yields on corporate bonds rise, then stock prices will fall, and in times when money leaves corporate bonds, it can flight to safety, which sometimes could be Treasuries. That money would also leave stocks. That means stocks can go up in periods of flat or rising yields. The key to this anomaly is risk.
This has happened before. During periods of rising risk appetite among investors. We saw it in 1998, the dot-com boom and during the subprime boom. Two of them were the building of bubbles, but all of them correlated with times when the investors hunger for risk rose.
It happens because money leaves bonds during periods of risk appetite and goes into stocks, which means stocks don`t fall when corporate bonds yields rise. The stock market is booming because investors aren`t afraid to take reasonable risks. The money flows into stocks, not Treasuries. Yields are 50% greater compared to 10-year Treasuries.
HYG is not acting like stocks but it`s not acting like a bond investment either. SPY is moving higher while HYG is declining. It was a correlation before 2011, but after that it all changed. The above should be on every investors mind. Many investors said the rally in junk-rated bonds is in a bubble or close to one, and HYG ETF and the SPX should be in the forefront of Equity Traders minds.
Some say that high-yield isn`t an good opportunity anymore. Watch out for this chart and look out for RS of HYG to SPY for signals of a market top. Look out for HYG outperformance. Weakness in equities is often preceded by a loss of momentum in credit markets. HYG need to stabilize. If not, equities will tumble. The disconnect between stocks and bonds probably means more pain ahead. Will the junk bond bubble burst, or stocks tumble? I`m exited about the end of the trading year. China cut the rate today, and the U.S markets are all up.
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