We no longer support this browser. Using a supported browser will provide a better experience.

Please update your browser.

Close browser message

Investing

Are sinking bond yields signaling a shift in investors’ expectations?

The 10-year yield just hit its lowest level since February. Here’s what’s driving the decline.


Our Top Market Takeaways for July 9, 2021.

Markets in a Minute

Wither rates

Just six weeks ago, we argued that the economy was a long way from overheating. How quaint. This week, we have to argue that the economy is a long way from rolling over.

Over the last five trading days, the 10-year Treasury yield has dropped by almost 20 basis points. Investors are getting anxious.

In the simplest sense, bond yields reflect investors’ expectations for future growth and/or inflation. When bond yields fall, it means that the market doesn’t expect as much future growth and/or inflation.

So what has changed over the last six weeks? Why have fears of overheating so suddenly transformed into fears of weak growth? Here are some reasons, listed in a loose order of importance.

1. The Delta variant. While the Delta variant probably does not pose a threat to the U.S. economy, given high levels of mRNA vaccine penetration and high tolerance for COVID-19 spread, it is a much bigger issue globally. Japan instituted a state of emergency that will run through the Olympics. In Australia, Sydney is under a stay-at-home order. Cases are rising in Portugal and Spain.

While the most acute economic disruptions from COVID are likely behind us, the longer it lingers the weaker growth will be. The chart below shows the Global Airline Index, a sector of the economy that is most exposed to COVID risks, and 10-year Treasury yields. The simultaneous decline in both is a good argument that the Delta variant is having an impact.

 

2. The Federal Reserve. We covered the Fed’s pivot three weeks ago, so we will spare you the details. What matters most is that the market is questioning the commitment of the Fed to Flexible Average Inflation Targeting. In March, the consensus was that the Fed wanted to let the economy run hot until the labor market had fully healed. The June meeting showed that the Fed still has feelings for its first true love: fighting inflation. Central banks fight inflation by slowing the economy down. Yields should fall to account for the higher probability that the Fed slows the economy down more over the next 10 years than previously thought.

3. Technical factors in the bond market. Remember short squeezes? They happen in bond markets too. If you think bond yields are going up, you can sell bonds short (remember, bond prices and bond yields move in opposite directions). To close the trade out, you have to buy bonds back to close out your trade. Earlier this year, shorting bonds (to make money if yields moved higher) was a very crowded trade (our Investment Bank estimates that positioning for higher long-end yields was around 10x greater than average levels back to 2006). A short squeeze seems to be feeding this sharp move lower in yields, and now trend-following strategies and retail investors are piling on. The largest long-term Treasury bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is on track for its best two months of inflows since May 2019.  

Honorable mentions include pension buying to lock in their funding status, lower expectations for fiscal spending given the new bipartisan agreement, and a reinvigorated patriotic duty to lend more money to Uncle Sam after the Fourth of July (that last one is a joke).   

Now that we have some plausible explanations for what could be driving rates lower, should we be worried?

We don’t think so, because we don’t think this level of interest rates is consistent with our view of the future. We expect above-trend GDP growth through 2022 and into 2023. At this point in time, mRNA vaccines seem to be effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths, even against the Delta variant. Global vaccination progress will go a long way. High-frequency growth indicators, such as Purchasing Managers Indices, are plateauing at the highest levels in over a decade. U.S. consumer spending on services such as lodging, restaurants and travel is still climbing to cruising altitude (see what I did there?).

 

Additionally, other areas of the market aren’t yet suggesting a sustained “risk off” move. Consider what’s going on beyond the Treasury market:

  • The S&P 500 is 1% below its all-time high reached on Wednesday.
  • Consumer staples, one of the stock market’s most “defensive” sectors, has underperformed the S&P 500 over the last month (Staples -0.6%, S&P 500 +2.1%).
  • Gold, a safe haven going back to the days of Agamemnon, has just barely outperformed copper in the last month, but it’s still underperforming the pro-cyclical metal by -30% year-to-date.
  • Perhaps most importantly, high yield spreads have barely budged, suggesting a low risk of default.

It is worth respecting the Treasury market, but we don’t think it is signaling a coming collapse in growth. We think it is just adjusting to a different environment than the one that existed at the end of March. Investors could take advantage. It may be worth examining liabilities to refinance or fix the rate on any outstanding debt. For equities, the environment reiterates our preference for balance between secular growth opportunities (which do better when rates fall) and cyclical ones (which prefer rising rates). For bonds, we still advocate for reimagining the 40, but it is good to see that core fixed income can gain when the market gets worried. There will be a time to take a more defensive posture across portfolios, but we don’t think it’s right now.

 

All market and economic data as of July 2021 and sourced from Bloomberg and FactSet unless otherwise stated.

We believe the information contained in this material to be reliable but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. Opinions, estimates, and investment strategies and views expressed in this document constitute our judgment based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice.

RISK CONSIDERATIONS

  • Past performance is not indicative of future results. You may not invest directly in an index.
  • The prices and rates of return are indicative, as they may vary over time based on market conditions.
  • Additional risk considerations exist for all strategies.
  • The information provided herein is not intended as a recommendation of or an offer or solicitation to purchase or sell any investment product or service.
  • Opinions expressed herein may differ from the opinions expressed by other areas of J.P. Morgan. This material should not be regarded as investment research or a J.P. Morgan investment research report.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

All companies referenced are shown for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended as a recommendation or endorsement by J.P. Morgan in this context.

The information presented is not intended to be making value judgments on the preferred outcome of any government decision.

This material is for informational purposes only, and may inform you of certain products and services offered by J.P. Morgan’s wealth management businesses, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (“JPM”). Please read all Important Information.

  • The MSCI China Index captures large- and mid-cap representation across China H shares, B shares, Red chips, P chips and foreign listings (e.g., ADRs). With 459 constituents, the index covers about 85% of this China equity universe. Currently, the index also includes Large Cap A shares represented at 5% of their free float adjusted market capitalization.
  • The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks. The index is designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. The index was developed with a base level of 10 for the 1941–43 base period.
  • The STOXX Europe 600 Index tracks 600 publicly traded companies based in one of 18 EU countries. The index includes small-cap, medium-cap and large-cap companies. The countries represented in the index are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

This material is for informational purposes only, and may inform you of certain products and services offered by J.P. Morgan’s wealth management businesses, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (“JPM”). Please read all Important Information.

GENERAL RISKS & CONSIDERATIONS

Any views, strategies or products discussed in this material may not be appropriate for all individuals and are subject to risks. Investors may get back less than they invested, and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss. Nothing in this material should be relied upon in isolation for the purpose of making an investment decision. You are urged to consider carefully whether the services, products, asset classes (e.g., equities, fixed income, alternative investments, commodities, etc.) or strategies discussed are suitable to your needs. You must also consider the objectives, risks, charges, and expenses associated with an investment service, product or strategy prior to making an investment decision. For this and more complete information, including discussion of your goals/situation, contact your J.P. Morgan team.

NON-RELIANCE

Certain information contained in this material is believed to be reliable; however, JPM does not represent or warrant its accuracy, reliability or completeness, or accept any liability for any loss or damage (whether direct or indirect) arising out of the use of all or any part of this material. No representation or warranty should be made with regard to any computations, graphs, tables, diagrams or commentary in this material, which are provided for illustration/reference purposes only. The views, opinions, estimates and strategies expressed in this material constitute our judgment based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice. JPM assumes no duty to update any information in this material in the event that such information changes. Views, opinions, estimates and strategies expressed herein may differ from those expressed by other areas of JPM, views expressed for other purposes or in other contexts, and this material should not be regarded as a research report. Any projected results and risks are based solely on hypothetical examples cited, and actual results and risks will vary depending on specific circumstances. Forward-looking statements should not be considered as guarantees or predictions of future events.

Nothing in this document shall be construed as giving rise to any duty of care owed to, or advisory relationship with, you or any third party. Nothing in this document shall be regarded as an offer, solicitation, recommendation or advice (whether financial, accounting, legal, tax or other) given by J.P. Morgan and/or its officers or employees, irrespective of whether or not such communication was given at your request. J.P. Morgan and its affiliates and employees do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any financial transactions.  

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR INVESTMENTS AND POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Conflicts of interest will arise whenever JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. or any of its affiliates (together, “J.P. Morgan”) have an actual or perceived economic or other incentive in its management of our clients’ portfolios to act in a way that benefits J.P. Morgan. Conflicts will result, for example (to the extent the following activities are permitted in your account): (1) when J.P. Morgan invests in an investment product, such as a mutual fund, structured product, separately managed account or hedge fund issued or managed by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. or an affiliate, such as J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc.; (2) when a J.P. Morgan entity obtains services, including trade execution and trade clearing, from an affiliate; (3) when J.P. Morgan receives payment as a result of purchasing an investment product for a client’s account; or (4) when J.P. Morgan receives payment for providing services (including shareholder servicing, recordkeeping or custody) with respect to investment products purchased for a client’s portfolio. Other conflicts will result because of relationships that J.P. Morgan has with other clients or when J.P. Morgan acts for its own account.

Investment strategies are selected from both J.P. Morgan and third-party asset managers and are subject to a review process by our manager research teams. From this pool of strategies, our portfolio construction teams select those strategies we believe fit our asset allocation goals and forward-looking views in order to meet the portfolio’s investment objective.

As a general matter, we prefer J.P. Morgan managed strategies. We expect the proportion of J.P. Morgan managed strategies will be high (in fact, up to 100 percent) in strategies such as cash and high-quality fixed income, subject to applicable law and any account-specific considerations.

While our internally managed strategies generally align well with our forward-looking views, and we are familiar with the investment processes as well as the risk and compliance philosophy of the firm, it is important to note that

J.P. Morgan receives more overall fees when internally managed strategies are included. We offer the option of choosing to exclude J.P. Morgan managed strategies (other than cash and liquidity products) in certain portfolios.

The Six Circles Funds are U.S.-registered mutual funds managed by J.P. Morgan and sub-advised by third parties. Although considered internally managed strategies, JPMC does not retain a fee for fund management or other fund services. 

LEGAL ENTITY, BRAND & REGULATORY INFORMATION

In the United States, bank deposit accounts and related services, such as checking, savings and bank lending, are offered by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and its affiliates (collectively “JPMCB”) offer investment products, which may include bank-managed investment accounts and custody, as part of its trust and fiduciary services. Other investment products and services, such as brokerage and advisory accounts, are offered through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”), a member of FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. JPMCB, JPMS and CIA are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

In Luxembourg, this material is issued by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A (JPMBL), with registered office at European Bank and Business Centre, 6 route de Treves, L-2633, Senningerberg, Luxembourg. R.C.S Luxembourg B10.958. Authorized and regulated by Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and jointly supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the CSSF. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. is authorized as a credit institution in accordance with the Law of 5th April 1993. In the United Kingdom, this material is issued by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch. Prior to Brexit (Brexit meaning that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, or, if later, loses its ability to passport financial services between the UK and the remainder of the EEA), J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch is subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request. In the event of Brexit, in the UK, J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority, subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request. In Spain, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Sucursal en España, with registered office at Paseo de la Castellana, 31, 28046 Madrid, Spain. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Sucursal en España is registered under number 1516 within the administrative registry of the Bank of Spain and supervised by the Spanish Securities Market Commission (CNMV). In Germany, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Frankfurt Branch, registered office at Taunustor 1 (TaunusTurm), 60310 Frankfurt, Germany, jointly supervised by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), and in certain areas also supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin). In Italy, this material is distributed by

J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Milan Branch, registered office at Via Cantena Adalberto 4, Milan 20121, Italy and regulated by Bank of Italy and the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB). In addition, this material may be distributed by  JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“JPMCB”), Paris branch, which is regulated by the French banking authorities Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution and Autorité des Marchés Financiers or by J.P. Morgan (Suisse) SA, which is regulated in Switzerland by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

In Hong Kong, this material is distributed by JPMCB, Hong Kong branch. JPMCB, Hong Kong branch is regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, we will cease to use your personal data for our marketing purposes without charge if you so request. In Singapore, this material is distributed by JPMCB, Singapore branch. JPMCB, Singapore branch is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Dealing and advisory services and discretionary investment management services are provided to you by JPMCB, Hong Kong/Singapore branch (as notified to you). Banking and custody services are provided to you by JPMCB Singapore Branch. The contents of this document have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Hong Kong, Singapore or any other jurisdictions. You are advised to exercise caution in relation to this document. If you are in any doubt about any of the contents of this document, you should obtain independent professional advice. For materials which constitute product advertisement under the Securities and Futures Act and the Financial Advisers Act, this advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., a national banking association chartered under the laws of the United States, and as a body corporate, its shareholder’s liability is limited.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCBNA) (ABN 43 074 112 011/AFS Licence No: 238367) is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Material provided by JPMCBNA in Australia is to “wholesale clients” only. For the purposes of this paragraph the term “wholesale client” has the meaning given in section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Please inform us if you are not a Wholesale Client now or if you cease to be a Wholesale Client at any time in the future.

JPMS is a registered foreign company (overseas) (ARBN 109293610) incorporated in Delaware, U.S.A. Under Australian financial services licensing requirements, carrying on a financial services business in Australia requires a financial service provider, such as J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), unless an exemption applies. JPMS is exempt from the requirement to hold an AFSL under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) in respect of financial services it provides to you, and is regulated by the SEC, FINRA and CFTC under U.S. laws, which differ from Australian laws. Material provided by JPMS in Australia is to “wholesale clients” only. The information provided in this material is not intended to be, and must not be, distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons in Australia. For the purposes of this paragraph the term “wholesale client” has the meaning given in section 761G of the Act. Please inform us immediately if you are not a Wholesale Client now or if you cease to be a Wholesale Client at any time in the future.

This material has not been prepared specifically for Australian investors. It:

  • May contain references to dollar amounts which are not Australian dollars;
  • May contain financial information which is not prepared in accordance with Australian law or practices;
  • May not address risks associated with investment in foreign currency denominated investments; and
  • Does not address Australian tax issues.

With respect to countries in Latin America, the distribution of this material may be restricted in certain jurisdictions. We may offer and/or sell to you securities or other financial instruments which may not be registered under, and are not the subject of a public offering under, the securities or other financial regulatory laws of your home country. Such securities or instruments are offered and/or sold to you on a private basis only. Any communication by us to you regarding such securities or instruments, including without limitation the delivery of a prospectus, term sheet or other offering document, is not intended by us as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or instruments in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or a solicitation is unlawful. Furthermore, such securities or instruments may be subject to certain regulatory and/or contractual restrictions on subsequent transfer by you, and you are solely responsible for ascertaining and complying with such restrictions. To the extent this content makes reference to a fund, the Fund may not be publicly offered in any Latin American country, without previous registration of such fund’s securities in compliance with the laws of the corresponding jurisdiction. Public offering of any security, including the shares of the Fund, without previous registration at Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission–CVM is completely prohibited. Some products or services contained in the materials might not be currently provided by the Brazilian and Mexican platforms.

References to “J.P. Morgan” are to JPM, its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide. “J.P. Morgan Private Bank” is the brand name for the private banking business conducted by JPM.

This material is intended for your personal use and should not be circulated to or used by any other person, or duplicated for nonpersonal use, without our permission. If you have any questions or no longer wish to receive these communications, please contact your J.P. Morgan team. 

© 2021 JPMorgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved.

Check the background of Our Firm and Investment Professionals on FINRA's BrokerCheck

To learn more about J. P. Morgan’s investment business, including our accounts, products and services, as well as our relationship with you, please review our  J.P. Morgan Securities LLC Form CRS and  Guide to Investment Services and Brokerage Products.

This website is for informational purposes only, and not an offer, recommendation or solicitation of any product, strategy service or transaction. Any views, strategies or products discussed on this site may not be appropriate or suitable for all individuals and are subject to risks. Prior to making any investment or financial decisions, an investor should seek individualized advice from a personal financial, legal, tax and other professional advisors that take into account all of the particular facts and circumstances of an investor's own situation. 

This website provides information about the brokerage and investment advisory services provided by J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”). When JPMS acts as a broker-dealer, a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client will be different in some important ways than a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client when we are acting as an investment advisor. A client should carefully read the agreements and disclosures received (including our Form ADV disclosure brochure, if and when applicable) in connection with our provision of services for important information about the capacity in which we will be acting.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED

Equal Housing Opportunity logo

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, member FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. Certain custody and other services are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCB). JPMS, CIA and JPMCB are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

Please read additional Important Information in conjunction with these pages.