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There's a good narrative here, especially linked (see Metatone's comment and darragh's diary) to Larry Eliott's book Fantasy Island (at least what we've seen of it...)

Echoing Nomad, I'd say that, if you are aiming at being understood by the non-initiated, you might give an explanation of the counter-intuitive declining trend line in the first graph compared to "a 20-year bull market for bonds". Ie, explain the mechanics of bond markets a bit.

I really like the Dutch Disease parallel (and think it's accurate). The strong point is the generalisation of the requirement for high returns, that ravages other activities through cost-cutting, downsizing, outsourcing, offshoring, or just plain neglect. Add to this the free movement of capital in a world of rising population therefore cheap labour, and you can see why globalisation is (Anglo-Saxon above all) financial capitalism's swimming pool.

Just a suggested edit : for

In other words: today's market conditions are absolutely unprecedented, and nobody has the experience of what might happen next.

read: "...unprecedented, and no past experience can throw light on what might happen next".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 09:59:37 AM EST
Echoing Nomad, I'd say that, if you are aiming at being understood by the non-initiated, you might give an explanation of the counter-intuitive declining trend line in the first graph compared to "a 20-year bull market for bonds". Ie, explain the mechanics of bond markets a bit.

Does it help to say that as the price of a bond goes up its yield goes down? Is that what's counter-intuitive about it?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 10:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Explain first to the non-initiated what a bond is, how it is different than, say, a stock/share and perhaps how they are tied together (I still don't know whether they are!!).

I did some basic reading during J's diary to get a sense about what he was talking.

I haphazardly compared to it currency: when the South African Rand is weakening compared to the Euro, it means that it will take me longer to pay off my study loan in Euro because my yield (in Euro) goes down. Whether that analogy is correct of course begs the question...

by Nomad on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 10:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A simple bond is a promise to pay a given principal amount at a given maturity time. If you buy the bond for a price that is less than the principal you will realise a profit. The (compound) rate of interest that will make the price grow to the principal between now and maturity is the yield to maturity. The lower the price, the higher the yield and conversely. There are more complicated bonds that pay interest regularly (called a coupon) in addition to the principal at maturity, but they still have inversely correlated price and yield. And a fixed-interest mortgage is like a bond with monthly coupons and no principal.

It should be plain that bonds are completely different from stock shares, which are shares in the capital of a company.

Let's not get into exchange rate risk at this point ;-)

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 10:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What appears counter-intuitive is a downward trend on the graph = a bull market.

And what many people don't know about is the relation of the bond market to credit, and its relation to stocks.

I don't propose to try to write anything myself because I'd probably screw up :)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 11:27:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll let myself being used as an economic student / guinea pig... But only for this post, because I'm poised to leave.

Bloody linguistic terms. It's still rather opaque to me - One buys to realise a profit? I do see how the principle works, yet when does the actual return set in? When do you "sell" bonds to realise the profit in actual numbers on your bank account? Or is the buying the selling? *confused *

And (once again): (how) does the bond market affect the stock market?

by Nomad on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 11:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you buy a 10-year €1,000 bond for €600 when the bond is issued, you invest €600 now and are guaranteed €1,000 10 years from now. If you lend €600 at 5.24% annual yield and only require one repayment 10 years from now, the borrower will have to pay you €1,000 when the loan expires. So buying a bond is like lending money, and if the yield is positive (or larger than inflation, or larger than the profit you can make elsewhere, or larger than whatever your benchmark is) you'll make a profit.

Of course, if you can turn around a year later and sell the bond for €660 then you've made a 10% in a year, the yield of thebond has gone down to 4.72% and the price went up higher than expected.

The bond market affects the stock market in that bonds involve guaranteed payments so, neglecting default risk (and if the bond is a US treasury bond you pretty much can) the bond yield is a measure of risk-free return. When valuing stocks, return is measured relative to the risk-free rate of return. So, if bond yields go down, stock returns above the risk-free rate go up and so investing in the stock market becomes more attractive. Also, investments that used to be less profitable than bonds and so wouldn't be undertaken suddenly become profitable.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 11:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
If you buy a 10-year €1,000 bond for €600 when the bond is issued, you invest €600 now and are guaranteed €1,000 10 years from now. If you lend €600 at 5.24% annual yield and only require one repayment 10 years from now, the borrower will have to pay you €1,000 when the loan expires. So buying a bond is like lending money, and if the yield is positive (or larger than inflation, or larger than the profit you can make elsewhere, or larger than whatever your benchmark is) you'll make a profit.

That makes it crystal clear what a bond is for the ignoramus.

Similarly:

the bond yield is a measure of risk-free return. When valuing stocks, return is measured relative to the risk-free rate of return. So, if bond yields go down, stock returns above the risk-free rate go up and so investing in the stock market becomes more attractive. Also, investments that used to be less profitable than bonds and so wouldn't be undertaken suddenly become profitable.

This explains to me the relation between the bond and stock market. And I haven't been looking up information since I logged off yesterday.

If J could blend this into his diary as an introduction to the bond market, I think it would be able to reach a larger audience unfamiliar with financials.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 03:30:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the concept of the Anglo Diseasa is important enough to warrant writing some concise explanation of these underlying concepts. I'll do that in the very near future.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 04:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The relation between stocks returns and yields is incomprehensibly "explained" in the wikipedia article on the Sharpe Ratio.

Maybe the article on Modern Portfolio Theory will be more instructive, but I think it's overkill - more than you need to know about any of this. However, this diagram from the article hopefully makes it clear what "excess return above risk-free" means.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 05:52:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This quotation from the diary
Describing the interest rates set by the bond market as the "cornerstone" for valuing equities and other securities, [Albert Edwards, Dresdner Kleinwort's well-known global equity strategist] cautions that if the bond market has truly entered a new era of steadily rising long-term rates, "all investment portfolios will be shredded to ribbons".
might be clarified by this other quotation from the beginning of the FT piece:
US Treasury bond yields in effect set the "risk-free" rate used when pricing securities - from corporate credit through derivative contracts to equities - across the world. They form the financial world's clearest expression of risk.
Does this answer "how the bond market affects the stock market"?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 12:15:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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