The fixed income landscape has changed dramatically since the introduction of zero interest rate policies (ZIRP) by global central banks in the aftermath of the credit crisis. In an attempt to avoid a global depression, central banks in the developed countries, led by the US Federal Reserve (“Fed”), reduced short-term borrowing costs close to zero. In the graph below, we illustrate the decline in yields across the fixed income landscape for intermediate government bonds (10-year Treasury–in white), corporate bonds (Moody’s Baa–in red) and the federal funds rate (in green) since 2008.
While these central bank actions may have been justified at the onset of the credit crisis, their effectiveness has come into question over the past several years. After all, interest rates represent the cost of capital, and should ideally be set by markets where creditworthy borrowers or seekers of capital are being met by savers or suppliers of capital. Artificially low interest rates encourage the use of leverage in the economy. Also, at these historically low yields, we believe most publicly traded bonds are mispriced and investors are not being appropriately compensated for the risk they are taking. According to JPMorgan, over 60% of the global government bonds are currently carrying yields below one percent, and almost 30% carry negative yields!