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More evidence of a bull market, except in Australia

By Colin Twiggs
March 25, 2017 8:20 p.m. EDT (10:20 a.m. AEDT)

Disclaimer
Please read the Disclaimer. I am not a licensed investment adviser.


One of my favorite indicators of financial market stress is Corporate bond spreads. The premium charged on the lowest level of investment-grade corporate bonds, over the equivalent 10-year Treasury yield, is a great measure of the level of financial market stress.

Moodys 10-year BAA minus Treasury yields

Levels below 2 percent — not seen since 2004 - 2007 and 1994 - 1998 before that — are indicative of a raging bull market. The current level of 2.24 percent is slightly higher, reflecting some caution, but way below elevated levels around 3 percent.

The Financial Stress Index from St Louis Fed measures the degree of stress in financial markets. Constructed from 18 weekly data series: seven interest rate series, six yield spreads and five other indicators. The average value of the index is designed to be zero (representing normal market conditions); values below zero suggest low financial stress, while values above zero suggest high market stress.

St Louis Financial Stress Index

Current levels, below -1, also indicate unusually low levels of financial market stress.

Leading Index

The Leading Index from the Philadelphia Fed has declined slightly in recent years but remains healthy, at above 1 percent.

Philadelphia Fed Leading Index

Currency in Circulation

Most recessions are preceded by growth in currency in circulation falling below 5 percent, warning that the economy is contracting.

Currency in Circulation

Current levels, above 5 percent, reflect healthy financial markets.

Australia

On the other side of the Pacific, currency growth is shrinking, below 5 percent for the first time in 7 years. A sustained fall would warn that the economy is contracting.

Australia: Money Supply

Further rate cuts, to stimulate the economy, are unlikely. The ratio of Household Debt to Disposable Income is climbing and the RBA would be reluctant to add more fuel to the bonfire.

Australia: Household Debt

There is no immediate pressure on the RBA to raise interest rates, but when the time comes the impact on the housing market could be devastating.

Most of the poverty and misery in the world is due to bad government, lack of democracy, weak states, internal strife, and so on. We do need to intervene, to improve political and economic conditions inside countries that have bad governments, where people are suffering. One way of doing this, without violating sovereignty, is through constructive actions — reinforcements and incentives for countries that are moving in the right direction, toward an open society, a market economy, et cetera. That is what I'm advocating. I'm advocating preventive action of a constructive nature. And I would use military force only as the very last resort, when nothing else works.

~ George Soros



 
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