Long Treasury Bond Yield

September 25, 2017
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The 35 year long bull market in quality bonds has been one of the greatest gifts to investors in all
history. For savvy market players, it has been like shooting fish in a barrel. Moreover, it may not
be dead yet. This is because the long term down trends in real economic growth, inflation, and the
full spectrum of investment grade interest rates have not reached decisive conclusions.The US will
likely need to experience another economic recession at some point in the years ahead before we
could be sure that deflation and zero short rates may have been banished. This is why many bond
players have not thrown in the towel despite historic lows in Treasury yields in 2016.

Since this is one of my final blog entries, it would be polite of me to offer long term guidance on
the potential for the economy in the future. But, to be truthful, I have thought for years that the
US economy had the potential to grow by 2.7% per annum based on work force growth and
productivity assumptions and, as it turns out, this view has been too optimistic. Businesses have
just been too cautious to make the long term capital commitments to assure a more productive labor
force in the wake of the huge expansion of productive capacity in the 1990s and more cautious
growth in final demand so far in this century. Even today, capacity utilization in the US is a sub-
par 77%. It could turn out that much of the excess capacity is by now uneconomic and that even
continued modest real growth will eventually trigger an unavoidable need for productivity
enhancing investment. Having been too optimistic about the economy, I leave it for actual events
to tell the story.

I have a link to the long Treasury yield for the past 5 years. In the chart you will spot a horizontal
line at 33 (3.3%). If the long bond yield  rises above that level over the next year and remains
“sticky” above 3%, that would constitute a break of the very long term down trend in yield for the
bond and would be a prima facie indication that the bull was finally winding up, but hardly a
conclusive one.   TYX Weekly

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