It is more than common for many small (and not so small) investors to see fixed income as a safe haven in which to save their savings. Sometimes you can even find certain financial advisors who sell it as such. But neither of us is right.
This erroneous concept of fixed income investment is induced by its more intrinsic nature, which basically consists of receiving the interest agreed upon in the issue year after year until the maturity of the security. But the truth is that, although it may not seem a priori, fixed income is also low. Today we analyze this paradoxical behavior that is about to reach the markets.
After the last meeting of the European Central Bank, during the subsequent press conference, Mario Draghi once again said that the ECB would maintain interest rates at the current 0% rate, while maintaining the marginal lending facility, the rate at which it rewards excess reserves held by European banks at -0.4%. In other words, the central bank will continue to charge the banks for saving their money in order to stimulate the circulation of money and loans in the Eurozone.
Needless to say, both rates, interest rates and the marginal lending facility, are currently at completely abnormal levels. And they have been there since they historically hit bottom in the first quarter of 2016. The current figures are part of the ultra-expansive monetary policy that was launched by the ECB, after other central banks such as the Fed and the Japanese central bank, in response to the Great Recession that began after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
But as we have been warning from these lines every time we have the opportunity, interest rates are not going to remain at these levels indefinitely: take this into account in your financial decisions, and especially when you’re counting on a mortgage application. In fact, the light is already visible at the end of the rate tunnel at 0%, and there is less and less time left for rates to return to their upward trend. The ECB believes that the storm in Europe is already breaking out, and that the herd can therefore now be removed from the shelter.
The truth is that, as it could not be otherwise, the financially orthodox Germany was the first European corner from which they began to demand a rate hike from the ECB quite a few quarters ago. In fact, the famous German”five wise men” have already urged the Draghi to do so.
The ECB’s response has been to state that it will not only maintain current interest rate levels, but also seek to maintain psychological stability among market participants. The aim is to help the business climate in the Eurozone, so as not to”scare” it off” prematurely: for European economic operators, a rate hike would be a significant turning point marking the end of an era.
But at the ECB, what they say is one thing, and what they think is another. In Frankfurt they are well aware of the current economic situation, and in fact behind the scenes there is already something moving in terms of interest rates. Thus, it is common knowledge that the ECB has already begun to discuss the end of monetary stimuli, including ultra-expanding interest rates. In fact, strong hands and smart investors, which often include the”professionalised” bond market, have already begun to discount this scenario, and bond prices have picked up.
Fixed’ income is also falling, so they are not surprised when they see a negative return on their fixed income funds. In fact, fixed income is falling precisely in the upward cycles of interest rates, in one of which we are about to enter Europe. The obvious question that I hope is being drawn in their minds is: And how is it likely to come down? We analyze it for you in the following lines. You’ll see how it has all the market logic.
Obviously, if you as an individual investor buy a fixed income security, whether it is a bond bond or a letter, in the fixed income securities market (or primary market), you will agree to a return in exchange for lending your money to the state (or a large national company). If you hold this security in your portfolio until maturity, you will not see any negative returns at any time, and will end up receiving the initial capital invested, in addition to the return agreed upon at the time of purchase.