Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.The Gallery of Crowd Behavior: Goodbye Stock Market All Time Highs - Doug_Wakefieldth
2.Tesco Meltdown Debt Default Risk Could Trigger a Financial Crisis in Early 2015 - Nadeem_Walayat
3.The Trend Every Nation on Earth Is Pouring Money Into - Keith Fitz-Gerald
4.Do Tumbling Buybacks Signal Another Stock Market Crash? - 26Mike_Whitney
5.Could Tesco Go Bust? How to Save Tesco from Debt Bankruptcy Risk - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Gold And Silver Price - Respect The Trend But Prepare For A Reversal - Michael_Noonan
7.U.S. Economy Faltering Momentum, Debt and Asset Bubbles - Lacy Hunt
8.Bullish Silver Stealth Buying - Zeal_LLC
9.Euro, USD, Gold and Stocks According to Chartology - Rambus_Chartology
10.Evidence of Another Even More Sweeping U.S. Housing Market Bust Already Starting to Appear - EWI
Last 5 days
Stocks Bear Market Crash Towards New All Time Highs as QE3 End Awaits QE4 Start - 31st Oct 14
US Mortgages, Risky Bisiness "Easy Money" - 30th Oct 14
Gold, Silver and Currency Wars - 30th Oct 14
How to Recognize a Stock Market “Bear Raid” on Wall Street - 30th Oct 14
U.S. Midterm Elections: Would a Republican Win Be Bullish for the Stock Market? - 30th Oct 14
Stock Market S&P Index MAP Wave Analysis Forecast - 30th Oct 14
Gold Price Declines Once Again As Expected - 30th Oct 14
Depression and the Economy of a Country - 30th Oct 14
Fed Ends QE? Greenspan Says Gold “Measurably” “Higher” In 5 Years - 30th Oct 14
Apocalypse Now Or Nirvana Next Week? - 30th Oct 14
Understanding Gold's Massive Impact on Fed Maneuvering - 30th Oct 14
Europe: Building a Banking Union - 30th Oct 14
The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America's Grasp - 30th Oct 14
Don't Get Ruined by These 10 Popular Investment Myths (Part VIII) - 29th Oct 14
Flock of Black Swans Points to Imminent Stock Market Crash - 29th Oct 14
Bank of America's Mortgage Headaches - 29th Oct 14
Risk Management - Why I Run “Ultimate Trailing Stops” on All My Investments - 29th Oct 14
As the Eurozone Economy Stalls, China Cuts the Red Tape - 29th Oct 14
Stock Market Bubble Goes Pop - 29th Oct 14
Gold's Obituary - 29th Oct 14
A Medical Breakthrough Creating Stock Profits - 29th Oct 14
Greenspan: Gold Price Will Rise - 29th Oct 14
The Most Important Stock Market Chart on the Planet - 29th Oct 14
Mysterious Death od CEO Who Went Against the Petrodollar - 29th Oct 14
Hillary Clinton Could Be One of the Best U.S. Presidents Ever - 29th Oct 14
The Worst Advice Wall Street Ever Gave - 29th Oct 14
Bitcoin Price Narrow Range, Might Not Be for Long - 29th Oct 14
UKIP South Yorkshire PCC Election Win is Just Not Going to Happen - 29th Oct 14
Evidence of New U.S. Housing Market Real Estate Bust Starting to Appear - 28th Oct 14
Principle, Rigor and Execution Matter in U.S. Foreign Policy - 28th Oct 14
This Little Piggy Bent The Market - 28th Oct 14
Global Housing Markets - Don’t Buy A Home, You’ll Get Burned! - 28th Oct 14
U.S. Economic Snapshot - Strong Dollar Eating into corporate Profits - 28th Oct 14
Oliver Gross Says Peak Gold Is Here to Stay - 28th Oct 14
The Hedge Fund Rich List Infographic - 28th Oct 14
Does Gold Price Always Respond to Real Interest Rates? - 28th Oct 14
When Will Central Bank Morons Ever Learn? asks Albert Edwards at Societe General - 28th Oct 14
Functional Economics - Getting Your House in Order - 28th Oct 14
Humanity Accelerating to What Exactly? - 27th Oct 14
A Scary Story for Emerging Markets - 27th Oct 14
Could Tesco Go Bust? How to Save Tesco from Debt Bankruptcy Risk - 27th Oct 14
Europe Redefines Bank Stress Tests - 27th Oct 14
Stock Market Intermediate Correction Underway - 27th Oct 14
Why Do Banks Want Our Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make Loans - 26th Oct 14
Obamacare Is Not a Revolution, It Is Mere Evolution - 26th Oct 14
Do Tumbling Buybacks Signal Another Stock Market Crash? - 26th Oct 14
Has the FTSE Stock Market Index Put in a Major Top? - 26th Oct 14
Christmas In October – Desperate Measures - 26th Oct 14
Stock Market Primary IV Continues - 26th Oct 14
Gold And Silver Price - Respect The Trend But Prepare For A Reversal - 25th Oct 14
Ebola Has Nothing To Do With The Stock Market - 25th Oct 14
The Gallery of Crowd Behavior: Goodbye Stock Market All Time Highs - 25th Oct 14
Japanese Style Deflation Coming? Where? Fed Falling Behind the Curve? Which Way? - 25th Oct 14
Gold Price Rebounds but Gold Miners Struggle - 25th Oct 14
Stock Market Buy the Dip or Sell the Rally - 25th Oct 14
Get Ready for “Stupid Cheap” Stock Prices - 25th Oct 14
The Trend Every Nation on Earth Is Pouring Money Into - 25th Oct 14 - Keith Fitz-Gerald
Bitcoin Price Decline Stopped, Possibly Temporarily - 25th Oct 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stocks Epic Bear Market

Credit Crisis Contraction Gaining Positive Traction

Interest-Rates / Credit Crisis 2009 Jan 14, 2009 - 04:58 PM GMT

By: Prieur_du_Plessis

Interest-Rates Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn order to gauge the progress being made to unclog credit markets and restore confidence in the world's financial system, I monitor a range of financial spreads and other measures. By perusing these, as summarized in this “Credit Crisis Watch” review, one can ascertain to what extent the various central bank liquidity facilities and capital injections are having the desired effect.


First up is the LIBOR rate. This is the interest rate that banks charge each other for one-month, three-month, six-month and one-year loans. LIBOR is an acronym for “London InterBank Offered Rate” and is the rate charged by London banks. This rate is then published and used as the benchmark for bank rates around the world.

After having peaked on October 10 at 4.82%, the three-month dollar LIBOR rate declined sharply to 1.09%. LIBOR is therefore trading at 84 basis points above the upper band of the Fed's target range - a great improvement, but still steep compared to an average of 12 basis points in the year before the start of the credit crisis in August 2007.

14-jan-1.jpg

Source: StockCharts.com

Importantly, US three-month Treasury Bills have started making their way higher to 0.12% after momentarily trading in negative territory in December as nervous investors were in desperate search of safety.

US three-month Treasury Bill yield

14-jan-2.jpg

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The TED spread (i.e. three-month dollar LIBOR less three-month Treasury Bills) is a measure of perceived credit risk in the economy. This is because T-bills are considered risk-free while LIBOR reflects the credit risk of lending to commercial banks. An increase in the TED spread is a sign that lenders believe the risk of default on interbank loans (also known as counterparty risk) is increasing. On the other hand, when the risk of bank defaults is considered to be decreasing, the TED spread narrows.

Since the TED spread's peak of 4.65% on October 10, the measure has eased to a five-month low 0.97% - well above the 38-point spread it averaged during the twelve months prior to the start of the crisis, but nevertheless a strong move in the right direction.

14-jan-3.jpg

Source: Fullermoney

The difference between the LIBOR rate and the overnight index swap (OIS) rate is another measure of credit market stress.

When the LIBOR-OIS spread increases, it indicates that banks believe the other banks they are lending to have a higher risk of defaulting on the loans, so they charge a higher interest rate to offset that risk. The opposite applies to a narrowing LIBOR-OIS spread.

Similar to the TED spread, the narrowing in the LIBOR-OIS spread since October is also a move in the right direction.

14-jan-4.jpg

Source: Fullermoney

Despite the interbank lending rates having declined from their peaks, banks have significantly curtailed the amount of money they are actually lending. The US Depository Institutions Aggregate Excess Reserves continue their ascent at levels far in excess of the amount that banks need to keep on deposit to meet their reserve requirements (see chart below). This measure indicates that the balance sheets of banks remain under pressure, especially in view of the fact that the value of some assets is not known. As mentioned before, a peak in the Excess Reserves graph should coincide with a turning point in the recovery of banks.

14-jan-5.jpg

Source: Fullermoney

Not illustrated by a chart, the spreads between ten-year Fannie Mae and other Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) bonds and ten-year US Treasury Notes have also tightened significantly over the past few weeks.

The national average rates for a US 30-year fixed mortgage yesterday declined to 5.08% from 5.33% a week ago and 6.46% in October last year. However, the rate is still 399 basis points higher than the three-month dollar LIBOR rate. According to Bloomberg , this spread averaged 97 basis points during the 12 months preceding the crisis, indicating that lower rates are not being passed on to consumers.

14-jan-6.jpg

Source: Fullermoney

As far as commercial paper is concerned, the A2/P2 spread measures the difference between A2/P2 (low quality) and AA (high quality) 30-day non-financial commercial paper. The spread has declined markedly to 2.23% from almost 5% at the end of December.

14-jan-7.jpg

Source: Federal Reserve Release - Commercial Paper

Similarly, junk bond yields have also declined, as shown by the Merrill Lynch US High Yield Index. The Index dropped by 22.9% to 1,682 from its record high of 2,182 on December 15. This means the spread between high-yield debt and comparable US Treasuries was 1,682 basis points by the close of business on Tuesday. With the US 10-year Treasury Note yield at 2.32%, high-yield borrowers have to pay 19.12% per year to borrow money for a ten-year period. At these exorbitant rates it is extremely difficult for companies with a less-than-perfect credit status to conduct business profitably.

14-jan-8.jpg

Source: Merrill Lynch Global Index System

The excellent gains of the iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (LQD) (+25.8%) and High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (HYG) (+23.1%) since their October/November lows, provide more evidence that the credit markets are moving in the right direction. However, from a short-term technical point of view, the rallies seem overdone and pullbacks will not come as a surprise.

14-jan-9.jpg

Source: StockCharts.com

14-jan-10.jpg

Source: StockCharts.com

Another indicator worth monitoring is the Barron's Confidence Index. This Index is calculated by dividing the average yield on high-grade bonds by the average yield on intermediate-grade bonds. The discrepancy between the yields is indicative of investor confidence. There has been an up-tick in the ratio since its all-time low in December, showing bond investors are growing a little more confident and have started opting for more speculative bonds over high-grade bonds.

14-jan-11.jpg

Source: I-Net Bridge

Deutsche Bank reports that the implied default rates on corporate bonds are at an extreme level, but that it is not inconceivable that especially high-yield bonds could see defaults remaining high for long enough to see a cumulative five-year default figure above the 30% to 35% range of the early 1990s and early part of this decade. “… the chances are far higher of such an occurrence than seeing the investment-grade cumulative five-year rate climbing into double digits,” the bank said.

According to Markit , the cost of buying credit insurance for European, Japanese and other Asian companies has shown a further improvement since the previous “ Credit Crisis Watch ” of three weeks ago, as shown by the tighter spreads (expressed in basis points) for the five-year credit derivative indices listed in the table below.

The notable exception has been the US where the CDX Investment Grade Index and the CDX High Yield Index both edged up. The increase of 29 basis points in the High Yield spread means an increased cost of $29,000 (up from $1,233,000 to $1,262,000) to insure $10 million of debt annually over five years.

• CDX (North America, investment-grade) Index: up from 211 to 218
• CDX (North America, high-yield) Index: up from 1,233 to 1,262

• Markit iTraxx Europe Index: down from 181 to 169
• Markit iTraxx Europe Crossover Index: down from 1,008 to 978

• Markit iTraxx Japan Index: down from 295 to 291
• Markit iTraxx Asia ex Japan IG Index: down from 347 to 307
• Markit iTraxx Asia ex Japan HY Index: down from 1,263 to 1,132

The graphs of the CDX indices are shown below, with the red line indicating the spreads easing over the past month.

CDX (North America, investment-grade) Index

14-jan-12.jpg

Source: Markit

CDX (North America, high-yield BB) Index

14-jan-13.jpg

Source: Markit

As far as the outlook for the credit derivative indices are concerned, Markit said: “Optimists have been declaring that all of the bad news has been priced into spreads, and we are set for a lengthy rally. The implausible default rates implied by current spread levels give this theory a measure of support. But the coming weeks are likely to see a torrent of negative news, and it is improbable that the CDS market can continue its stoic resistance. The upcoming US earnings season will be key, as will the progress of Obama's fiscal stimulus package through Congress. We have already seen several defaults this year, and we are sure to see many more in the coming months.”

Lastly, the tables below show some country CDS statistics, again courtesy of Markit . These prices represent the cost per year to insure $10,000 of debt for five years. For example, Italy is in most trouble among the G7 countries with a cost of $155 per year to insure $10,000 of debt.

It is noteworthy that Germany, Japan and France at the moment all have a lower default risk that the US. It now costs $55 per year to insure $10,000 against US default for the next five years. Although this is down from $65 a month ago, the corresponding numbers were $8 early last year and $36 in November. As in the case of the US, UK CDS spreads are also trading close to record levels as unease over the level of national debt takes its toll on their sovereign credit risk.

Not shown in the table, three of the weaker members of the eurozone (Spain, Ireland and Greece) yesterday saw their CDSs come under renewed pressure following negative rating agency action. Spain's spread widened by 13 basis points to 112 basis points, whereas Ireland and Greece are trading at the widest levels of any eurozone member.

14-jan-14.jpg

The past few weeks saw steady progress on the credit front, with the TED spread, LIBOR-OIS spread and GSE mortgage spreads having narrowed markedly since the record highs, although spreads are still elevated compared to pre-crisis levels. More recently, corporate bonds have also seen a strong improvement, but high-yield spreads remain at distressed levels.

Furthermore, the CDX and iTraxx credit derivative indices have mostly shown a solid improvement since the peaks in November. And even US Treasury Bills have started edging up from panic levels.

Action taken by the Fed and other central bank has resulted in ongoing progress being made to fix the broken credit machine. Although the credit markets are gaining some positive traction, interbank lending has not really picked up and the financial system is still fragile. In short, the thawing of the credit markets has a way to go before liquidity starts to move freely and the world's financial system functions normally again. The Fed's Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey will provide a useful update on credit conditions when it becomes available on February 2.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, click here to subscribe to updates to Investment Postcards from Cape Town by e-mail.

By Dr Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis is an investment professional with 25 years' experience in investment research and portfolio management.

More than 1200 of his articles on investment-related topics have been published in various regular newspaper, journal and Internet columns (including his blog, Investment Postcards from Cape Town : www.investmentpostcards.com ). He has also published a book, Financial Basics: Investment.

Prieur is chairman and principal shareholder of South African-based Plexus Asset Management , which he founded in 1995. The group conducts investment management, investment consulting, private equity and real estate activities in South Africa and other African countries.

Plexus is the South African partner of John Mauldin , Dallas-based author of the popular Thoughts from the Frontline newsletter, and also has an exclusive licensing agreement with California-based Research Affiliates for managing and distributing its enhanced Fundamental Index™ methodology in the Pan-African area.

Prieur is 53 years old and live with his wife, television producer and presenter Isabel Verwey, and two children in Cape Town , South Africa . His leisure activities include long-distance running, traveling, reading and motor-cycling.

Copyright © 2009 by Prieur du Plessis - All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilizing methods believed reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Do your own due diligence.

Prieur du Plessis Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

mkin
15 Jan 09, 05:27
Country Default Risk

Very interesting article.

I think this map might be useful too.

http://www.up2maps.net/report/yoiyitsu/World/country_default_risk_by_cds-_december_2008-updated_to_12_january_2009-.html


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014