Last Friday, Deutsche Bank’s Aleksandar Kocic laid out what he calls the “Hierarchy Of Vulnerability” for markets “at the intersection of politics and policy.”
Over the past several weeks, ongoing turmoil at the White House has collided with and exacerbated geopolitical and economic policy uncertainty, with the former manifesting itself in the decision to replace H.R. McMaster with notorious war hawk John Bolton and the latter represented by the apparent victory of the protectionist contingent embodied in Peter Navarro.
That’s set against a Fed that wants to normalize policy and take control of curve dynamics along the path to that normalization. This is a delicate task and it’s being undertaken with a non-economist, rookie Fed Chair at the helm.
Kocic’s take is that equities are on the front lines in terms of where volatility is likely to show up. “What is the hierarchy of vulnerability in this context — which market sectors are going to be more vulnerable than the others?”, Kocic asked.
Again, the short answer is: stocks. You’ve probably noticed that the long end seems to have benefited from a safe haven bid of late and as Kocic noted on Friday, “based on last week’s finale, rising geopolitical risk and trade tariffs [may] provide support for bonds which, when coupled with a more hawkish Fed, could add more flattening bias.”
Well Treasurys rallied hard on Tuesday amid the tech chaos with 10Y yields diving 8bps and on Wednesday morning, yields broke through the 50-DMA for the first time since December.
As Bloomberg’s Brian Chappatta writes on Wednesday:
Treasuries traders are watching for any sign that this year could be déjà vu from 2017, when expectations for higher yields were dashed by March. Last year, it was disappointment over inflation misses and the Trump administration’s inability to make progress on its fiscal agenda.
Now it might just be tech stocks.