No, really — it is. The yield on the 10 Year was under 4% this morning — briefly kissing 3.99%.
To the wayback machine: Earlier this year, we noted (with an “Uh-Oh”) that Business Week’s February 19, 2007 cover story on our “Low, Low, Low, Low-Rate World” might be a contrary indicator that rates were about to tick higher. After that article came out, Fixed income rates went lower for a month, then rallied to a new 12 month high.
Things were looking grim for Messers. Mandel and Henry.
However, as the chart nearby shows, Yield on the 10 year has since plummeted. Have Michael Mandel and David Henry broken the “Curse of the Magazine Cover?”
It appears they have. The dominant theme of that February 19, 2007 remains intact: After some volatility, Rates have trended lower. We can quibble about the actual article content, which wasn’t exactly forecasting a major economic slowdown or recession — the likely cause of the current flight to bonds.
However, the key point — rates are low, and likely to stay that way — strongly suggests that cover failed as an indicator in this instance.
Does this invalidate the cover theory?
Not at all. To begin with, all of these cover indicators are merely anecdotal, rather than quantitative, evidence. As such, it is imperfect, and occasionally wrong. Perhaps interest rates not that big a cultural touchstone.
When it does work correctly, the results can be spectacular — think of the infamous Business Week “Death of Equities” cover that set up the greatest Bull market the world had ever seen, or Jeff Bezos as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year marking the top of the internet bubble.
Perhaps now someone at Business Week will see their way clear to getting me a copy of that August 13, 1979 “Death of Equities” cover . . .
It’s A Low, Low, Low, Low-Rate World
Michael Mandel and David Henry
Business Week, FEBRUARY 19, 2007 http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_08/b4022001.htm
Treasuries Rally as Stocks Drop; Ten-Year Yield Falls Below 4%
Daniel Kruger and Lukanyo Mnyanda
Bloomberg,Nov. 21 2007
Uh-Oh: It’s A Low, Low, Low, Low-Rate World
The Big Picture, February 12, 2007
Rising Bond Yields (or, The Magazine Cover Indicator Lives!)
The Big Picture, June 05, 2007
Low, Low, Low, Low Medium-Rate World
The Big Picture, June 09, 2007
I previously mentioned The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm by Robert F. Bruner and Sean D. Carr, in a linkfest a few months ago.
I found the book, published exactly a century after the original event, to have some rather interesting parallels to today.
The significance of the 1907 Panic as an economic event went far beyond the mere crash and recovery. It eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
There is a video excerpt from the book here.
The authors point out the following Déjà vu — 100 years later: "War was fresh in mind. Immigration was fueling dramatic changes in society. New technologies were changing people’s everyday lives. Wall Street was wheeling and dealing . . ."
They also name 7 factors are required to develop a financial panic: Buoyant Growth, Systemic Architecture, Inadequate Safety Buffers, Adverse Leadership, Real Economic Shock, Fear and Greed, Failure of Collective Action.