Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Equity and Bond Cults

The bond cult is dominated by individual and institutional investors desperate to get some yield north of zero on their fixed-income investments. This is most evident in the monthly mutual fund data compiled by the Investment Company Institute. Over the past 12 months through October, net inflows into bond funds totaled $392 billion; equity funds experienced an $80 billion net outflow. Since the start of the latest bull market in stocks during March 2009, net inflows into equity funds was virtually zero, while bond funds attracted $1.25 trillion.

Nonfinancial corporations have been borrowing money from the bond cult, whose members have been desperately scrambling to lock in yields as the Fed has driven them closer to zero. Over the past four quarters, mutual funds purchased $267 billion in corporate and foreign bonds. To the extent that some of these funds have been used to buy back shares, the bond cult has been financing the bull market in stocks. This was all masterminded by the Fed’s equity and bond cults and implemented with their NZIRP and QE programs.

Today's Morning Briefing: The Bond Cult. (1) Lots of corporate cash driving buybacks. (2) Corporate balance sheets are beautiful. (3) The bond cult has lent some cash to the equity cult. (4) The master plan of the Fed’s bond and equity cult. (5) Households have more net worth, including home equity. (6) Are small business owners all Republicans? (7) More job openings and online job ads. (More for subscribers.)

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