Monday, 15 January 2018

Macro and Credit - Bracket creep

"Declining productivity and quality means your unit production costs stay high but you don't have as much to sell. Your workers don't want to be paid less, so to maintain profits, you increase your prices. That's inflation." - W. Edwards Deming

Watching with interest the latest US CPI posting its biggest gain in 11 months to 1.8% in a US economy plagued by "fixed income" (lack of wage growth) and "floating expenses" (healthcare and rents), when it came to selecting our title analogy we reminded ourselves of the term Bracket creep, particular following the landmark tax reform passed on Christmas Eve to replace the 30-year-old, complex U.S. tax system. Bracket creep describes the process by which inflation pushes wages and salaries into higher tax brackets, leading to a fiscal drag situation. Given most progressive tax systems are not adjusted for inflation, as wages and salaries rise in nominal terms under the influence of inflation they become more highly taxed, even though in real terms the value of the wages and salaries has not increased at all. The net effect overall is that in real terms taxes rise unless the tax rates or brackets are adjusted to compensate. That simple.

In this week's conversation, we would like to look at rising inflation expectations and what it entails from a US TIPs and other linkers perspective as well as what are Japanese friends are up to from an overall flow allocation.


Synopsis:
  • Macro and Credit - The return of the inflationistas
  • Final chart - The "Bid 'Em Up Bruce" stage is now

  • Macro and Credit - The return of the inflationistas
While inflation has been the elusive piece of the puzzle for many of our dear central bankers around the world, the latest print of core US CPI is marking the return of the "inflationista". This obviously should be welcomed good news for the members of the FOMC, but be careful what they wish for. As we indicated back in June 2015 in our conversation "The Third Punic War", bear markets for US equities generally coincide with a significant tick up in core inflation. Also remember that in the headline CPI, rental prices represent 25% in the calculations and overall housing 42%. We will eagerly watch rental prices in the coming weeks and months. Back in 2008 in the US the Core inflation rate peaked in August 2008 at 2.54% before we had the "bear market" of 2008 as a reminder.

Yet as posited by Wells Fargo in their Economics Group from the 12th of January in their note entitled "CPI: Beyond the Headline, Inflation is Strengthening", consumer prices are it seems indeed edging up:
"Consumer price inflation edged up 0.1 percent in December despite a fall in gasoline prices. Reversing last month’s weakness, core inflation rose 0.3 percent and is up at a 2.5 percent pace over the past three months.
Gasoline Savings Going Elsewhere
Inflation cooled in December with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increasing 0.1 percent. That followed a 0.4 percent gain in November.

The tamer increase stemmed from a pullback in energy costs as gasoline prices fell 2.7 percent over the month. That overshadowed a modest rise in energy services (electricity and utility gas). It was not until late in the month that unusually low temperatures led to a jump in natural gas prices. Although not quite halfway through the month, spot prices for natural gas are up about 6 percent from their December average. Therefore, we suspect energy services could provide an even larger lift to headline inflation next month.
For December, food prices rose 0.2 percent. That marks the largest increase since July and suggests that more stable prices for food commodities and rising labor costs for food services workers may be reasserting some modest upward pressure on the sector.

Core Inflation Rebounds
Core inflation bounced back after a weaker-than-expected reading in November. Excluding food and energy, prices were up 0.3 percent. Core goods prices posted a rare increase and moved 0.2 percent higher.

Leaner auto inventories after last year’s natural disasters spurred demand to replace vehicles and slower production growth more generally has given some support to prices. After falling from February to September, new and used vehicle prices have risen the past three months, including the largest monthly gain in December in more than six years. A 1.0 percent jump in prescription drug prices also pushed core goods inflation higher. Stronger core inflation was also driven by services. Shelter costs advanced an above-trend 0.4 percent in December. Rent of primary residences and owned residence both rose more than in November, while lodging costs partially reversed last month’s drop. Costs for medical care services also rebounded after a sharp decline in physician services in November.
Getting Back to the Fed’s Target
Inflation has been the darkest cloud hanging over the Fed’s efforts to normalize policy. Over the past year, inflation has risen 2.1 percent, a touch lower than November’s 12-month change and noticeably below the pace set earlier in the year. Yet the recent trend looks stronger. Over the past three months headline inflation is up at a 2.6 percent annualized pace. Similarly, core inflation, which is up 1.8 percent on a year-ago basis, has risen at a 2.5 percent pace over the past three months. This should help to allay some FOMC members’ fears that inflation is stuck at undesirably low levels. We expect to see a noticeable pick up in the year-over-year change by this spring. Although that will stem in large part from base effects following weakness last year, the trend remains upward." - source Wells Fargo.
Back in October 2017 in our conversation "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" we asked ourselves if indeed the game was turning and if we should switch camp from the "deflationista" towards the "inflationista" camp:
"Given China's most recent uptick in its PPI to 6.9%, we are indeed wondering if this is not a sign that we should change allegiance slightly towards the "inflationista" camp and start fearing somewhat the possibility of the return of the Big Bad Wolf aka inflation. We will be monitoring closely this latest China "inflation impulse". China's rising costs via exports could boosts inflation expectations in the US. These higher inflation expectations in the US would mean a steeper yield curve with a rise in long-duration yields overall and it would lead to higher rates volatility down the line. A bear market needs a wolf and this wolf would materialize in a return of inflation we think." - source Macronomics, October 2017 
As pointed out by Christopher Cole from Artemis Capital in his must read note "Volatility and the Alchemy of Risk - Reflexivity in the Shadows of Black Monday 1987",  the rise of the Big Bad Wolf aka inflation was what started a liquidity fire in credit that spread to equities before the 1987 volatility explosion described. But flow wise, as we have pointed out in numerous conversations, the money is flowing "uphill" where all the "fun" is namely the bond market, not "downhill" to the "real economy" so far. It seems the bond kings such Bill Gross and Jeff Gundlach as of late have picked up their side and are steering towards the "inflationista" camp whereas Dr Lacy Hunt, from is latest  quarterly note for Hoisington continues to sit tightly in the "deflationista" camp it seems. One might therefore wonder where we stand.

Also, in October 2015 in our conversation "Sympathetic detonation", we posited that US TIPS were of great interest from a diversification perspective given the US TIPS market is the one for which, on a historical basis, the correlation with other asset classes is least extreme. We argued at the time:
"US TIPS are more "compelling" than UK linkers and still are less positively correlated to nominal bonds for a very simple reason: their embedded "deflation floor" - source Macronomics, October 2015
We hinted a "put-call parity" strategy early 2014, eg long Gold/long US Treasuries as we argued in our conversation "The Departed", but that was because of the following:
"If the policy compass is spinning and there’s no way to predict how central banks will react, you don’t know whether to hedge for inflation or deflation, so you hedge for both. Buy put-call parity, if there is huge volatility in the policy responses of central banks, the option-value of both gold and bonds goes up."
Given it seems that US inflation expectations are moving upwards it seems, one could argue that the compass in the US has somewhat stopped spinning hence the move in US breakevens and TIPS, in conjunction with the continuous support for Gold Miners (yes we are still long and we have been adding...). 

We like US TIPS particularly if pundits started claiming inflation in the US is rearing its ugly head, particularly for the specific deflation floor embedded in US TIPS. It works both ways, so what's not to like about them in the current "reflationary" environment? 

At least with US TIPS you can side with the "inflationistas" camp while having downside protection should the "deflationista camp" of Dr Lacy Hunt wins the argument. We highly recommend our friend Kevin Muir aka The Macro Tourist post on a refresher on how breakeven works: "BREAKEVEN REFRESHER LESSON" for those not familiar with the concept. 

We would also like to add that if indeed the rise of inflation expectations is a global phenomenon, then our UK friends have an advantage with Gilt Linkers given they do not have an embedded deflation floor so, they should outperform US TIPS on a relative basis. 

Also, as all eyes are looking at the significant surge in oil prices in recent months as per our March 2016 conversation "Unobtainium":
"A very interesting 2015 paper by the Bank of Israel (Sussman, N and O Zohar 2015, “Oil prices, inflation expectations, and monetary policy”, Bank of Israel DP092015.) indicates that since the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008, a 10% change in oil prices moves 5Y5Y expected inflation by nearly 0.1% in the US and 0.05% in the Euro area. Therefore, given the recent significant surge in oil prices, we do not think it is such a surprise to see a rise in inflation expectations in that context." - source Macronomics, March 2016
Whereas the rise in US inflation is raising some concerns relative to the US yield curve, we do not have such a sanguine approach of the "inflationistas" for the long end of the curve. We live in a world in which the public sector has never been so indebted (The world's global debt just reached $233 trillion in 3Q 2017). Demography is as well playing its part in rendering the US Yield curve "inelastic" therefore the volatility of the US yield curve is clearly in the front-end of the curve. We continue to witness a bear-flattening of the US Yield curve with the Japanese investment crowd and in particular Lifers continuing to be dip buyers. This is confirmed by Nomura from their JPY Flow Monitor report from the 12th of January entitled "Net buying continued but at a slower pace":
"Lifers sold foreign bonds, but seemed to maintain its recovery trend
Investment by life insurers, which are prominent medium- and long-term investors, remained lackluster. They were net sellers in November at JPY234bn and in December at JPY124bn ($1.1bn). Higher FX hedging costs for US bond investment may slow their foreign bond investment, but we do not believe that the recovery trend has ended, (see “US curve flattening and Japanese lifers”, 7 December 2017). Barring another resurgence of geopolitical risks, we believe there is a good possibility that lifers will resume their net buying at a high level due to pent-up demand. The recent rises in US and European yields should encourage them to consider foreign bond buying. Lifers’ FY17 investment plans show that the structural shift away from yen bonds and toward foreign bonds continues (see “JPY: Lifers upgrade EUR/JPY forecast”, 25 October 2017). Despite this, at JPY1834bn, lifers’ cumulative foreign bond investment from April through December 2017 is below the average since FY05 (JPY1959bn; Figure 3).

When it comes to unhedged investments, If USD/JPY trades below 112, this would trigger demand to buy USD on dips (sell JPY), in our view. Major lifers forecast USD/JPY in a core range of 109-115. According to major lifers’ H1 FY17 financial statements, their hedged ratio was 58.0% at end-September 2017, down slightly from end-March (60.2%), but this level was still high (see “JPY: Modest decline in lifers’ hedge ratio”, 24 November 2017). With the Fed raising rates, higher hedging costs should push lifers into reducing their hedged ratio (thus creating pressures pushing up USD/JPY). Lifers still have substantial room to unwind FX hedges, which should keep USD/JPY steady." - source Nomura
With government bond yields ratcheting up, this means more buying at some point FX unhedged from the Japanese investment crowd and still a strong demand for US credit given it is still a TINA trade (There Is No Alternative). When it comes to the on-going "bear-flattening" of the US yield curve, yes,  one could see a rebound with some tactical steepening in the 2s10s part of the curve as pointed out by Nomura in their FX and Rates Trade Ideas note from the 11th of January:
"In the US strategy outlook for 2018 (see link), we listed several reasons why we do not expect a full flattening of the US curve, or an inversion any time soon. It is inconsistent, in our view, for curves to pancake at this time given outright levels of rates are low (versus prior periods), global QE is fading, debt issuance is rising and the economy is growing. We expect these and other factors driving the US curve to result in sharp countertrend moves at times in 2018. We envision some bull and/or bear steepening factors ahead.
1. Bullish front-end factors: The front-end has quickly discounted the 2018 hiking path. US momentum looks solid but any sort of miss in US data could prompt a front-end rally. The front-end has also built up a sizable short base as seen in Figure 1.

2. Curve correlation factor: The curve versus the level of rates (Figure 2) is shifting quickly from the prior bull flattening/bear steepening regime.

Thus, those expecting the long end to outperform on any sort of risk-off (which is a common rationale we hear from investors long 10s plus) is misplaced, as 2s would now rally more in a risk-off.
3. Bearish long-end factors: As seen in Figure 3, one reason why the curve flattened in 2017 was 10-year rates were stuck in a range, while the Fed was hiking short-end rates.

This year will be unlike last year because Fed QT in ongoing, US tax reform passed (and deficits/debt loads are likely to expand) and global QE buying is slowing.
4. Curve momentum factor: We take the 3-month moving average of the curve as an indicator of momentum and take the rolling 1-week change to gauge its speed. As seen in Figure 4, the US curve momentum has hit its limit and is due for a rebound.

We recommend investors go short 10s on the curve (2s10s) and the broader butterfly in Q1 2018. For the 2s10s UST trade, our first steepening target would be half the flattening seen since November 2017 (roughly 15bp above current levels) before we re-assess." - source Nomura
While we might see indeed some rebound in the 2s10s part of the US yield curve, the continuation of the velocity in the "bear-flattening" of the US Yield curve which has started a while back is depending on renewed appetite from "Bondzilla" the NIRP monster "Made in Japan" we think.

But moving back to the attractiveness of US TIPS, we do think that, from an allocation perspective, they are of renewed interest. On that subject we read with interest another Nomura note, their Inflation Insights from the 11th of January entitled "Tip(s)-toeing into the US BEI pool":
"Avoid jumping but gradually wade into BEI waters
The macro case for adding long US inflation positions has strengthened with higher price pressure from the recovery in world trade, which has been a driver of higher commodity prices, especially for oil. These higher input costs coupled with what still remains a relatively accommodative global monetary stance (keeping real rates contained for now) is leading to wider TIPS breakevens inflation (BEI). Yet, this has been an orderly move and there are few relative value disruptions to take advantage of (i.e., cash/swap basis and curve disruption). A long US BEI position is therefore mostly a directional macro trade. 
We recommend investors stick with the macro trade, with limited risk and an oil hedge. We get long 5y breakeven rates at 1.95%, targeting 2.20% at the end of February (20bp net of negative carry) and pay for some oil price protection. We expect core inflation to strengthen in December. However, we would not hesitate to take losses if the December print meaningfully surprises to the downside. Globally we still prefer long euro BEIs.
US TIPS breakevens showed a strong performance into and out of year-end
The US 5-year breakeven inflation rate performed remarkably well into and out of yearend, increasing by about 15bp since mid-December 2017 (about 12bp net of the negative inflation carry). This is a solid performance that contrasts with the lack of movement between October and December. Inflation carry should remain negative in February, pushing forward breakeven rates higher at an increasing pace given the magnitude of the negative carry and the low number of days in the month (Figure 1).

The inflation carry profile therefore accentuates the skew to long breakeven positions into the CPI number on 12 January: a substantial positive surprise is needed for long positions to perform, while a small negative surprise would be enough to postpone long positions by a month. Note that our US economists’ forecasts for the December headline CPI are in line with both consensus and short-term inflation markets, although their forecast on core is higher (see US CPI Preview: A Potential Jump in Core).
Timing aside, the medium-term outlook for US TIPS BEIs appears favorable
As we highlighted in the TIPS section of Fixed Income Insights: 2018 Themes - US Strategy Outlook, “while valuation did not argue for a massive TIPS BEI long, the US may be the first place to benefit if the ‘reflation’ trade 2.0 is driven by Trump administration’s tax plans and fiscal stimulus”. Beyond the hurdle of short-term carry implications, various factors are forming a positive framework for US inflation valuations.
Global inflation is picking up and that should be supportive BEI wideners
The first positive technical stems from the behaviour of our Global Inflation Factor (GIF, a factor extracted from internationally-set prices such as commodity prices and manufacturing prices obtained from manufacturing surveys, which remain a large fraction of world trade). As the right chart in Figure 2 shows, global inflation picked up at the end of last year.

Furthermore the strong momentum on the price of manufacturing goods is further supported by the recent strength in energy and food commodity prices. Goods price momentum is particularly visible in Europe and is reflected in the right chart in Figure 2. The chart scaling shows this is why our favored long so far has been in euro inflation wideners. Yet, stronger momentum on commodity prices favors US TIPS breakevens, despite some discrepancy between wholesale and retail gasoline prices, probably due to margin changes after the weather-related disruptions of last year.
Valuations are balanced and not only driven by the hope of reflationary policy
The second factor supporting a long US inflation breakeven trade is a more balanced valuation framework/background. The left chart in Figure 2 shows this dynamic. In a reestimated version of a statistical model developed by Fed researchers (see IFDP notes, Dec.2016, "drivers of inflation compensation: evidence from inflation swaps in advanced economies", M.Rodriguez and E.Yoldas), the model is estimated over the 2008-2016 period, then projections are simulated since September 2016.
We find the large discrepancy that occurred between their model and actual inflation valuations that built up after the US Presidential election very informative. It validates our view at that time of some re-building of the specific inflation premium. Note that the risk premium captured by the model is generic and pertains to risk aversion, not inflation specific forces. Inflation valuations after October 2016 seem to have priced in too promptly the impact of expected reflationary policies, particularly on the fiscal side.
One year later, the US tax reform package has finally been voted on and passed. Yet, the fact that the discrepancy between the trajectory of breakevens and the fundamental factors (as implied by the model) is now small suggests there is room for upside that is motivated by expectations beyond just fiscal policy. We think the backdrop for US inflation is therefore much more balanced than was the case at end-2016 after the election.
The issue of timing and carry limits our exposure and enthusiasm
Investors should still scale into BEI wideners, as there are a few issues associated with an unconditional bullish stance on US inflation. We have already described the first issue in terms of seasonal carry not being ideal. There is also the issue of the near-term inflation profile which, according to both economists and markets, will not be very supportive.
As Figure 3 shows, year-on-year inflation is expected to fall between now and the end of Q1 2018, reaching a low of 1.8% in February 2018.

This year-on-year inflation downtrend should occur despite the robust core inflation rate forecast by our economics team at of 0.20% /month between December 2017 and December 2018, which is higher than average core inflation over the past two years. Some negative surprises on inflation are definitely not out of the question, although our economists see upside risks to the next core inflation print (see Economics Insights - US: December CPI Preview).
In February 2017, the 1-year inflation swap rate was about 2.35% and effective inflation over the period consistent with the swap rate was 2.13%, a 20bp shortfall mostly due to the unexpected fall in inflation (mostly from transitory factors but real drivers of inflation nonetheless) between February 2017 and June 2017. A quick glance back at forecasts back in February 2017 shows an underestimation of inflation by up to 60bp for some months. The reason for the underestimation is not yet fully apparent (see Special Report - Why Does the Fed Appear Insensitive to Soft Inflation Data?), and we have pointed to evidence of less-anchored inflation expectations in Inflation Insights - Reality check. The persistence of uncertainty on the inflation mechanism in the US, acknowledged by the Federal Reserve, suggests some caution is warranted on outright long US inflation stances.
Sharing between real and inflation components of yields
Keeping inflation anchored is a key condition for smooth monetary policy normalization. 
Any sort of increase in nominal interest rates that would be accompanied by falling inflation compensation would in fact entail a much tighter real stance via higher real rates pushing up overall yields. This would risk putting the economy on a very volatile path.
A key part of our analysis has been to favour inflation markets where the fostering of expectations was supported by low real yields, and this is why we have favored the euro market, where 2-year real rates are now close to their historical lows (Figure 4).

Short-term real rates in the US have increased much more rapidly which, by contrast, makes the increase in inflation valuations very dependent on economic optimism, not on policy accommodation. The stabilization in real yields suggests this element of vulnerability of the long US inflation trade is less acute now than a few weeks ago.
Still, it remains the case that the increase in inflation compensation is highly dependent upon a modest path in the recovery of real yields (see Inflation Insights - A tale of two modes).
Trade Idea: Scaling into long US 5-year TIPS breakevens
Oil prices are rising, valuations are balanced, the next CPI print is likely to surprise markets to the upside: there are many reasons to go long US inflation despite the negative seasonals.
The focus in the rally has been on cash instruments rather than derivatives, which is consistent with EPFR data showing strong inflows into TIPS ETF based funds. Also, in the latest BEI rally, the 5-year point has outperformed the 10-year point probably due to higher oil prices. Yet as during previous rallies, the 5-year breakeven rate relative to 3- year and 7-year has not outperformed, see Figure 5.

As a result, the case for relative value on the US inflation curve is limited, in our view.
The case for long US breakeven inflation exposure is therefore mostly a macro trade, with few elements of relative value selection that could “enhance” the trade. Longs need to fight less than ideal carry profiles, prospects of volatile oil prices and the Fed’s hiking path ahead. We cautiously go with the macro arguments by scaling into a long 5y TIPS breakeven trade with limited risk exposure (limited notional and some oil price hedges)." - source Nomura
Indeed it is a "macro" trade. We like these. We would also like to repeat what we have pointed out in our conversation "Hypomania" in February 2017 relative to rising oil prices given the relationship with recessionary pressure in the US. 
"As we pointed out as well in 2014, in our conversation "The Molotov Cocktail", past history has shown, what matters is the velocity of the increase in the oil prices, given that a price appreciation greater than 100% to the "Real Price of Oil" has been a leading indicator for every US recession over the past 40 years." - source Macronomics, February 2017.
As well there is a very important relationship between "gold" and "Tips" when it comes to their reaction to the velocity in rising inflation expectations as we indicated in last year's conversation:

"There is of course an explanation around this which was very clearly put forward by David Goldman in Asia Times on the 17th of February in his article "A mistery solved: Why real yields are falling despite higher growth":
"Economists often think of real yields as the “real interest rate,” or baseline rate of return, in a macroeconomic model. From this standpoint the low level of TIPS yields is a mystery: when economic growth is rising, the real interest rate should rise. The expected short-term interest rate has been rising as the Fed sets about normalizing rates, and the rising short-term rates affect real yields. The fall in TIPS yields in the face of Fed tightening and stronger growth presents a double challenge to the conventional wisdom.
The conventional way of looking at real yields ignores the way markets treat risk. Government debt (and particularly the government debt of the United States) is not just a gauge of economic activity, but a kind of insurance. If the world comes crashing down, you want to own safe assets. Investors hold Treasuries in their portfolios not just for the income, but as an insurance against disaster. And TIPS offer a double form of insurance: If economic crisis takes the form of a big rise in the inflation rate, TIPS investors will be paid a correspondingly higher amount of principal when their bond matures. That explains why TIPS yields sometimes are negative: investors will accept a negative rate of return at the present expected inflation rate in return for a hedge against an unexpected rise in the inflation rate.
The yield on TIPS has tracked the price of gold with a remarkable degree of precision during the past 10 years, as shown in the chart below. Gold tracks the 5-year TIPS yield with 85% accuracy. That’s because both gold and TIPS function as a hedge against unexpected inflation.


During the past year, for example, we observe that the relationship between gold and the 5-year TIPS yield has remained consistent, while the relationship between the expected short-term rate (as reflected in the price of federal funds futures for delivery a year ahead) has jumped around. There are lots of local relationships between federal funds futures and the TIPS yield, but the overall relationship is highly unstable." - source Asia Times - David Goldman

The rest of his article, is a must read we think. but if indeed there are rising inflation expectations, then it makes sense for real yields to continue to fall, which can be assimilated to the cost of the insurance for "unexpected outcomes" is rising. In the case for TIPS and Gold, the cost of insurance for the velocity in the change in inflation expectations is going up." - source Macronomics, February 2017
The recent surge in both US Tips, gold and gold miners are a consequence of the rapid surge in "inflation expectations" hence the interesting case for going both long gold/gold miners and US TIPS in that particular context we think, while there might also be a seasonal factor too it given we witnessed a similar situation in December 2016. There is a well continued weakness in the US dollar which is positive for Emerging Markets equities relative to US equities from an overweight allocation perspective. Right now risk assets continue to push higher, this in conjunction with rising inflation expectations should trigger a more hawkish change of narrative from central banks. As we pointed out in our final post of 2017, "Rician fading", once the tax deal was a done deal, US corporates with more clarity ahead could resume/start some M&A typical in the late stage of the credit cycle game in the first part of 2018.


  • Final chart - The "Bid 'Em Up Bruce" stage is now
 As a tongue in cheek reference to the mighty Bruce Wasserstein aka "Bid 'Em Up Bruce",  the M&A legend, our final point of this conversation highlights another sign of late cycle behavior, namely corporate M&A. This final chart displays M&A in the corporate sector since 1999 relative to the credit cycle seen since 1999. It comes from Nomura Japan Navigator note from the 9th of January entitled "Equities move on factors other than yields and exchange rates":
Unlike the pattern over the past three years, 2018 began with substantial risk-on momentum. China’s short-term money rates stopped climbing, allaying market concerns, and commodities and EM equities gained upward momentum. The closing of positions out of concern that the year would start with the anomaly of a risk-off flow and the winding down of selling for a loss ahead of the implementation of US tax cuts also played a role, in our view. In addition, the passage of the US tax cut legislation provided an opportunity for investors and companies to resume investments once uncertainty had been dispelled. We view corporate mergers and acquisitions as a key engine of growth during the latter part of an economic recovery, and had been concerned about their lackluster pace despite the strong credit market in 2017 (Figure 2). This should pick up now.
At the start of the year, many economists and analysts set out the major themes for the year, regardless of their probability, and we expect corporate M&As to become a market theme, at least temporarily. This year, in our view, while the stock market will place more weight on the corporate sector’s capital investment and M&As, we think the rates and FX markets will focus on policy changes by central banks, with the start of monetary tightening by the BOJ and ECB clashing with the end of Fed rate hikes. We think this explains the disjointed movements across markets." - source Nomura
Is this cycle different when it comes to late cycle behavior such as heightened M&A activity? We do not think so, and it is a consequence as well of the "Bracket creep". Get your LBO screener ready folks...

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation." -  Vladimir Lenin

Stay tuned! 

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