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Friday, February 20, 2009

Bond Trading Highest Since ‘07

by Calculated Risk on 2/20/2009 12:43:00 PM

From Bloomberg: Bond Trading Highest Since ‘07 as Credit Freeze Thaws

Corporate bond trading in the U.S. is rising to the highest level in two years, adding to evidence that credit markets are thawing even with stocks off to their worst start since the 1920s.

An average $17.1 billion of corporate bonds traded daily this month, following $17.7 billion in January, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The business is up from last year’s low of $9.4 billion in August and reached the highest level since February 2007 ...
Bonds are trading but yields are very high:
Investors are betting yields are high enough to compensate for defaults that Moody’s Investors Service forecast will rise to 16.4 percent by November, the highest since the Great Depression and about three times the current rate.
The following graph shows the spread between 30 year Moody's Aaa and Baa rated bonds and the 30 year treasury.

The Moody's data is from the St. Louis Fed:
Moody's tries to include bonds with remaining maturities as close as possible to 30 years. Moody's drops bonds if the remaining life falls below 20 years, if the bond is susceptible to redemption, or if the rating changes.
Spread Corporate and Treasury Click on table for larger image in new window.

There has been some improvement (decline in spread) in recent weeks, but the spreads are still very high, even for higher rated paper, but especially for lower rated paper with a spreads still above the high level of the early '80s recession.

A2P2 Spread There has also been improvement in the A2P2 spread. This has declined to 1.09. This is far lower than the record (for this cycle) of 5.86 after Thanksgiving, but still too high.

This is the spread between high and low quality 30 day nonfinancial commercial paper. Look at the graph - there was significant concern when the A2P2 spread spiked in 2007 and 2008 (the three little peaks). Now the spread is back to the highest level of those peaks!

TED Spread It is also worth mentioning that the TED spread is below 1.0. This is the difference between the interbank rate for three month loans and the three month Treasury. The peak was 4.63 on Oct 10th and a normal spread is around 0.5.