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Category Archives For: Interest Rates

Bond Yield Update: February

official yields on australian treasury bonds 2016While many media outlets paint a rather bleak and uncertain future for the world economy, long-term bond yields in Australia finished 2016 higher than at any other point throughout the year.

This is even more impressive considering that the cash rate (which has a strong correlation with bond yields) was cut twice for a total of 50 basis points over 2016. Figure 1 shows how much long-term rates increased towards the end of last year and into 2017. Yields on 10-year Australian government bonds have increased by 74 basis points since September and nearly 100 points since the last interest rate cut in August. Read the full post


Investment Tips: Time Value of Money

Icon of a clock multiplied by an icon of a dollar note equals a question mark, to illustrate the concept of time value of money.

This week, Secret Agent illustrates the importance of time value of money when investing in property.

There is a saying that money earned today is worth more than money earned tomorrow. The main reasons this is true are:

  1. Inflation (rising price levels deteriorate the spending power of cash)
  2. Interest rates (money that can be invested today earns interest, which compounds over time
  3. Opportunity cost (the ability to use money now rather than having to wait for it)

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Trump Makes Bond Yields Great Again

A look at the bond market reveals a very large jump in bond yields the day after Trump was elected.

What a year it has turned out to be. From the mild (Western Bulldogs Premiership) to the momentous (Brexit and Trump presidency), 2016 has seen it all. Before discussing more recent events, let’s take a look at how bond yields have been performing since our last update in September. Read the full post


Bond Yield Update: September

There are two ways to be a consistent winner in investment: information asymmetry (mostly through insider trading, which is illegal) and holding assets in the long term. Both of these methods are protected from short-term volatility.

The first expects and profits from these movements (often very risky as all public information is already factored in the price), while the latter can safely ignore the daily peaks and troughs, knowing that these will cancel out over a longer period of time. Investing for long-term returns and robustness is the appropriate reason to buy treasury bonds, yet it is very counterintuitive for most of us to ignore weekly or monthly yields (even changes over one year can be irrelevant with the right strategy).

Business Insider recently published a story called “The week is underway and Australian bonds are getting destroyed” with an image of a building being demolished. Yet as the article correctly points out, yields are still below pre-Brexit levels (bond yields rise as prices fall), which was less than three months ago. It can be difficult to separate signal and noise from information when there is such an abundance of data.

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Bond Yield Update: August

“Record low interest rates”. This seems to be the headline of the year, having been used so many times it is hard to remember any other kind of interest rate. Each time we see this, expectations for another rate cut decrease momentarily, only to return to the same, pre-cut probability-levels after a few weeks.

Figure 1 paints a clear picture of a similar short-term outlook, yet weakening long-term expectations. While this graph does not include data since the rate cut (yields on 10 year treasuries have lifted a whopping 0.03% since the July levels shown in Figure 2), we can see almost identical movements at each maturity date from May to June and from June to July.

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Bond Yield Update: June

The bond market, even more so than the stock market, is often a key indicator of investor expectations and the overall health of the economy.

Figure 1 shows the RBA reported bond yields on treasury bonds from 90-day bills to 10-year, long term bonds. From March to April this year, long term yields decreased more than short term ones. This is called “flattening” of the yield curve and is often a sign of lower investor confidence and a bleaker future outlook for the economy. From April to May, the opposite effect can be observed: while yields for all maturity dates decreased, the yield curve steepened slightly. The drop in short term yields reflects the RBA’s decision at the start of May to cut the official cash rate by 25 basis points (0.25%).

Blog-1So what has happened since the interest rate cut?

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Bond Yield Update: April

Yields down since last month and almost back to levels in April 2015

As part of our continued series on interest rates, Secret Agent has been tracking movements in the bond yield curve since late last year. If you don’t know why bond yields are so important for property investors, download our yield curve report.

So far this month, short, medium and long term treasury bond yields are down by between 0.06% for 90 day bills and 0.16% for 10 year bonds. This is shown below.

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The Secret Agent Report – The Yield Curve

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

When deciding to invest in the property market, most of us will first obtain approval for a loan, find a suitable property to buy and then pay off the mortgage accordingly, dealing with any rate rises as they come. It can be that simple. A more clever way to invest would be to consider how mortgage rates are likely to change in the near future, prior to making the decision to purchase. This is where the yield curve plays an important part in making general predictions about future mortgage rates.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Yield Curve report now!

The Yield Curve Report


Yield Curve and RBA Cash Rate

Bond yields provide a reliable way to make predictions about monetary policy. This week’s bulletin explores why this is the case.

What is a yield curve?

A yield curve is made by plotting the interest rates of bonds against their maturity dates. A normal yield curve occurs when long-term rates are higher than short-term rates. This is important for an economy’s liquidity, as banks can make a profit by borrowing at the (lower) short-term rates and lending at (higher) long-term rates.

What is a cash rate?

When banks borrow funds from each other in the overnight market, they can charge a special interest rate set by the Reserve Bank of Australia. This is known as the cash rate.

Let’s look at the current yield curve on Australian Treasury bonds with maturities between 90 days and 10 years (above). Parts of the yield curve are inverted (pointing downwards), meaning short-term rates (90 days) are higher than some long-term rates (2, 3 and 5 years). This creates a disincentive for banks to lend and if the entire curve is inverted, it can lead to a “credit crunch”. This happened in the US during the global financial crisis, when money suddenly dried up because banks could no longer profit from lending out money.

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Predicting Mortgage Rates

Historically, treasury bonds have been considered one of the most secure investments that can be made – especially in a country with a stable government such as Australia. The bond holder is almost guaranteed to receive half-yearly coupon payments plus all their principal once the maturity date is reached. Treasury bonds can therefore be considered a risk-free asset and the yield received is the risk-free rate for investment. For a bank giving out a home loan, the interest rate charged usually depends on the risk-free rate plus the risk premium, determined by the likelihood of the borrower to repay his loan.

We’d expect the average mortgage rate and treasury bond yield to behave similarly – that is, when bond yields increase, so should the mortgage rate, and vice versa. When we looked at the average variable mortgage rate and 10 year treasury bond yields in Australia, both move up and down in the same direction, although not always at the same time.

However, when you compare current variable mortgage rates with 10-year treasury bond yields from 8 months ago, we see that a strong relationship exists (see Fig.1). What this means is that we can now estimate the mortgage rate 8 months from now (September 2016).

Fig1

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