Last updated: 10:40 / Tuesday, 12 August 2014
ING Investment Management

Predictions of Future Bond Yields Rely Too Heavily on Forward Rates

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Predictions of Future Bond Yields Rely Too Heavily on Forward Rates
  • Using August 4th 2009 bond yields, the US Treasury five year note should be trading at 4.68% today, instead it's trading at 1.63%
  • “Forward interest rates may be an objective measure, but they are close to worthless as a predictor"

ING Investment Management is warning investors against relying on forward interest rates when trying to estimate future bond yields, describing them as nearly ‘worthless’.

A forward rate is a theoretical expected yield on a bond several months or years from now, generated by subtracting the yield of a shorter maturity bond from the yield of a longer dated bond.

The investment manager is concerned that forward interest rates are currently being relied upon to advance the argument that future economic growth, inflation and bond yields will be lower than in the past. The relatively low forward rates implied by today’s bond prices are a seemingly objective measure that can be used to support “secular stagnation”, which is the idea that the world has shifted permanently into a lower growth mode. Applying this concept to today’s markets, the US Treasury five year note will yield approximately 3.34% on August 4th 2019 and the Bundesobligation five year will trade at approximately 1.97%.

However, analysis by ING IM reveals that using August 4th 2009 bond yields, the US Treasury five year note should be trading at 4.68% today and the Bundesobligation five year should be 4.18% - instead they are trading at 1.63% and 0.29%, respectively.

Tim Dowling, Head of Global High Yield, ING IM said: “Forward interest rates may be an objective measure, but they are close to worthless as a predictor.’’

“The main benefit from looking at the relationship between shorter and longer dated bonds is that it can provide some insight into trading levels a couple of months out, rather than five years from now. Making predictions that are more than a year away is little more than guesswork. The relationship of shorter and longer dated bonds really only helps with understanding how investors are anticipating short term price reactions.”

For your information...

Tim Dowling is Lead Portfolio Manager of the Global High Yield Strategy with a specific focus on US High Yield at ING IM. He is based in New York. Prior to this position, Tim was Partner and Portfolio Manager at Rogge Global Partners based in New York where he managed US dollar High Yield bond portfolios. Prior to this role, he was Senior Vice President at ING Investment Management based in New York, where he managed a boutique US High Yield portfolio. Prior to this role, Tim worked for Wachovia Securities for 9 years based in Charlotte, NC where he was managing director and co-head of High Yield Sales, Trading and Research. In this capacity he build, trained and supervised a team of traders, salespeople and analysts. Tim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University. Relevant experience 27 years

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