This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Can Japanese Rates Happen Here?

The last time we visited the Oracle of Delphi was in July . Curiously enough, that was the last time I felt it necessary to proclaim that crude oil prices were headed higher.

The purpose then and in today's restatement is not to glamorize the substance-induced hallucinations of our pagan predecessors around the time of Halloween -- that would be wrong, wouldn't it? -- but to emphasize that free will does not always operate in the manner intended. After all, we baby boomers were raised to believe both religious wars and infectious diseases were things of the past. How well have those triumphs of the rational endured?

Whither Rates?

Rising energy prices certainly qualify as the dominant market story of 2004, but the persistent bull market in bonds has to be a close second. The links between these two developments have been the Federal Reserve's refusal to offset the implied tax increase from higher energy by continued monetary ease, and the decline in inflationary expectations engendered by the combination of a flattening yield curve and this implied tax increase.

To top off the confusion, not only have the inflationary expectations as measured by the spread between Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) and regular government bonds decreased since May, they have inverted as well. The consumer price index (CPI) is expected to increase at an average rate of 2.625% over five years, but only 2.371% over 10 years. The TIPS market is making something of a path-dependent forecast, and those have a lower success rate than regular forecasts, which scarcely have a success rate at all.

Inflation Expectations At Various Horizons
Source: Bloomberg

The path of real, or inflation-protected, interest rates has been declining since the beginning of 2000. The rate of decline has been anything but steady, however: Its volatility has increased markedly since the beginning of 2002. More important for the direction of rates over the long term, each upturn in yields fails at a lower level.

TIPS Yields Retreat With Rising Volatility
Source: Bloomberg

For those wishing to blame bond rallies on either a failing economy or on the effects of mortgage-related prepayment hedging by the likes of Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), the burden of proof is on you.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs