NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Six months ago to the day, the Dow Jones Industrials was sitting near multi-year highs.
At the same time, one or more institutional investors piled into leveraged intermediate Treasuries. The exchange-traded fund ProShares Ultra 7-10 Year Treasury (UST). The commitment? $40 million on 25 times normal trading volume.
Back then, it seemed like a long shot to expect significant gains in a leveraged Treasury play. With the 10-year yielding 2%, one needed to see the 10-year yield down around 1.5% in order to sell for a 10% price gain on a two times (200%) leveraged fund.
As if on cue, investors watched May-June gloom erode nearly all of the stock market's year-to-date progress. Equally worthy of note, intermediate Treasuries served as a popular safe haven, as the 10-year yield witnessed lows as remarkable as 1.4%.Fast forward from May 1 to Nov. 1. The 10-year yield is back around 1.7%. An institutional investor or several investors purchased $52 million of UST via block trading on 28 times normal volume. The activity is virtually identical to the one that occurred six months ago. I recognize the importance of garnering income at the middle of the curve. What's more, I own a healthy amount of iShares Intermediate Corporate Credit (CIU). That said, I do not currently see enough value in Treasury bond ownership, nor am I inclined to seek price gains that correspond to twice (200%) the daily performance of the Barclays Capital U.S. 7-10 Year Treasury Index. At present, stocks are pricing in plenty of quantitative easing worldwide, debt crisis containment in the euro-zone and a relatively painless bipartisan compromise on post-election fiscal negotiations. In contrast, the purchaser(s) of UST must feel that a debt crisis flare-up is possible and that a political log-jam in the U.S. is more probable than a speedy resolution. I certainly don't subscribe to the idea that anyone can predict the future. Still, the fact that this bet worked nicely for an institutional investor on the last go-around is worthy of note. This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.