The 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which for years has represented every investor’s touchstone, has become less trustworthy. This according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
The article reports that the “yield on the benchmark U.S. government security, long a key economic barometer for financial markets around the world, barely budged in response to Friday’s better-than-expected jobs report,” which was a frustrating outcome for those that expected it to rise from such positive news.
According to the article, demand for U.S. government bonds saw a surge during what the article describes as “this year’s pandemic-fueled market mayhem,” but when the Fed reacted to the crisis by dropping rates and buying Treasurys to “boost lending and stave off economic calamity,” the 10-year yield fell, “leaving it stuck even as stocks rebound and measures of investors’ inflation expectations rise.”
As a result, some say the 10-year is losing its usefulness as a barometer for the economy, “a hedge against nosediving stocks or a producer of steady, low-risk investment income.” The article notes that in 2008, when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, the 10-year note was yielding 3.5%, compared to its recent level of 0.6%.
Some traders and analysts contend, however, that the 10-year note is “irreplaceable because it remains the world’s primary risk-free asset,” citing comments from Ashok Bhatia, deputy chief investment officer (fixed income) at the firm Neuberger Berman: “It is a very unique instrument because you don’t have to worry about not getting your money back. The minute you move to other investments, you break the barrier of a true risk-free asset.”