On Corporate Credit I Remain Concerned

As regular readers and clients know, I’ve been resoundingly bearish on corporate credit (junk in particular) for months. As I’ve stated ad nauseam from the beginning, a comeuppance in all things high yield during the next downturn (which is now) is what’ll likely make the next recession/bear market (now) a rival to 2008’s.

Of course I was not alone in my observations. The Fed’s been frantically trying to hold credit markets together since last fall, and surface appearances suggest that their latest salvos are working. 

Well, given the enormity of the issue, I remain concerned…

As does Bloomberg senior credit analyst James Crombie:

“The spread-widening, downgrade, default and distress cycle feels similar to 2008, but we’ve never seen the U.S. economy shut down for a protracted period. If it stays closed through May the hit to businesses will be significant. If it’s a lot longer in places like New York City, where infection rates are jumping, bond issuers likely get hammered.

Consumers who’ve been furloughed aren’t likely to flock to debt-heavy sectors like travel, leisure, gaming or retail in any hurry –- even if they’ve got over the horror of being in crowded spaces. Add to that the shock of $20 oil and it’s hard to see credit coming roaring back.

Borrowers get it. High-grade companies are issuing at record size whenever they can regardless of cost, knowing that funding gets more expensive as risk rises, and the junk market also just reopened.

Investors with cash want to believe in a robust rebound. In isolation, there probably are scattered opportunities to buy fundamentally-solid bonds that were jettisoned by those who needed cash when the markets tumbled. In aggregate though, credit markets are fraught with risks that still can’t be quantified.”


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