the articles & research center news
Over the last decade, easy financial conditions encouraged an increase in sovereign and corporate debt. Indeed, the leverage of American companies has reached record high levels and US corporate debt has been used for financial risk-taking to fund corporate payments to investors, as well as for mergers and acquisitions. At the opposite, the leverage of European companies has remained at low levels as European companies have remained more cautious over this cycle. In 2019, we have evolved in a new regime: the global economy has entered a synchronised slowdown and major central banks have returned to an easing stance. What are the risks for companies in this new context? We are following closely: The downgrade risk in the US Investment Grade universe. Net leverage for US issuers have resumed their upward trajectory in recent months. In 2020: (1) companies to make a trade-off between maintaining share buy backs and the stability or their debt (2) the downgrade risk to increase among firms facing increase pressure on profits. The default rate risk for low-quality high-yield bonds. Sluggish earning growth poses the biggest threat for companies to pay interest on their debt despite the low cost of financing. Indeed, at this stage of the cycle, we think that interest coverage is more closely related to earnings than to its interest expense: interest coverage could be quickly eroded by a hit to earnings. A selective approach is required in the low-rated Euro and US High Yield segments.
Fixed Income and Credit Strategist
Risks of a no-deal Brexit have receded materially over the past few weeks, implying that the Bank of England is now more likely to keep its monetary policy on hold, in a wait-and-see mode over the next year. UK nominal yields have already removed most of the no-deal risk, having repriced up by almost 30bps from their October lows, and are seen moving more in line with the global trend in nominal rates going forward.
Sergio BERTONCINI, Tristan PERRIER, Silvia DI SILVIO
Head of Macroeconomic Research
In their September meetings, both the ECB and Fed confirmed their easing mode. The ECB delivered a full monetary policy package (pre-announced in previous months), combining conventional and unconventional tools, together with the introduction of new measures aimed at reducing the sideeffects of negative rates. The FOMC delivered its second rate cut and kept the easing bias while refraining from giving clues on forward guidance, on the back of the still supportive domestic economic picture and the mixed views emerging from the dots. For the first time, therefore, the Fed hinted at resuming the organic growth of its balance sheet: the objective will be to consistently calibrate reserves to the new level of rates, in order to keep optimal abundant liquidity levels, so as not to provide a further stimulus to the economy. In this piece, we focus on these very latest developments and on the monetary policy outlook.
Sergio BERTONCINI, Valentine AINOUZ