After three fabulous weeks of large bond calendars, strong price increases and falling interest rates, the fixed-income markets took a breather.
Only the corporate calender had any noticeable supply and trading in the secondary markets was quiet. In fact, one municipal salesman called the whole week boring.
To date, the markets have had an unprecedented change to higher prices and lower rates. This is true in both the size of the changes, and in the short time in which they occurred.
At this point, it might be rewarding to project what direction bond rates will take from here. Currently the markets seem to have slight case of indigestion and are completely looking to the Federal Reserve for direction.
It now looks as if the Fed will have to stop fighting inflation and begin combating the recession. And this could be the key to interest rates over the next few months.
As the economy continues to weaken, poor economic numbers will prove bullish for bonds. And falling mortgate rates will help bring down the inflation rate -- as measured by the CPI -- later in the summer. This, too, will benefit bonds.
The Fed will do its part to stem the downturn by easing credit and pushing rates lower. In doing this, the Fed hopes to reliquify thrifts and commercial banks so that mortgage loans can be made to resurrect the housing industry and reverse the drop in commercial loans.
The problem now at commercial banks is that there is no loan demand. Therefore, with the excess funds available, the banks should begin buying Treasuries and push those rates lower.
So one could conclude that over the summer months as this scenario unfolds, rates and especially short-term rates will move lower. However, once the economy begins to pick up steam -- perhaps in the fall -- the inflation rate should begin to rise and the party will be over.
Keep an eye on the size of any proposed tax cut as well as on the deficits for fiscal years 1980 and 1981. These, too, will influence rates. Given this scenario, and looking where interest rates are now, it would be prudent to purchase bonds that mature within 10 years.
The municipal calendar bounces back this week with an especially large selection of housing bonds. One issue, the $400 million Alaskan Housing Finance issue, deserves special mention.
The commercial banks in Alaska directed most of their funds to developing the industrial side, the oil area, of the state.
This mammoth issue is expected to take care of the state's needs for the next year but there is a problem. Pending in Congress is a bill that could make this issue and others taxable instead of tax exempt.
To meet this possibility the Agency has established a special program -- consisting of $105 million in cash, $236 million in outstanding mortgages plus the mortgages from this issue -- to redeem the entire issue at par in January 1983, should the need arise.
Serial bonds run from 1981 through 2000 with $299 million term bonds in 2010. The sheer size of the issue should require yields substantially above the current rates. The managers are Dean Witter Reynolds; Merill, Lynch; E. F. Hutton; and Kidder Peabody.