Fund managers are being faced with a collapse of liquidity as they try to handle record market moves.
Investors say it is becoming increasingly difficult to trade due to the extent of swings on a day that saw 30-year Treasury yields drop the most since the 1980s and a fall in U.S. stocks so sharp that trading was halted minutes from the open. Even before today financial conditions were tightening at the fastest pace since the 2008 crisis.
“I have yet to find liquidity,” said Richard Hodges, a money manager at Nomura Asset Management, whose bets on Italian and Portuguese bonds last year put him in the top 1% of money managers. “There is none.”
The dry-up in liquidity was seen across markets. In Italy, one of the deepest pools of bond trading in Europe, two-year yields surged more than 50 basis points at the European open, with unreliable bid and offer prices shown on screens.
Indonesian and Mexican bonds also suffered a liquidity crunch, according to Allianz Global Investors. In money markets too, signs of stress were abundant.
A key gauge of banking-sector risk, known as the FRA/OIS spread, soared to its highest level since 2011, while dollar swap spreads widened, suggesting stresses in U.S. markets are becoming increasingly severe. A gauge of financial conditions in the U.S. tumbled, with the Federal Reserve on Monday lifting the amount of temporary cash it’s willing to provide markets.
“The one thing I would say to buy is Treasuries,” Priya Misra, global head of rates strategy at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said on Bloomberg Television, pointing to the risk of other markets drying up. “If you own a ton of risk assets, the only safe haven asset right now is the 30-year. It’s shocking that I’m saying it.”