A successful Covid-19 vaccine kills companies

Althea Spinozzi
Senior Fixed Income Strategist

Summary:  The vaccine we've all been waiting for unwittingly creates a swarm of zombies.

See previous 2021 prediction

The Covid-19 pandemic viciously accelerated the dangerous levering up of the global economy that unfolded during the 2008-09 financial crisis. Central banks printed ever more money and took policy rates close to the zero bound in all developed economies. The policy of near infinite liquidity provision and easing financial conditions at all costs has pushed global sovereign and investment-grade corporate yields to historical lows and forced investors to take positions in riskier assets.

As 2021 gets under way, the merciless march of lower yields has left yield-seeking investors sitting on a pile of low-yielding junk debt with terrible reward-to-risk profiles, as zombie corporates teeter on the brink of default, having only survived the pandemic months with handouts and the lower refinancing costs. The investors’ risky stance is justified by the prospect of an effective vaccine bringing a new boom in economic growth. But reality doesn’t prove so kind, as the vaccine roll-out and the removal of Covid-19 restrictions and normalisation leads to a sharp spike in inflation. In perfect hindsight it turns out the economy was vastly over-stimulated during the pandemic, and the ripping post-vaccine recovery rapidly overheats the economy. Inflation rises and unemployment falls so rapidly that the Fed allows long treasury yields to spike higher, taking the yield on riskier debt with it. 

The Fed ends up making a policy mistake by allowing financial conditions to tighten too rapidly via higher longer rates, having never implemented yield curve control as they were too distracted by the sudden spectre of 4-5% annualised inflation and 6-8% annualised wage gains by Q3. Corporate defaults rise to their highest in years, with the first to go the most over-levered companies in the physical retail space that were already struggling in the solid, pre-Covid economy. For the first time in economic history, a strong recovery sees rising defaults. 

Trade: Short HYG and JNK High Yield corporate ETFs

See next 2021 prediction:
Sun shines on silver, which sizzles on solar panel demand

Disclaimer

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website is not intended to and does not change or expand on this. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
- Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)
- Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-mena/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)


Due to coronavirus controls, we are not able to meet with clients in our reception at present, unless by appointment in exceptional circumstances. We remain at your service on the phone and email details below. Thank you for your understanding.

Please expect very long waiting times on the line when calling us, we advise you to send us an email instead.

Contact Saxo

Select region

UAE
UAE

Trade responsibly
All trading carries risk. Read more. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. Read more

Saxo Bank A/S is licensed by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority and operates in the UAE under a representative office license issued by the Central bank of the UAE.

The content and material made available on this website and the linked sites are provided by Saxo Bank A/S. It is the sole responsibility of the recipient to ascertain the terms of and comply with any local laws or regulation to which they are subject.

The UAE Representative Office of Saxo Bank A/S markets the Saxo Bank A/S trading platform and the products offered by Saxo Bank A/S.