Describe and analyse the current economic situation in an economy (or economies) of your choice. Discuss the outlook for short-term interest rates and/or bond yields. Do not make this section a general review of global economic developments. The analysis should support your chosen trading strategy. Address some of the following questions:

  • Is economic activity picking up or slowing down?
  • What is the current trend of borrowing activity in the household and corporate sectors and is it sustainable?
  • What is likely to be the impact of any changes in government policy?
  • What is happening to economic activity and policy in the major trading partners?
  • Is there any evidence of unsustainable imbalances building in the economy?
  • How much available slack is there in the economy?
  • Is there any evidence of inflationary pressures increasing?
  • Is the central bank likely to be raising or lowering interest rates over coming months?


2. Evaluate what is currently discounted in the market

Examine what is currently discounted in the interest rate markets and assess whether there is a trading opportunity based on your evaluation of the economic outlook. You should address some of the following points, where appropriate to your choice of particular strategy:

  • What is priced into futures contracts concerning central bank policy?
  • What are the forwards discounting for the path of bond yields?
  • How is the shape of the yield curve priced to evolve?
  • What are the forwards discounting for short rate or bond yield spreads relative to elsewhere?
  • What allowance for risk premiums should be made in inferring what is priced in to the forwards?
  • How are risk premiums likely to behave in the circumstances of your outlook for the economy?
  • What are the risks or possible scenarios relative to your central case view?
  • How are the risks skewed, in your opinion, relative to the forwards?

3. Identify a trading strategy

Formulate a trading strategy based on your analysis of the economic outlook and what is currently discounted in the markets. Your strategy might include one of the following, for example:

  • Outright long or short at the front-end of the yield curve.
  • Calendar spread trade using futures contracts.
  • Short rate spread between two countries.
  • Outright long or short at the long-end of the curve.
  • Trades to anticipate a change in shape of the yield curve.
  • Bond yield differential trade between two countries.
  • Box trade of one yield curve against another.
  • Long or short CDS index trades.
  • Long or short emerging market credit.

4. Monitor the performance of the strategy

Finally, having formulated the trading strategy, state how the performance of the trade will be monitored. Traders are constantly reassessing their strategy in the light of new information and market price action. Some of the issues to be addressed include the following:

  • What is the initial target for the trade?
  • Will you have a rigid stop-loss for the trade?
  • What will be the most important pieces of economic information to monitor?
  • What sort of news would cause you to reassess the trade more positively?
  • Would you increase the size of the trade under certain conditions?
  • What sort of news would cause you to reassess the trade more negatively?
  • Would you take the trade off under certain conditions?

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