Yet the market's structural liquidity condition has gone in the opposite direction. Dealer inventories of corporate bonds have plummeted by nearly 75% from pre-crash levels, meaning that the ratio of dealer inventories to bond fund assets has virtually been vaporized. In 2008 that ratio stood at 15%, but presently it is only 1.5%. Likewise, daily trading volumes have been cut in half since the crisis.
The implication is no mystery. When the financial markets eventually succumb to a "risk-off" selling panic, the corporate bond market will gap down violently. As one astute analyst put it:
"Everyone is hoping to be first through the exit," said Matt King, global head of credit strategy at Citigroup in London. "By definition, that's not possible."