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Three Chart Alarm: The Fed Has Set-Up The Corporate Bond Market For A Big Fall

In this case, investors and savers being brutally punished by ZIRP were herded into bonds funds in a desperate scramble for yield. Accordingly, bond fund assets soared from $1.6 trillion at the time of the financial crisis to $4.1 trillion today.

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."

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