As the old adage goes, "it's bad to be slow in a fast market." Asset managers say they're living the worst of both as Wall Street traders work from home.
Columbia Threadneedle Investments' Gene Tannuzzo said completing trades is harder than ever, in part because many dealers working remotely don't have full capacity to transact. Lon Erickson of Thornburg Investment Management said it's taking longer to get all parties on the phone to "spot" — or agree on where a Treasury yield is in order to price a corporate bond.
"It can increase the wait and anxiety because Treasuries move a lot in five minutes in this current market," said Mr. Erickson, a portfolio manager. "And if you are in a knife fight over individual basis points on a daily basis, that will be more anxiety than you maybe want to live with."
A swath of the world's traders, analysts, sales personnel and money managers are working from home on makeshift arrays of monitors some have dubbed "Rona Rigs," for the coronavirus pandemic that's forcing Wall Street to lock down trading floors to all but the most essential staff. While there are some fans of telecommuting, complaints abound among traders over poor Wi-Fi internet connections, small screens, lack of access to office resources and kids running crazy in the background.
Mr. Tannuzzo, whose own issues at home include trying to prevent his children from sucking up the broadband with Netflix, said it's "taking more time to get trades done, especially in any size."
In a missive to clients this week, Deutsche Bank research strategist Jim Reid rattled off a list troubles doing his job at home, including that his mobile reception died and that his house has no landline phone.
Far from mere annoyances, such experiences are raising concerns that trading and liquidity are getting constrained enough to exacerbate market swings.
The 30-year Treasury yield has swung between as low as 0.699% and as high as 1.928% since March 9, with an average daily range exceeding 30 basis points. Wednesday's wild 35 basis-point daily trading range came a day after the yield surged in its biggest one-day increase since 1982. Ten-year U.S. notes yield about 0.93%, up from a historic low of 0.31% set last week.