In what seemed an attention-grabbing and worrying story, it appears that the DOL and SEC rules are merging into some sort of hybrid, but not in the way you might think. Despite the DOL rule being effectively dead due to a court ruling, the DOL seems to be pressing ahead and is planning to modify its Conflicts of Interest rule to mirror the SEC’s new language in its BI rule. “It’s the DOL and the SEC trying to end up in the same place in terms of regulation”, says a senior policy official.
FINSUM: While this is not as worrying as if the SEC were trying to mirror the DOL, it does seem like the DOL is pressing ahead with the regulation. Perhaps we have not heard the last of the fiduciary rule?
Barron’s ran an interesting article today chronicling the market views of famed investor Leon Cooperman. The legendary hedge fund manager argues that investors should stay away from bonds, but that stocks are “fundamentally cheap”. “My world is cash and stocks … I think bonds are the bubble”, says Cooperman. He argues that a big downturn in stocks is not in the cards because the economy “if anything, is too strong”.
FINSUM: This argument makes sense, bonds do seem overvalued. However, what if stocks and bonds are too pricey? That seems logical too.
Republicans are feeling a lot of heat on the campaign trail because of one of their most contentious tax policy changes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many voters says they will vote democrat in high-tax states because of the Republican-led change to greatly reduce SALT deductions, which has sent tax bills soaring for many affluent residents of high-tax states. Democrats have promised to abolish the SALT deduction limit.
FINSUM: The interesting thing here is that the most pain from the tax change is being in felt in some of the districts that went red in 2016. For example, there are many affluent suburbs in New Jersey that are now feeling the pinch from the changes, which could, in aggregate, change the outlook for midterms.
Short-term bonds are looking like an ever better buy right now. Two-year Treasury yields are at 2.87%, up from 1.55% a year ago, and well over the 1.9% average yield of the S&P 500. That means the spread between the two- and ten-year notes is only about 28 basis points. Considering the latter has significantly more rate risk, two-year bonds like a good bet right now.
FINSUM: There are many ultra short-term bond funds out there to choose from. Actually, given the breadth of ETFs in the space, there has never been a better or cheaper time to play defense in this kind of rate environment.
How does a REIT with great long-term business fundamentals and eye-popping yields sound? If that sounds good, take a look at Ventas. The REIT owns 1,200 properties, many focused on senior and assisted-living facilities. The long-term business looks very healthy as demographics—including retiring Baby Boomers—are a major growth opportunity for the REIT. The dividend yield is a strong 5.7%, and it appears safe, according to Morningstar.
FINSUM: Definitely seems like a REIT worth some more investigation. We like the combination of good yield and strong long-term fundamentals.