As almost all investors are aware at this point, global markets, including the US, saw huge moves in yields yesterday. Trading of the 10-year US Treasury bonds saw yields as high as 3.22% today, sharply higher than just a week ago. The Dollar also soared. This led to a big selloff in stocks as well as major losses across emerging markets and US corporate bonds.
FINSUM: In our view, there are two ways to interpret this big move higher in yields. One is that it was just reactionary to new US economic data and that yields will stall again. The other is that the market has finally woken up to the reality that higher rates and yields are a certainty and that expectations need to be reset. We favor the latter view and think this could be a paradigm-shifting move that finally sparks losses in bonds and rate-sensitive stocks.
The markets took another dive yesterday, with the Dow losing well over a 1%, the S&P 500 down almost 1.5% and the Nasdaq down over 2%. That loss jolted investors out of the sense that things might be back to normal after a strong recovery in recent days. This all begs the question of whether it is really time to start worrying about a recession? A new study from Bank of America says no. The bank did analysis of economic performance going back to the sixties and have found that compared to previous pre-recession cycles, the US is actually moving away from recession now.
FINSUM: Relying on historical data is probably not going to be very fruitful right now as the pretext (artificially low rates etc.) is totally different for this economic cycle.
In what would likely come as the biggest IPO in recent memory, Uber says it is planning for a potential IPO in 2019. Parties close to Uber say that its bankers delivered valuation proposals for an IPO in the range of $120 bn. That is an eye-opening figure because it is almost double the company’s valuation from its most recent funding round 2 months ago. There are no guarantees the company will go public next year, but its CEO has said it is aiming for a public debut in the second half of 2019.
FINSUM: We do not think that valuation is out of the question given how much investor anticipation there might be for this IPO. The IPO market has been red-hot, so nothing seems out of reach.
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.
We don’t cover the Brexit saga very much, mostly because it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of relevance to the US. However, interesting news is out today: the UK’s Labour party is trying to get a second Brexit referendum going. The political details are complicated, but the general plan is to derail the government’s current Brexit plan, and then hold a general election that could work as a replacement for the first Brexit result. A Labour party’s spokesman says that it is a “sequenced, structured” strategy.
FINSUM: We have maintained throughout this saga that the UK should not leave the EU. It is still going to have to be heavily involved with the EU for economic and political reasons, and if it leaves it will simply go from a rule-maker to a rule-taker.
The big selloff in bonds has caused a wipeout in emerging markets. The sector, which has seen broad turmoil this year, just witnessed its biggest selloff since March. That fact is quite eye-opening given that the period includes all the worries over Turkey. The big losses have largely been driven by the appreciating Dollar, which hurts EM economies and assets. With the US economy going so well and the Fed likely to increase the pace of hikes, EMs look vulnerable. The MSCI EM Index fell 2% today.
FINSUM: There are some idiosyncratic problems, but EM economies don’t look as weak as this year’s market performance would suggest. It is really US strength that is hurting EM assets.
With rates rising and yields finally responding in a big way, you may have been wondering which ETFs tend to perform well in such periods. With that in mind, here is a list of the best performing ETFs in periods of rising rates (since 2008). The stats are from thirty day periods of rising rates, which have occurred 18 times since 2008. The best four are: VanEck Vector Oil Services ETF (6.53% average gain), the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (4.9%), the United States Oil Fund ETF (4.54%), and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (3%).
FINSUM: Oil and banking, not really a surprise, but certainly a good reminder for investors. The worst performing funds in the same period tended to be gold funds.
Want to maintain your portfolio’s income, but also afraid of rising rates? Many are, as it is a difficult challenge keep income high but not experience losses. With that in mind, here are a handful of mutual funds which should help do just that. One area to look for diversified income right now is in multi-asset income funds. Some of the best are the American Funds Income Fund of America (AMECX), the Vanguard Wellesley Income (VWINX), the BlackRock Multi-Asset Income (BAICX), the JPMorgan Income Builder (JNBAX), and the Principal Global Diversified Income (PGBAX).
FINSUM: Many of these funds are quite old and have had great performance. Fees are all over the map, but one of the areas where they tend to succeed is in having good performance with lower volatility than the market as a whole.
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?
Gold has been in an extraordinary multi-year slump. From its peak of around $1,900 a few years ago, the shiny metal has sunk into a multi-year bear market, recently settling at around $1,200 an ounce. However, a couple of factors are coming together that may mean the bad times are over. The first is that there has been consolidation in the mining sector, but secondly, because the pending trade wars have meant that central banks have been buying more gold as a safe haven. This type of demand rose 8% since last year, and gold buying by central banks is off to its best start since 2015.
FINSUM: Unfortunately, we have to disagree with this article. Buying gold as we move into a higher-rate and stronger Dollar period contradicts all the fundamentals of the market. Furthermore, we think if gold was going to benefit from trade war fears, it would have already started.
Sometimes we just have to run a story for fun that has no relevance to markets or investing. This is one of them. Evidently, last week a plane flowing over Siberia (Yakutia to be exact) had its cargo hatch break open. When it did, $368m worth of gold bars, silver, and diamonds fell from the sky down onto the frozen landscape. The “drop” happened right near the airport and the company who owned the goods had to get trusted staff to recover the bounty, but not before going through metal detectors before they went home. Now locals think that not all the gold has been recovered and flights to the area are sold out all over Russia as treasure seekers come to the frozen region.
FINSUM: Sorry for the irrelevance of the story, but treasure falling from the sky and oversold flights full of treasure hunters was too much not to share.
The new Apple iPhone X has gotten a lot of hype in media. Aside from all its new features, which are admittedly extensive, its ~50% price hike to $1,000 has received a great deal of attention. That price hike is testing a long-held economic principle which says that as prices for a good rise, demand falls. However, for the last 100 years there has been a view that rising prices could raise demand for certain goods because they amounted to “conspicuous consumption”, or saw their demand rise as prices did because owning them signaled wealth and status.
FINSUM: Apple’s new iPhone X, with a lofty $1,000 price tag, may just prove conspicuous consumption true.