Investor sentiment seems to be unusually conflicted these days. There are worries aplenty, including numerous political skirmishes of consequence around the world, a slowing global economy, and lofty U.S. equity valuations. On the other hand, fiscal stimulus is high for this stage in an economic cycle and the Fed is easing monetary policy, two policy drivers it rarely pays to bet against.
Many increasingly fear the global economic recovery is in severe peril because overused economic policies have become futile. Bloated central bank balance sheets, large fiscal budgetary fiascos, and the unprecedented global phenomenon of widespread negative bond yields leaves an impression that economic help is spent!Read more
The stock market is re-testing its August 5th collapse low, the U.S. 10-year bond yield is nearing its lows of this recovery, yet another yield curve inversion (tens vs. twos) was breached this week, silence from the Federal Reserve, negative yielding global debt now totaling more than $15 trillion, an escalating riot in Hong Kong, and trade-war negotiations hanging by a thread as ongoing communications are now only by phone! Whew, it’s tough being a bull. Maybe foolhardy?
Adding to current anxieties are the growing fears that businesses may be curtailing spending plans. Real nonresidential investment spending declined in the second quarter for the first time since early 2016. However, this decline was due entirely to ‘old-era investment spending’ while ‘new-era spending’ remains healthy.Read more
The Core CPI is slightly ahead of consensus. Recent depreciation in the Chinese Yuan is disinflationary. Given the seasonal tendency for better economic numbers in the second half of the year, inflation would likely rise moderately along with the economy once we turn the corner.Read more
Mild-mannered and humdrum on the surface but a superhero underneath—that’s Clark Kent and, in recent months, the Low Volatility factor. Low Vol stocks are unexciting by definition, and the factor’s current holdings focus on utilities, REITs, and insurance companies.Read more
This is why financial market prognostications are so difficult and why some believe fruitless! Currently, two recession indicators – both with equally impressive accurate historical prowess – are giving entirely contradictory signals? As shown by the accompanying charts, the yield curve has inverted while fiscal stimulus has been expanding. At least since 1965, this has ‘never’ happened.Read more
Rather than stocks disconnecting from the economy, as some equity bears contend, we see the blue chips disconnecting from the rest of the market. The underperformance of leading groups, along with multimonth divergences in momentum, bullish sentiment, and credit spreads are all consistent with the deteriorating prospects for earnings and the economy.Read more
The need to sound contrarian has become a borderline obsession among market pundits. Media opportunities for talking heads have exploded in the last decade, forcing those who hold the safest consensus views to falsely portray themselves as lonely and misunderstood market mavericks.Read more
The 2.00%-4.99% yield range is the sweet spot for yield investors from a risk/reward standpoint; while the other end of the spectrum (>5% yield) incurs too much risk for the fat payouts. Here we spotlight four ETF strategies that focus on dividend paying stocks.Read more
One portfolio strategy that attracts our interest is a barbell between Growth or Quality on the bullish side, paired with a Low or Minimum Volatility sleeve for the bearish side. This approach deals with today’s uncertainties by essentially “deciding not to decide.”Read more
Despite the current drama, the stock market will not likely be sustainably driven by the Federal Reserve, ongoing trade negotiations, or by presidential politics. Although these spectacles will continue to bounce the market around, ultimately, its direction will most likely be tied to corporate earnings.Read more
Whew, what a week! Confusion reigned surrounding monetary policy on Wednesday after Chairman Powell’s press conference, and then trade policy uncertainty surged on Thursday when President Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goodsRead more
Will this economic cycle end with “fire” (overheating) or “ice” (a whiff of deflation)? Interestingly, hedges against both outcomes have performed well in recent months, with both gold and Treasury bonds spiking. For many reasons, though, we believe the U.S. expansion is more likely to end in a deflationary bust.Read more
Despite a widespread impression that business confidence is declining under the weight of ongoing global uncertainties, it was reported yesterday that, after being flat for almost a year, new orders for nondefense ex-air capital goods (core business capital goods spending) rose to a new recovery high in June.Read more
The Momentum category improved despite last week’s modest market losses, with some of the longer-term trend work improving. Daily and weekly 52-week lows for the NASDAQ remain elevated, reflecting the increasing concentration of strength in Technology stocks.Read more
Little is expected from the current earnings season. At best, corporate profits may eke out a small gain compared to last year’s second quarter. Moreover, with Trump’s trade war still threatening to worsen, the yield curve still inverted, and because the U.S. economy is now in the longest expansion in its history, many are understandably worried that earnings growth may remain challenging.Read more
As shown in Chart 1, since 2015, the trade-weighted U.S. Dollar index has generally ranged between 90 and 100. Its recent stability, at a level much higher than it was during the first half of this economic recovery, has played an important role in shaping the economic and financial-market landscape.Read more
Factors provide investors with the ability to shift their portfolio’s characteristics to fit a particular economic and market outlook. Value might look appealing under one set of conditions while Quality might be more desirable in another. We developed a research platform that analyzes various drivers of factor returns, summarized in Exhibit 1.Read more
The Momentum category continues to grind higher, but this push has predictably stirred up investor enthusiasm (as measured this week by an identical decline in our Attitudinal composite). At the same time, longer-term measures like CEO Confidence, Small Business Optimism, and Consumer Confidence have all weakened in the latest reports, suggesting a rollover in animal spirits could be underway.Read more
There is still plenty to worry about. The never-ending trade war enters yet another round of negotiations, geopolitical risks simmer, many economic reports (both in the U.S. and around the globe) remain weak, the size of negative-yield debt is becoming nearly as large as U.S. GDP, the U.S. stock market continues to exhibit a worrisome “triple-top” pattern, small cap stocks continue to trail, the yield curve is still inverted and, because of a “strong” jobs report on Friday, there is now doubt about whether the Fed will cut interest rates later this month.Read more
The bounce in the Economic category interrupted its last few months’ steady grind lower; the increase was led mostly by an upgrade to the NOPE Index (ISM New Orders Minus Price Index), which moved from high neutral to moderately bullish. The action of individual components is hardly reassuring, however.Read more
Like today, the Federal Reserve usually sucks all the oxygen out of the national economic-policy conversation. And, why not? It is comprised of a small elite group who hold conferences in exotic locations (Jackson Hole), have regular strategy meetings culminating in ‘must-see’ press conferences, make dot-plots sound interesting, and, between meetings, members regularly spout-off contradictory opinions.