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Fed Policy

Aug 07 2019

The Fed Subsidy Is Wearing Off

  • Aug 7, 2019

Earnings results for the second quarter have so far "beaten" expectations (as they always seem to), but that hasn’t changed the calculus for Small Cap companies. About one-third of them have negative earnings over the last twelve months.

Aug 06 2019

When A Cut Is Not Enough

  • Aug 6, 2019

The recent rate cut managed to bring policy uncertainty back into the market by two seemingly harmless words—”mid-cycle adjustment.”

May 07 2019

Tariff Man Tampers With Toppy Market

  • May 7, 2019

Beware of those who write about stock market history, especially when they speak of cause and effect. The truth is that the “why” can never be known.

May 06 2019

Signs Of Spring For Financials

  • May 6, 2019

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere in the Financials sector. S&P Financials was easily the top- performing sector in April and several sub-industries have been bubbling higher in our Group Selection discipline.

Apr 05 2019

On The Cutting Edge—End Of Fed Hikes?

  • Apr 5, 2019

The Fed not only signaled no rate hike for the rest of 2019, but also committed to unwinding its balance-sheet reduction program, starting in May and ending in September. The market took it one step further and priced in a rate cut in the second half of 2019.

Mar 29 2019

The Cycle Is Over If Confidence Fades Further

  • Mar 29, 2019

The “Expectations” component of the Consumer Confidence survey has been wobbly in the last few months, but the latest report, released on Tuesday, showed the first meaningful hit to consumers’ “Present Situation” since the stock market first began to struggle 14 months ago (Chart 1).

Mar 01 2019

Assessing The Cyclical Risks

  • Mar 1, 2019

With all the excitement over the Fed’s shift in rhetoric and the excellent subsequent market action, there’s a danger of losing sight of the broader cyclical backdrop for U.S. stocks. Remember, the economy is still operating beyond government estimates of its full-employment potential, and it’s not as if the Fed has actually eased policy—as it did successfully at a similar late-cycle juncture in the fall of 1998 and (ultimately unsuccessfully) in the summer of 2007.

Feb 07 2019

It Wasn’t Powell Who Panicked

  • Feb 7, 2019

The Fed’s “Christmas capitulation” seems to get most of the credit for the stock market rebound, but we’re not exactly sure how, or even if, the Fed capitulated at all.

Feb 07 2019

Did The Doves Swoop In And Save The Day?

  • Feb 7, 2019

Just a few months ago, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell boasted a reputation as a straight-talking, sound-money banker.

Oct 05 2018

Odds Of Outperforming?

  • Oct 5, 2018

In September, the percentage of S&P 500 stocks outperforming the S&P 500 index fell to 40.7%, the lowest reading since mid-2012. Breadth has followed a conventional path over the course of this unconventional bull market; in the current phase, the odds of outperformance are steadily diminishing.

Sep 08 2018

Beware The Policy “Narrative”

  • Sep 8, 2018

It’s been amusing to watch the narrative surrounding Fed policy evolve as the market has rallied.

Dec 07 2017

The Chart The Fed Forgot

  • Dec 7, 2017

The Fed has long claimed itself to be “data dependent” while providing less and less information on those data points it considers most relevant. We can’t know what’s on that list, but we certainly know what isn’t: the ISM Manufacturing Composite, which (prior to the current cycle) provided an excellent gauge of the Fed’s policy bias.

Nov 07 2017

Enjoying It While It Lasts

  • Nov 7, 2017

We don’t think the current stock market upleg is over.

May 05 2017

Stock Market Observations

  • May 5, 2017

The S&P 500 has labored beneath its March 1st bull market high for the last two months while underlying breadth and leadership trends have remained mostly favorable.

Jan 20 2017

Why The Treasury Department Should Watch The Tape

  • Jan 20, 2017

In recent years the Fed has been more forthright than ever about the importance of the wealth effect as a transmission mechanism of monetary policy. But this (or any) policy effect hardly exists in a vacuum, and the Fed would do well to recognize that stock market swings have played an increasingly important role in the country’s fiscal balance.


Dec 07 2016

Policymakers’ Shell Game

  • Dec 7, 2016

We considered the launch of the QE tapering program in January 2014 as the formal onset of the Fed’s tightening campaign, and that view seemed to be on the mark when High Yield bonds, and then stocks,  unraveled over the next couple of years—although the final losses in the DJIA and  S&P 500 fell short of what we expected.

Dec 07 2016

Rising Rates: Not Always A Death Knell

  • Dec 7, 2016

While the Dow Jones Bond Indicator has stood the test of time, history shows that rising bond yields are not always a bearish stock market phenomenon.

Dec 07 2016

Putting “Our Spin” On The Positive Spin

  • Dec 7, 2016

Bull markets seem to create their own moods that lead to fundamental developments being viewed in a mostly favorable light.

Nov 05 2016

Has The Fed Already Hit Stocks?

  • Nov 5, 2016

One never appreciates what he or she has until it’s gone. In our case, during the many years it was freely available, we failed to appreciate the zero interest rate. Now that it’s gone, we already feel pressured to join a game where we (and very few others) have any edge: Fed-watching. Our real edge is that we recognize this.

Nov 05 2016

Goodbye ZIRP, Hello WIRP

  • Nov 5, 2016

Allow us to put forth yet another theory for this season’s plummet in NFL television ratings: Fed watching is back!

Sep 08 2016

Rate Hike In Limbo—Positive For Risk Assets

  • Sep 8, 2016

Whether rates hike in September or December, we know the Fed will be very supportive of the market and the biggest beneficiaries will likely be EM and higher-yielding assets.

Jul 08 2016

The Policy Conundrum

  • Jul 8, 2016

Over the last eight years, policymakers around the world have held interest rates at unimaginably low levels, run persistently large fiscal deficits, and (in some cases) engaged in outright money-printing via quantitative easing programs.

Apr 07 2016

The Fed’s Capitulation To The Dovish Side— A Win-Win For EM & U.S.

  • Apr 7, 2016

We have mentioned a number of times that China had experienced a very unpleasant “second-hand” tightening due to its peg to the dollar. Its trade competitiveness has suffered tremendously. With a weaker dollar the Chinese Yuan can re-gain some of its competitiveness while maintaining its peg to the dollar. A rare win-win in today’s convoluted world of finance.

Mar 08 2016

Big U.S. Banks: We Have A Motion, Is There A Second?

  • Mar 8, 2016

YTD the S&P 500 has fallen 2% while the S&P 500 Banking industry group is down over 12%—a shortfall that has the attention of value investors and contrarians seeking a chance to buy high-quality banking franchises at fire-sale prices.

Feb 05 2016

Was That All There Was To It?

  • Feb 5, 2016

As quantitative investors, the disciplines of the numbers trump stories—even our own. But we’re struck that the stories depicted by our Major Trend Index and other market tools over the past two years are entirely logical and sequential. Unfortunately these stories rhyme with those of past market cycles.

Feb 05 2016

How Much Slack?

  • Feb 5, 2016

By now it’s consensus that the Fed missed the ideal window for the first rate hike (if one ever existed) by at least a year and a half. We don’t disagree…

Feb 05 2016

Too Early To Dethrone Dividend Stocks?

  • Feb 5, 2016

In the context of a low growth/low inflation environment, with the Fed taking its time to guide rates upward, fixed income type of investments may pale by comparison to dividend paying stocks.

Jan 08 2016

Fed Tightening: The Two-Year Anniversary?

  • Jan 8, 2016

We’ve long argued that this tightening cycle began in January 2014, the month of the first of seven tapering moves which occurred through October of that year. There’s both economic and market evidence to back up this claim.

Oct 07 2015

Sentiment, The Economy & The Fed

  • Oct 7, 2015

We wrote in the January book that 2015 would serve up no shortage of excuses for the Fed to hold off on tightening all year. Whatever window the Fed may have had is now closed.

Aug 07 2015

Fed Watching For The 21st Century

  • Aug 7, 2015

Deteriorating stock market breadth and worrisome leadership trends both suggest liquidity has already tightened; whether the Fed follows suit in September may now be just a formality.

Aug 07 2015

Minding The Gaps

  • Aug 7, 2015

We think stock market action in the next few months will provide the Fed with an excuse to skip any rate increase in 2015. But our view is a minority one, and futures’ market odds on a September increase shot up in early August. Either way, the obsession over the timing of a Fed rate hike ignores the fact that world P/E ratios are already contracting—at least on the basis of our 5-Year Normalized EPS.

Jul 08 2015

A Venerable Monetary Indicator Turned Negative

  • Jul 8, 2015

The smoothed, 26-week rate-of-change in the DJ Corporate Bond Index, a reliable indicator of monetary conditions over many different market and economic cycles, turned negative in mid-June.

Jul 08 2015

Navigating The First Rate Hike

  • Jul 8, 2015

Our current view is the lift-off will be December or later. Assuming inflation will pick up and the Fed hikes the rate by the end of 2015, stocks will perform relatively well, with international stocks a better bet than U.S. stocks.

Jun 05 2015

Don’t Fight The Fed?

  • Jun 5, 2015

While our stock market disciplines (including the Major Trend Index) are nominally bullish, we’re mentally gearing up to do something in the near future that was once considered ill-advised: Fighting the Fed.

Apr 08 2015

What The Market Tells Us About Fed Policy

  • Apr 8, 2015

Poor performance in 2014 by two typical victims of Fed tightening—Consumer Discretionary and Small Caps—corroborated our argument that “tapering” is tightening.

Feb 06 2015

Millions Of Citizens Become “One-Percenters…”

  • Feb 6, 2015

While the collapse of Swiss government bond yields into negative territory was January’s bond market stunner, our “G7” composite 10-year government bond yield reached its own milestone when it closed the month below 1.0% for the first time in post-WWII history.

Nov 07 2014

A Game Of ‘What If?’

  • Nov 7, 2014

Considering the Major Trend improvement, new bull market highs (Nov. 6th) on the S&P 500, DJIA, and DJ Transports, we present a list of talking points we’d use if forced to make a bullish stock market case.

Nov 07 2014

Interest Rates Range Bound—Can’t Be Too Bearish

  • Nov 7, 2014

The sell-off in risky assets in early October promptly led to expectations of a more dovish Fed.

Nov 07 2014

Stocks Vs. The Dollar—More Complicated Than You Think

  • Nov 7, 2014

The recent strength in the dollar coincided with a spike in volatility and weakness in risky assets, but the relationship over the last couple years has been tenuous at best.

Jun 06 2014

QE: The Third Time Is The Charm

  • Jun 6, 2014

Five springs ago, we couldn’t have imagined we’d still hold near-maximum equity exposure after a near-tripling in the stock market from its Great Recession low. Then again, we wouldn’t have guessed that Fed printing presses would still be whirring so many years after the crisis ended. Coincidence? Probably not.