Real Interest Rates
Not to pick a fight with Keynesians (or other economists), but we’re reluctant to label the explosion in the federal deficit as unequivocally “stimulative.” Some factors behind the increase probably do boost the economy, but others simply rob Peter to pay Paul.
At October’s close, a long-term BUY signal was triggered on the Russell 2000. The fact that some market segments are triggering “oversold BUYS” when blue chips are at record highs speaks volumes about the internal disparities that have developed during the last few years. The Russell BUY signal is not inconsistent with our belief that the action since the January 2018 peak remains part of a lengthy cyclical topping process.
The 1999 leadership parallels we discussed in the latest Green Book remain intact—U.S. over foreign, Growth over Value, and Large over Small. Small Caps have given up most of the “beta bounce” enjoyed in the first two months off the December low, with one Small Cap measure—the Russell Microcap Index (the bottom 1000 of the Russell 2000)—undercutting last year’s relative strength low and those of 2011 and 2016.
Gold broke sharply lower in April, possibly sounding the death knell for the 12-year bull market in gold (and silver). We sold one-third of our holdings in the Core and Global funds in late February at around $1595/oz., cutting each fund’s position to 4% of total assets from 6% previously. Following the big bounce in late April, we sold another chunk at $1470/oz., leaving both Core and Global funds each with a small position of 2.5% of total assets that we’ll likely continue to hold, simply in the interest of diversification.