The topic of the next recession has faded a bit from the mainstream media discussion over the last month, and understandably so. Not only has the market jumped, but the Fed seems to have completely backed off the rates gas pedal. That said, we are keeping an eye on primary and secondary data on the economy to see what the future may hold. Here is some data that is worrying us a bit: global freight shipping rates are tumbling. China’s weak spending and a global slowing of growth has sent shipping rates way down, a sign of excess supply and demand weakness across the world.
FINSUM: This kind of info, along with metals demand etc, are great leading indicators of what might happen in the economy. Add this to the warning signs.
Stock investors and bond investors are showing a big disconnect right now. That mismatch in sentiment could cause some big losses. Fixed income investors have been buying bonds aggressively, keeping yields pinned at low levels and the curve very flat. However, equity markets have been rallying strongly, which will alleviate some pressure on the Fed, allowing them more margin to raise rates again. However, the bond derivatives market shows the market is betting there is a 98% chance rates are in exactly the same place as now in one year’s time.
FINSUM: Bond investors are too comfortable with the Fed right now. Powell et al have been quite hawkish for awhile now, only very recently backing off. We don’t think it would take much to get them back on track, and the equity market is paving the way.
It’s that time of year. Analysts from many banks are putting out their top picks for the year. The picks we are featuring focus mostly on the large cap space. The picks come from a range of different analysts and include: Google, Amazon, American Eagle, Broadcom, Deere, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and Salesforce.
FINSUM: Deere and McDonalds are interesting for us. Deere because farm equipment demand could be quite heavily impacted by US-China trade tensions, which makes this one a risky bet. McDonalds is a stock we are bullish on because of its menu changes and modernization efforts. We think it has a lot of business it can steal back from the likes of Shake Shack and Chipotle if it continues to make its menu fresher and more healthful and its store more appealing.
Some advisors are always searching for the next blow up on the horizon. Well, with that in mind, Fitch has just put out a warning to investors that the next big market storm will likely start in credit funds. Fitch’s warning is predicated on the well-trod idea of a liquidity mismatch between the daily liquidity that open-end bond funds offer, and the relative illiquidity of their underlying holdings. In December, open-ended loan funds saw steep withdrawals, which led to big losses.
FINSUM: This is a fairly well-covered topic, but it is still a big risk. It has not yet happened on a major scale, but if it did, the potential for losses is massive.
The market has hit a rough patch the last couple of days, falling almost 1% yesterday. Investors have once again grown anxious about slowing growth and trade tensions between the US and Mexico. Despite this renewed anxiety, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is encouraging investors to buy the dip. The bank has frustration about the “stubbornly flat” yield curve, but says that “The correct strategy in 2018 was ‘sell-the-rip’; Positioning, Policy, Profits and Populism argue the correct early 2019 trading strategy is to ‘buy-the-dip”.
FINSUM: The market has bounced back a long way from Xmas eve. In some ways it feels too much too fast, but then again, valuations are more sensible and the Fed has backed off.