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Direct indexing is a new approach to investing which involves recreating an index within an investors’ portfolio which combines the benefits of passive investing in addition to tax loss harvesting capabilities with the potential for increased customization. For these reasons, it’s been growing in popularity especially as it’s become available to a wider swathe of investors.
However, according to a recent report from Hearts & Wallets, a wealth management research firm, most investors remain unfamiliar with the concept. In fact, there is considerable confusion about what it specifically means. Many weren’t able to specifically delineate between ETFs and direct indexing.
Another challenge is that many investors believed that direct indexing was closer in approximation to active investing rather than passive investing and that it would require some sophisticated management. For those who were interested in direct indexing, the potential tax savings were the biggest factor.
One of the conclusions of the report was that the industry should consider renaming ‘direct indexing’ to something that was more definitive. Too many investors who would be good candidates for these products are dismissive due to an incorrect understanding of its function and benefits.
Finsum: Direct indexing is growing in popularity. Yet, a recent report on the category revealed some issues that may impede its future growth.
Exxon Mobil recently shared its long-term outlook on how it sees the global energy market evolving. Overall, it sees renewables taking a greater share but that more than half of the world’s energy needs will continue to be met by oil & gas.
It sees energy demand as being intrinsically tied with economic development. By 2050, more than 1.5 billion people will have entered the global middle class which comes with increased consumption of automobiles, air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.
China’s per-capita energy consumption more than pentupled as the country experienced an economic boom. The company sees a similar possibility in Africa over the next couple of decades. In total, it sees global electricity consumption growing by 80% by 2050.
In order to facilitate this, it believes that all types of energy need to play a role including oil & gas. Despite the belief of many that EVs portend a peak in oil demand, ExxonMobil points out that even if every car sold in 2035 is an EV, global oil demand would only drop to 85 million barrels per day which is equivalent to 2010 levels.
Finsum: ExxonMobil shared its outlook for the global energy market till 2050. Overall, the company believes that energy demand will continue rising and that oil & gas will remain integral for the global economy.
For Bloomberg, Ye Xie covers the aftermath of a disastrous Treasury auction for buyers. A little less than 3 and a half years ago, the world and fixed income markets were in a much different place due to the pandemic and the Fed’s aggressive efforts to flood the market with liquidity. At the time, the 30-year Treasury was auctioned off at a yield of 1.2%, while it now fetches nearly 4.5%.
Thus, buyers of the 30Y have taken a huge loss. In recent weeks, it’s traded around fifty cents on the dollar. Typically, this would mean that holders are concerned about default risk, but this is not the case. Instead, the price is so low because buyers have to be sufficiently compensated given that they can get higher levels of income in so many places.
Simply put, it’s an indication that these buyers essentially top-ticked the Treasury market. Longer-term Treasuries declined by nearly 30% in 2022 and have added to these losses this year as the Fed has remained hawkish for longer than expected. The holders of this specific note include the Fed, ETFs, pensions, and insurance companies.
Finsum: The yield on the 30 year Treasury fell as low as 0.7% during the depths of the pandemic. Now, they are close to 4.5%.
Over the last decades, there has been a constant trend in equities trading towards lower transaction costs, increased transparency, fractionalization which have made the markets cheaper and more accessible for everyone. This is only beginning to happen in bond markets where the majority of trading still takes place over the counter.
One startup, Moment, is taking on the challenge as it’s raising $17 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. It’s expected to be a major opportunity especially as interest in trading bonds has increased amid the spike in rates since last year.
Currently, the major electronic venues for trading bonds are MarketAxess and Tradeweb. Moment’s API seeks to pull data from all these fragmented markets and liquidity pools and provides execution services in addition to analytics and portfolio management tools. The company plans to cover all types of fixed income investments including municipal bonds, Treasuries, and corporate debt.
The company believes it will be able to be the premier platform for retail investors when it comes to fixed income trading. It sees upside opportunity in that only 3% of US households own individual bonds, while 23% of households own individual equities.
Finsum: Interest and activity in fixed income has soared along with rates. Moment, a startup backed by Andreesen Horowitz, is looking to build a platform for retail trading of bonds.
The economy and financial markets have faced potent challenges in 2023. These include concerns of an imminent recession, a hawkish Federal Reserve, stubbornly high inflation, a sputtering banking system, etc. Unlike last year, the price of oil hasn’t been a major headwind as it’s traded between $60 and $70 per barrel for most of the year.
The situation is now changing as the front month contract for WTI crude oil settled above $90 for the first time this year. Higher oil prices are a negative for the economy and markets as it detracts from consumer spending and contributes to inflationary pressures. Until inflationary pressures fully recede, there is unlikely to be a change in Fed policy.
So while there has been constructive news on the finaltion front regarding real estate and the labor market, the mild tailwind from lower oil prices is now becoming a headwind. For oil, the major catalyst is on the supply front as OPEC producers have been cutting production in anticipation of an economic slowdown.
But, demand has been less impaired than anticipated even accounting for the weakening Chinese economy. Another factor supporting demand is that the US is a buyer of crude oil given the need to restock the strategic petroleum reserve.
Finsum: Crude oil prices moved past $90 per barrel for the first time in 2023. Here are some of the reasons behind its recent strength.