Bloomberg has published a very insightful article about the current state of the market. In particular, it offers a view of how the big run up in bonds is likely to end. The fears that are driving the bond market—mostly that de-globalization will cause a recession—can only end two ways. Either the recession and de-globalization never materialize, in which case yields shoot back up, causing big losses in bonds. Or, the breakdown of global trade does happen, In this scenario, goods likely become significantly more expensive (especially in west) because there is no more labor and cost arbitrage. In this scenario, inflation then jumps, again sending yields much higher and sparking losses. In other words, the current bond market can only end in tears.
FINSUM: This was a very insightful argument in Bloomberg today. While there are some nuances that might cause some different outcomes, the basic contention is quite astute. Stocks seems a much better bet.
Bad news for tech investors and Silicon Valley executives—it looks like Big Tech is going to bear the brunt of the trade war. The group of stocks surged yesterday on the announcement of the delay of tariffs on China. This is because a major part of the tariffs relates to hardware that is core to technology companies’ products. Most specifically, the Treasury said it would delay tariffs until December 15th on “cellphones, laptop computers, videogame consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing”.
FINSUM: While this development offers some relief, it will likely be fleeting. The trade war with China is looking increasingly intractable and tech is right in the middle of it.
Markets have indigestion this week, but is a recession any more of a threat than it was a couple weeks ago? The answer is yes. So far the manufacturing side of the economy has been the weaker one, with the consumer side staying strong. However, all the tariffs that have been imposed on China will now hit the side of the US economy that is strongest—the consumer—by raising prices at the register. Therefore, the trade war will directly weaken the best part of the economy, which could seriously curtail growth.
FINSUM: To protect against this, investors may want think about shifting into defensive shares like consumer staples, healthcare, utilities, and real estate, all of which tend to outperform cyclicals in a down economy/market.
While investors might not feel it right now, tariffs do have some upsides. The most direct one—revenue for the US Treasury. US Treasury income is surging because of the recent tariff hikes on Chinese goods. The rolling 12-month sum of customs duties collected by the Treasury (through the end of June) was $63 bn, almost double the sum of the same period last year. If Trump enacts another round of planned hikes on September 1st, the US will likely collect $100 bn in tariffs this year.
FINSUM: This is a good number, especially at a time of major government over-spending. However, it must be remembered that the large majority of this bounty will be eaten up by aid paid to US farmers as part of tariff relief efforts.
Markets took a nosedive yesterday. Last week was bad, but yesterday’s falls were so steep they amounted to about as much as all of last week. All fears over rates and the trade war came to a head when Trump labeled China a currency manipulator. The S&P 500 fell about 3%, meaning the total decline in the index since last week is around 6%. The Dow lost 760 points. The losses amounted to the worst single day drop since early 2018.
FINSUM: The “currency manipulator” claim is largely symbolic. While it certainly won’t help a deal get done, it is hard to see it having a tangible outcome. This seems like a lot of pent-up market anxiety manifesting itself.