So let’s say you are in the bullish camp and think the US-China trade spat will be resolved soon. What is the best way to profit from that development? All stocks will likely rise, and bond yields will probably rise too. But where will the best gains be? How about small caps. The argument here may seem counterintuitive, but shows an evolution in thinking on the part of investors. At the start of the trade war, many thought small caps would do well as they are less exposed to international trade. However, thinking has changed and investors are now much more focused on which sectors are most exposed. This has led small caps to have a rough year compared to large caps, mostly because there are so many financial stocks in the small cap sector. That said, a resolution of the trade war would suspend downward pressure on rates and allow the sectors which have beaten up to flourish, offering disproportionate gains for small caps.
FINSUM: This is a fairly sophisticated argument based on the proportion of beaten up stocks that are in the small cap asset class. However, it does make a lot of sense.
The US and China might be starting to realize that they really need each other. Each side is feeling the pain, and that is making a deal feel closer. China has seen a 47% rise in pork prices in the last year—a key form of disturbance to its population, and seems to want to resume importing US pork. Trump has just delayed a new round of tariffs as a measure of good faith before Washington and Beijing return to the negotiating table.
FINSUM: It is quite hard to ascertain the degree to which the US and China actually want to close a trade deal. China has grown so large and self-sufficient that it is big enough to get by on its own, which seems to lower its incentive to compromise. The US is in the same position.
So one thing is very obvious about Trump’s tweets—they can move markets. However, what is less well-known is that their frequency also has an effect on indexes. So how do markets fare on days when Trump is hammering out tweet after tweet versus days when he only pens a few? The answer is that more is worse. On days where Trump write 35 tweets or more there is a 9 basis point drag on markets versus days where he tweets 5 times or less, where there is a 5 basis point tailwind.
FINSUM: There is not much one can do with this info, but it is an interesting data point. How long before a new “smart beta” product comes out focused on this? Haha.
While many are worried about the domestic economy and whether the US is headed for a recession, those invested in emerging markets should perhaps be even more concerned. One of the fears specialists in the area have is that there is probably about $200 bn of unreported Chinese loans on the books of emerging market borrowers. China is not obligated to report these loans anywhere, so no one is quite sure of the size of the exposure. The risk is that as the economy sours, and these credits debts become distressed, China could impose some severe conditions on borrowers, which could cause emerging markets to seize up.
FINSUM: We could see this becoming an issue, especially because China will be feeling distress itself, which means it is likely to use a heavy hand. Even if nothing comes of this, it will likely weigh on EM asset prices in the near-term because of the uncertainty.
The markets nosedived again today as recession fears are spiking amongst investors globally. While US investors got a bit of a reprieve from the trade war due to the announcement that new tariffs had been delayed, bad economic data out of Germany and China made a global recession look more likely. The big selloff not only dragged US bonds into a 2/10-year inversion, but also inverted the UK yield curve for the first time since 2008. German bonds saw yields fall to a record low (in negative yield territory).
FINSUM: The doom and gloom is warranted given the current backdrop, but it is also not unreasonable to think the current “wall of worry” is the perfect mountain for this bull market to climb.