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.
BAML has put out a report chronicling a new outlook for stocks, and it isn’t pretty. The report shows that investors have the worst views on the markets in a decade. Investors are pessimistic about global growth and corporate profits, the combination of which makes them expect a weak equity market. Here is a summary of Bank of America’s report: “A poll of asset managers showed a net 60 per cent of those questioned think growth in gross domestic product will weaken over the next 12 months, the worst outlook on the global economy since July 2008 and below the trough in January 2001”.
FINSUM: So it is important to note that these are asset manager opinions, not individual investors. Accordingly, it may not be as much of a contrarian indicator as usual.
The market has been doing very well lately. Political worries, trade wars, it doesn’t matter, nothing seems to be able to contain the market’s optimism. Despite all this, though, Bank of America says it is all about to come to an end. The bank’s top strategist says that weakening growth, rising rates, and a glut of debt will conspire to weaken stocks. “The Fed is now in the midst of a tightening cycle, ignoring structural deflation, focusing on cyclical inflation … Until this Fed hiking cycle ends we suspect absolute returns from financial assets will remain slim & volatile”. BAML says that weakening bank stocks even in the face of rising rates (which should be good for them) may be a sign of how badly the Fed’s tightening will affect of the overall economy.
FINSUM: This is quite a gloomy and contrarian opinion. We see the argument, but it certainly seems to contradict everything one can observe in the market and economy right now.
Our readers will know that we have long opposed the current version of the fiduciary rule, and are still hopeful much of it will ultimately be revised. However, today we want to run story arguing the opposite side, a devil’s advocate piece if you will. The argument comes from none other than Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America. He contends that the DOL rule probably won’t change because it is part of a larger trend in financial services overall. Even if it does, he says it will not change the firm’s thinking about fee-based accounts. BAML shocked the world last year when it said it was entirely getting rid of commissions.
FINSUM: One of the problems with the current fight against the fiduciary rule is that big firms are not getting behind the effort. The reason why is that they stand to make more money (as BAML just did) from having the kind of fee-based accounts that the current rule demands. This may be why any revision efforts ultimately fail.
The fate of the fiduciary rule is unclear, but some things are not: that big firms are making loads of money on conflict-free advice. For instance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch saw a big jump of $29.2 bn in fee-based client assets in the first quarter. JP Morgan saw $8 bn of inflows, including those with a recurring fee. The piece argues firms had already begun the switch well-before the rule was released, and that the new rule just helped them cement the changes. Fee-based accounts are great for firms as they can get as much as 50% more revenue out of an account than with a commission-based model, says Morningstar. Merrill Lynch is already seeing gains from its fee-based model, with revenue up 3% in the first quarter.
FINSUM: This article highlights the inherent flaw of the fiduciary rule and the measure is not even finalized yet. What good is a conflict-preventing rule if it ends up raising costs for so many retirees?
Source: Wall Street Journal