Coronavirus has made a reasonable impact on the market. Things fell a bit but are back where they started. However, instead of focusing on the big esoteric risk of the virus, it might be more productive to think about the specific sectors where the virus is gong to have an impact no matter what. Take for instance luxury retail, which is reportedly getting walloped by the virus. Why you might ask? Chinese tourists have vanished from the fancy shops of New York, Paris, and Milan, which means top luxury brands aren’t selling as many glitzy handbags.
FINSUM: There are going to be many of these niche areas that will be hurt by the virus, but don’t immediately come to mind when you consider its impact.
LPL, the largest independent broker-dealer out there, is debuting what seems a curious new model to some. It is making some brokers employees of the firm, completely breaking the mold of the entrepreneurial independent broker running his own office. The firm says it is trying to offer as many good options as it can to make recruits happy and excited about joining LPL. Employees will get a lower payout but better overall benefits. LPL may start to offer attractive bonuses to recruit brokers who want to be/stay employees.
FINSUM: This makes perfect sense to us from a recruiting perspective. There are likely plenty of brokers out there who like their job job but want more stability. This seems like a good compromise.
The SEC’s Reg BI and the DOL’s return of the Fiduciary Rule are set to shake up the industry in several ways (though to a much smaller degree than the 2017 version). However, one of the lesser appreciated areas of disruption created by the rules is in advisor recruiting. Big independent broker-dealers think that the regulatory strain that the rules will put on smaller firms means there will be an exodus of brokers. The logic is that many brokers will feel their small firms do not have the resources, and are therefore not offering the infrastructure to adequately support broker compliance. Accordingly, many big shops like LPL, Ameriprise, and Stifel are planning efforts to seize on this recruiting window.
FINSUM: This makes good sense and it does appear that it will be an ideal time to poach brokers from smaller firms.
Stocks are roughly flat on the year, and there is a growing body of evidence that we may have finally come to the end of this economic and market cycle. Commercial construction is slowing, car sales have peaked, and banks are tightening lending standards even as demand is falling—all signs of an economy headed downward. According to Mike Larsson of Weiss Ratings “It is the type of stuff you see at the end of credit and economic cycles … I am concerned about the durability of this market and economic expansion”.
FINSUM: Only time will tell if the economy slows down. If so, markets will probably follow suit. Q4 GDP numbers were not nearly as good as they looked, as without trade war related boosts, growth would have only been 0.6%.
One prominent short seller has come out warning investors about Tesla, 2020’s rocket ship stock. Citron Research, a legendary short-seller, says that investors should dump Tesla’s stock, as the gains have all been “computer-generated”. The stock closed up 14% again yesterday. Citron says “This is obviously a computer-generated rally, it’s not a reflection on the company, or on valuation. It’s just a trade … Yes, I'm shorting it…whoever bought it at these prices has to flush it out, and when it flushes, it’s going to flush hard.” The firm also referred to Tesla’s stock as a casino.
FINSUM: Tesla is up 112% in 2020. This is a case study in irrational exuberance, or what might now be called “momentum”.