Eq: Total Market

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(New York)

Active ETFs have grown in popularity, doubling in the last two years, and they are starting to reverse the 30-year index trend invented by John Bogle. Mutual fund giants such as Fidelity, T.Rowe Price, Franklin Templeton, and American Century all have opened active funds. Driving this inflow is a series of regulatory changes that protect active fund insights and make them more tax efficient. SEC regulations have allowed semitransparent ETFs to use custom baskets and move around stocks in order to not realize gains. Semitransparent ETFs have better liquidity which allows them to cut the high transactions costs of yesteryear. Some of the fastest-growing funds are Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation, but JPMorgan’s Ultra-Short Income, PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity and JPMorgan’s Equity Premium Income. Finally, the current environment is allowing active funds to edge out. Active funds have thematic interests that satisfy investors at lower costs than traditional funds, and pickers outperform when there is high dispersion (as there is now).

FINSUM: Active funds are cutting costs to some of the lowest levels historically and in these tumultuous times that makes them as competitive as ever.

Whether the US’ current bout of inflation is caused by transitory supply-side factors, or trillions of dollars poured into the economy by policymakers, is irrelevant because investors are now tasked with finding a way through the stock market jitters. As inflation rises it eats at yields and the value of fixed coupons falls. To avoid the pitfalls of rising prices look to dividend stocks, whose yields are pushed higher by inflation. Of course not all dividend stocks are created equal and some will outperform in an inflationary environment. The best income stocks are in the financial sector because they benefit from rising interest rates, as their interest rate margins expand in such environments. Energy is next, at least currently. Higher demand boosts prices of oil and gas, which benefits energy sector investors as it is one of the highest dividend payers. These sectors are the most likely to boost their dividends in the rising price environment.

FINSUM: Dividend stocks have no doubt outperformed just about every segment of the bond market, and expanding your dividend holdings may be a good idea as inflation comes in at 20-year highs. 

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