Eq: Total Market

(New York)

One of the big themes in the asset management industry right now is the possibility of consolidation. A big plunge in asset manager share prices and falling fees has added motivation for managers to tie up to increase scale and efficiency. Invesco’s recent deal to acquire OppenheimerFunds is a great example. However, regulators are reporting discussing such deals and are apparently concluding that the passive management business has grown uncompetitive, with just three firms dominating the space. Interestingly, the worries over competitiveness are not centered on the asset management industry itself, but rather how having a few large managers, each of whom own each other and other companies’ shares, makes the whole economy less competitive. The big three asset managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, are not the largest shareholders in 88% of S&P 500 companies. This whole situation, and the worries attached to it are referred to as “common ownership”.

FINSUM: One can see how this would make the economy less competitive, but more specifically, it may mean that it is harder for asset managers to push deals through.

(New York)

One of the most respected hedge fund managers, Jeremy Grantham, believes that this is a false rebound. And not only is it a false rebound, rather, it is the beginning of a big bubble bursting. The head of GMO believes as far as the fourth quarter is concerned, “The volatility is consistent with a bubble bursting”. Though he does caution that stocks could reflate before the burst continues, as they did in 1998-2000. Grantham is famous for his calls of the 2000 and 2008 downturns, but has been criticized for being overly bearish during this bull market.

FINSUM: We do not think there is going to be a further meltdown. Valuations reached their nadir at a 13.6 p/e ratio last month, down from eye popping numbers. Between earnings gains and price declines, we think the worst may be behind stocks for now.

(New York)

There has been a lot of bearish sentiment over the last couple of months, with more of a positive trend lately. Put this piece in the positive bucket. The argument in question is from Capital Group, a $1.8 tn manager, who contends that while we are in the late stage of an economic cycle, there should still be a couple years of good earnings growth and returns. The late stage of an economic cycle typically lasts 1-3 years, says Capital Group, and that shouldn’t be any different this time. According to the the firm, “Given that this expansion has been pretty measured, I think we’re expecting that the late stage of the cycle will probably also be quite measured as well … And it doesn’t have to end in a recession”.

FINSUM: We really like that final thought. Everything about this market and economy has been steady for years. A slow and steady end makes sense.

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