Eq: Total Market
In what sounds like a classic case of “buy the rumor, sell the news”, a major Wall Street figure is arguing that as soon as the US and China reach a trade deal, the big rally in risk assets will be over. The former CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, Shawn Matthews, argues that “Right now, it’s a risk-on mentality -- you want to be long riskier assets until you get a deal with China … When that happens you certainly want to be looking to scale back”. One of Matthews’ worries is that bond markets are following suit, signaling to him that this is a false rally. “If it was truly a risk-on world and people believed it and it was an extended trade, then you would see the 10-year start to back up. That’s a clear sign there’s some concern about what’s going on out there”, said Matthews.
FINSUM: This is quite an interesting take on the whole situation. We are going to hold off on giving our full view until we have had more time to digest, but we thought this angle was definitely worth sharing.
Is the US headed for a major slowdown? That is the big question, especially as the economic clouds darken around the globe. The rest of the world, from Europe to China, is slowing, but the US continues to hum along nicely. So are we the last ship that is going to sink, or will the US manage to defy the tides and keep growing strongly? Looking to markets, yields around the world have fallen (including a dramatic increase in negative yielding European bonds), showing that investors are growing more bearish about the economic outlook.
FINSUM: With the Fed paused, we do not see an imminent recession by any means. We do, however, feel the US economy and markets lack a strong narrative at the moment, which makes us slightly nervous.
Restaurants are an area that don’t get much attention in the media, but can be a place where investors can find alpha. With that in mind, we wanted to run some analyst picks that choose the best food stocks. The three names are Dunkin Brands, McDonalds, and Yum! Brands. The case for Dunkin is that though the company has underperformed a little lately, they are poised for a rebound, especially with the new branding of just “Dunkin”.
FINSUM: McDonalds is the most interesting pick for us, as we admire the changes and leadership of the CEO and think updating the menu and the physical restaurants has and will continue to be successful.
Hate him or love him, you have definitely heard of him and may respect him. Paul Krugman is one of the most famous economists in the world, and he has just put out a warning we think investors need to hear. Krugman’s big fear is that trouble is building in the economy and the Fed doesn’t have much firepower to help stimulate things if and when growth heads backwards. “There seems to be an accumulation of smaller problems and the underlying backdrop is that we have no good policy response”. Krugman argues that hiking rates was never “grounded in the data” to start with and that “Continuing to raise rates was really looking like a bad idea”.
FINSUM: What we know is that a recession will come at some time, what we don’t know is when. Krugman has given sometime in the next two years as his timeline, which to us wreaks of a lack of confidence.
Barron’s has just put out a very timely list. The publication has compiled a list which ranks the 100 top companies according to sustainability. Sustainability, which is a component of and often linked to ESG, has become an increasingly important component of returns, so Barron’s rankings will likely make a difference to portfolios. The top ranked firm is Best Buy, followed by Cisco, Agilent Technologies, Texas Instruments, Voya Financial, and Clorox. The top 25 also includes Salesforce, Cummins, and Kellogg.
FINSUM: ESG is an increasingly important area not only for returns, but also for clients, so this is quite a handy list for what can be a surprisingly difficult to handle issue (i.e. deciding which companies are sustainable and not).
The topic of the next recession has faded a bit from the mainstream media discussion over the last month, and understandably so. Not only has the market jumped, but the Fed seems to have completely backed off the rates gas pedal. That said, we are keeping an eye on primary and secondary data on the economy to see what the future may hold. Here is some data that is worrying us a bit: global freight shipping rates are tumbling. China’s weak spending and a global slowing of growth has sent shipping rates way down, a sign of excess supply and demand weakness across the world.
FINSUM: This kind of info, along with metals demand etc, are great leading indicators of what might happen in the economy. Add this to the warning signs.