Markets

(New York)

The muni market is doing great, at least on paper that is. Muni bonds have seen an absolutely furious rally over the last few months, which has driven yields to the lowest level since the 1950s. However, many municipalities have huge budget deficits, so the trick is to buy prudently. Eaton Vance published a piece with a state by state analysis of financial health, since the pain of tax revenue losses is not spread evenly. There are multiple ways to look at the info. The states who will see a 20%+ fall in revenue include: Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia, Louisiana, and New Jersey. The top ten states for creditworthiness (meaning the most creditworthy) according to Eaton Vance are Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Iowa, Virginia, and Minnesota.


FINSUM: New York and New Jersey are the most alarming ones on this list, since they are seeing big revenue falls and were already in quite poor financial condition. Illinois is obviously troubling too, as it is dead last in creditworthiness and likely to see a 13%+ fall in revenue.

(New York)

Muni bonds have been on a relentless rally. Any advisor is surely aware of this because there is likely a lot of their client’s money in the space. The inflows have been so sharp, and the price action so swift, that average ten-year yields in munis are at 0.7%, the lowest since the 1950s. At the same time, the COVID pandemic has decimated local and state budgets and there is a $1 tn budget deficit. Worse, the federal government has no clear plans in place to help local and state governments, meaning such municipalities may not be bailed out any time soon.


FINSUM: So on the one hand you have soaring prices, and on the other, significantly eroding credit quality. In any normal circumstance this would be seen as a bubble. However, given that Washington does seem likely to offer some aid to local governments, a meltdown will probably be avoided—but not without some volatility along the way.

(Beijing)

If one thing has been clear over the last couple of years, it is that US-China relations are getting worse. It started earlier in Trump’s term and has escalated in a tit-for-tat battle over the last couple years. Some refer to it as a great “uncoupling” while others say it is a new cold war. Whatever you call it, there are a handful of sectors that will do well as the situation unfolds. One such sector is automation and robotics companies. These companies are likely to do very well as US businesses are forced to re-shore manufacturing from China and seek out automation to make the return more economical.


FINSUM: A major decoupling will be a very ugly event. US companies do $500 bn of sales in China each year. The automation play makes sense. Check out the Robotics ETF (ROBO).

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