The market took a nosedive in the middle of the day today as investors were walloped with a hot CPI inflation reading. The CPI rose an eye-popping 5.4% in June, with core inflation coming in at 4.5%. The market was anticipating a flat 5.0% CPI number. Indexes turned downward immediately following the report. It should be noted than June 2020 was the nadir of the pandemic inflation readings, so that makes this report look even bigger.
FINSUM: The inflation boogeyman returns. Beware a big sell-off across the board in bonds, especially if the Fed or a member of the Fed makes any tightening comments.
According to a poll of leading bond strategists surveyed by Reuters, there is likely to be a correction in…see the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site.
When you think of all the risks and all the opportunities for the muni market right now, you might be missing one of the very biggest. While a lot of talk has focused on how Biden and the Democrats—and their respective tax packages—could help muni finances, the reality is the drought out West is a big risk to the muni market. 75% of the West is in an extreme drought right now, representing almost 60m Americans. If that continues it could significantly impact muni finances.
FINSUM: Only 26% of the muni market lies in the drought area, which mitigates systemic risk, but very issuers could be badly hit. Be careful of large muni holdings in drought-stricken areas.
Another jobs report hit the tape today, and another good reading, with job growth outpacing expectations. Crucially, there were also no signs of heavy wage growth that could stoke the market’s inflation fears. According, Treasury yields fell across the board, with the short end of the curve falling the most. Analysts feel that the report did not bring the dreaded Fed Taper any closer, which led to the fall in yields. Fed minutes will be released next week and that is the next time the market will get a peek into what the central bank may do next.
FINSUM: Two divergent paths here—either the market is falling into complacency, or the Fed’s view that inflation is “transitory” is starting to come true. It might only take an errant sentence form the Fed to spark a big correction.
According to a poll of leading bond strategists surveyed by Reuters, there is likely to be a correction in bond markets in the next three months. The reason why is that central banks across the world are all looking for the exits from their stimulus programs. The head of strategy at Rabobank commented that “The message from Powell is: We will look through it (inflation). We're not going to jump to conclusions and that creates some calm. But you just need a couple of big surprises (in data) and things are again open to correction”. 59% of those strategists surveyed said they saw a “significant” sell-off in global bond markets coming in the next three months.
FINSUM: This all depends on timing and signaling. If the Fed makes an inadvertently hawkish statement, you could easily see a 2013-style Taper Tantrum. But if the Fed uses careful wording and guidance, the whole transition could be smooth.
The market has been nervous for months about growing inflation in the US. The Fed has tried to appear sanguine about it, and has so far done a decent job of keeping fears in check. However, a blowout inflation report this month, as well as more hawkish comments this week, means that anxiety is rising strongly again. And according to Jeffrey Gundlach, the fears are justified as he believes inflation will not be “transitory” as central bankers have been predicting. One of his core arguments is that inflation may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, where consumers start stocking up on items now to avoid future price rises, which in turn causes shortages and drives prices higher.
FINSUM: The self-fulfilling prophecy is a good near-term argument, but we have a longer-term one: demographics. The largest generation in the history of the US—Millennials—are coming into their peak earning and buying years, which is creating demand for literally everything, and supply is tight across almost all industries. Inflation looks inevitable.
Infrastructure investment has changed vastly in the last few years. Not only is the sector at the epicenter of Biden’s stimulus packages, but “infrastructure” has evolved beyond the traditional view of buildings and transportation. Infrastructure investment now refers not only to road and rail—the literal backbone of 20th century development—but also to emerging global themes like decarbonization, clean water, and digital transformation. Further, infrastructure investment has expanded from municipal bonds to equities and other fixed income solutions. As in the past, there continue to be compelling reasons why an allocation in infrastructure makes sense for today’s portfolios:
• Consistent and stable return profile
• Strong portfolio diversifier.
• Focus on essential assets.
President Biden has put America’s aging infrastructure at the center of his presidency and there is a major infrastructure bill moving through Congress which we believe would provide unprecedented opportunity for investment in the sector.
But what is the best way to invest in infrastructure?
Essentially there are three routes. First, through globally listed infrastructure, which is currently trading very favorably levels*. For example, P/E ratios for infrastructure equity investments are well below those of other comparable investment profiles. Take a look at the MainStay CBRE Global Infrastructure Fund (VCRIX), a Lipper Award winning fund, to learn more.
Second, tax exempt muni bonds can be a strong and traditional option. Three-quarters of all infrastructure funding is provided by muni bonds, and the sector has generally had fewer credit downgrades than the bond market as a whole, largely because of the “essentiality” of the services that municipal issuers provide. For example, the provision of water, power, and education have not been greatly affected by recessions. An option for infrastructure investment via tax exempt muni bonds consider the IQ MacKay Municipal Intermediate ETF (MMIT), a highly rated fund by Morningstar.
Third, taxable muni bonds are an increasingly popular option which fulfil an important role in the ecosystem. Their issuance has surged since their effective inception in 2008 via Build American Bonds after the global financial crisis. They consist of largely the same issuers, but their taxable status means they can be utilized in areas where conventional muni bonds largely have not, such as qualified plans, pensions, endowments, and foundations. Check out the MainStay MacKay U.S. Infrastructure Bond Fund (MGOIX).
*Source: CBRE Clarion as of 3/31/21
All investments are subject to market risk, including possible loss of principal. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market.
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The market was in a frenzy over the latest CPI report which had the highest rise in inflation…see the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site
Inflation worries may have surged this Spring, but that has not helped real yields. When you compare the yields of stocks and bonds versus inflation, the truth is that real yields have turned negative. It is unusual for the S&P 500 to have a negative yield, which is currently at -0.81%. That is slightly better than 10-year Treasuries’ real yield of -0.87%. This has usually spelled trouble historically. Going back to 1970, there has only been one instance when the market did not decline at least 32% in the two years following the point at which yields went negative.
FINSUM: This is a pretty scary statistic, but then again, most historical contexts don’t involve a pandemic-induced country-wide shutdown and unprecedented government stimulus.