The big selloff in bonds has caused a wipeout in emerging markets. The sector, which has seen broad turmoil this year, just witnessed its biggest selloff since March. That fact is quite eye-opening given that the period includes all the worries over Turkey. The big losses have largely been driven by the appreciating Dollar, which hurts EM economies and assets. With the US economy going so well and the Fed likely to increase the pace of hikes, EMs look vulnerable. The MSCI EM Index fell 2% today.
FINSUM: There are some idiosyncratic problems, but EM economies don’t look as weak as this year’s market performance would suggest. It is really US strength that is hurting EM assets.
In a sign that is setting off alarm bells on Wall Street, the market’s safest stocks have been surging of late. Investors are increasingly demanding “quality” stocks as a buffer against a potential downturn in the market. “Quality” stocks usually refers to to companies with a range of positive characteristics like high profitability and low debt. However, market strategists point out that such stocks are so well bought that they might not have their intended effect, “Quality factors are well bid so may not be as defensive as people expect”. ETFs that track “quality” stocks have been surging.
FINSUM: One can understand the flight to quality given very high valuations and the hawkish Fed, but it is still a worrying sign that so many feel the need to take cover.
The big question on every investor’s mind (and Wall Street’s) is when the US recession will arrive. With the economy doing so well, and certain indicators flashing negative, a recession in the next few years looks all but certain. But how soon? Some say it will be by the end of 2019, others think that is too aggressive. Well, a survey of US business economists has just been published that shows a majority of them believe the recession will arrive before the end of 2020. Most precisely, 66% believe a recession will occur before the end of that year.
FINSUM: This seems like a fair representation to us, but predicting the timing of recessions is notoriously difficult, so there may be little value in this survey.
Looking at the market’s performance, it is probably a good time to short some shares. The majority of gains for the sector are being driven by a handful of high-flying tech shares, but the majority of stocks are doing much. Therefore, it seems like a good bet to short certain under-performing sectors. However, the options for doing so aren’t great, as the majority of short ETFs cover the whole market or are heavily leveraged. Now there is a new option though, the AdvisorShares Dorsey Wright Short ETF. The ETF shorts only the market’s 80 to 100 weakest mid and large caps, and it is one of only four short ETFs that don’t seek to replicate an index’s return.
FINSUM: This seems like a very good application of the smart beta concept.
The very public grudge match between JP Morgan and President Trump appears to be continuing, albeit in a more subtle way this week. Strategists at JP Morgan went on the record saying that one of the biggest risks to the market right now is that Trump overestimates the US economy and makes a major miscalculation in his trade war with China. The big worry is that Trump takes the trade war too far and sends China into a recession, which would then reverberate and cause a global reversal, shocking markets.
FINSUM: China experiencing a significant downturn could cause a chain reaction amongst EM and developed economies which could come back to sting the whole western world.