In recent weeks, fixed income drifted lower due to concerns about Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s upcoming Jackson Hole speech, where he was expected to strike a hawkish tone given the economy continuing to expand at a moderate pace and inflation remaining well above desired levels.
Powell did lean hawkish in his remarks but not enough to fuel further selling in bonds. Notably, he warned that the FOMC was prepared ‘to raise rates further’. However, he did temper this with constructive comments on the economy’s resilience and inflation’s path lower. Equity markets experienced strength following the remarks as the speech was less hawkish than expected.
The ultimate takeaway is that the Fed is still hawkish, considers inflation too high, and further hikes are on the table if necessary, but it’s less hawkish than a few months ago. Additionally, it sees the resilience of the economy and progress on the inflation front as reason to remain patient in its current stance which delays the idea that rate cuts are going to happen anytime soon.
Thus, it’s not surprising to see odds for a rate hike later this year edge lower in addition to the odds of a rate cut in the first half of 2023. So far, the ‘higher for longer’ camp continues to be correct which is leading to weakness on the long-end and creating attractive opportunities on the short-end.
Finsum: Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave his much awaited speech at Jackson Hole. He struck a relatively hawkish tone which was broadly in line with expectations.
In an article for SmartAsset, Patrick Villanova CEPF covers a recent note from Schwab which discusses why this is a favorable time to purchase an annuity. It’s not entirely a contrarian position given that annuity sales hit record highs during the first-half of 2023 which saw a 28% increase from strong sales in the first-half of 2022.
Annuity sales tend to spike during periods of economic uncertainty and attractive rates. The last time there was a similar spike in sales was during the 2008 financial crisis. Currently, there is considerable uncertainty about the economic and monetary outlook while rates are at their highest level in decades. These purchases would perform especially well if inflation and rates return back to levels that were commonly experienced over the past couple of decades, while they would underperform if current conditions persist.
Currently, most fixed annuities are paying yielding between 6.5% and 7%, adjusting for various factors. In contrast, the yield on a high-quality corporate bond ETF is about 5%. However, the corporate bond ETF provides more upside in the event that bonds strengthen especially if rates normalize but have more downside if rates stay elevated or rise further.
Finsum: Annuity sales are at record levels in 2023 and offer more yield than corporate bonds. Here’s why they continue to remain a good buy according to Schwab.
Most advisors and investors are familiar with the benefits of diversification when it comes to asset classes. However, there‘s less understanding about the importance of risk factor diversification. In ETF Trends, Scott Welch CFA of Wisdom Tree Investments shares the importance of this concept, and why advisors need to intuitively understand it.
There are some parallels between asset class and risk factor performance and diversification. Both are nearly impossible to forecast especially on shorter timeframes. But over a longer period of time, certain conjectures can be made with confidence. For instance, there tends to be mean-reversion over longer time periods.
Last year exemplified the risks of not being sufficiently diversified in terms of factor risk, growth was crushed, while value outperformed for the first time in decades. Yet, this has nearly completely inverted in the first-half of 2023 due to the rollicking bull market in stocks linked to artificial intelligence. Thus, this demonstrates the importance of factor diversification and rebalancing, similar to what is done for asset classes.
Currently, one risk for investors overexposed to growth factors is valuations that are historically elevated. In contrast, value factor stocks are quite cheap from an absolute and relative basis. Thus, it could favor some rotation from growth to value once again.
Finsum: Asset class diversification is an elementary part of portfolio management and construction. Another important concept is risk factor diversification.
A gaggle of financial advisors will assign clients to a pre built mode portfolio, according to smartasset.com.
Why, pre tell? Well, given that pinpointing which investments will abet your ability to hit your financial goals isn’t exactly a walk in, say, Central Park, instead of building a portfolio of investments from ground zero, they’ll opt instead for a model portfolio, already built.
Why invest in a model portfolio:
Research and Professional Analysis
Don’t want to tackle a do it yourself approach to investing? Model portfolios can be your ticket. But prior to sinking your bread into it, it’s incumbent upon you to not only grasp how it works, but to compare fees.
And a reminder: if you’ve been putting dollars in ready made curated portfolios, it’s a good idea to check the type of registration offered by the managers the curated portfolios have with market regulator Sebi, according to livemint.com.
Registered as a research analyst? Well, that means that offering model portfolios is off the boards, based on observations of Sebi’s settlement, which was order dated in May,
Ultimately, all the curated portfolios offered by research analysts in the market’s likely to be impacted.
Until very recently, direct indexing was simply not an option for the vast majority of investors. This is because the strategy is quite tedious to execute and could become cost prohibitive in the previous era when commission-free trading and fractional shares were not available.
This is because the strategy requires creating an actual index within an investors’ portfolio. It’s now feasible and quite easy to do due to technological advances. Additionally, the real alpha in the strategy is created through routine tax loss harvesting.
This is an automated process where the portfolio is regularly scanned to sell off losing positions. Then, these losses can be used to offset capital gains elsewhere in the portfolio. Proceeds from the sold positions are then reinvested into stocks with similar factor scores to the ones that are sold in order to ensure integrity with the underlying index even if the holdings temporarily deviate.
Clearly, this strategy wouldn’t be tenable without cheap and/or free trading and fractional shares for smaller sums. In the previous era, the high volume of trades would offset any additional returns. Without fractional trading, smaller sums also would not be able to track the underlying index and not be able to invest in higher-priced stocks that comprise large portions of indices.
Finsum: Direct indexing’s proliferation is only possible due to 2 specific fintech breakthroughs - commission-free trading and fractional shares.