Goldman Sachs thinks the Dollar might be in a for big surprise. On top of his grumbling about the Fed not lowering rates quickly enough, President Trump has been tweeting about the unfair advantage that other countries have in lowering their value against the Dollar. Trump apparently wants a weak Dollar to help the US compete more effectively in the global economy. Accordingly, Goldman Sachs think there is a good chance that Trump uses some special tool to intervene and weaken the currency, such as through the Treasury department.
FINSUM: This is not as unprecedented as it sounds. Even Powell has said the Treasury is the traditional power in charge of exchange rate policy. This would likely have a big impact on markets.
Jerome Powell’s performance could not have been much better. He gave exactly what the people wanted—dovishness. In fact, if anything, he was almost comically dovish, disregarding the very strong jobs performance last month. No matter though, investors are pleased as it now looks nearly 100% likely the Fed will cut rates later this month, and seems as though they will stay on a cutting path for some time. The Fed’s shift in policy appears to affirm that they are currently considering the condition of the global economy as a major threat to the US.
FINSUM: The Fed is in a pretty easy spot if you think about it. Inflation is very low, markets want cuts, and the global economy is looking weak. Simple solution with no real downside—cut rates.
Investors likely already know that low cost index funds tend to greatly outperform high fee actively managed funds (to the tune of 1.5% or more annually). That comes as no surprise. However, what was surprising to us is that in fixed income, the tables are greatly turned. While passive funds do have a slight edge over active ones on average (0.18% per year), in many cases high fee actively managed fixed income funds outperform passive ones. This holds true over long time periods, including ten-year horizons.
FINSUM: This is an interesting finding and one that makes intuitive sense. The bond market is vast, hard to access, and full of intricacies. That kind of environment lends itself to specialism in a way that large cap equities does not, and the performance metrics show it.
American investors seem almost conditioned to ignore the rest of the world. Over the last decade that has been a pretty good plan as the US recovery and markets have had a Teflon coating that resisted global downturns. However, rates market in Europe is sending some grave warning signals. Try this on for size: several European junk bonds are now trading at negative yields. Yes, you read that correctly, investors are paying for the privilege of holding junk in Europe.
FINSUM: This is not some ultra-safe Germany sovereign bond that has negative yields. We are talking run-of-the-mill EU junk bonds having negative yields. That is a big warning sign.
Ever since the stock market’s then peak in January 2018, bonds and stock have had a very close relationship. Equities have been tracking the performance of the investment grade bond sector. When yields rose late last year, stocks plummeted. The opposite is happening this year, and in that change lays a predicament for shares. Yields have fallen so deeply this year, and equity prices risen so high, that it appears unlikely stocks can rise much further as the benefits of lower rates have already been fully priced in.
FINSUM: While we are generally incredulous of these types of arguments, we cannot help but feel a confluence of circumstances (an earnings recession not the least of them) are coming together in such a way that equities seem likely to have a correction.