One corner of the bond market, or rather credit market, is having a tough time and it may be a negative sign for the rest of fixed income. CLOs, or collateralized loan obligations, which have been a star for several years, recent tumbled. In aggregate, CLOs dropped 5% in October, and those close to the market see more volatility to come. According to Citigroup “We think there’s more volatility coming … We recommend investors reduce risk and stay with cleaner portfolios and better managers”. CLOs are a key funder of the leveraged loan market, and weak demand there can flow through to boost borrowing costs to all corporates.
FINSUM: This is akin to a warning coming out of the high yield market, as what it reflects is worries about how leveraged companies might handle a downturn.
The car industry is the epicenter of the current economic slowdown. The car business is both the culprit and a victim of the biggest economic downturn since the Crisis. It is not just in Germany, but also in Asia and Detroit. The industry uses so many raw materials and supplies from many adjacent industries, that the contraction in the auto sector is is dragging the whole global economy down with it. The chief executive of VW says “This trade war is really influencing the mood of the customers, and it has the chance to really disrupt the world economy … Because of the trade war, the car market [in China] is basically in a recession . . . That’s scary for us”.
FINSUM: What is curious about the car downturn is that consumers are very strong. Therefore, from our view, the weakness in the auto sector is more concerning because it could be a leading indicator.
There is a lot of investor anxiety about a recession right now. The big economic expansion of the last decade does have the feel of an ending coming, but even if that is true, how should one react? According to Barron’s the answer is to employ a long-term buy and hold strategy. That said, many don’t have the stomach or cash for such a strategy. A better way to think about allocation is to consider the type of recession we might have: will it be driven by a real economic downturn, a policy error, or a crisis—each have highly different return profiles? In this instance, a recession seems more likely to come from a real economic slowdown, which is good news for investors. Such recessions generally have significantly lesser falls in stock prices than the other varieties.
FINSUM: The reality is that we are likely having a “soft landing” type of recession where the economy slows gradually. That means we might not have a bear market at all.
New US GDP data has been released and it is not good news. Though, it is isn’t exactly terrible either. US third quarter growth was 1.9%, the lowest level of 2019. The fall in pace was caused by a reduction in business investment. The pace of growth was 2.0% in the second quarter. The 1.9% rate actually exceeded estimates of 1.6% despite still being the weakest result of the year.
FINSUM: So the big question here is how the Fed will react to this news. They have generally had a glass-half-full approach, so this may keep them from proceeding with cuts, but we’d bet they undertake one more “insurance” cut.
The market just hit fresh highs and we are making progress on the trade war; everything is good right? Wrong, says UBS. The bank has just put out an unusually bold warning, saying markets are likely headed for a big decline. Why? Earnings. Earnings growth forecasts for 2020 have tumbled from a peak of 23% to the just 1% now, a huge fall in expectations. That all comes as the growth backdrop for the economy is weakening, and signals that valuation multiples are likely to contract. “Every bear market of the past 50 years has witnessed an actual decline in S&P 500 forward earnings … Ultimately, the most vulnerable macro backdrop for equities occurs when forward earnings growth turns negative as LEIs are trending downward (pushing [price-to-earnings] lower)” says UBS.
FINSUM: An earnings bear market can easily turn into a real bear market, though it doesn’t always happen.