Displaying items by tag: macro

Treasury yields jumped higher following the hotter than expected March CPI report. The 10-year Treasury yield moved above 4.5%. It has now retraced more than 50% of its decline from its previous high in late October above 5%, which took it to a low of 3.8% in late December, when dovish hopes of aggressive rate cuts by the Fed peaked.

Clearly, recent labor market and inflation data have not been consistent with this narrative. In March, prices rose by 3.5% annually and 0.4% monthly, above expectations of a 3.4% annual increase and 0.3% monthly gain. Core CPI also came in above expectations. 

Instead of trending lower, inflation is accelerating. Now, some believe that the Fed may not be able to cut rates given the stickiness of inflation. Additionally, economic data remains robust, which also means the Fed can be patient before it actually starts lowering the policy rate. 

Some of the major contributors to the inflation report were shelter and energy costs. Both were up 0.4% and 2.2% on a monthly basis and 5.7% and 2.7% on an annual basis. Shelter, in particular, is interesting because its expected deceleration was central to the thesis that falling inflation falling would compel the Fed to cut.


Finsum: The March CPI came in stronger than expected, leading to an increase in Treasury yields. As a result, we are seeing increasing chatter that the Fed may not cut at all. 

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Tuesday, 09 April 2024 17:50

Private Equity Sales Pick Up

Investors are selling their private equity holdings at a discount on secondary markets in order to reduce exposure to the asset class. Last year, there was $112 billion in secondary market transactions, the second-highest since 2017. According to Jefferies, 99% of private equity transactions were made at or below net asset value last year. This is an increase from 95% and 73% in 2022 and 2021, respectively. 

It’s a result of the depressed atmosphere for M&A and IPOs, which have been the typical path for private equity exits. However, these outlets have been offline for most of the past couple of years due to the Fed hiking rates to combat inflation. 

Many of the sellers have been pension funds that are required to make regular payments to beneficiaries. Prior to this cycle, private equity was lauded for its steady returns and low volatility, leading pension funds to increase allocations from 8% in 2019 to 11% last year. 

Private equity’s appeal has also dimmed, given that higher rates can be attained with fixed income and better liquidity. In contrast, private equity thrived when rates were low, as it led to robust M&A and IPO activity in addition to more generous multiples. 

One silver lining is that as the Fed nears a pivot in its policy, there has been some narrowing of discounts. According to Jefferies, the average discount from net asset value has dropped from 13% to 9%. 


Finsum: Many investors in private equity are exiting positions at a discount due to liquidity concerns. Now, some institutional investors are rethinking their decision to increase allocations.

 

Published in Alternatives
Tuesday, 09 April 2024 17:49

Meredith Whitney Bearish on Housing

Meredith Whitney, who previously forecasted the financial crisis in the mid-2000s, sees downside for the housing market, driven by changes in behavior among younger men. She sees the beginning of a multiyear decline in housing prices as the lower levels of household formation among men negatively impact demand. 

On the supply side, she sees more homes for sale due to the aging demographics of homeowners. Whitney’s perspective deviates from the consensus, which sees home prices as remaining elevated due to a lack of supply, coupled with a bulge in demand as Millennials enter their peak consumption years over the next decade. This year, most Wall Street banks are forecasting a mid-single digits increase in home prices. 

Another factor impacting housing supply is that the vast majority of mortgages were made at much lower rates. While many asset prices have declined due to the impact of high rates, home prices are an exception. Whitney contends that “normally you would think as rates go up, home prices would go down, and that hasn’t happened over the last two years. I think home prices will normalize because as more inventory and supply come on the market, you’ll see a true clearing price that is lower than it is today. So, I would say 20% lower than it is today.” 


Finsum: The consensus view is that home prices will continue rising due to low supply and demographic-driven demand. Meredith Whitney, well-regarded for predicting the financial crisis, is bearish on the asset class.

Published in Eq: Real Estate

Following the better than expected March jobs report showing a gain of 303,000 jobs, Treasury yields moved higher across the curve. The 10-year yield initially rose 14 basis points to a new 2024 high of 4.43% before backing off a bit. Overall, the jobs report reduces the urgency of the Federal Reserve to cut rates given the labor market’s resilience.

Going into the report, consensus expectations were for an increase of 200,000 jobs, which would be a softening from the 270,000 jobs added in February. It adds to the data showing inflation moving sideways rather than lower over the past couple of months. 

Yields also rose on Thursday following comments from Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, questioning the likelihood of rate cuts if inflation continues to linger above 2%. As a result, the odds of the Fed not cutting rates at the May and June meetings have increased. 

Some other positives from the report were the unemployment rate declining to 3.8%, despite an increase in the labor force participation rate to 62.7%. Average hourly wages increased by 0.3% on a monthly basis and by 4.1% annually. Both figures were in line with expectations. Job gains were strong across the board, with the biggest contributors being healthcare, government, leisure and hospitality, and construction. 


Finsum: Treasury yields moved higher following a stronger than expected March jobs report. Overall, the report led to a decrease in the odds of a rate cut at upcoming Fed meetings.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Friday, 29 March 2024 03:47

What Analysts Got Wrong About Oil

Oil prices have continued to defy Wall Street analysts. Last year, the consensus view was that prices would weaken as the US economy slipped into a recession, with the rest of the world facing a sharper contraction in economic growth. While growth did slow, the US economy continued to expand, and global oil demand increased more than expected. In Q1, the IEA upped its forecast for US oil demand by 110,000 barrels per day due to stronger than expected economic data. 

Additionally, despite predictions from EV boosters, there has been no material impact on oil demand from increased adoption. Similarly, China’s economy has been mired in a slump, yet Chinese oil demand also defied expectations and increased more than expected. In fact, a major lesson of the post-pandemic period is the inelasticity of oil demand. 

On the supply side, US production also surpassed forecasts and made up for any production cuts from OPEC. A major factor is increasing well productivity due to newer drilling techniques. 

Looking ahead, many were skeptical that OPEC+ would remain disciplined, given individual countries’ incentives to increase revenues by boosting production. So far, the cartel has managed to successfully reduce production, which is contributing to the current tight market and a major factor in oil’s upward move YTD. 


Finsum: Last year, many analysts got it wrong when it came to oil. Overall, they were too bearish on the economy and overestimated how much a weak economy would impact oil demand. 

Published in Eq: Energy
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