Investors have gotten so used to low inflation that it is sometimes hard to imagine seeing it rise. However, Morgan Stanley is warning that inflation is rising across the globe and investors need to keep an eye on it. In Europe, Asia, and the US, inflation has risen from 1.1% to 1.4%, and it is bound to move higher, according to Morgan Stanley’s chief global economist. Interestingly, MS argues that the Euro area and Japan will see a higher rise in inflation than the US.
FINSUM: If inflation rises more strongly in other developed markets than the US, will that lead to even more foreign buying of US bonds because yields in those locations are so much lower? In other words, will there be even more demand for US bonds?
While a lot of sentiment is starting to look more positive, Deutsche Bank has just come out with the exact opposite opinion. The bank has gone on the record warning that a recession will arrive very shortly, and that stock prices should be at least 13% lower than they are. The bank’s chief global strategist said, “We are cautious on stocks. We would argue you want to be defensively positioned [and] we would argue that the U.S. equity market has run way, way ahead of growth”. He continued “Every time payrolls growth has gone below 1%, the U.S. has ended up in recession. We would argue the U.S. economy is dangerously close to...tipping into recession”. US jobs growth is currently at 1.3% and slowing.
FINSUM: This is a really bearish outlook from an investment bank, which tend to trend towards over-bullishness. We question the valuation argument, but this is certainly a view worth noting.
Just before the launch of the new suite of iPhones and other Apple products last week, things were looking bleak for the company. There was remarkably little pre-launch excitement and it seemed like this was going to be a rather boring round of updates for the iPhone. However, initial sales momentum is looking strong and could bode well for the company. There are also some one-off factors that could make Apple’s stock pop. According to Evercore, “We think there is inherent upside to Sept-qtr EPS given AAPL isn’t staggering their launches but announcing all the three products simultaneously … This we think will have a positive impact to revenues and EPS in the sept-qtr, though depending on the reception of these products it may be more of a pulling in of revenues from Dec-qtr”.
FINSUM: The iPhone 11 is a little more differentiated than everyone thought, and it seems to have sparked more interest than expected. This may be a less gloomy replacement cycle than expected.
Elizabeth Warren is currently the only candidate that is really rising in the polls, and that is terrifying Wall Street. The far-left candidate has the most comprehensive plans to change the status quo of the financial system and she is gaining traction with voters. That is making Wall Street very nervous. Famed investor Leon Cooperman said he expected a year-plus long bear market with losses of 25% or more if either Sanders or Warren wins the election. Biden currently still leads Warren, but the gap is close, with his advantage down to 31% to 25% of Democratic voters.
FINSUM: Our own feeling on this is that Warren may have the momentum to win the bid, but that it will likely prove quite hard for her to win the general election, as her policies are very progressive for middle-of-the-road voters.
American investors keep hearing the same warnings—Europe is slowing, and the malaise is coming for you! But in truth, how bad is the German, and EU economy really looking? The answer is that it is doing quite badly. The manufacturing sector has entered a recession in Germany (the bloc’s largest economy), and the central bank says the country is likely to enter a recession in the third quarter. A big test is going to come this week as numerous consumer data points will be released.
FINSUM: If the gloom has spread to consumers, a recession would appear to be inevitable. The market has sky-high expectations for ECB easing, so let’s hope they are met!
While many are worried about the domestic economy and whether the US is headed for a recession, those invested in emerging markets should perhaps be even more concerned. One of the fears specialists in the area have is that there is probably about $200 bn of unreported Chinese loans on the books of emerging market borrowers. China is not obligated to report these loans anywhere, so no one is quite sure of the size of the exposure. The risk is that as the economy sours, and these credits debts become distressed, China could impose some severe conditions on borrowers, which could cause emerging markets to seize up.
FINSUM: We could see this becoming an issue, especially because China will be feeling distress itself, which means it is likely to use a heavy hand. Even if nothing comes of this, it will likely weigh on EM asset prices in the near-term because of the uncertainty.
Jay Powell, head of the Fed, has been working on a year-long project to overhaul one of the Fed’s most important goals. That goal is full employment. The Fed only has two mandates, stable prices in the economy, and maximum employment. Yet the definition of maximum employment is now up for debate. At the core of the consideration is the idea that having a job is different than having a good job. The difference between the two means the Fed may use a different calculation for measuring employment. That potential change has huge implications, as it would likely lead to looser monetary policy both in the immediate future and further out.
FINSUM: We think there is a big difference between the quality of different jobs in the economy which needs to be accounted for by the Fed. The current way of measuring employment was designed when most jobs were permanent and full-time, but with the rise of the gig economy, measuring methods need to shift to account for the changing nature of the labor market.
Dividends hold an interesting place in the current market environment. On the one hand, their yields are looking more attractive after the big fall in bond yields. However, some think the bond rally is very fragile and that it will either fall in a big way or at least stall, in which case the outlook for dividend stocks is bleak. So how to handle the environment? One tip is to buy dividend stocks with the fastest dividend growth, not the highest yield, as they have been fairing the best and will likely be the most resistant to rate fluctuations. One research analyst in the space summarized the situation this way, saying “Companies exhibiting stronger earnings growth to support regular dividend hikes have been in greater demand than those more value-oriented ones offering higher income streams”.
FINSUM: Those with the best trending yields will likely be more defensible than those with higher but more stagnant yields.
It has been a decade in the making, but it finally, unceremoniously, happened. The AUM in passive investment vehicles, like ETFs, has finally overtaken that in actively managed ones, like mutual funds. As of August 31, money in passive funds totaled $4.27 tn, just a touch higher than the $4.25 tn in actively-managed funds. In a good summary of the overall change in landscape, the Wall Street Journal says “That shift lowered the price of investing for individuals, reduced the influence of stock pickers and turned a handful of Wall Street outsiders into the biggest power brokers in the industry”.
FINSUM: Every advisor reading this column knows exactly why this happened, but it is nonetheless a landmark moment. It is also perhaps a warning sign—which side is driving the market?
Societe Generale, famed European investment bank, has just told investors they should load up on gold. Gold is seeing several value drivers at the moment. These include the economic cycle and fears over the trade war, a lack of other safe haven assets, and importantly (and much less known), central bank purchases. Global central banks (like China’s) are trying to diverse away from the Dollar, and gold is an attractive way for them to do so.
FINSUM: There are a lot of tailwinds for the yellow metal right now. The Fed is less dovish than most expected and there does not seem to be much risk of a huge risk-on shift that would leave gold forgotten.
Sometimes we just have to run a story for fun that has no relevance to markets or investing. This is one of them. Evidently, last week a plane flowing over Siberia (Yakutia to be exact) had its cargo hatch break open. When it did, $368m worth of gold bars, silver, and diamonds fell from the sky down onto the frozen landscape. The “drop” happened right near the airport and the company who owned the goods had to get trusted staff to recover the bounty, but not before going through metal detectors before they went home. Now locals think that not all the gold has been recovered and flights to the area are sold out all over Russia as treasure seekers come to the frozen region.
FINSUM: Sorry for the irrelevance of the story, but treasure falling from the sky and oversold flights full of treasure hunters was too much not to share.