Results 1–50 of 81 found.
Stocks Slip on Quiet Data Week
A modest number of economic indicators were released last week, with the majority suggesting that the domestic economy remains on solid footing. Consumer sentiment and retail sales were the bright spots, after concerns about what impact the weak labor report would have on the consumer.
Hiring Flounders in August and Extreme Seasonal Distortions
With expectations high, the August labor report landed with a reasonably loud thud. Economists expected recent improvements in labor markets to continue aplenty, but that proved not to be the case during the oftentimes-volatile month of August. It is never wise to read too much into a singular month, and the details of this report support that notion.
Europe Taking a Negative Turn
Among the highlights of a busy calendar of economic data last week was the flash estimate of second quarter Eurozone GDP. The region has come under greater scrutiny in recent months amid a disinflationary trend and slowing economic data. As we discussed a few weeks ago, the high profile failure of Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo has also inflamed worries that Europes financial system remains vulnerable to a systemic shock.
The Fed Announces Its Intentions
Minutes from the mid-June FOMC meeting were released last week, offering keen insight to the Federal Reserves current thinking on the economy. While the Fed suggests that the economic outlook is benign, the minutes offered guidance on the Feds exit path, which is expected to arrive by the end of the year.
Will Latest Jobs Report Force the Fed to Act?
After a reasonably bleak winter, labor markets are on the rebound, just in time for the Federal Reserve to decide when they should stop asset purchases. Recent figures suggest that labor markets are very near Fed targets, raising the possibility that interest rate hikes could begin sooner than expected.
Equities Rally on Surprise-Free Fed
The Federal Reserve held its regularly scheduled meeting last week, and equity markets raced to their strongest daily gain of the week after the announcement was released. There were few surprises, as the Fed chose to maintain its course, while painting a cautious economic picture.
Oil Spikes on Iraqi Strife
Of the many global macroeconomic concerns of the past few years, oil has curiously fallen down the list in terms of major areas of investor focus. After recovering in the wake of the financial crisis, the commodity has generally been range bound between $100 and $120 a barrel. Newfound supply of natural gas in the United States has also eased concern about the domestic economys reliance on oil imports from the Middle East.
Dollar Bulls Drop Their Heads in Frustration
For some time, strategists have been bullishly positioned on the U.S. Dollar, anticipating a rally that failed to materialize. The arguments were straightforward the Federal Reserve is exiting its easing cycle, Europe is facing deflationary pressure and likely to ease further, and the economy in the U.S. is on improving footing. Those expectations, while true to some extent, are not translating into gains for the Dollar, leaving many frustrated. The Dollar is suffering from a bad case of dejection and could struggle to see a sustained breakout for some time.
Why Are Hedge Funds Struggling in 2014?
2014 has been a year marked by shaky equity markets and relatively higher volatility than observed in 2013. With falling equity market correlations and increased stock dispersion, it was presumably a more favorable environment for hedge funds. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as most alternative investment approaches are posting less than stellar results so far this year.
Taxes are the Pits, But Not for Everyone It Seems
A number of Americans breathed a joyful sigh of relief last week after closing the books on their 2013 income taxes. The annual rite of passage rarely elicits excitement when addressed in conversation, and this year was unlikely to be any different. But, the latest tax data suggests the economy is gaining speed, news bound to make even the most hardened filers crack a smile.
Complacency Makes Volatility Markets a Dangerous Place
With a dissipation of economic stress in Europe, and a general strengthening of economic conditions in the U.S., equity market volatility has plunged to new lows. Some would argue that market intervention by central banks is acting as an unnatural dampener to market volatility, raising the question as to whether a gradual removal of those policies will cause volatility to resurface. So far, the answer is up for debate, but current positioning suggests many investors are becoming complacent and will be caught off sides if such a scenario emerges.
Labor Markets Looking for a Spring Blossom
With an unusually harsh winter finally ending, economists were excited to see if labor markets would rebound in March. By many accounts, they were left wanting for more, but the underlying theme in the March report was consistent, steady job growth.
A Look at First Quarter Market Performance
As the first quarter draws to a close, equity markets appear poised to finish in positive territory despite a somewhat tumultuous news environment. As noted by Bloomberg, save for a sharply negative Monday period, the S&P 500 will close out a fifth consecutive quarter in positive territory for the first time since 2007.
Janet Yellen Enters the Picture
After bursting onto the scene earlier this year, Janet Yellen held her first official FOMC meeting last week. Rather than upset the apple cart, she held a largely status quo stance, but several comments raised more than a few questions.
Currency Markets Heat Back Up, and Will Likely Remain that Way
Long dormant after the financial crisis, foreign exchange markets are beginning to heat up, offering ample trading opportunity for asset managers. The U.S. dollar was widely viewed as being the best long trading opportunity for 2014, but so far, that has not played out, with activity in the Euro, Chinese Yuan, and other currencies impeding dollar strength.
Tech Bubble 2.0?
The $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in late February put an exclamation point on several high profile takeovers in the technology space in recent months. Sizeable deals such as Google?s $3 billion acquisition of Nest and Facebook?s $3 billion offer for SnapChat have fueled the idea that an indiscriminate buying spree in the technology space a la 1999 could set up financial markets for another valuation bubble.
A Consumer Releveraging Renaissance?
After a long period of deleveraging, there are appearances that consumers are entering a stage of releveraging. The devil is always in the details, though, and this releveraging cycle is likely to play out vastly different than those of previous expansions.
Time to Worry About Europe Again?
The European sovereign debt crisis has all but faded from investors? minds since ECB President Mario Draghi?s famous pronouncement on July 26, 2012 that he would do ?whatever it takes? to save the monetary union. Since that time, equity markets in Europe rallied sharply as accumulated risk aversion fell away.
Investors Should Focus on Wages, Not Jobs
This Friday investors receive the first official labor market report of 2014. Following a highly disappointing jobs figure in December, many market participants hope to see a rebound - particularly one that will help justify the Feds decision last week to continue tapering its asset purchases.
An Active Management Turning Point?
Active managers faced a difficult road in recent years, leading to many questions about the efficacy of active versus passive investment management. There are signs that the tide is once again changing in favor of active managers and the road ahead could offer happier times.
Commodities Remain a Source of Frustration
The environment following the global financial crisis has been a challenging one for asset allocators, as long held relationships shifted and traditional idioms were turned on their head. As we detailed last week in "The Diversification Obituary," investors have seen little work in their portfolios other than US stocks, while supposed diversifiers have offered little more than muted beta and unusually high correlations.
The Diversification Obituary
According to some major media outlets, 2013 was the year diversification died. With the S&P 500 racing to a more than 30% gain (the largest since the late 90s), it seemed as though no other asset class truly mattered last year. While it is true domestic equities had a banner year, one-asset class portfolios will never be robust, and there is reason to believe 2013 is a prime example of why diversification is incredibly important.
Is 2014 the Year That Alternatives Matter Again?
In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, investors piled into alternative investments en masse to help insulate their portfolios from another dramatic market decline. For those who had not yet bought into the idea of improving portfolio risk-adjusted returns, the 50% drawdown in the S&P 500 provided all the convincing needed.
Will 2014 Bring an End to Central Bank Intervention?
Nearing the final two weeks of the year, it is customary to look forward to the trends and events that will shape the coming year. A theme that may come to the fore in 2014 revolves around central bankers, specifically the diverging fates in various economies of the world.
Gauging Tapering Post November Jobs Report
With another month down in 2013, last week came time to dissect the latest report on employment. If the market reaction was indicative, the highly anticipated November labor report did not disappoint, sending stocks up more than 1% on Friday.
Fixed Income Markets Slog Forward
The past five years have seen a dramatic influx of investor capital into corporate credit markets. As investors jumped into the market, there is growing concern that credit markets are nearing stretched valuations. Those concerns are likely premature, particularly with central bank intervention in place.
Where Will the Holiday Shopping Season Lead Us This Year?
The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season kicks off in a few short days. Economic uncertainty abounds, raising fears that consumers will pull back from spending, but some positive developments suggest consumers will be just fine.
Currency Markets Show Signs of Reversal
A mixture of surprising economic data and changing central bank policy led to sharp moves in currency markets last week. This came after several gyrations in FX markets earlier this year. Looking forward, volatility is likely to remain, but many signs point towards a strengthening U.S. dollar.
Ex-US Property Bubble Peaking?
For several years now, a common storyline on China was the immense overcapacity in the countrys housing market. A mixture of easy credit policies and officials explicit economic growth plans based on capital investment yielded construction on a massive scale across the countryside. So-called ghost towns emerged as the pace of building and the migration of rural citizens into these cities fell out of sync.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Following an extended delay, investors were disappointed (sort of) to learn that the September payroll report was another dud. The headline figure was below expectations, but investors were largely comforted by knowing this likely extended QE3 further into the future.
Earnings Season Hides in the Government Shadow
Lost in all the discussion about Washington is the fact earnings season is in full swing.It is shaping up to be another interesting reporting season, on account of volatility in the markets and economy.So far, companies are beating expectations, but the broader trend is lower.
US Default: How Bad Would It Be?
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has publicly declared October 17 this Thursday as the date when the US government would no longer be able to pay its bills, should Congress not reach a budget resolution.A once unthinkable outcome is becoming all too close to reality due to brinksmanship in Washington.For the second time in two years, investors have had to contemplate just how such a situation would shake out for financial markets.
Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows
With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.
Has the Fed Lost Its Credibility?
Any economics student will tell you central banks must achieve three things to effectively implement monetary policy: (1) independence; (2) credibility; and (3) transparency.For most of the Feds history, the first two characteristics were arguably well attained.However, the group was never well known for clarity into its thinking.
Consumers Face An Economy at a Crossroads
As the Federal Reserve prepares to debate the merits of tapering its asset purchase program this week, a key area of the economy that will be closely analyzed by Bernanke and Co. is the health of the American consumer. There are tenuous signs that consumers are spending more, but attitudes towards the economic recovery are hardly encouraging. Consumers will find it difficult to stay the key cog of economic growth in the U.S., but at the very least, their participation in the recovery is imperative, and leaves much to be desired.
Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead
Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.
Fixed Income - Where to Now?
Since the end of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), investors moved aggressively into fixed income asset classes. They were quickly rewarded in the years following the crisis with a combination of falling interest rates and tighter credit spreads, which led to positive absolute returns. The easy money in fixed income is gone, however, and now is the time for careful asset class selection.
Will Rate Rise Derail Housing Recovery?
As the Federal Reserve grapples with when and how to unwind quantitative easing, interest rates climbed more than a point since the end of 2012. This caused mortgage rates to increase to their highest levels in two years last week, with the average conforming 30-year loan jumping to 4.58% from 4.40% the week prior. Rising financing costs is presenting a headwind for one of the biggest bright spots in the US economy over the past 12 months.
Change is Coming
The summer months brought a period of calm to global markets and economies. Nearing the move to autumn, it is time to look ahead and see what resides on the horizon. Investors could be due for a renewed bout of volatility based on any number of events set to happen before year-end.
China Struggles to Fight the Trend
Prior to the global financial crisis, decoupling was the word du jour. In the years since the crisis began, however, decoupling has vanished from the everyday lexicon. In recent weeks, the financial media noticed a new form of decoupling, one that shows improving growth prospects in the developed world but slower growth in developing economies. Rightly or otherwise, much of that slowdown is pinned on China and recent data continues to suggest a slower pace of growth than investors became accustomed to in prior decades.
Low Quality Jobs Recovery Continues in July
In a busy week of economic data, investors ended the week on a mixed note.The government jobs report revealed a labor market experiencing steady if not unspectacular growth, as nonfarm payrolls came in below consensus estimates while the unemployment rate surprised to the upside.
Emerging Markets: Undervalued or Value Trap?
In the first quarter, we explored the divergence of emerging market equities from the US. We noted that a combination of factors likely drove the 12% performance differential, including investor risk appetites, inflationary pressures in developing markets, and reduced commodity price expectations.
Hedge Funds Can Advertise...But Should They?
In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The legislation eased a number of regulatory burdens on small businesses and private industry in a bid to boost job growth. The bill made additional headlines for lifting an 80-year ban on solicitation for private placements, the restriction that prevented hedge funds from advertising their wares to the general public.
Investors Gear Up for Earnings Post-Taper
Following a few weeks of FOMC-induced turmoil, investors are looking forward to getting back to the fundamentals.Second quarter earnings season are set to kick off July 8 with Alcoa, in what will mark an important reporting period for financial markets.Given the now much telegraphed intentions of the Fed, investors are scrutinizing whether the US economy and corporate sector is ready to stand on its own feet.
Is Fixed Income the New Equity?
After several decades of positive returns, fixed income investors are being treated to a rude awakening in the last six weeks. Recent comments from Federal Reserve officials suggest a sooner than anticipated exit from quantitative easing, raising the prospect of higher interest rates. Throughout the universe of fixed income assets, investors are questioning the future return potential, leading many to wonder, what now?
Unconstrained Bond Funds Fail to Deliver
There have been an incessant number of articles in the past year addressing a Great Rotation by investors the seismic shift in asset allocation predicted to result from a transition to a rising rate environment. Individual investors spoiled by a 30-year secular decline in interest rates, it is thought, will run to new alternatives in the face of this structural headwind for a significant chunk of their portfolios.
Risk Parity - New Thinking or New Packaging?
Ever since Harry Markowitz brought forth the notion of mean-variance optimization in 1952, academics and practitioners alike have sought ways to build more robust asset allocation methodologies. Recently, the most talked about approach in the institutional world is risk parity, which seeks to focus on risk as its primary input. Risk parity is intuitively appealing, but suffers many pitfalls that investors need to consider.
Results 1–50 of 81 found.