A hundred years ago, I studied international relations in school (the Sykes-Picot Treaty was a hotly-debated current topic among us). For the few of us focused on the Third World (now given the more agreeable, if not optimistic, label of developing countries), the research on Brasil could be summarized in a pithy, and unfortunately, accurate phrase: “Brasil is the country of the future; and always will be.” But then China began devouring every ounce (um..kilo) of ore and agriculture Brasil could dig or grow, thus catapulting the Brazilian economy to 7th largest in the world. The future had arrived. A Read More
In our long-term assumptions, we generally assume that the total return in fixed income is pretty close to its starting yield. That’s because a bond’s total return is a function of two variables: yield and re-investment yield. As yields move up and down, bond prices move inversely, down and up, but the re-investment rate moves positively with yields. In the short-term, changes in prices have a large impact on total return, but given enough time, the re-investment yield (almost) completely offsets the price/yield function. The table below (courtesy Morgan Stanley), shows the effect of interest rates rising from 3% to Read More
A great line from a great Monty Python movie, and another crisp cover from The Economist:
On a totally non-market subject, more young adults are living with their parents, and here’s the graph to prove it (courtesy of Hugo Scott-Gall of Goldman Sachs). Top line is US, bottom line is UK. I suspect in places like Italy, the numbers are way higher. Goldman surveyed their interns about which items were priorities for them to own. A house was easily at the top of the list, but interestingly (at least to me), a car was no more important than an expensive handbag or watch. Maybe that’s a function of an urban-centered (and status-conscious) survey group, but I’d Read More
Yes, pessimism over Europe’s prospects is high, and valuations in Europe are relatively low. But both for good reasons. Below is another data point on how the markets are reflecting the divergence in economic performance and prospects between the US and Europe. Anticipated US inflation 5 years hence is around 2.4%, a little lower than at the start of the year when it was about 2.6%. But forward inflation in Europe is sinking fast, now at just 1.7%, down from 2.2% at the beginning of this year.
I’m interpreting the spike down last week and the strong rebound in the past few days as bullish. See the chart below from Friday’s close (courtesy of our friends at Merrill). We have held our positions in our model portfolios, neither panicking during the deluge nor trying to catch the bottom of this short-term move. Remember that much of what happens hour-to-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week, even year-to-year, has (or should have) little practical impact on long-term investors. Let’s make sure we have the cash to pay the bills and cover reasonable contingencies; after that, we can be largely indifferent to the Read More
Consider: Volatility spiked to its highest level in over 2 years. Global equities are in negative territory this year, led by Europe’s 10% decline. US 10-year Treasury yields fell more than 30 basis points intra-day yesterday. Consider, too: Mortgage rates are down 100 basis points over the past year Jobless claims are at their lowest levels in 15 years Housing prices nationally are up 7% in the past year Gasoline prices are off 20% this year I have no idea where the bottom is, or when we will get there. But if you believe the US economy remains reasonably robust Read More
Some historical data from Credit Suisse below: MLPs are off 14% this month, pretty bad. Subsequent performance (no guarantees) looks pretty strong though.
Like Scary Nights at Universal Studios (where my daughter went this weekend), it really is scary out there. I Walked into the office looking at a 300-point drop in the Dow and a +10% jump in 10-year Treasuries. I doubt anyone woke up this morning and decided that sub-2% yields for the next decade is actually a great investment. No, it’s a classic sign of panic. I have no idea how much further we fall, but it’s not a black hole we’re in. I don’t believe in catching falling knives (throwing metaphors around this morning), but I see the markets Read More
So, US economic growth is outpacing the rest of the developed world (and much of the non-developed, um, emerging, world), as seen in these charts (thanks to Goldman Sachs). But will we converge, and if so, will it be a positive (the world rises to the US) or negative (US drops) convergence? I don’t really know (who really does?). But the US is the most self-contained economy in the world (outside of sub-Saharan Africa), thus the woes of the world impact the US much less than any other country. Rather than worry about the US economy, it’s the EM markets Read More