24 Apr 2020

Chance of Recession: 100 Percent

Last year, the researchers at Bloomberg developed an index that assigned the probability of a recession to the US economy (and others around the world) based on a variety of economic data. I find the index interesting because, unlike a lot of other signals that attempt to do the same thing, this one seems to predict the recession before the recession actually hits. That’s the good news.  The bad news,… Read More

22 Apr 2020

Dodging Commodities

One of the best decisions that our Investment Committee made was back in 2008 when we decided not to add commodities to the portfolio. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a lot of pressure back then to add it because stocks were down and commodities were doing well. If you look at the 12-month period ending on June 30, 2008 just before the worst part of the storm,… Read More

21 Apr 2020

Oil Gets Weird

When US Treasury bills first traded with negative yields in 2008, I took a screen shot, printed it and put it in a folder of interesting stuff that I look back at every few years.  I never dreamed that interest rates would be negative all the way out to 10-years in Europe. Well, it turns out that it’s not just interest rates that can trade completely upside down – yesterday… Read More

20 Apr 2020

Unemployment Today

One of the most jarring aspects of the coronavirus epidemic is the speed and magnitude of job losses.  We now have four weeks’ worth of data, and a shocking 22 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. For reference, the previous record for initial jobless claims over a four- week period was 2,697,00 during the 1982 recession.  During the 2008 financial crisis, the record was 2,637,000, just shy of the… Read More

16 Apr 2020

Portfolio Insights

We are pleased to provide a digital copy of Portfolio Insights, our quarterly newsletter. Table of Contents: Stock Market Summary Bond Market Review CARES Act Summary The Big Picture Click here to read the issue: Q1 2020 Portfolio Insights

15 Apr 2020

Junk Bonds in Today’s Market

Yesterday, I discussed corporate bonds, and how their yield tells us something about investor risk appetite.  You can read the article here. The same thing applies to non-investment grade bonds, which are also called ‘high yield,’ or less pleasantly, ‘junk bonds.’ The first chart below is exactly like the first chart in yesterday’s article, but also includes the yield on junk bonds (in yellow) in addition to Treasury bonds (in blue)… Read More

14 Apr 2020

Corporate Bonds in Today’s Market

One of the areas of the market that we’re paying close attention to right now is corporate bonds.  To raise money, companies borrow money in the form of bonds or issue stock by selling ownership in the form of equity. Corporate bonds are safer than stocks in the aggregate because if a company fails, the bond holders get their money back before the equity holders.  While corporate bonds may be… Read More

13 Apr 2020

Coronavirus & Earnings Season

Earnings season kicks off this week, and although we’ve seen a few economic data releases, earnings announcements will offer a lot of information about how the coronavirus is impacting companies. Right now, according to FactSet, earnings are expected to be lower by 10 percent compared to the first quarter last year.  If that’s the case, it will be the largest year-over-year decline since the third quarter of 2009, when the… Read More

6 Apr 2020

Markets Stabilizing, but Still Turbulent

There is no question that we haven’t even started to see the economic impact of the coronavirus, since all of the data that we get is in arrears. For example, last week we got two important pieces of data about unemployment that told different stories.  The good news is that the unemployment rate in march was 4.4 percent, which is an increase from the previous month, but not bad. However,… Read More

30 Mar 2020

A Breath of Fresh Air

Stocks rallied in response to the fiscal and monetary policy response from the government. On the monetary side, the Federal Reserve announced that they would provide ‘unlimited’ quantitative easing (QE), and announced new facilities to support credit markets. The Fed had recently committed to buying $500 billion in Treasury bonds and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities, and said that it would continue in the amounts needed to support smooth market… Read More