September 2, 2016
Productivity is the change in output per hour worked and serves as a key indicator of real economic growth. Not surprisingly, it is one of the critical macroeconomic variables analyzed by the Fed when deciding whether or not to raise interest rates. Lower levels of productivity can result from economic policy and shocks, changing demographics, and slower gains from technological innovations.
August 25, 2016
As the Federal Reserve maintains interest rates at all time lows, corporate balance sheets continue to benefit from this accommodative environment, as the low rate environment combined with a bull market has allowed corporations to add leverage to their balance sheets at an alarming rate. With borrowing costs so low, corporations have used this debt to finance stock buybacks, dividend growth, and M&A deals.
August 17, 2016
So far this year several macroeconomic issues have threatened to negatively impact financial markets. Yet U.S. equities have shrugged off all of these headlines and outperformed most peoples’ expectations. This week’s Chart of the Week takes a closer look at this strong return for the S&P 500 through July. Year-to-date, all of the positive performance has come from valuation appreciation. As a result, the trailing 12-month P/E ratio is now over 20, which is near its highest level over the last ten years. EPS, on the other hand, has actually fallen during the year, which is in stark contrast to the previous ten years when EPS growth was the main driver of price return. This phenomenon can be observed across the cap spectrum and in both value and growth indices.
August 12, 2016
This week’s Chart of the Week examines the pattern of monthly declines for the S&P 500 which are 5% or greater. Data going back to 1945 shows the months of August and September to have historically seen the greatest frequency of equity market declines of this magnitude. In fact, nearly one third of all monthly declines that are 5% or greater occurred during August and September. While historical occurrences such as this do not represent an absolute for equity markets, investors are entering a period that has historically produced below average returns.
August 4, 2016
One of the best performing and consistently stable asset classes over the past several years has been real estate. Based on the NCREIF-ODCE Index real estate has returned an annualized 12.7% over the last five years.
July 27, 2016
This week’s chart examines the change in yield for global sovereign debt. While we have been in a low interest rate environment since 2008, over the last three years, we have seen negative yielding bonds move from 0% of the developed bond universe to 38%. A staggering number indeed, this has been the by-product of anemic global growth and aggressive monetary policies in Europe and Japan.
July 22, 2016
While the Brexit won’t actually take place until at least sometime next year, many investors and economists are concerned about the ramifications this will have on the global economy. The Federal Reserve is no exception. Prior to the vote, the Fed warned about the effects the Brexit might have, and since then has indicated it would hold off raising interest rates due to these risks. M
July 15, 2016
Most investors likely understand what is known as “fundamental” investment analysis: analysts assess a company’s health based on revenue, earnings, cash flow, and other financial and economic indicators. An alternative method of identifying attractive investments is “quantitative” investment analysis, and this approach has soared in popularity over the past few decades. Quantitative analysis features complex mathematical models which incorporate statistical and economic variables including valuation ratios, risk measurements, and trading behaviors of a stock, though the possibilities for variables are nearly endless. The advent of social media has even made it possible to include behavioral variables that adjust for investor sentiment.
July 8, 2016
The United Kingdom’s (UK) vote to leave the European Union on June 23 was an unprecedented event that impacted markets across around the world. While this exit won’t actually take place for another two years, equities sold off in a knee-jerk fashion as investors feared the ramifications on the global economy. Due to the heavy exposure to Europe, non-U.S. developed markets suffered the most, losing nearly 10% before rebounding.
June 23, 2016
Today – Thursday, June 23rd – is the long awaited date of the “Brexit” vote in which the United Kingdom will choose to with draw from or remain in the European Union. In the weeks leading up to today’s referendum, many polls indicated a very slim margin between the “remain” and “leave” votes, thus creating another layer of uncertainty within the financial markets.