Saturday, May 30, 2020

Negative Interest Rates And The Impact On Investor Investment Choices

One phenomenon investors face today is the fact central banks around the world have moved to a negative interest rate posture. Earlier this month Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, stated the U.S. Federal Reserve is not considering moving the Fed Funds Rate to a negative level though. Yet, rates in the U.S. are near zero with the Fed Funds target rate at .25% or 25 basis points. A one month U.S. Treasury Bill yields just under 13 basis points. In other words, rates are near zero and going to a negative level is not out of the realm of possibility. One recent article notes if the Fed does push rates to a negative level it will do so in a meaningful way, maybe as low as minus 100 basis points or minus one full percentage point. What are the implications of negative rates if this were to be realized?

Friday, May 15, 2020

JOLTS: How Quickly Things Can Change

Just a few short months ago I was writing about the tight job market and the fact the number of job openings continued to exceed the number of those unemployed. This had been the case since February 2018 and was a sign of a strong economy. How quickly the tide can go out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Weak Small Business Optimism, But Expectations Of A Short-Lived Recession

Not surprisingly, small business owners are anything but optimistic about the current environment. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 5.5 points to 90.9 in April. The NFIB report notes the index has declined 13.6 points in two months. The index is now at a level below the recession in 2001 that occurred after the bursting of the technology bubble.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

A Dreadful Employment Report

Much was written about the employment report on Friday, yet the the S&P 500 Index rose 1.69% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.91% on the day. As much of the commentary notes, me included, the equity markets are forward looking. Not enough can be written about how bad this report is though. The equity market will eventually not look past this data if a V-shaped improvement is not seen in the economy and employment. Total civilian employment from the household survey fell be over 22 million individuals--a staggering decline.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Approaching Maximum Investor Bearish Sentiment Level

Not to surprising that the individual investor sentiment as reported by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) this week continues to deteriorate. As seen in the below chart, this week's bullish sentiment is reported at 23.7% down 6.9 percentage points from the prior week. The economic reports over the last few weeks have been absolutely terrible and it does not seem the reported economic data can get much worse. However, as states are now in the process of reopening their economies, better economic data may not be on the too distant horizon.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Lag In This Down Market

A favorable characteristic of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats is this basket of stocks generally holds up better in broader market pullbacks as seen in the below table. Where the entire row is highlighted, it represents a significant market pullback and the Aristocrats outperformed the S&P 500 Index by double digits. The S&P 500 Aristocrats are companies in the S&P 500 Index that have increased their dividend each year for at least 25 consecutive years. The companies are then equally weighted in the Dividend Aristocrats Index. I have written about the Aristocrats several times in the past with a more comprehensive article at this link.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Investor Cash Continues To Build

This past Friday our webinar looking at contrarian indicators included commentary on the level of cash in money market mutual funds. The below money market chart is an update from the one in the webinar and the chart shows cash levels continue to rise, now equaling $4.73 trillion. Clearly the current cash level is higher than the level reached at the peak of the financial crisis in early 2009.