Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

The Trouble With Surveys

By, 08/26/2014

What do German business execs, US economists and US small business owners have in common? Like, beyond the fact that they’re all getting top-billing in the financial press because it’s a slow news day? Apparently, they all have the blues. German bigwigs believe their economy is “losing steam.” Fewer economists think US economic policy is on the “right track,” and more think it needs big “structural changes.” Two thirds of small business owners are pessimistic about future financing. But before you assume this all means the world economy is teetering, a caveat: These gloomy takeaways come from surveys. Not facts. Surveys aren’t useless, but they also don’t tell you what will happen, and we’d suggest investors take them with a big grain of salt.

To see why, let’s look at the three surveys making news today—starting with the economists, who appear about as dismal as their field’s colloquial name would imply.[i] According to the National Association for Business Economics’ (NABE) latest poll, only 53% believe “US monetary policy is on the right track,” which is more than half (yay?), but also fewer than the 57% who gave the thumbs up six months ago. Thirty-six percent say the government should use “structural policies” to address the “rise in long-term deficit-to-GDP ratio,” compared with 20% in February.[ii] In short, it would seem more of the “experts” think the US is moving in the wrong direction.

Problem is, this survey doesn’t account for the elephant in the room: economists’ biases. Many economists aren’t any more objective than other pundits. Those who believe in demand-side economics—who believe policies that boost consumer demand are the best way to drive growth—might be feeling sour simply because there is less quantitative easing (QE). Even though numerous economic indicators show the end of QE isn’t bad, and the yield curve has steepened since Ben Bernanke first hinted at “tapering” Fed bond buying in May 2013. If your bias is pro-demand-side, then you’re biased to hate the taper. On the flipside, adherents of supply-side economics—the school of thought believing if folks can create and produce freely, demand (and growth) will fall into place—are probably apt to be among the 39% saying policy is “too stimulative,” because they’d prefer the feds just get out of the way and let the private sector do its thing.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

QE Noise

By, 08/25/2014
Ratings93.888889

Quantitative easing (QE) is winding down, but QE chatter isn’t. And there is no shortage of conflicting views, which is where we come in—to help investors see past the noise.

As a refresher: QE is the Fed buying long-term assets from banks, ostensibly trying to lower interest rates, thereby spurring demand for loans—in theory, stimulating the economy with added capital. When the Fed buys a bond, it credits the account of one of the 19 primary dealer banks with electronic credits—reserves—it hoped would underpin new lending. The first round of bond buying was announced in November 2008 and began in early 2009. A second round was announced in late 2010, after inflation trended lower. This was followed in 2012 by QE3 and what we affectionately call QE-infinity, which basically said the Fed would buy bonds at an $85 billion monthly pace until they sorta felt like not buying at that pace any longer, a point Ben Bernanke first alluded to in May 2013. The official “taper,” or slowing of bond buying, was announced in December 2013, and there have been five rounds since. The bond buying is on course to cease in October, which the Fed acknowledged recently.[i]   

The effect of QE, in our view, has been less than favorable. As Exhibit 1 shows, while the monetary base (M0) went gangbusters, the amount of money in circulation (M2) was tepid—rising M0 alone doesn’t boost economic activity if the money sits on the sidelines. As Exhibit 2 shows, while excess reserves have jumped, lending hasn’t.

Commentary

Elisabeth Dellinger

Searching for Meaning in Bouncy Bonds

By, 08/25/2014
Ratings232.782609

Here are some sentences that don’t make sense: “German two-year debt yields held close to 15-month lows just below zero on Wednesday, with record low money market rates and expectations of easier ECB monetary policy underpinning demand at an auction of similarly dated bonds.” “Eurozone government borrowing costs sank to historic lows on Thursday as investors increased bets that the European Central Bank would take aggressive action to avert a deflationary slump, following early data indicating that the region’s recovery slowed in August.” “Portuguese and Spanish government bonds rose, with two-year notes leading euro-area rates to new lows amid speculation stubbornly low inflation will prompt the European Central Bank to extend stimulus measures.” Here is why these sentences don’t make sense: If you expect the ECB to increase inflation, you probably don’t want to own low-yielding bonds. Or bonds paying no interest during their two-year lifespan.[i] In reality, bond buyers could be speculating the ECB won’t do anything! But you won’t get that theory from the media’s misperceived explanations for short-term market movement—usually something you can’t tie to any one, two or three things. It’s a timeless lesson but particularly apt these days, with the punditry desperately searching for meaning in the recent slide in US Treasury yields.

It is human nature to want to know why markets move the way they do. It is also human nature to want an answer more specific than “because,” even though “because” is right the vast majority of the time.[ii] To most folks, “because” feels like a cop out. I promise you it isn’t.

This is why: Billions of shares change hands each day, via several million unique transactions. That means millions of people (and computers) trading for millions of reasons.[iii] Fund managers buying and selling to accommodate additions and redemptions. High-frequency traders buying because a price moved a certain way or because a certain economic data point moved up or down. Retirees selling a few shares just to fund their living expenses. Workers buying to put new 401(k) contributions to work. People panicking. People buying because they think panic is overblown. Taking stop losses. Buying on the dips. Cashing in so you can buy a house. Selling your house and reinvesting the proceeds. I could come up with loads more, but you get the drift.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Reality Check, Into Perspective

The Joy of All-Time Highs

By, 08/22/2014
Ratings794.056962

Acrophobia abounds. Rejoice in it.

The S&P 500 hit its 112th and 113th new all-time closing high of this bull market Wednesday and Thursday.[i] Cue the acrophobia[ii] and claims you’d be certifiable to buy stocks at these supposedly lofty levels. But there is nothing about an all-time high that says stocks can’t get much, much loftier before a bear market begins. And perversely, that new all-time highs are greeted mostly by concerns—not celebration—is a sign these highs aren’t the bull market’s peak.

In a development that strikes us as pretty much the norm for the preceding 111, there was no shortage of fearful warnings that this all-time high—THIS!—signals the end is nigh. They point to Ukraine. Gaza. Iraq. The Fed and a supposedly more hawkish tone in meeting minutes released Wednesday—the Fed could hike rates sooner than the unknowable date pundits speculated was likely! Or certain investor sentiment surveys that allude to bullishness bubbling up, a contrarian warning sign, in their view. It’s that eurozone’s troubles are supposedly back, in the form of a deflationary depression. The US is still not growing at a lightning fast pace. Or it’s Japan’s falling GDP. Oddly, one of the most-read articles on a major financial news website rehashed fears from basically 2009, that the withdrawal of stimulus (monetary and/or fiscal) would yank the one supporting pillar from underneath the bull. Others presume the trouble is a distorted measure of valuations (the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, or CAPE) has reached a level it last saw in July 2004, smack in the middle of the last bull market.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
MarketMinder Minute

MarketMinder Minute - Do Retirees Need to be Conservative?

By, 08/21/2014
Ratings263.673077

MarketMinder's Editorial Staff debunks the common investor myth that retirees must be conservative.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Reality Check

Statista: The Countries Hit Hardest By Russia’s Trade Ban

By, 08/21/2014
Ratings363.527778

In our daily perusal of websites we came across this bar graph from Statista and thought we’d share. The point here is relatively simple: Russia’s feeble ban on certain food imports totals $6.8 billion. It won’t be pretty for Norwegian fisheries, but the macroeconomic or stock market fallout of such a tiny ban is unlikely to amount to much more than a blip.

Source: http://www.statista.com/chart/2572/sanctioned-food-exports-to-russia/

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Investor Sentiment

Oddly Calculated, Bizarrely Inflation-Adjusted Thing Says Stocks Are Overvalued

By, 08/21/2014
Ratings553.781818

Does today's high cyclically adjusted P/E ratio mean time is running out for this bull market? Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

If you as much as skim financial news headlines these days, you’ve likely read the following: Stocks are overpriced. With many indexes bouncing back near new all-time highs (again!), the media has returned to bang the drum that investors are too rosy, setting up a fall. As evidence, many point to the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) being above its historical average as a sign a downturn looms. They aren’t alone. One of the CAPE’s inventors[i]—Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller—recently shared a similar sentiment in a widely read New York Times op-ed. In our view, though, there is ample evidence CAPE isn’t any more predictive today than it has been historically, and the chatter around it is a better sign investors aren’t euphoric than one they are.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

Still Off Target

By, 08/20/2014
Ratings104.35

Even the arrows that hit the blue circles are closer to the target than target-dated funds. Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Recently, some of the biggest target-date fund (TDF) providers revealed they were changing their funds’ asset allocation, increasing both their stake in equities and staying in stocks for a longer time period. But before you high-five them for finally acknowledging the time value of money, we have to break some bad news: The move has nothing to do with raising compound growth potential to position folks better for retirement. Nope, it is simply because the firms’ “research” says folks’ risk tolerance has improved, justifying a bump in equity allocation. Which is sort of a weird, misperceived reason for a product designed to be disciplined to make a change. It also underscores why, in our view, folks investing for retirement can do better: If a product alters its strategy based on a common investor behavioral mistake[i], it probably isn’t a great fit for your long-term goals.  

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Into Perspective

Banks Fail Vague Test, Blame Vagary

By, 08/19/2014
Ratings284.392857

No word on whether banks’ living wills use such fancy script. Photo by Getty Images.

Here is a rough approximation of how the dialogue between banks and regulators has gone since the Fed and FDIC gave 11 big banks an F on their living wills: “You’re vague.” “No, you’re vague.” “Well you’re not transparent!.” “No you’re not transparent!” “Yah, well, you’re the vaguest and we make the rules—no lender of last resort for you! So there!” At least, that’s how we interpret the latest rumblings from the ever-reliable unnamed sources “familiar with the process,” who said banks shouldn’t include the Fed’s discount window in their list of things they can use to make their potential failure potentially more orderly during a potential crisis in the potential future. Now, if the Fed really does close the discount window during the next crisis, it could be really bad, and we’ll get to that shortly. But for now, the news simply underscores what an opaque exercise these living wills are—and why investors shouldn’t put much stock in them.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
GDP, Across the Atlantic, Into Perspective

The Eurozone’s Not-So-Flashy ‘Flash’ GDP

By, 08/18/2014
Ratings204.125

This is a big euro symbol.[i] Photo by Getty Images/Bloomberg.

Thursday, the eurozone released its preliminary or “flash” Q2 GDP reading, with the aggregate data showing no contraction in the quarter. But the aggregate also showed no growth, and this was the media’s central focus. These ”flash” releases aren’t exactly chock full of details one might want to perform a meaningful analysis of what drove the slowdown, but they give some high level numbers. And many in the punditry don’t need much more than that to jump to conclusions. In this case, they jumped to fear for Q3 due to increased sanctions on Russia and the still-tense situation in Ukraine. Others fear renewed recession generally and the potential for a lost decade a la Japan—calling for big ECB actions to head off a protracted slump. But these data don’t show much of an impact from the Ukraine situation on the eurozone economy. And the evidence a long-term slump looms in the eurozone is flimsy. In our view, this is mostly an example of the slow eurozone recovery overall and not something new and terrible for investors to be concerned about.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Reality Check

Statista: The Countries Hit Hardest By Russia’s Trade Ban

By, 08/21/2014
Ratings363.527778

In our daily perusal of websites we came across this bar graph from Statista and thought we’d share. The point here is relatively simple: Russia’s feeble ban on certain food imports totals $6.8 billion. It won’t be pretty for Norwegian fisheries, but the macroeconomic or stock market fallout of such a tiny ban is unlikely to amount to much more than a blip.

Source: http://www.statista.com/chart/2572/sanctioned-food-exports-to-russia/

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Investor Sentiment

Oddly Calculated, Bizarrely Inflation-Adjusted Thing Says Stocks Are Overvalued

By, 08/21/2014
Ratings553.781818

Does today's high cyclically adjusted P/E ratio mean time is running out for this bull market? Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

If you as much as skim financial news headlines these days, you’ve likely read the following: Stocks are overpriced. With many indexes bouncing back near new all-time highs (again!), the media has returned to bang the drum that investors are too rosy, setting up a fall. As evidence, many point to the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) being above its historical average as a sign a downturn looms. They aren’t alone. One of the CAPE’s inventors[i]—Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller—recently shared a similar sentiment in a widely read New York Times op-ed. In our view, though, there is ample evidence CAPE isn’t any more predictive today than it has been historically, and the chatter around it is a better sign investors aren’t euphoric than one they are.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

Still Off Target

By, 08/20/2014
Ratings104.35

Even the arrows that hit the blue circles are closer to the target than target-dated funds. Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Recently, some of the biggest target-date fund (TDF) providers revealed they were changing their funds’ asset allocation, increasing both their stake in equities and staying in stocks for a longer time period. But before you high-five them for finally acknowledging the time value of money, we have to break some bad news: The move has nothing to do with raising compound growth potential to position folks better for retirement. Nope, it is simply because the firms’ “research” says folks’ risk tolerance has improved, justifying a bump in equity allocation. Which is sort of a weird, misperceived reason for a product designed to be disciplined to make a change. It also underscores why, in our view, folks investing for retirement can do better: If a product alters its strategy based on a common investor behavioral mistake[i], it probably isn’t a great fit for your long-term goals.  

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
Into Perspective

Banks Fail Vague Test, Blame Vagary

By, 08/19/2014
Ratings284.392857

No word on whether banks’ living wills use such fancy script. Photo by Getty Images.

Here is a rough approximation of how the dialogue between banks and regulators has gone since the Fed and FDIC gave 11 big banks an F on their living wills: “You’re vague.” “No, you’re vague.” “Well you’re not transparent!.” “No you’re not transparent!” “Yah, well, you’re the vaguest and we make the rules—no lender of last resort for you! So there!” At least, that’s how we interpret the latest rumblings from the ever-reliable unnamed sources “familiar with the process,” who said banks shouldn’t include the Fed’s discount window in their list of things they can use to make their potential failure potentially more orderly during a potential crisis in the potential future. Now, if the Fed really does close the discount window during the next crisis, it could be really bad, and we’ll get to that shortly. But for now, the news simply underscores what an opaque exercise these living wills are—and why investors shouldn’t put much stock in them.

Commentary

Fisher Investments Editorial Staff
GDP, Across the Atlantic, Into Perspective

The Eurozone’s Not-So-Flashy ‘Flash’ GDP

By, 08/18/2014
Ratings204.125

This is a big euro symbol.[i] Photo by Getty Images/Bloomberg.

Thursday, the eurozone released its preliminary or “flash” Q2 GDP reading, with the aggregate data showing no contraction in the quarter. But the aggregate also showed no growth, and this was the media’s central focus. These ”flash” releases aren’t exactly chock full of details one might want to perform a meaningful analysis of what drove the slowdown, but they give some high level numbers. And many in the punditry don’t need much more than that to jump to conclusions. In this case, they jumped to fear for Q3 due to increased sanctions on Russia and the still-tense situation in Ukraine. Others fear renewed recession generally and the potential for a lost decade a la Japan—calling for big ECB actions to head off a protracted slump. But these data don’t show much of an impact from the Ukraine situation on the eurozone economy. And the evidence a long-term slump looms in the eurozone is flimsy. In our view, this is mostly an example of the slow eurozone recovery overall and not something new and terrible for investors to be concerned about.

Commentary

Elisabeth Dellinger
Into Perspective, Taxes, Reality Check

Can Korea Tax Its Way to Business Investment?

By, 08/18/2014

Korean President Park Geun-hye is on a quest to goad big firms into spending more. Photo by Getty Images.

Here’s a popular refrain on both sides of the Atlantic: When will corporations stop hoarding cash, start investing, raise wages and make our economies grow faster? US and UK firms have nearly $3 trillion in cash and other liquid assets, and many folks are convinced that if they just started spending this mountain of idle money, we’d all be way better off. On the other side of the world, the IMF is yelling at Japanese firms to “unstash Japan’s corporate cash.” A similar chorus has rung through Korea for years, and earlier this month, officials announced plans to do something about it (uh-oh): a tax on the biggest firms’ cash balances. While they get points for realizing that if you tax something you get less of it, I can’t see how this is anything other than a big fat headwind for firms—and it’s highly unlikely they splish-splash more cash through Korea’s economy.

Research Analysis

Fisher Investments Research Staff

MLPs and Your Portfolio

By, 11/26/2013
Ratings813.882716

With interest rates on everything from savings accounts to junk bonds at or near generational lows, many income-seeking investors are looking for creative or, to some, exotic means of generating cash flow. Some are turning to a relatively little-known type of security—master limited partnerships (MLPs). MLPs may attract investors for a number of reasons: their high dividend yields and tax incentives, to name a couple. But, like all investments, MLPs have pros and cons, which are crucial to understand if you’re considering investing in them.

MLPs were created in the 1980s by a Congress hoping to generate more interest in energy infrastructure investment. The aim was to create a security with limited partnership-like tax benefits, but publicly traded—bringing more liquidity and fewer restrictions and thus, ideally, more investors. Currently, only select types of companies are allowed to form MLPs—primarily in energy transportation (e.g., oil pipelines and similar energy infrastructure).

To mitigate their tax liability, MLPs distribute 90% of their profits to their investors—or unit holders—through periodic income distributions, much like dividend payments. And, because there is no initial loss of capital to taxes, MLPs can offer relatively high yields, usually around 6-7%. Unit holders receive a tax benefit, too: Much of the dividend payment is treated as a return of capital—how much is determined by the distributable cash flow (DCF) from the MLP’s underlying venture (e.g., the oil pipeline).

Research Analysis

Elisabeth Dellinger
Reality Check

Inside Indian Taper Terror

By, 11/08/2013
Ratings174.294117

When the Fed kept quantitative easing (QE) in place last week, US investors weren’t the only ones (wrongly) breathing a sigh of relief. Taper terror is fully global! In Emerging Markets (EM), many believe QE tapering will cause foreign capital to retreat. Some EM currencies took it on the chin as taper talk swirled over the summer, and many believe this is evidence of their vulnerability—with India the prime example as its rupee fell over 20% against the dollar at one point. Yet while taper jitters perhaps contributed to the volatility, evidence suggests India’s troubles are tied more to long-running structural issues and seemingly erratic monetary policy—and suggests EM taper fears are as false as their US counterparts.

The claim QE is propping up asset prices implies there is some sort of overinflated disconnect between Emerging Markets assets and fundamentals—a mini-bubble. Yet this is far removed from reality—not what you’d expect if QE were a significant positive driver. Additionally, the thesis assumes money from rounds two, three and infinity of QE has flooded into the developing world—and flows more with each round of monthly Fed bond purchases. As Exhibit 1 shows, however, foreign EM equity inflows were strongest in 2009 as investors reversed their 2008 panic-driven retreat. Flows eased off during 2010 and have been rather weak—and often negative—since 2011.

Exhibit 1: Emerging Markets Foreign Equity Inflows

Research Analysis

Brad Pyles

Why This Bull Market Has Room to Run

By, 10/31/2013
Ratings874.109195

With investors expecting the Fed to end quantitative easing soon, the yield spread is widening—fuel for stocks! Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Since 1932, the average S&P 500 bull market has lasted roughly four and a half years. With the present bull market a hair older than the average—and with domestic and global indexes setting new highs—some fret this bull market is long in the tooth. However, while bull markets die of many things, age and gravity aren’t among them. History argues the fundamentals underpinning this bull market are powerful enough to lift stocks higher from here, with economic growth likely to continue—and potentially even accelerate moving forward as bank lending increases.

Research Analysis

Christo Barker
US Economy

Let’s Call It FARRP

By, 10/10/2013
Ratings93.777778

While the rest of the country fretted over taper terror, government shutdown and debt ceiling limits, the Federal Reserve tested its Fixed Rate Full-Allotment Reverse-Repo Facility (a mouthful—let’s call it FARRP) for the first time September 24. FARRP allows banks and non-banks, like money market funds and asset managers, to access Fed-held assets—i.e., the long-term securities bought under the Fed’s quantitative easing—via securities dealers’ tri-party repo (and reverse-repo) market for short-term funding. (More on repos to follow.) FARRP aims to address what many feel is a collateral shortage in the non-bank financial system caused by too much QE bond buying concentrating eligible collateral on the Fed’s balance sheet, where it doesn’t circulate freely. As a result, many private sector repo rates turned negative. But, should FARRP be fully implemented, the facility could actually hinder some assets (in this case, high-quality, long-term collateral like bonds) from circulating through the financial system—much like quantitative easing (QE) locked up excess bank reserves. A more effective means of freeing collateral in the repo market is tapering the Fed’s QE.

Repurchase agreements, or repos, are used to generate short-term liquidity to fund other banking or investment activity—a means to move liquidity (cash) from one institution to another. In a repo, one party sells an asset—usually long-term debt—agreeing to repurchase it at a different price later on. A reverse repo is, well, the opposite: One party buys an asset from another, agreeing to sell it back at a different price later. In both cases, the asset acts as collateral for what is effectively the buyer’s loan to the seller, and the repo rate is the difference between the initial and future sales prices, usually expressed as a per annum interest rate. The exchange only lasts a short while—FARRP’s reverse repos are overnight affairs to ensure markets are sufficiently funded. In the test last Tuesday, the private sector tapped the facility for $11.81 billion of collateral—a small, but not insignificant, amount.

FARRP’s first round is scheduled to end January 29, and during that time, non-bank institutions can invest between $500 million and $1 billion each at FARRP’s fixed overnight reverse-repo rates ranging from one to five basis points. A first for repo markets: Normally, repo and reverse-repo rates are free-floating, determined by market forces. Another of FARRP’s differentiating factors is private-sector need will facilitate reverse-repo bids instead of the Fed. Ideally, FARRP’s structure will encourage unproductive collateral to be released back into the system when it’s most needed—and new sources of collateral demand may help ensure this. Swaps, for example, are shifting to collateral-backed exchanges due to Dodd-Frank regulation—meaning more collateral will be needed to back the same amount of trading activity. Collateral requirements for loans will likely also rise.

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What We're Reading

By , The Wall Street Journal, 08/26/2014

MarketMinder's View: Why? “Because borrowing costs for European banks are cheaper now than they were immediately following the eurozone crisis, they can lend more. And in some cases, the premium offered by emerging-market Asian borrowers can be higher than in Europe”—or, more simply, it’s more profitable. Now, this is happening already, with the ECB’s stress tests and asset quality review ongoing—the high quality of Emerging Asia’s biggest companies makes the reward worth the risk. If the ECB starts quantitative easing (QE) and flattens eurozone yield curves further, it wouldn’t surprise us if this trend continued as lending outside Europe became even more profitable on a relative basis. Count this as one of several reasons we don’t think QE would do much for the eurozone economy.

By , Slate, 08/26/2014

MarketMinder's View: We don’t agree with every nuance of this article, but the general thrust—that the broad investing public has a bit of an obsession with all things central bank—is sound. Our main criticism is it just doesn’t go far enough: Faith in the Fed as the savior in 2008 is utterly misplaced and backwards; faith in QE, in our view, is wrong on theory and effect. They’re now supposed to employ macroprudential regulation to deflate bubbles, but there is no evidence they’ve ever identified one. The Fed isn’t all bad, mind you, and we’re not calling for a gold standard or something. But the degree of blind faith folks place in this institution vastly exceeds what’s warranted by history.

By , Slate, 08/26/2014

MarketMinder's View: Nothing magical about the S&P 500 surpassing 2,000. We’ve seen handfuls of round-number milestones during this bull market—the S&P reaching 1,600 in May 2013, 1,700 in August 2013, 1,800 in November 2013 and 1,900 in May 2014—and we could see many more. We don’t really know what it means to call a round number an important “psychological marker,” which sounds mostly like searching for meaning in all-time highs. Like this article using the 2,000 milestone as an opportunity to point to valuations—claiming stocks are “too expensive” and that they can’t keep rising forever. Their evidence? The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, of course! Which wasn’t designed to forecast cyclical direction and doesn’t do it well, either.

By , The Wall Street Journal, 08/26/2014

MarketMinder's View: So some are predicting the opaque back-and-forth over Dodd-Frank’s living will requirement will prompt banks to shed operations left and right, and there is some evidence this is already happening. Whether it escalates is all very speculative, but we have to wonder: One big reason banks have multiple business lines is to diversify their revenue sources—that way their eggs aren’t all in one basket. If they become less diverse in order to avoid the Fed/FDIC’s wrath when the next round of living wills are judged next year, doesn’t that kind of make the financial system less safe, not more? Especially since the business units they’re selling are—quite logically—the most profitable ones? We aren’t saying this takes down the banking system or anything, but it seems like a bizarre approach.

Global Market Update

Market Wrap-Up, Monday Aug 25 2014

Below is a market summary (as of market close Monday, 08/25/2014):

  • Global Equities: MSCI World (+0.5%)
  • US Equities: S&P 500 (+0.5%)
  • UK Equities: MSCI UK (+0.1%)
  • Best Country: Italy (+2.1%)
  • Worst Country: Australia (-0.2%)
  • Best Sector: Energy (+0.8%)
  • Worst Sector: Information Technology (+0.2%)
  • Bond Yields: 10-year US Treasurys fell .02 to 2.39%

Editors' Note: Tracking Stock and Bond Indexes

 

Source: Factset. Unless otherwise specified, all country returns are based on the MSCI index in US dollars for the country or region and include net dividends. Sector returns are the MSCI World constituent sectors in USD including net dividends.