Drivers of recent market volatility

Holland_F_150x150Tim Holland, CFA,
Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

 

Throughout 2018, Brinker Capital has been optimistic about both the US economy and US stocks, however, recent market weakness and volatility beg two questions:

  • Is Brinker Capital still optimistic on the US economy and US equities?
  • If so, why?

To answer both questions, we remain optimistic on the US economy and markets into 2019. We are overweight US and emerging market equities and conservatively positioned within fixed income, as we continue to see interest rates biased higher. Additionally, we remain optimistic as the fundamental data continue to point us in that direction.

More specifically,

  • The US economy should grow north of 3% in 2018 and about 2.5% in 2019.  We see very little risk of a recession in the new year.
  • US corporate profits should grow north of 20% in 2018 and mid to high single digits in 2019.  Continued growth in earnings is important for a few reasons, including the fact that we haven’t had an economic recession without an earnings recession (e.g. when US corporate profits decline year-on-year) and that as earnings move higher and the market trades down, stocks become more attractively valued.
  • None of the classic indicators of a recession, including an inverted yield curve, restrictive monetary policy, or a rolling over of leading economic indicators are present today.  In fact, one could argue that the US economy is doing exceptionally well, with unemployment below 4%, GDP growth above 3% and inflation anchored near 2%. Also, the recent dramatic drop in the price of oil will translate into lower prices at the pump for US drivers, a powerful economic tailwind when considering our economy is 70% consumer driven.
  • Pivoting back to the US equities, not only is the market attractively valued at below 14x forward earnings, 2018 should see US companies pay a record amount of dividends and buy in a record amount of their own shares. Both are important pillars of support for stocks.
  • Many measures of Investor Sentiment are at or close to all-time high levels of pessimism. This indicated that many investors have capitulated and return expectations moving forward are very low. In this environment, news that is even incrementally positive can have a substantial upside impact on markets.

So, if the fundamental data is so robust, why has the market been so volatile and biased lower? We would point to two primary concerns. First, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is pushing interest rates too high too quickly, which will ultimately lead to a slowing of corporate and consumer spending and a recession. Second, the US and China won’t be able to resolve their differences on trade, with escalating tariffs ultimately pushing the Chinese economy into a recession, which will pull down global growth and possibly cause a recession here at home.

We believe both risks are real and meaningful, however, we also continue to believe that the Fed will move quite slowly on interest rates next year and that cooler heads will prevail on trade.  In fact, the Fed has made it quite clear they will be data dependent when it comes to interest rate policy in 2019 and the US and China recently agreed not to impose any additional tariffs during a 90-day negotiating period.  We expect good news on the trade front sooner rather than later.

Market drawdowns are never pleasant, but they do happen.  And when markets sell off it is important to keep one’s focus on the fundamentals and away from the media’s bias toward fear-mongering and frightening headlines.  Today, the fundamental underpinnings of both the economy and market remain robust and as a result, we remain optimistic on both into 2019.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: The rally in risk assets continues

Chris HartHart_Podcast_338x284, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 28, 2017), Chris discusses what has been the driving force behind the rally in April.

 

Quick hits:

  • The rally in April, despite a brief pause to begin the month, has been driven by positive macroeconomic data, better S&P earnings, and the potential for corporate tax reform.
  • From an equity perspective, stocks have moved higher despite increasing geopolitical risk both domestically and abroad.
  • We remain constructive on risk assets given good enough underlying macroeconomic data but also take notice of rising geopolitical tensions and continued lofty valuations across the equity markets.
  • Looking abroad, developed markets and emerging markets equities have rebounded solidly and now lead the U.S. thus far in 2017.
  • Within fixed income, the aggregate bond index has surprisingly moved higher along with equity markets, while high yield continues to lead.
  • We are keeping a watchful eye on rising global geopolitical tensions, but also note good breadth in the domestic equity markets and stronger corporate earnings.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

shutterstock_4-28-17

 

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A few things we’re paying close attention to right now

Goins_PodcastAndrew Goins, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 13, 2017), Andrew discusses a few things we’re paying close attention to right now.

 

shutterstock_9514525Quick hits:

  • After two Fed rate hikes within 4 months, we’re seeing a bit of a reversal.  We’ve seen empirical evidence highlighting the improvement across active managers in the first quarter.
  • Over the last few months we’ve seen correlations across stocks come down significantly, and is now at the lowest level since 2001.
  • We are beginning to see signs that inflation is ticking up, and should only continue if Trump’s pro-growth policies come to fruition
  • The market is likely overdue for a near term pull-back and we are somewhere in the back half of this business cycle

For Andrew’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Three things we’ve learned in the first quarter of this year

Jeff Raupp, CFARaupp_Podcast_Graphic, Director of Investments

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 3, 2017), Jeff discusses three things we’ve learned in the first quarter of this year.

 

Here are some quick hits before you have a listen:

  • While the administration’s policies are still considered bullish for stocks, the road to implementation will be a bumpy one.
  • We remain in the second half of the business cycle.
  • A rising Fed funds rate does not mean get out of emerging markets.

shutterstock_9514525 (3)

For Jeff’s full insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Outlook moving forward

Raupp_Podcast_GraphicJeff Raupp, CFA, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded December 2, 2016), Jeff provides an outlook moving forward given the price action we’ve seen since the election. Here are some quick hits before you have a listen:

 

  • There have been some clear winners and losers in the markets since the election:
    • Winners: U.S. stocks
    • Losers: International stocks and the bond markets
  • We may move out of the muddle through economy we’ve been in over the last several years to one that looks more like a traditional second half of the business cycle

 

For Jeff’s full insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: What a difference a week makes

Hart_Podcast_338x284Chris Hart, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded November 18, 2016), Chris is back discussing the swing in the markets that has ensued as a result of the election.

Quick hits:

  • By the end of the week, stocks posted gains of more than 5%, the largest weekly advance in two years.
  • However, we note that the rally has been massively rotational in nature rather than broad based.
  • Since the election, the dispersion of returns across has been high with equities moving higher and bonds selling off, domestic outperforming international, and small cap outperforming large caps
  • Much uncertainty remains ahead as the transition of U.S. leadership unfolds along with the strong probability of Fed action next month.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Four Areas of Focus in the Last Quarter

Raupp_Podcast_GraphicJeff Raupp, CFA, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded October 21, 2016), Jeff highlights four focus areas to watch during the last quarter of 2016: the Fed, earnings, signs of recession, and the election.

  1. The Federal Reserve. Watch for a tightening of interest rates in December and dovish guidance (maintaining low interest rates) for 2017.
  2. Earnings. Watch for improvement in earnings as the pressure of low oil prices on energy companies starts to roll off.
  3. Signs of Recession. Watch for indicators that the business cycle is over. We believe we are in the second half of the cycle, and while it has been about seven years, economic growth has been more muted.
  4. Election. Watch for volatility as elections tend to cause uncertainty in the markets. However, markets tend to bounce back following elections as some of the uncertainty fades away.

For Jeff’s full insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Expectation for Positive Trend to Continue

Hart_Podcast_338x284Chris Hart, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded October 14, 2016), Chris provides a market update as we inch closer to the end of the year. Listen in as he discusses recent market performance and what we should look forward to.

Quick hits:

  • Dollar strength on the heels of a potential rate hike in December has been a headwind and weighed on stocks.
  • Despite being almost 90 months into a bull market with a 222% gain for the S&P 500, the second longest on record, the market is not showing many signs of topping out.
  • Stock valuations are elevated, but not alarmingly.
  • Our intermediate-term outlook remains positive and we don’t see many signs of recession in the near- to intermediate-term, but we do recognize that this a late-cycle bull market and risks remain.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Fun Facts on The Election & The Stock Market…and Why None of Them Matter

Crosby_2015Dr. Daniel Crosby, Executive Director, The Center for Outcomes & Founder, Nocturne Capital

With less than one month remaining until the election, the already frenzied political coverage is sure to become even more fevered in the coming days. While each presidential election is unpredictable, it seems certain that this one is destined for the history books. For all of their sophistication, are there any political pundits that correctly predicted the rise of Bernie Sanders or that Donald Trump would emerge from a pack of 16 more politically experienced Republicans?

Adding to the confusion is that recent popular votes of all stripes—from Brexit to the Colombian peace deal—have not gone the way pollsters predicted. In the face of all of this uncertainty it is natural to wonder, “could the U.S. be the next surprise?” And a natural follow-on question is, “What does all of this mean for my money?” To begin to answer these questions, let’s look at some historical trends around U.S. elections and the stock market.

Incumbent vs. Challenger

Most considerations of political impact examine how potential candidates might influence the market, but let’s begin our study by flipping that on its head and ask, “How might the market help determine who wins the election?” As you might expect, incumbent parties are helped enormously by a rising market and challengers tend to be swept into power by a poor market.

washington_wallstreetSince 1928, 14 of the 22 presidential elections saw a rise in the broad market in the three months leading up to the big vote. In all but two of those instances, the incumbent party stayed in their comfy digs on Pennsylvania Avenue. But what of the eight instances where the market was down in the run up to the election? All but one of those more bearish periods saw the incumbent ousted from power.

This phenomenon was seen most recently in the failed reelection campaigns of George H.W. Bush (1992) and Jimmy Carter (1980). Bill Clinton, sensing the natural tendency of hard economic times to bring about change chided the senior Bush with his now famous “It’s the economy, stupid” line. The date to watch for this particular metric in this election cycle is August 1, at which time the S&P 500 closed at 2,170.84.

Democrats versus Republicans

Inasmuch as Republicans are broadly perceived as the more pro-business of the two parties, it may come as a surprise that the stock market has performed considerably better under Democratic than Republican presidents. In fact, since 1945 the average annual gain under a Democratic president is 9.7%, easily besting the average gain of 6.7% on the Republican’s watch.

But a closer look at the statistics tells a more nuanced story as, to borrow a Dickensian turn of phrase, Republicans have presided over both the best of times and the worst of times. The market’s most successful run occurred under Republican Gerald Ford—a whopping 18.6% annualized. However, the elephants also own the only two losing records in modern (post-1945) market history, with George W. Bush (-4.6% annualized) and Richard Nixon (-5.1% annualized) both overseeing periods of extended bearishness.

electionThe Election Cycle

Having now examined the market’s ability to predict the winner of the election and the impact of parties on performance, let’s look at the influence of the presidential cycle on market returns.

Since 1833, the market has typically produced the best returns in the year preceding an election, averaging 10.4% annualized. Election years themselves have tended to be good as well, with average returns at right around 6%. The worst years in the election cycle have been the first and second years of a president’s term, averaging 2.5% and 4.2% respectively. The conventional logic has been that familiarity breeds comfort and that the uncertainty surrounding the economic policies of a new leader have driven low returns early in the cycle.

Why None of This Matters

Having gone to some pain to research the relationship between the election and the market, let me now suggest that none of what you have read above matters. None of it. Our desire to look for signal in the unending noise surrounding political campaigns is a waste of time at best and can be dangerous to our financial well-being at worst. The government produces data on 45,000 pieces of economic each year and when they are laid on top of the mountain of data collected by political scientists, correlations emerge and most of them are spurious. To quote political pollster Nate Silver, “The temptation that some economists succumb to is to put all this data into a blender and claim that the resulting gruel is haute cuisine.” To make this point more concretely, consider some of the following:

  • Since 1928, election years like this one without an incumbent running for reelection have been some of the worst on record, clocking a -2.8% annualized return. Had you been aware of and acted on this information, you would missed the 5.37% gain for the large cap index year to date.
  • As discussed above, the market tends to gain 6% in election years. Great, but small comfort to those who lost 34% in 2008, an election year. It has been joked that a six-foot man can easily drown in a river that is three feet deep on average (since many parts of the river might be much deeper). The same can certainly be said of market returns where long-term averages tend to mask the more dramatic volatility underneath. The performance of the market is more attributable to economic conditions than superior policies. Democratic Presidents Roosevelt and Obama both inherited markets broken by the Great Depression and Great Recession respectively. While both deserve credit for guiding the nation during difficult times, they are also the beneficiaries of a tendency for stock prices to mean-revert and bounce back from dramatic lows. Bulls and bears may have less to do with donkeys and elephants than the statistics might suggest.
  • Finally, consider the research suggesting that the first year of a President’s term leads to the most paltry returns. Had you acted on this knowledge, you would have missed the 23.45% rise in the market in Obama’s first year in office and the double-digit advance in the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency. By definition, averages are generalities that are not true of any specific situation and relying on them can cause deviation from an otherwise sound financial plan.

Election years introduce volatility and uncertainty into financial markets that leave investors and advisors alike searching for a calm port in a wild political storm. But in our efforts to make sense of the political and economic landscape, we run a real risk of finding connections where none exist. In 2016, one of America’s most powerful political dynasties was nearly upended by an independent and self-proclaimed democratic socialist. The Republican Party is now helmed by a reality television star who has never held office. The Cubs are in the playoffs.

At uncertain times like this, investors must return to what Jason Zweig refers to as “controlling the controllable.” The outcome of the election and the accompanying market reaction are very much unknowable. What remains very much in your control are your ability to diversify across multiple asset classes, maintain a long-term focus and work closely with a competent advisor to manage your own behavior. I don’t know who will win the White House and neither do you, but I know with some certainty that patient investors adhering to first principles will always come out ahead.

Sources:

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/investing/T043-C008-S003-how-presidential-elections-affect-the-stock-market.html

https://tickertape.tdameritrade.com/investing/2016/08/can-election-predict-market-performance-10313

https://www.ml.com/articles/how-presidential-elections-affect-the-markets.html

http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/28/investing/stock-market-democrats-republicans/index.html

http://www.comstocksmag.com/article/data-driven-0

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Loud Headlines

Rosenberger_PodcastAndrew Rosenberger, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded September 30, 2016), Andy reviews recent media headlines, including Deutsche Bank and OPEC, and if the news is more bark than bite. Quick hits:

  • Deutsche Bank shares set a new all-time low on September 29 and stock is now down almost 50% year to date.
  • Deutsche Bank needs to raise enough capital to alleviate investor concerns or financial authorities will have to step in to backstop the bank.
  • While the ghosts of Lehman Brothers may still haunt the minds of investors, it seems unlikely that financial authorities haven’t learned from 2008 and would be willing to take the same risk with Deutsche Bank should they fail.
  • Saudi Arabia agreed to limit future production of oil, and while there’s been a lot of skepticism that this new agreement will do anything to reduce oversupply and increase prices, it is the first time there’s been any sort of agreement out of OPEC since the sell-off began in 2014.
  • Given all the headlines, it’s easy to miss the more-positive news that has been released, like housing data and low unemployment.

For Andy’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.