Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Monthly Market Insights: May 2019 | Disruption

Spencer Joyce, CFA
Author position
Vice President | Markets Analyst


Let me apologize for this month’s Insights being late…I’ve been in London. No, it was not for vacation (despite what my wife might argue); rather, I attended CFA Institute’s Annual Conference. The Institute is an organization dedicated to ethics and aptitude in Finance, and in the spirit of continuing education they host a yearly event. Perspective and insight we gain here filters into our work.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Disruption.’ Though I found the content valuable, I was puzzled by the mostly negative tenor of conversations. From an impassioned appeal on climate change delivered by Prince Charles, to less-gilded opinions on sovereign debt, to Brexit angst, optimism was sparse.

To that I say most things worth anything were disruptive.Take the car, which disrupted carriage makers but boosted our quality of life. Moreover, even disruptive events can foster positive outcomes. Road construction is a nightmare, but a 2-lane road that becomes a 4-lane highway is a dream. WWII hastened the decline of global Imperialism, and how about our American Revolution! Financial markets ultimately reflect both puts and takes of disruption.

The US/China trade war is disrupting the global economy, and by extension financial markets. The narrative here is negative, but there are some reasons a confrontation might be warranted: ”

  1. Intellectual Property: China has been siphoning intellectual property for decades, along with generally lax copyright, trademark and patent enforcement. Knock-off handbags might be a joke, but carbon copy jetliners and artificial intelligence platforms will not be.
  2. Market Access: The United States more/less allows anyone to invest in our companies, buy our real estate, and sell things to you and me. Equal considerations are not afforded to us by China.
  3. Anti-Competitive Practices:The Chinese State controls all economic interests; in effect, US companies compete against a foreign country. When strategic interests do not align with economic interests, a Chinese firm might overproduce solar panels at a loss to create jobs (i.e. social stability). This action could drive a US firm out of business. Currency meddling and/or manipulation, along with capital controls (limiting the flow money), are policy tools available to China where reform might benefit the rest of the world.

There is always something that comes after ‘disruption’. I cannot tell you for sure that we will be better off when our trade war burns out, smolders away, or is extinguished. I can tell you however, that the silver (or gold!) linings are often misunderstood during the disruptive period. Diversification of our investments ensures we are exposed to companies that benefit when a new normal emerges.

…One could say this month’s Insights were disrupted by my globetrotting. But that very disruption provided our inspiration!

– Spencer E Joyce, VP, CFA

Name to Know for May

Boris Johnson

British Conservative Party

Boris Johnson is a former mayor of London, and former member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet. He is a well-known figure within Britain, and was first elected to Parliament in 2001. Critiques of his persona often portray him in a cartoonish figure.

He is noteworthy this month as a front runner to succeed Theresa May as the next Prime Minister. She will resign on June 7, clearing the way for another leader to move the Brexit process forward. His politics skew toward ‘Euro skepticism’ and a smaller government footprint, although he is economically and socially more liberal.

Markets Rundown

US Equities: The S&P 500 gained 3.9% last month, but has given most of the move back in May.

Global Equities: Developed and emerging markets gained in April, rising 2.8% and 2.1%, respectively.

Federal Reserve: The Fed is scheduled to meet June 18-19. Rates are expected to remain unchanged at the meeting, but futures imply an 80% chance of a rate cut before 2020.

US Treasuries: Treasuries rallied in April-May and yields dipped. Current yields on 2, 5 and 7-yr notes are below shorter maturities, marking ‘curve inversion.’

US Credit: Investment Grade and High Yield corporate bonds yield an average of 1.37% and 3.98% over Treasuries, respectively. Spreads have slightly widened recently.

Markets Rundown Source: Bloomberg

Important Disclosures

Each client’s investment needs, risk tolerance, and goals are different. This newsletter is not meant to be advice for any specific investor. Nothing in it should be construed as an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities. This should not be used as the sole basis for an investment decision. Any opinions or estimates are subject to change without notice. For information about how any of this information applies to your per­sonal financial situation, please contact your Wealth Advisor.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Although the information provided to you in this newsletter was obtained or compiled from sources that we believe are reliable, J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, LLC, A Baird Company, cannot, and does not, guarantee that the information or data is accurate, timely, valid, or complete.

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. You should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of any investment before investing. Diversi­fication and asset alloca­tion do not guarantee a profit or guarantee against a loss.

Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market or economic developments. The bond market is also volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect can be more pronounced for longer-term securities.) Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks.