The slope of the yield curve informs about the future state of the economy. Post the great recession, the yield curve hasn’t tracked always the “normal” cycle shown in Figure 1. There are two reasons why this is the case and what it means for core fixed income investing. Figure 1: U.S. Treasury and Japanese Yield Curve Compared Source: Bloomberg, monthly data. T-= years before the cycle peak of economic growth, T+ = years post peak and into recession. The first reason is to compare the slope of the U.S. yield curve to Japan. The Japanese curve followed the normal cycle but deviated when deflation took hold (T+2 to T+4, Figure 1). Notably, the U.S. yield curve (orange line) follows the

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One possible effect stemming from the Brexit and U.S. elections outcome could have significant consequences: central banks relinquish their independence. There are academic proposals that call for central banks to maintain “operational independence” but give up political independence. There has been rhetoric during and post campaigns that argue for a change of central bank influence, different board and Chairman appointments and even a call to return to the gold standard. Politically motivated changes of a central bank have been associated with periods of high inflation. However, removal of central bank independence could also play out differently, for example by way of market forces. There are three ways how that may happen: 1.Loss of control over long maturity interest rates 2.Loss of control over

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What are the possible outcomes from the expected and stated tax policies of the new Trump administration? Pragmatism v. Idealogy: What are the likely economic impacts? Two years without gridlock? Given that the deck is now stacked for conservatives in that they control the White House, House of representatives and the Senate ...and likely soon the Supreme Court, expect a whirlwind first two years. Here are some of our thoughts with assists from a few of our sell side coverage friends at some of the big banks. The simple logic as to what has changed: In the past Obama regime, we've had sub par growth but the FED was still raising rates. The consensus was that there was indeed some room for Chair Yellen to raise

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Since the U.S. elections, the dollar has surged by 5 percent while emerging market currencies fell by double. When the value of the dollar spikes, global GDP on average has contracted by 2 percentage points in the past, and eventually dip into recession territory (see Figure 1). Currently, markets are in the “first inning” of a periods of rising rates, surging dollar and contracting global GDP. This combination could have two profound effects: dollar shortage and Fed balance sheet contraction. Figure 1: Dollar and Global GDP Source: Bloomberg, quarterly data, 1980-2016 Since the middle of 1990s, global debt denominated in dollars has expanded by an average of $1.5 trillion a year, to a cumulative of $50 trillion today according the Bank of International Settlements.

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As Q3 Earnings season winds down, we provide a quick update on how the various sectors fared on Sales and EPS results. 91% of S&P 500 companies have already reported, so at this point we have a pretty good indication of how things are going to settle out. Overall, the quarter was pretty impressive with 55% of companies beating Sales estimates and 76% of companies beating Earnings estimates. The standouts on both Sales and Earnings were Technology and Financials, with 91% of Tech companies beating Earnings estimates and 84% of Financials beating Earnings estimates. The laggards were Telecom Services and Materials on both Sales and Earnings. See below a table which ranks the sectors from best to worst on both Sales (left) and Earnings

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As has been his unique habit, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway has taken an aggressive stake in an industry. Berkshire has filed their Q3 2016 13F filing today and among them was a particularly outstanding item. He has acquired large stakes in an airline, no make that "ALL" four major airline companies, or, the entire industry. Warren Buffet has acquired stakes ranging from $300mm to $1bb in value in each of the legacy carriers, American Air, Delta and United Continental. He also took a stake in Southwest. As we have been stating for quite awhile, the relatively rapid consolidation in the Airline industry, (Continental, Virgin are the latest two) has created a dynamic similar to what the railroad industry went through a decade ago. The consolidation of

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Youth unemployment, debt burdens, current account imbalances and deflation remain at the heart of a struggling Eurozone economy. These factors may again play a role as Europe enters 2017 with elections in the Netherlands (March), France (April) and Germany (September) stacked up like a domino. The European political system, where decisions are made by unelected officials, may spark confidence votes in national parliaments or referendums in individual countries. The linkage between sovereign risk and banks has increased through the European Central Bank’s QE program. And a rise in populism may cause snap elections and minority coalitions. These factors in the wake of Trump’s win are widening European sovereign spreads and resemble the early period before the European debt crisis erupted (see Figure 1, red

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The stunning victory by President elect Donald Trump may be out of the playbook of the “democratic domino theory.” Empirical research (Leeson/Dean) found across 130 countries between 1850 and 2000 that “democratic dominoes” catch around 11 percent of their average geographic neighbors’ changes in democracy. In the context of the outcome of Brexit and the Trump win, political movements in rural areas most prone to global trade, emulate each other’s victories by a substantial voter turnout. Currency markets respond with significant dislocations (see Figure 1) in response to a political regime shift. This happened to the Pound during EMS crisis in 1992 and the Mexican Peso crisis in 1994. In reaction to those crises, the CNY devalued and U.S. interest rates saw a

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Now that the American electorate has spoken,it is time to sharpen our focus on how tho think through this political earthquake: A "Republican" mandate? Not like you think...It's more like an Independant and a Republican Congress. Who is DJT? Is he really a Republican in a traditional sense? It depends upon how you define "traditional" I thought I would touch on some helpful historical analogies: 1.Today vs 1968-1980 2. DJT ~ Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt Now vs 1968: An argument could be made that we have been in one of the most tumultuous periods in American History over the past decade or so. It is evidenced in the stock market behavior of the last 15 years. We have had two of the largest bear

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Let's start by just looking at market action. After nearly a decade of underperformance US financials are showing relative strength. They are indeed cheap on a book basis. But can there be any visibility into earnings growth? Could the end of the Obama years lead to better banking futures? The bank index is now testing multi year highs and happened to be up big in yesterdays massive rally. Here you have the Dow Jones Transportation index.As you can imagine, this is a very cyclical index and is a forward leaning indicator. As goods and people are transported, ecomomic growth moves along with it. Here is a reinforcing datapoint. This shows US Air traffic. Clearly lots of strength here. As both a consumer discretionary item and

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Just as the Brexit outcome in the United Kingdom had very significant affects on global markets, I view real risk of a similar type of event happening in the United States with our Presidential election on Tuesday, November 8. Going into the vote in the UK, the world was sanguine about the chances of the British Citizenry actually voting for a "Leave". The punditry that nary has an independent thought and so often just writes what they are told, assured the world that the vote would be a non event. Even global betting markets had the odds skewed as if it were a sure thing that the British citizens would never be so dumb as to vote to leave. The scare mongering and independence bashing was

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When quantitative easing (“QE”) ended 2014, the Fed adopted “data dependent.” When market volatility rose, the Fed used “data dependent” in communications. By lowering the probability of a hike, volatility and fears moderated (see Figure 1). The result of data dependent was the Fed needs a full year worth of data to justify one hike. Now data dependency has been two years in effect, how can investors anticipate a new policy by the Fed? Figure 1: Historical Probability of a Hike by December and VIX Index Source: Bloomberg. December probability implied from Fed Funds Futures. Probability = 100*(Dec Futures-Sep Futures)/0.125). The answer may be found in the return of a portfolio consisting out of S&P, Barclays Aggregate, Commodity and Currency indices. Figure

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Elections and financial markets always had a relationship. Best known is the “Presidential Election Cycle of Investing.” This cycle shows stocks gain the most in the third year of a Presidential term, by an average of 0.75 to 2.5 per cent. For bonds, monthly returns in the third year were mostly negative by an average 2 percent based Barclays Index history. The history of returns is shown in Figure 1. A reason for this pattern in returns is when an incumbent President announces tax cuts and or spending increases, historically those policies get Congressional approval by the second year of the term. By the third to final year of the term, policies kick into effect and impact earnings and profits. In case of a

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One of the key data releases next Thursday will be the first reading for Third Quarter U.S. GDP. GDP has been a “hot” topic of debate at the recent Boston Fed Conference as well as during the third Presidential Debate. The slowness of GDP has been worrisome, especially because despite a robust labor market, wages have lagged. If GDP stays slow, a tight labor market with modest wage growth may decelerate consumer spending. With an already fragile investment, trade and fiscal spending, a drop in consumer spending could “tip” U.S. GDP closer to zero growth. The dangerously slow pace of 1.3% in Q2 2016 could reverse however if consensus Q3 forecast of 2.5% annualized change is realized. The year on year slide

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In her recent speech, Federal Reserve Chair Yellen introduced a phrase that may determine how markets, economists and the public will think about the global economy going forward. Yellen suggested the Federal Reserve should allow the U.S. economy to turn into a "high pressure economy." That means an economy where labor markets are very tight, demand is robust and capital spending runs at a high rate. For Yellen to arrive at such a conclusion, there were four critical issues she highlighted for future "research:" Hysteresis. The global economy suffers from "supply damage" caused by a sharp fall in aggregate demand due to hysteresis. Developed economies saw in their real estate and financial sectors massive layoff, and supply of highly specialized workers was absorbed insufficiently. Because

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