The Japanese and European central banks have taken extraordinary measures to resuscitate their economies. Instead, they may be sending them further into a deflationary spiral. If you take a quick look at the major stock markets around the world, you will observe a clear pattern that is likely to surprise you. Zero/negative rates are highly correlated to poor stock market returns this year; while higher central bank rates correlate with high market returns. It is the economies that are in the worst shape that are having to test negative rates.
Runnymede made one of the earliest calls on the corporate earnings recession in February of 2015. S&P earnings have been flat out terrible for 5 of the last 6 quarters with double-digit declines. However last quarter, the S&P showed signs of turning the corner. Analysts had forecast 10% growth heading into the first quarter but companies still fell well short of that mark for essentially a flat quarter. As 2nd quarter earnings season kicks off, analysts are even more bullish with S&P reported earnings growth forecast at 15%. While we do not expect this number to be that great, if it can even show high single digit growth, it could very well prove to be a catalyst for stocks to hit new highs.
In 2007, Nassim Taleb published his best-selling book "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable." Taleb contends that banks and trading firms are very vulnerable to hazardous Black Swan events and are exposed to losses beyond those that are predicted by their defective financial models. This proved to be right on the mark as one year later, the financial system almost collapsed due to poor financial models that predicted real estate prices would go up forever.
In the travel industry, prevention of accidents is at the top of its agenda. Safety drills for airplane takeoffs and landings are routinely practiced. On ships, passengers are assembled for lifeboat drills as soon as they board the vessel. Every passenger’s name is called out and checked off; both the passengers and crew take the drill very seriously in view of the fact that just a few years ago the Italian ship Costa Concordia ran aground on the coast of Tuscany and toppled on its side. Ship captains and sailors are in constant touch with weather stations, downloading data into their computers for the most up-to-date weather forecast and analysis.
"It's déjà vu all over again." - Yogi Berra
The stock market has long been classified by economists as a leading indicator of the economy. It tracks and reflects the nation’s economy and industry fundamentals. The market often seems able to anticipate positive or negative change before it happens. Since the beginning of the bear market in August of 2015, the prices of many bank stocks, especially European and Japanese banks, have declined steadily and precipitously. Deutsche Bank has lead the way by dropping below the level it reached in 2009. Shares of HSBC, Citibank, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs as well many other big banks have also taken a beating of 25-45%.
In the financial markets, we have always had two important components: investors and regulators. Today, we are seeing governments as significant market participants that impact global markets. Sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds around the world are now among the largest owners of publicly traded stocks and bonds. China and Japan alone represent $5 trillion in public funds out of an estimated total $30 trillion of investments owned by 160 countries. No doubt these are investors of great size that can crowd out individual and institutional investors.
This week, I am inspired by Walt Disney World, a.k.a. "The Most Magical Place On Earth," where we spent Spring vacation for a family reunion with my wife's family and some friends. While waiting in lines and traveling to and from the park, I had time to reflect upon the success of Disney and how Walt Disney's philosophy can be applied to a successful investment strategy.
This weekend millions of people will gather around the United States and join together in the fight to end premature birth. The March for Babies is held yearly in over a thousand communities with the proceeds going to fund March of Dimes research to prevent premature births, birth defects and infant mortality.
This will be the 3rd year that my family participates in this wonderful event. Last year Runnymede was a top corporate fundraiser in Morris County and once again we are hoping to be a big contributor. If you would like to help with a donation, any amount would help the cause, even if only a dime.
Here are 3 reasons why I walk at the March for Babies:
The annuity business has grown in popularity as investors, especially those nearing retirement, look for options to protect themselves from stock market volatility and give them a decent income stream in retirement. With over $200 billion in annual sales, the annuity industry is big business with lots of salesmen trying to persuade you to make a purchase.
Today I will dig deep into the Allianz Core Income 7 annuity which has been requested by several readers in recent weeks. It currently is one of the top 10 best selling annuities on the market. Sales of indexed annuities, a fixed annuity that provides a minimum guaranteed rate of interest combined with an interest rate tied to movement of an index, increased to $54.5 billion in 2015, a 13% gain year over year. This is the biggest percentage increase of any form of annuity.
Thanks to the Fed's zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), baby boomers are facing a much tougher road to retirement than those in the past. While it may seem like an eternity, it was only 10 years ago when you could park your money in a savings account and earn interest of 5%. Retirees who worked hard and saved their money could safely invest their assets in retirement and not have to worry about suffering any losses.Today is an especially challenging environment for investors who are looking to generate a safe income stream. No Treasury bond will pay a safe 5% return as a 30-year Treasury Bond yields just 2.69%. This is causing a massive gap between what boomers say they want in retirement and what they're doing to make it happen.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Runnymede Capital Management, Inc. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Runnymede Capital Management, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.