We think you will find the following recent issues of Chartwell Review enlightening and entertaining. Chartwell has regularly published this quarterly review of the investment markets since 1994.
The quarter was a strong one for US equity investors, and not really much else. Interest rates rose, resulting in enough capital depreciation to flatten out nearly all bond returns. It certainly looks like we are at peak earnings growth for this cycle – the bottom of the 9th inning for the stock market or are we in extra innings? There appears to be more downside risk in investment markets than upside potential; see our Back Page Perspectives for more on that issue. Rather than swinging for the fences, we think it is a good time to reduce risk exposures and increase liquidity – not completely collapse risk assets, but being at the conservative end of policy ranges.
In the first quarter Review, we commented on the potential impacts that the Tax Bill might have on investment markets. In the second quarter, the impact of taxes gave way to the impact tariffs and a potential trade war might have. Within fixed income markets, there is much discussion (and angst) over the narrow spread between the 2YR, 10YR and 30YR bond yields and the impact a flattening yield curve becoming inverted might have on markets. See our Back Page Perspectives on page 6 of this Review for more on this topic.
Early 2018 market returns were feast or famine as: a for-the records- January was followed by a market sell-off in February (and our first correction since February of 2016), ending with a dismal March. In fixed income markets, there was very little black ink to be found: leveraged loans in the US, unhedged non-US bonds and local currency emerging market bonds posted positive results. In short, volatility returned with a vengeance.
2017 – a “black ink” year across all asset classes; with global equities posting strong double-digit returns. It was inevitable that many market watchers would begin drawing comparisons to 1999’s equity markets . . . and if they would end in similar fashion. In addition to our usual economic and market recap, the fourth quarter Chartwell Review will cover some of the similarities and differences between 1999 and 2017 equity markets.
The third quarter was another strong one for US and global “risk on” markets – led by growth stocks, emerging markets, high yield and credit bonds. As a recent cover of the Economist magazine headlined, there is a “bull market in everything”. We offer our insights on what parts of the markets might be too hot, too cold or “Goldilocks” – just right.