Results 51–100 of 163 found.
What a Yellen Fed Could Mean for Interest Rates
A major question among investors after Janet Yellens nomination for Fed Chair is whether she will be too soft on inflation. Part of Yellens dovish reputation stems from a debate among the FOMC in July 1996, in which she warned the committee about the risks of pushing inflation too low. With the passage of time, however, the views Yellen expressed at that meeting now come across as very sensible. Indeed, today they would be considered uncontroversial among most economists. In reality Yellen is closer to the Fed consensus on inflation than her reputation in markets would suggest.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Under normal circumstances, I provide insight and analysis on the monthly jobs report at the beginning of each month. This month Washington politics has interrupted my routine with the partial government shutdown postponing several important data releases this week and pessimistically next week as well. Not only that but several agencies have completely shut down their websites denying access to already released data and historical databases, which is completely unnecessary.
More Heat Than Light
Following their surprising decision to maintain the current pace of quantitative easing (QE), Fed officials provided more detailed reasoning last week in public remarks and interviews with media outlets. Unfortunately, the latest comments added more heat than light to the QE debate in our view. Much like Chairman Bernankes post-meeting press conference, officials expressed contradictory views on several major policy questions.
Give Me Tapering... Just Not Yet
Last week Federal Reserve (the Fed) officials surprised investors by choosing not to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) despite months of setup in their public comments. Instead, the latest iteration of the Feds bond buying strategy will continue at $85 billion per month. At this point our best guess is that the decision was a path of least resistance among a divided committee: there seemed to be a number of officials who were concerned about downside risks to growth from fiscal policy uncertainty and higher interest rates.
Time to Taper?
The Fed debate this year has largely revolved around a single question: When will the FOMC begin to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)? At the start of the year, most analysts thought that the committee would continue its bond buying program at full speed all year, and only taper its purchases in early 2014. However, we began to hear hints from Fed officials as earlier as January that they may stop short of consensus expectations.
Unemployment, Participation and the Fed
Despite a mediocre August jobs report, we still expect the Federal Reserve to announce a slowing of the pace of bond purchases when it meets next week. One reason for this view is that Fed officials care more about the level of the unemployment rate than the pace of job creation. We often write that monetary policy is about gaps not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.
Don't Lose Your Balance
Last year in a white paper called Engineering a better retirement portfolio1, we demonstrated the long term benefits of investing with a balanced risk profile. Exhibit 1 shows the trailing Sharpe ratios reported in that paper for the S&P 500, a traditional balanced domestic 60/40 portfolio, and a risk balanced strategy invested to equalize the risk contribution from stocks, bonds and commodities. The message from that chart is clear: Better balance leads to more efficient portfolio performance over time.
The Speed of Fed Rate Hikes
For the last several months, talk of tapering has dominated the Fed debate. Although there remains some uncertainty around the detailssuch as how large the initial step might bemost observers now expect the Federal Reserve to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) at the September 17-18 meeting. Attention is now turning to another major issue on next months agenda: the publication of Fed officials forecasts for the funds rate in 2016. The Fed rolls forward the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) by one year each September.
Fixed Income Investing In a Reality Star World
Reality stars are famous for being famous. We should not begrudge them for recognizing an opportunity, seizing the momentum and exploiting it successfully. However, an approach that emphasizes form over substance can neither be consistent or highly repeatable.
Why GDP Deserves Less Attention
Before joining Columbia Management I worked for several years as an economist at a few of the large broker-dealers in New York. One of my primary functions was to maintain an ongoing estimate of growth in the nations gross domestic product (GDP)a so-called GDP bean count. Most investors use GDP as their primary summary measure of overall economic performance, so they are keenly interested in how incoming data are likely to impact the estimates. Our running tally of GDP growth for the current quarter was one of the most sought after pieces of research we produced.
Who has the Edge in Race to Head the Fed?
One of the most common mistakes policy analysts make is what I like to call normative biasallowing personal opinions to affect perceived odds of certain outcomes. Saying The Fed is unlikely to introduce quantitative easing because it would lead to high inflation is an example of normative bias. Fed officials do not think quantitative easing (QE) leads to high inflation, and whether you think it does has no bearing on the probability. Personal perceptions are irrelevant for policy analysisthe only things that matter are the perceptions of the decision maker.
The Fed's Outlook and Leadership in Flux
Many observers blamed a lack of clarity from the Federal Reserve (the Fed) for the sharp increase in interest rates after the initial signals about tapering. As a result, in recent weeks Fed officials have tried to calm nerves by stressing that the decision to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)now expected to begin after the September FOMC meetingdoes not signal anything about the outlook for the funds rate or their broader policy goals. Unfortunately for the Fed, the policy outlook looks increasingly fluid again.
What's Next for the U.S. Dollar?
Global government bonds have performed poorly so far this year. Year to date through July 13, the Barclays Global Treasury Index, which covers 30 investment grade domestic government bond markets, is down 5.5% in unhedged U.S. dollar terms. The same index hedged back to U.S. dollars is down 0.6% year to date. This difference in returns highlights a key point.
With the ebbing of the quantitative easing taper debate, can we go back to our regularly scheduled programming of earnings driving the stocks? If so, where do we stand? There are certainly some areas where we think estimates are a little high and some where they are too low. But in order to get a better picture of earnings expectations and what is priced in, we need to look at both the earnings and the PE (price-to-earnings) ratio the market has placed on those earnings.
Monetary Exit Strategy: Removing The Doubt
In the press conference following last weeks FOMC meeting, Federal Reserve (the Fed) Chairman Bernanke said that the committee was puzzled by the sharp rise in bond yields over the last two months, and that the increase seems larger than can be explained by a changing view of monetary policy. We would argue, in contrast, that the recent increase in bond yields has been almost entirely about a changing view of monetary policy.
Outlook for the Global Bond Market
The global economy continues to expand, but seems stuck on a moderate, below-trend trajectory. Lately, the story seems to be more about a growth rotation across regions than a clear-cut acceleration or deceleration at the global level. Looking to 2014, however, we still expect the global economy to accelerate to a more trend-like pace.
What the NHL Playoffs Can Teach Investors
The National Hockey League playoffs are marvelous to watch. The leagues best teams play their best hockey with every game more meaningful than those played during the regular season. Playoff games feel much more strategic, and one key aspect of playoff strategy is the importance of playing with the lead. In fact, of the 53 playoff games this season that went to the third period with one team ahead, 43 of those, or 81%, finished in favor of the team that was winning after two periods*. NHL playoff teams know how to protect a lead once they have it.
Affordable Care Act Roll-Out: Are “Train Wreck” Fears Justified?
Expect to see a large U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advertising and public relations program this summer ahead of the October 1 federal and state health insurance exchanges open enrollment, one of the key features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Administration, Congress and the nation have much riding on successful implementation of the law and the participation of newly-insured individuals.
Is Japan's Economic Rebound For Real?
The two phrases Abenomics and the BOJs Shock and Awe Monetary Easing are all over the headlines about Japan. Prime Minister Abe unveiled his economic policy late last year calling for a 3% annual nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth target and an aggressive monetary easing by the BOJ (The Bank of Japan) to achieve 2% inflation. The BOJ unleashed the worlds most intense burst of monetary stimulus last month promising to double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen ($2.7 trillion) by the end of 2014 to defeat deflation.
The Truth about April's Budget Surplus
The Truth about Aprils Budget Surplus Columbia Management By Marie Schofield May 16, 2013 Washington finally had some good news to report, specifically on the budget deficit. The Treasury reported a $113 billion surplus, the biggest in five years. April is a critical month for the budget because of tax filing and payment deadlines. While some attribute the surplus to reduced outlays on sequestration, it was mainly due to growing revenues courtesy of a build in individual and corporate tax receipts.
The Effect of Negative Interest Rates in Europe
In his press conference last week, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi signaled that policymakers may be more open to a cut in the central banks deposit rate. Although Mr. Draghi acknowledged this move could have negative side effects, he added we will be able to deal with the negative consequences we will look at this with an open mind. Several major central banks considered negative deposit facility rates during and after the financial crisis, but so far, all have determined that the idea did not pass the cost/benefit test.
The U.S. Economy A Gain in GDP?
The advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis last Friday showed that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the first quarter, below expectations of an increase of 3.0%. Despite the decent first quarter advance, year-over-year gains in nominal and real GDP are largely unchanged from the prior quarter at 3.4% and 1.8%, respectively. While growth rates at this slow pace in these measures have typically heralded recessions, they appear stable but also underscore a critical problemthe failure to generate escape velocity.
What's Behind China's Economic Slowdown?
Chinas economy grew by 7.7% year over year (yoy) in the first quarter of 2013, against the market expectation of 8.0% yoy and a prior quarters 7.9% yoy. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 1.6% quarter on quarter (qoq), with an annualized growth rate of 6.6%, a step down from the 2.0% qoq and 8.2% annualized growth seen in 4Q 2012.
Is the Fed Eyeing an Earlier End to QE?
Until September of last year, the Federal Reserve structured each of its bond buying programs in the same way: it announced a fixed amount of purchases and a specific target end date. This changed with the latest quantitative easing (QE) program launched last year. This time, instead of stating a specific dollar amount of purchases, Fed officials left the program open-ended: QE would continue as long as needed to ensure a stronger recovery in the labor market.
Stockton is Bankrupt: Now What?
Although we have no exposure to Stockton, California debt, we thought it would be useful to comment on the citys financial plight in the wake of the recent bankruptcy court ruling allowing the city to file a plan of adjustment or the equivalent of Chapter 11 reorganization. We, and other municipal bond participants, will be watching this process closely to see how the court treats various creditors.
When Does The Great Recession Become the Great Rotation?
Given the strong flows into the bond market over the past few years, many pundits have pondered the beginning of the Great Rotation when bond investors begin to move money into the equity market. Investors fear that this shift could cause losses in bond funds as investors flee. Indeed since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, investors have plowed into bond funds as an alternative to equity volatility.
Reacting to All Time Highs
The financial press has been all a-flutter, of late, with talk of new highs across U.S. stock markets. Indeed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new all time closing high in March. Meanwhile, the S&P 500, as of this writing, sits less than one percent below its all time high. The surge in these well known market bellwethers in recent months feels good, and no doubt tempts investors to bask in their portfolio gains, and to ease back in their fussing over the nuances of investment strategy.
Playing with Fire in Cyprus
Early Saturday morning, after 10 hours of negotiations, it was announced that Euro Area (EA) finance ministers had agreed upon a bailout package for the government and banking system of Cyprus. The total financing needs of Cyprus are 17 billion euros ($22 billion), which equates to approximately 100% of Cypriot gross domestic product (GDP), making this by far the largest bailout relative to the size of the economy yet in the EA.
Coping With Age
Many things in life get better with age, but many others do not. Unfortunately for central banks, the effects of unconventional monetary policy probably fall in the latter category. Unlike traditional monetary policyin which the central bank only sets short-term interest ratesthe impact of unconventional policies likely decays over time. This means that it is not enough for the Federal Reserve to keep its current policies in placeit actually has to take additional action to maintain the same impact on interest rates and the economy.
What Are The FOMC Minutes Telling Us?
The release of the minutes of the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve (Fed) caused a tremor in the bedrock of investor euphoria last week. The minutes confirmed that the cost/benefit analysis of quantitative easing (QE) is at center of policy debate right now. However, the minutes did not provide a definitive signal that the program may be cut short. In particular, it is not clear where Chairman Bernanke and Vice Chair Yellen stand. I believe the level of debate slightly raises the odds that QE will end this year.
The Postman May Not Ring at All
United States Postal Service is technically insolvent. Last year, the agency exhausted its borrowing capacity and failed to pay $11 billion into its retiree health plan. This year, it will not make a $6 billion contribution. While the current cash balance of $2 billion is sufficient for 10 days of operation, management forecasts a $100 million deficit by October. When payments to employees and suppliers end, so too will the mail.
Macroeconomic Risk? That's So 2012
Fourth quarter earnings are modestly beating expectations, albeit by less than the amount expectations were lowered during the quarter. And while every sector and industry is different, the market seemed to give companies (even with their cautious outlook for 2013) the benefit of the doubt they can manage through a tough demand environment. This may be based on a general belief that the risk of extreme events is dropping.
What Happens When the Fed Loses Money
The Federal Reserve's exit from ultra-easy monetary policy still looks very far offby most accounts, rate hikes will not begin for more than two years and asset sales for even longer. However, the exit strategy could matter for markets well before that point. Fed officials have said that they will consider the costs and risks associated with quantitative easing (QE) when deciding how long to continue their purchases, and one factor they will be looking at will be whether the program could "complicate the Committee's efforts to eventually withdraw monetary policy accommodation."
The Term Premium: Past and Present
Of the many possible explanations for the historically low level of government bond yields, near-zero central bank policy rates should be at the top of the list. However, government bond yields also appear low for reasons beyond central bank policy rates. In particular, todays low rate environment also reflects a depressed "term premium," or the compensation investors receive for taking duration risk.
2013 International Outlook
We continue our outlook for 2013 with a review of select international economies and financial markets. Similar to the U.S. the road to recovery will be bumpy and we expect financial markets to continue being affected by macroeconomic uncertainties. While the overall environment remains uncertain, some of the significant headwinds in 2012, e.g. the Chinese leadership transition and a complete disintegration of the eurozone, are perhaps less concerning for markets than they were a year ago.
Thanks, Everybody...We'll be Right Back!
The Washington Comedy Club has taken a brief intermission and will be back in session shortly to resume the show. Please enjoy the facilities of this great country, free of charge, while you wait. Ignore the "Nero" character in the far corner playing the fiddle. Apparently, he isn't part of the show. Economic uncertainty emanating from fears of the U.S. fiscal cliff has been deferred but not avoided.
Can China Double National Income by 2020?
Xi Jinping, China's newly elected president, was the featured speaker at the recent National Congress. However, I felt the most interesting point to come out of the event was outgoing President Hu Jintao's announcement of a plan to double Chinas national income by 2020. This plan is reminiscent of a similar program launched in Japan in the 1960s, spearheaded by Prime Minister Ikeda, where the goal was also a doubling of national income. The two programs have a number of parallels despite the multi-decade time gap between them.
Can The U.S. Afford Its National Credit Card?
With U.S. national debt at all time highs and major Federal programs expiring within weeks, it is no surprise that the focus of investors following the election has quickly shifted back to the upcoming fiscal cliff. Fears of an insolvent government or a U.S. debt crisis have sparked heated debates regarding ways of tackling the budget deficit but just how imminent a threat does it pose?
Investors should be prepared for a sizable tax hike in excess of $1 trillion. The Republican position on taxes is untenable. I can find little evidence that a tax yield of approximately 18%/19% harms the economy. I am in the camp of lower tax rates and fewer deductions especially for incomes above $500,000. However spending is at a level not seen since World War 2. I am supportive of the deferral assuming the cuts are specifically identified and the deferral period is explicit. However the ratio of cuts to tax increases needs to be approximately 2 to 1.
Fiscal consolidations are underway across the developed world, and many require large adjustments. At a minimum, countries need to bring their primary budgets into balance in an effort to stabilize growing debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratios. Many are looking at trimming deficits totaling 5% of GDP or more. This will require both spending cuts and tax increases which often work counter to stabilizing debt ratios, as this can brake GDP growth and undermine both the fiscal position and the political fortitude for action.
To Invest or Not To Invest? That is NOT the Question!
The question that many investors continue to ask is, "Should I be buying stocks now or not?" This is the question investors trying to time the market ask themselves every day. If they choose not to be in the market, they may idle in cash as their neutral position until they figure out when to get back in. However timing the market is a very difficult game, even for the most accomplished investors.
The Fiscal Cliff Comes Into Focus
Investors and economists have been debating the fiscal cliff for more than a year. When budget negotiations fell apart in July 2011, the White House and congressional leaders delegated responsibility for finding additional federal savings to a bipartisan "super committee". However, this group could not bridge the differences between the two parties either, and so the nation's fiscal policy was set to the fallback option: automatically begin cutting spending and allow tax rates to set higher at the start of 2013.
Sequestration - What It Means for the Municipal Bond Market
If Congress fails to quickly reach an agreement on deficit reductions, automatic cuts to federal discretionary spending (sequestration) are scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013. On September 14, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its report detailing how it would implement sequestration, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Act). Designed to impact defense and non-defense (domestic) program budgets equally, most agencies are subject to cuts between 7% and 11% over the next decade. The exception is Medicare which is subject to a 2% cut.
Can Housing Save the U.S. Economy?
After leading the U.S. out of the Great Recession, the manufacturing sector has recently begun to show signs of sputtering. Uncertainty surrounding the election and fiscal cliff in the U.S., decelerating growth in China and a perpetually weak Europe have led to a soft patch in the third quarter. This global hiccup has caused some U.S. companies to catch a cold, most notably those in heavy machinery, transportation, metals and mining, and general industrials.
Hiking the Fiscal Cliff
Consider the geology of the current fiscal cliff. It evolved from the confluence of challenging policy decisions built on constantly shifting layers of political sediment. It is the unprecedented stress among these colliding tensions which makes forecasting footing so slippery and challenging this year. Below are the key tectonic guideposts to understand how the interlocking tiers of political stratification could play out during the upcoming lame duck session.
The Fed and the Fiscal Cliff
Prospects for this quarter's results are being very closely scrutinized. After healthy growth in Q1, Q2 results proved quite sobering, as sales decelerated and operating leverage proved hard to come by. Given continued disappointing global macro growth, Q3 results seem tracking to be close to flat year over year again. Implicit in the consensus S&P500 estimate of around $103 is a reacceleration in Q4. Implicit in the 2013 consensus of around $115 is renewed healthy growth continuing consistently through the year. Such reacceleration seems highly at risk, which raises a few questions.
The Path Toward America's Energy Independence
U.S. energy independence has become a front and center issue during the current presidential campaign. This should be no surprise as reducing our country's dependence on foreign energy sources has been discussed in every election since Richard Nixon introduced his "Project Independence" initiative, in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo and the resulting oil crisis.
Triskaidekaphobia1 tris-k?-dek-?-f?-b?-? n: Fear of the Number 13
In May of this year, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper outlining the tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to be automatically implemented on January 1, 2013 under current law. The paper illustrates the real risk of recession if Congress fails to address this looming "fiscal cliff" before year end. The markets are telling us not to worry about the fiscal cliff. Are the markets right, or should investors be more concerned that 13, as in 2013, could be an unlucky number for the U.S. economy?
Economics is Such a Drag
At least in Europe it is. Central bankers around the world are doing everything they can to try and pump up the global economy. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, has been incredibly aggressive and creative in trying to rectify the imbalances plaguing Europe.
Results 51–100 of 163 found.