Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
by Milton Ezrati, Lord Abbett
July 2, 2012
Exports have remained one of the few consistent bright spots in this otherwise subpar economic recovery. The growth of exports at times has added as much as two percentage points to the overall pace of the economy’s expansion and is a major reason why American manufacturing has staged a comeback in recent years—a “renaissance” some have called it. But of late, with the dollar rising against both the euro and the yen, and with growth overseas slowing or, in Europe’s case, falling, questions have arisen about the sustainability of U.S. export strength. Doubtless, the pace of gain will slow, but probabilities suggest that the growth will continue.
The American export boom actually took off in 2007, stood up remarkably well during the 2008–09 recession, and has generally picked up momentum since. As Table 1 shows, exports of goods and services jumped 13.3% in 2007 and continued to grow almost apace in 2008, even as the global financial crisis rocked world economies. Unsurprisingly, exports fell during the global recession year of 2009, but they rebounded into 2010 and 2011, despite the disappointing pace of the global expansion. Even more recently, as China has reduced its overall growth expectations and Europe has fallen into recession, export growth so far this year has actually accelerated. Because exports amount to barely 15% of all U.S. economic output, this performance, impressive as it is, could not turn a sluggish recovery into a rapid one, but it has been fast enough at times to add considerably to the pace of growth. In late 2007, net exports accounted for more than half the economy’s overall expansion. In 2010 and early 2011, they accounted for one-third of the economy’s overall growth.
The expansion of the global economy, especially the emerging world, explains some of these gains. The 2007 export jump, especially, reflected the booms in China, India, and other emerging economies that were proceeding at the time and that consumed industrial supplies and raw materials for which the U.S. economy, among others, was in a good position to provide. Of course, the global downturn in the late 2008/early 2009 helps explain the export drop averaged in 2009, but that picture quickly changed as the emerging economies resumed their rapid growth trajectories in 2010 and in the early part of 2011.
Also explaining the American export picture are the declines in the dollar’s foreign exchange rate, which cumulatively enhanced American producers’ price competitiveness. Between 2002 and 2007, for example, the euro rose about 40% against the dollar, while the yen rose more than 15%. These favorable (for exports) currency patterns continued through much of this more recent period too, further enhancing America’s competitive position. In 2007 alone, the dollar cheapened almost 10% against the euro and then rose only slightly since, at least until much more recently. The move against the yen was even more dramatic. Between mid-2007 and late 2011, the yen rose almost 40% against the dollar. Not only did the currency moves give U.S. producers inroads into the European and Japanese markets but, more significantly, they also gave a significant edge against the European and Japanese competition in faster-growing third markets, such as China, India, and Brazil.
There can be no denying, however, that the dollar’s recent gains, if they persist, will strip away some of this competitive edge. In recent weeks, for instance, the euro and the yen have each cheapened almost 5.5% against the dollar. But because previous dollar declines had given American producers such huge pricing advantages, even recent dramatic currency moves leave much of this country’s former global pricing advantage intact. According to calculations by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), underlying measures of comparable pricing (what econometricians refer to as purchasing power parity), put today’s euro, at about $1.25, only just on a competitive par with dollar-based production. Comparable calculations for Japan show the yen still giving American producers a huge 35% pricing advantage against the Japan-based competition.
Though combined with slowing global growth, recent dollar strength will retard the future rates of export gain, but it should be clear that relative pricing advantages have hardly proceeded far enough to erase it. For one, trading arrangements are based on ongoing pricing and supply relationships built over long periods of time. Those that have developed in favor of American products during these past years of great American pricing advantages will take a long while to unwind. Given the American advantage implicit in the still pricey yen, it is doubtful that such a process has even begun or will begin for some time yet. If the euro is closer to competitive parity, it still offers no special pricing advantage that would prompt buyers to switch away from established American suppliers. On this basis, exports should continue to contribute to aggregate growth in the U.S. economy, albeit at a reduced rate, say, growing 8–10% rather than within the 14–17% range of the past three years.
Table 1. U.S. Exports of Goods and Services
Source: Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce.
*Through April annualized.
+ Calculated from December through April and expressed at an annual rate.
The opinions in the preceding commentary are as of the date of publication and subject to change based on subsequent developments and may not reflect the views of the firm as a whole. This material is not intended to be legal or tax advice and is not to be relied upon as a forecast, or research or investment advice regarding a particular investment or the markets in general, nor is it intended to predict or depict performance of any investment. Investors should not assume that investments in the securities and/or sectors described were or will be profitable. This document is prepared based on information Lord Abbett deems reliable; however, Lord Abbett does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information. Investors should consult with a financial advisor prior to making an investment decision.
Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the Lord Abbett funds. This and other important information is contained in each fund’s summary prospectus and/or prospectus. To obtain a prospectus or summary prospectus on any Lord Abbett mutual fund, contact your investment professional or Lord Abbett Distributor LLC at 888-522-2388 or visit us at www.lordabbett.com. Read the prospectus carefully before you invest.
Tags: American Export, Booms, Economi, Economic Output, Economic Recovery, Export Boom, Global Economy, Global Expansion, Global Financial Crisis, Global Recession, Growth Expectations, Lord Abbett, Milton Ezrati, Momentum, Pace, Percentage Points, Probabilities, Renaissance, Sustainability, World Economies, Yen
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Sunday, May 13th, 2012
Here We Go Again….or Not?
May 11, 2012
by Liz Ann Sonders
Senior Vice President, Chief Investment Strategist, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.,
CFA, Director of Market and Sector Analysis, Schwab Center for Financial Research, and,
CFA, Director of International Research, Schwab Center for Financial Research
- Softer economic data has prompted concerns that the market may be headed for a summer swoon—similar to the previous two years. We believe the backdrop is decidedly different (and better) this time around but investor and business confidence will continue to be important.
- Some appear to be hoping for weaker data in order to spur the Fed to enact another round of quantitative easing (QE3). We believe the bar is much higher and that the Fed should look to return to a more normal monetary stance. Complicating the overall picture and the Fed’s job is the coming “fiscal cliff” out of Washington at the end of this year.
- The political situation in Europe has injected even more uncertainty into an already tenuous environment. Public cries for a reduction in austerity, despite many proposed measures not taking affect yet, raises questions as to the sustainability of the eurozone as is. Spending cuts are important, but must be accompanied by serious structural changes that encourage growth and innovation to provide hope for the future.
NOTE: The next Schwab Market Perspective will be published one week later than normal—June 1, 2012.
We’ve seen this movie before … or have we? After starting out the previous two years in a positive direction, stocks experienced disappointing downturns beginning around this time of each year and continuing throughout the subsequent summers. Recently we’ve seen economic data soften, global concerns rise, Treasury yields fall, and stocks correct, prompting more questions as to whether we’re seeing a very unwelcome sequel. We believe not.
Before getting into why we don’t believe we’re in store for Summer Swoon III (a sequel, like many, that no one wants to see), we want to again point out that trying to time the market is largely a losing game for investors. And we also continue to remind investors that sticking to a disciplined long-term plan is key, rather that chasing crowd psychology or past returns. We’re reminded of the continued chasing mentality that almost inevitably leads to disappointment as ISI Research reported that bond mutual fund inflows were at a record high during the first four months of the year, while equity fund outflows were the third largest on record.
Currently, investor apprehension is rising, indicated by increasing volatility and a stock market in correction mode, as the possibility of a replay of the previous two years is considered. However, we believe there are several important fundamental differences that help to support a renewed market advance before too long. First, we aren’t dealing with any major natural crises such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami we saw last year; or the spike in food inflation that unleashed the “Arab Spring.” In fact, commodity prices are largely moving lower, allowing central banks around the world to ease monetary policy, as we’ve seen in Brazil, Australia, and India among others. And while there are still major concerns regarding the debt crisis in Europe, discussed in further detail below, the European Central Bank (ECB) has made moves that indicate they will be aggressive to preserve some semblance of stability in the European markets. Finally, in the United States we’re seeing further signs of housing stabilization, a continued improving job situation, and a rebound in auto sales, which is now a larger driver of GDP than residential investment.
But there’s the impact of “muscle memory” given the past two years’ volatility; and perception can become reality. There is a risk that investors increasingly lose confidence in the economic recovery, pressuring stocks, and causing businesses to again pare back. In the short term, market performance can have more to do with sentiment than fundamentals, again illustrating the folly of short-term timing.
Temporary Softness or a New Trend?
Data has been mixed lately, with regional manufacturing surveys largely disappointing: the Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level since November 2009, although remaining in expansionary territory and the Dallas Fed Index slipped into negative territory. The national index provided more encouragement as the ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 54.8, the best level since June 2011, while the forward looking new orders component rose to 58.2, the best level since April 2011. This is distinctly better than the trend in most global PMIs. However, more concern came in the form of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, which softened to 53.5 from 56. But while the important service sector showed some softness, we continue to see consumers improve their balance sheets, which should help to support spending going forward.
Consumers’ debt position is much improved
Source: FactSet, Federal Reserve. As of May 7, 2012. Includes mortgage and consumer debt, auto lease payments, rental payments, homeowners insurance, and property tax payments.
Key to consumer spending continuing to hold up is likely the continued improvement in the job market, which has been in question lately. Jobless claims started to creep higher before experiencing a relatively sharp reversal recently and remaining well below the critical 400,000 level. However, payroll growth continued to be disappointing as a soft reading for March was followed with another one in April. We saw ADP report a mere 119,000 private jobs were added, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payrolls expanded by a weak 115,000 positions; although the previous two months were revised higher. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1% due largely to a drop in the labor participation rate, which now stands at 63.6%—the lowest level since 1981.
Tags: Austerity, Backdrop, Brazil, BRICs, Business Confidence, Charles Schwab, Chief Investment Strategist, Economic Data, Eurozone, Global Concerns, Liz Ann, Market Perspective, Monetary Stance, Political Situation, Positive Direction, Research Key, Sector Analysis, Senior Vice President, Sequel, Sustainability, Swoon, Treasury Yields
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Friday, February 25th, 2011
Schwab Sector Views: Commodity-Rise Impacts
Schwab Sector Views reflect a three- to six-month outlook and are appropriate for investors looking for tactical ideas. We typically update our views every two weeks.
Commodity prices have received a lot of attention during the past several months: from oil and gold, that have been multiyear stories, to the more-recent rise in food-related commodities that has helped fuel unrest in the Middle East. As a reader of our sector views, which are more tactical in nature, you may wonder if there are some near-term sector implications of the rising commodities complex.
Let me unequivocally say … maybe. As we’ve noted before, investing is never a one-factor model and this case is no different. However, we must pay attention to the recent rise in commodity prices, because it can certainly have an impact on our sector calls.
For example, we recently upgraded both energy and materials on our view that economic growth would continue to fuel rising oil, natural gas and metals prices. Now we have to start looking at the other side of the ledger, because the rise in some prices has been so severe that it could threaten the performance of some sectors.
Let me first note that we don’t want to overreact and aren’t making any changes in recommendations this week, but we are watching the following closely for their potential impetus for changes in our views.
For sectors including consumer discretionary, consumer staples, materials and industrials, we’re watching not only the sustainability of the higher input costs, but also the ability of companies in these groups to pass their increased costs on to customers.
Companies have largely been unsuccessful in raising prices during the past couple of years, so margins could be at risk if both the high commodity prices and inability to pass those costs on continue.
For now, wage growth remains stagnant, and given that labor is often the major expense for companies, this helps management maintain profitability. However, we’ll watch for potential changes there.
Additionally, we’re watching the reaction of global central banks to the rise in commodity prices as tightening measures are already being put in place. The danger, of course, is that central banks overreact, pushing the global economy back into recession—which would vastly change our sector outlook. We’re not predicting that will occur, as policymakers are aware of the risks of aggressive tightening, but as global unrest rises, it’s not something we can discount.
Finally, a word of caution about investing directly in commodities. While there may be situations when it’s appropriate, it can also be tricky. First, remember that often when everyone is clamoring to get into something, that’s often a decent time to move the other way.
Second, there are many products designed to provide direct commodity exposure, but many have little track record and can get complicated pretty quickly—plus, liquidity can be an issue in some. If you insist on investing directly in commodities, we strongly suggest doing so with caution and with the appropriate due diligence.
For details on our sector views, please read the expanded analysis below for each sector. As noted above, our recommendations can and do change quickly at times as we continually monitor economic progress and specific factors influencing individual sectors, so check back often.
Bad weather through much of the country throughout the first part of the year continues to make it more difficult to get a good read on what the consumer is doing. However, the personal consumption component of fourth-quarter gross domestic product, along with a couple of consumer sentiment surveys, indicates that the moribund American consumer is a thing of the past—at least for now.
However, that doesn’t mean that spending has returned with abandon—the savings rate remains above 5% and companies continue to point to the price discrimination of consumers as a continuing challenge.
Additionally, unemployment remains stubbornly high, credit standards remain tight, and, as noted, consumers still seem to be intent on saving more and spending less. Combine these issues with the margin-squeezing discounting mentioned above that many retailers had to institute in order to entice shoppers, and you still have a challenging retail environment, leading us to continue to hold the discretionary group at marketperform.
Also, we’re becoming more concerned with the rise in commodity prices, which threaten to not only squeeze margins as passing costs on to customers remains difficult, but also to crimp customers’ ability to spend on discretionary items as more money is spent on such things as food and energy.
Tags: China, Commodities, Commodity Prices, Consumer Staples, Economic Growth, Emerging Markets, energy, Factor Model, Gold, Impetus, Industrials, Infrastructure, Input Costs, Investors, Margins, Metals Prices, Middle East, Natural Gas, oil, risk, Schwab, Sector Analysis, Sectors, Sustainability, Unrest
Posted in Commodities, Credit Markets, Energy & Natural Resources, Gold, Infrastructure, Markets, Oil and Gas, Outlook | Comments Off
Monday, July 12th, 2010
This article is a guest contribution by John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hussman Funds.
Perhaps the best way to begin this week’s comment is to note that in decades of market analysis, I can’t remember a time that I’ve heard many analysts quoting some support or resistance level as being “critical” for the market. Some are eyeing the 1040 “neckline” on the S&P 500 “head-and-shoulders” formation. Others are eyeing the downward trendline that connects the April and June peaks for the index. Still others point to the “death cross” between the 50-day and the 200-day moving average, near the 1100 level, as being crucial. Even Richard Russell – who deserves more respect than most – has put the full weight of his analysis, over the near term anyway, on whether or not the Dow Transportation average remains above the closing level of 3792.89. The object of discussion has increasingly turned to the implications of this particular chart formation or that, as if some magic number or another absolves investors from having to think about the big picture.
All of this suggests that this is a “rent, not own” market being driven by technical traders who uniformly and somewhat predictably pile on to the sell side or the buy side when particular levels are hit. Last week, we observed the obligatory rally to prior support, closed a “gap” in the S&P 500 chart from a couple of weeks ago, and kissed the 20-day moving average. Based on this sort of “critical level” chatter, a move above the 1100 level could trigger a powerful but short-lived burst of short-covering on the relief of the “death cross”, while a move below 1040, and particularly a break in the Transports below 3792.89, would most probably cause all hell to break loose. Simply put, over the very short term, market fluctuations are likely to be driven by masses of technical traders, nearly all acting on precisely the same signals.
The key issue here is the sustainability of these moves. To the extent that an upside breakout is accompanied by a substantial relief in near-term economic concerns (e.g. a move in the ECRI Weekly Leading Index growth rate back to positive territory, or three to four weeks of plunging new claims for unemployment), one might anticipate a positive follow-through over the intermediate term. In contrast, a downside breakout accompanied by further deterioration in reliable economic indicators or poor corporate guidance would prompt a more sustained period of deterioration. Lacking such confirmation from “real” indicators of economic and corporate activity, the immediate response of breakouts or breakdowns is likely to be confined to a short burst of concerted selling or short-covering.
On a valuation basis, the S&P 500 remains about 40% above historical norms on the basis of normalized earnings. The disparity between our valuation assessment and the putative undervaluation being touted by Wall Street analysts is so great that a few remarks are in order. First, virtually every assessment that “stocks are cheap” here is based on the ratio of the S&P 500 to year-ahead operating earnings estimates, and often comes with a comparison of the resulting “earnings yield” with the depressed 10-year Treasury yield. What’s fascinating about this is that this is the same basis on which analysts deemed stocks to be about 40% undervalued just prior to the 2007 top, following which the market plunged by more than half. There’s a great deal of analysis regarding forward operating earnings that I published in 2007, but probably the most comprehensive piece was Long Term Evidence on the Fed Model and Forward Operating P/E Ratios from August 20, 2007.
Tags: Big Picture, Bill Gross, Burst, Chart Formation, Critical Level, Death Cross, Gap, Gold, Head And Shoulders, Hussman Funds, Magic Number, Market Fluctuations, Moving Average, Neckline, Resistance Level, Richard Russell, Short Covering, Sustainability, Technical Traders, Transportation Average, Transports, Trendline
Posted in Bonds, Gold, Markets, Outlook, US Stocks | Comments Off
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Interestingly, the Fed raised the discount rate last week as bank credit for the week contracted by a further $9 billion, According to David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist of Gluskin Sheff & Associates, “this brings the year-to-date decline to $115 billion, or a 14% annual rate, with every component from mortgages, to consumer credit, to business lending shrinking”.
Source: Breakfast with Dave – Gluskin Sheff & Associates, February 22, 2010.
“There is no way the Fed is hiking the Fed funds rate with bank credit in secular decline and all bets are off on the sustainability of any recovery; a sustainable recovery without bank credit growth – that will be a new one. … a true tightening in monetary policy is still likely a 2011 story at this point. Those who were surprised by the early timing of the discount rate hike last Thursday should consider that perhaps the Fed wanted to have the market distinguish the move from an actual policy shift by doing it as far away from an FOMC meeting as possible,” said Rosenberg.
As mentioned before, it is difficult to see a significant economic recovery without the banks coming to the party. And this begs the question: Is this what the policymakers had in mind when bailing out the banks?
Tags: Bets, Business Lending, Chief Economist, Consumer Credit, David Rosenberg, Economic Recovery, February 22, Fed Funds Rate, Fomc Meeting, Gluskin Sheff, Last Thursday, Malaise, Monetary Policy, Policy Shift, Policymakers, Rate Hike, Secular Decline, Strategist, Sustainability, Sustainable Recovery
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Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
Barry Ritholtz, CEO of FusionIQ, reminds us that in 1973-74, the market fell 44%, then rallied 78%. He says he is not calling the forecast this time that tightly, but says that before this is all over, the market which is up over 50% currently, may see 60, 70, or 80% before topping out.
The melt-up in the market has caused professional investors a great deal of performance angst over whether or not to re-enter the market more willfully, given the underlying concerns about the economy’s recovery and sustainability of earnings forecasts. Ritholtz says that fund managers are buying the rally, and this is reason to believe the market melt-up can extend higher.
“After starting the week with a big knock, the stock market has resumed its rallying ways, with the Dow closing above 9300 on Thursday while the S&P again surpassed the 1000 level.
“Professional money managers are buying into the rally in a big way, according to a Merrill Lynch Survey of Fund Managers:
- 75% believe the world economy will improve in the next 12 months. That’s the highest level in nearly six years and up from 63% in July.
- Average cash balances have fallen to 3.5%, the lowest since July 2007.
- 34% of managers surveyed are now overweight stocks, the highest since Oct. 2007.
- Risk appetite is also increasing, to the highest levels in two years.
“The contrarian in you probably thinks that signals a market top. But Barry Ritholtz, CEO of FusionIQ and author of Bailout Nation, isn’t ready to call an end to the move. ‘We’ve worked off lots of that oversold condition,’ he admits, but that doesn’t mean the rally can’t continue for some time.
“Ritholtz, who told Tech Ticker in early March we were in for a monster rally, has 1,050-1,080 as an upside target for the S&P 500, with a slight chance it can go as high as 1,200. If the rally does extend to those outer limits, Ritholtz sees the Dow topping out ’somewhere around 12,000′.
“Regardless of your position, long or short, Ritholtz’s key message is to remain cautious. ‘This is a trading rally not a multi-year rally,’ he says. Eventually something’s got to give: ‘We’ve never had six-month period before where we’ve lost two million jobs and the market’s gained 50%,’ he says. ‘That’s simply unprecedented.’”
Source: Yahoo Finance, Tech Ticker, August 21, 2009.
Tags: Anxiety, August 21, Bailout, Barry Ritholtz, Cash Balances, Dow, Earnings Forecasts, Fund Managers, Market Rally, Merrill Lynch, Monster Rally, Outer Limits, Performance Anxiety, Professional Investors, Professional Money Managers, Risk Appetite, Signals, Six Years, Stock Market, Sustainability, Target, Two Million, Vector, World Economy, Yahoo Finance
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Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Hedge fund investing great, Paul Tudor Jones, founder of $10.8-billion Tudor Investment Corp. says the current rally is a “bear market rally,” in his latest letter to investors.
Slowing growth in China and the return of front-page stories on swine flu may be “further catalysts for global equity markets to pause in September,” the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm said in an Aug. 3 client letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.
Tudor said the 47 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of the largest U.S. companies since March 9, when it fell to a 12-year low, is a “bear-market rally.” The index topped 1,000 for the first time in nine months this week after companies reported better-than-expected profits.
“Impressive counter-trend rallies are a feature, not an oddity, of secular bear markets,” Tudor said. “We are not inclined to aggressively chase the market here. Many doubts remain about the sustainability of this recovery, most prominently the weakness of household income growth.”
Read the whole article here.
Source: Bloomberg, August 6, 2009, Saijel Kishan
(h/t: Simoleon Sense)
Tags: Bear Market, Bear Markets, Bloomberg News, Catalysts, Doubts, ETF, Flu, Global Equity Markets, Greenwich Connecticut, Hedge Fund, Household Income Growth, Market Rally, Nine Months, Oddity, Paul Tudor Jones, Rallies, S 500, Simoleon, Sustainability, Swine Flu, Tudor Investment
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Thursday, May 21st, 2009
David Rosenberg, Merrill’s former chief North American economist, has returned to his native Toronto and commenced duty with buy-side firm Gluskin Sheff & Associates. David has just produced his first report as chief economist and strategist of his new employer, basically picking up where he left off with Merrill. A short extract follows below, preceding a link to the full report.
“Recession Isn’t Over: We still get asked all the time whether or not it is possible to see a positive real GDP print and still be in recession. Indeed, just go back a year ago and you will see that the economy, after a brief contraction in the first quarter, rebounded at nearly a 3% annual rate in the second quarter as the tax rebates kicked in. The problem is that the economy relapsed in the third quarter, and then the fourth quarter, and then the first quarter, and so on. You can get positive GDP growth quarters in a recession, and more often than not, we see two of these. But the operative word is sustainability. That is the key.”
Click here for the full report.
Source: David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff & Associates, May 20, 2009.
Tags: American Economist, Canadian Market, Chief Economist, Contraction, David Rosenberg, First Quarter, Fourth Quarter, GDP, GDP Growth, Gluskin Sheff, Merrill, Operative Word, Quarters, Real Gdp, Recession, Report Source, Second Quarter, Strategist, Sustainability, Tax Rebates
Posted in Economy, Markets | 1 Comment »