Second Quarter Investment Pulse

Contributed by: Angela Palacios, CFP® Angela Palacios

We’ve been busy with research this quarter. We listened to discussions on everything ranging from interest rates, to the current state of the economy, to social investing. Here’s a peek into what we’ve been learning! 

Jeff Sherman of Doubleline

Jeff is Doubleline’s head of macro asset allocation and a lead portfolio manager. He shared his thoughts on the fixed income markets as well as some interesting insight into the automotive industry.

Jeff feels yield is a good predictor of 12 month returns so if you want to know what types of returns you will get from your bond portfolio you need not look past its yield. Unfortunately, yields are very low right now.

Is there a catalyst for higher rates?

The simple answer, they think, is no. There has to be pressure from somewhere in the economy for rates to rise. GDP (gross domestic product) growth, a general rise in the price of goods (inflation), or wage inflation could trigger rates to rise. They don’t see any of these scenarios happening in the economy right now leading them to believe rates will be on the rise anytime soon. 

Automotive industry worries

They are worried about the automotive market because there have been a lot of subprime loans given to consumers to buy cars. Car dealerships are even starting to lease pre-owned vehicles—because inventories are very high—which has never been done before. Inventories are unusually high right now because cars are lasting longer and Uber is taking over and replacing the need to own a car in many markets. These factors spell trouble for the industry. 

Benjamin Allen of Parnassus

Social investing has been an area of focus for our research over the past couple of years. The process of incorporating a social or ESG overlay to our portfolios for those interested has many more options and research available now. Ben spoke about their process that starts with fundamental research just like any other asset manager. What makes them different is they also apply a lens for social factors including environmental and corporate governance. Their company is 32 years old, completely independent and employee owned. He discussed the importance of this independence in being able to develop their own personal edge for clients which has been a big driver of their success. It sounds like a little company I know…The Center! Our very own 30 year history as independent and employee owned.

Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist for First Trust Advisors

While attending a financial planning conference recently, Matt Trujillo, CFP®, had the opportunity to listen to Brian Wesbury speak. Often seen on CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV he always has an interesting viewpoint. He touched on two prevalent topics: inflation and current American lifestyles.

On Inflation

He noted that banks are holding onto large excess reserves and that’s why we haven’t seen much inflation and growth because they aren’t lending the money out. He referred to the M2 money supply which has grown very little over the last 10 years. M2 is a measure of money supply that includes cash and checking deposits (M1) as well as “near money.” “Near money" in M2 includes savings deposits, money markets, and other time deposits, which are less liquid and not as suitable as exchange mediums but can be quickly converted into cash or checking deposits.

On Lifestyle

Brian talked about how there has been very little wage growth but that our lifestyles have still grown due to dramatic innovations in technology. In 1995 if you wanted to purchase 1 Gigabyte of hard drive space it would have cost you $45,000. Then he pulled out his iPhone and said he had 64GB of space, which would have been worth $2.8 Million back in 1995! Another example is Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Does this increase in lifestyle makeup for the lack of wage increases? He is not the first economist we have heard refer to this phenomenon. I believe that much research is to come on this topic.

Angela Palacios, CFP® is the Portfolio Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor The Center blog.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Angela Palacios and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Jeff Sherman, Benjamin Allen, Brian Wesbury or the companies/organizations they represent. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss regardless of strategy selected. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.