The guideline for emotional investors

Investors are more likely to reach their long-term goals if they remain invested and avoid short-term decisions that may take them off course. As the hypothetical example below shows, investors may make suboptimal decisions when emotions take over, tending to buy out of excitement when the market is going up and sell out of fear when the market is falling. Markets do ultimately normalize, and when they do, those who stay invested may benefit more than those who don’t.

To help reason prevail, first make sure you’re comfortable with your allocation to riskier assets and that it makes sense in light of your time horizon. You also need a logical framework for financial decisions and a plan that anticipates periods of market turbulence. A systematic approach for reviewing portfolio results, with pre-established guidelines for selling, may help as well.

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Something important about S&P 500 Index (as of Feb. 28, 2017)

S&P Index at inflection points

Source: J.P.Morgan Asset Management, as of Feb. 28, 2017

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Something important about the global bond market (as of Feb. 28, 2017)

           Source: J.P.Morgan Asset Management

 

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One Opinion About QE

Bill Gross: “The expansion of central bank balance sheets from perhaps $2 trillion in 2003 to a now gargantuan $12 trillion at the end of 2016 is remarkable. Not only did central banks buy $10 trillion of bonds, but they lowered policy rates to near 0% and in some cases, negative yields.

Withdrawal of stimulus, as has happened with the Fed in the past few years, seemingly must be replaced by an increased flow of asset purchases (bonds and stocks) from other central banks, as shown in Chart below. A client asked me recently when the Fed or other central banks would ever be able to sell their assets back into the market. My answer was “NEVER”. A $12 trillion global central bank balance sheet is PERMANENT – and growing at over $1 trillion a year, thanks to the ECB and the BOJ.

 

Chart: Central Bank Balance Sheet (US$)

 

An investor must know that it is this money that now keeps the system functioning. Without it, even 0% policy rates are like methadone – cancelling the craving but not overcoming the addiction. The relevant point of all this for today’s financial markets? A 2.45%, 10-year U.S.Treasury rests at 2.45% because the ECB and BOJ are buying $150 billion a month of their own bonds and much of that money then flows from 10 basis points JGB’s and 45 basis point Bunds into 2.45% U.S. Treasuries. Read more »

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Bloomberg Sunset Index: the countries that most at risk from aging populaiton

The world’s working-age population is shrinking faster than expected, leaving fewer people to support a growing number of seniors, according to the Bloomberg Sunset Index.

Bloomberg Sunset Index uses statutory retirement ages in 178 nations. Conventional measures of old-age dependency calculate the ratio of people ages 65 and older with those of working age: 15 to 64. But many people stop working well before 65: Men in 66 percent of the 178 countries Bloomberg evaluated and women in 78 percent can begin receiving retirement benefits earlier.

So the Bloomberg index calculates dependency based on each country’s statutory pensionable age, revealing substantial differences in some places with 2016 estimates from organizations including the World Bank and United Nations. For instance, Nigeria, with a statutory pensionable age of 50, has only 4.8 workers supporting each senior, compared with 19.4 as indicated by conventional measures. Russia has 2.4 instead of 5.1, and Colombia has 4.5 instead of 9.4.

 

 

As seniors increasingly outnumber people still in the workforce, pressures rise on investment pools, medical systems and funds to build economies for future generations. Read more »

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Oil. US Import Revolution in Numbers

OPEC often touts its 81% share of global “proven” reserves of oil. However, today it seems like OPEC’s peak influence is in the rear-view mirror due to several external factors. To start with the obvious, oil is slowly waning in importance in the global energy mix. According to the EIA, oil made up 34% of total global energy demand in 2010. By the year 2040, the EIA expects this share will be closer to 30%, though things could happen faster if the technology behind renewables and batteries makes a bigger impact than expected.

Next, U.S. domestic production has almost doubled because of the shale and fracking revolution. In 2008, the U.S. produced 5.0 million bpd, and in 2015 the country averaged 9.4 million bpd. Lastly, as you can see on the chart, accelerated development of Canada Oil Sands has enabled the U.S. to buy any imports needed from Canada instead of the Middle East. In 2005, Canada only supplied 16.1% of U.S. oil imports, but Canada is now the major supplier of oil to the U.S. with a massive 43.0% share.

 

The Changing Anatomy of U.S. Oil Imports Over the Last Decade

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How the world’s top universities are distributed

Oxford has won the accolade of world’s best university, according to the latest Times Higher Education Rankings. It is the first time an institution from outside the United States has topped the list. The ranking looks at 980 universities, which represent only the top 5% of the world’s higher education institutions. Seventy-nine countries feature in this elite list; however, the distribution of universities is far from even.

The domination in the rankings of Northern American universities is clear. During the previous 12 years no other nation has made it to first place, and the top 10 has consistently featured a majority of US institutions. In 2016, 148 US universities made the rankings, and 63 made it into the top 200.

 

Europe

The United Kingdom, with 91 institutions on the list, is home to the largest number of top universities in Europe. It is the only country other than the US to feature more than one institution in this year’s top 10. The one other country to make it into the top 10 is Switzerland, whose university ETH Zurich appeared in ninth place. (Nine other Swiss universities make the overall ranking.) Germany, Italy, France and Spain all have more than 26 universities in the rankings. But as the Times Higher Education notes, many European nations are “losing ground as Asia continues its ascent”. Read more »

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Economy and Politics: Review 2016 and Calendar 2017 (pls click to enlarge)

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The Problem With Forecasts

We can’t predict the future – if it was actually possible fortune tellers would all win the lottery.  They don’t, we can’t, and we aren’t going to try. However, this doesn’t stop the annual parade of Wall Street analysts from pegging 12-month price targets on the S&P 500 as if there was an actual science behind what is nothing more than a “WAG.” (Wild Ass Guess). In reality, all we can do is analyze what has happened in the past, weed through the noise of the present and try to discern the possible outcomes of the future.

The biggest single problem with Wall Street, both today and in the past, is the consistent disregard of the possibilities for unexpected, random events. In a 2010 study, by the McKinsey Group, they found that analysts have been persistently overly optimistic for 25 years. During the 25-year time frame, Wall Street analysts pegged earnings growth at 10-12% a year when in reality earnings grew at 6% which, as we have discussed in the past, is the growth rate of the economy.

Ed Yardeni published the two following charts which shows that analysts are always overly optimistic in their estimates.

 

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US economic indicators in one chart

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