Tag Archives: Market

Adjustment Period

Posted October 22, 2014 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , ,
Rolling hills and fall colors

The era of QE has been a difficult environment for active managers. The last five years have been a heyday for the passive investor, aided directly and indirectly by the Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE) programs, stocks and bonds have moved up in an indiscriminate manner. All one had to do was simply show up. Bonds have been directly aided by the trillions the Fed has purchased while equities have indirectly benefitted from the implied “put” or backstop inferred by these Fed actions. The Fed’s actions to keep rates artificially low have created market distortions that have interfered with many of our quantitative indicators.

When all equities or bonds generally get rewarded the same regardless of their quality or differences, it’s hard for the skilled manager to outperform. A rising tide of liquidity has lifted all boats making it easy for anyone to navigate in the harbor. But once the tide starts to recede, experience and skill are what matters. We have seen improvement with our models over the last year coinciding with the gradual reduction of QE. As markets return to “normal” we are better able to assess the risk and rewards of certain moves and strategies. We are seeing a number of opportunities develop that haven’t been available for years.

In the short run the market is looking tired. We have rejected the doom and gloom scenarios that have been so prevalent since the financial crisis and have caused many investors to miss out on the bull market. However, fewer stocks are hitting new highs and the breadth has been getting weaker. The uncertainty surrounding the end of QE and the timing of rate increases next year are factors contributing to the hesitancy. This is only natural and healthy in the long-run. As previously mentioned it also creates opportunities for us that have not been available for the last four years. Over the last few years we have held a cash position which has been a drag on performance. Going forward, this cash position is an advantage as it helps to cushion the downside and provide flexibility to take advantage of opportunities provided by any volatility and uncertainty.

Although the risks have risen, this doesn’t mean investors should get out completely. The market has been overdue for a correction for some time but it doesn’t mean that everything is ready to fall apart. Getting completely out now could cause you to miss crucial gains if stocks continue to rally as they have. The last four years have shown the futility of trying to time the market in an all in or out manner. It is still a bull market until proven otherwise.

The current economic data has been stronger indicating that the economic growth is picking up instead of getting weaker. Ultimately that is a good sign as it will support earnings growth that has been the key foundation for the current bull market. Any correction that comes will probably be more short-term and establish the next leg up for the market. Therefore, a correction would be viewed by us as an opportunity rather than a harbinger of doom. It is only natural after five years of market advances and ahead of interest rates starting to move up to get some market hesitancy or disruption. Our current exposures are to technology, energy, and materials which are late-cycle stocks and tend to do well in rising rate environments. We also continue to favor various segments of the healthcare sector such as medical device and healthcare providers. Several emerging market opportunities are also looking more promising than in the past and we have started to act in a few of these areas such as Mexico and Brazil.

It is no secret that we have been cautious on the bond market for some time. As the sun sets on QE the angst over when the Fed will begin to raise rates and by how much is growing. Markets always like to price actions in ahead of time and right now it seems the equity market is being affected to some degree by this interest rate uncertainty. However, the bond market has not moved much yet. Many thought that bonds would have a difficult year as they began to price in rate increases. So far, bonds have done the opposite and surprised many by having a good year. The inevitable is coming though and the window for bond gains is closing as we creep toward June of next year which is the most accepted time for rate increase to begin. Any equity market weakness will give bonds more time to put off the reckoning.

Although the potential for a bloodbath in the bond market is high, that doesn’t mean it will happen. It will probably be more like death by a thousand cuts. The Fed will be very slow and steady in raising rates as to minimize market disruption. After all, they do hold about $4.5 trillion of bonds!  Even if interest rates rise in a slow and gradual manner (which is what I believe will happen) bonds will still produce negative or flat real returns at best.

For example, take a look at the interest rate sensitivity of a broad composite of investment grade bonds such as the Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index. If interest rates are a half to one percent higher a year from now, the index could be down 2.5 to over 5 percent respectively. The current yield of about two percent would still not offset the losses.

In preparation we have been making changes and getting ready for the coming environment. We have been early on this call which has caused us to underperform in Managed Income this year so far, but not by a lot and we are better positioned for what is to come. We believe this approach is the most effective from a risk/reward standpoint and will pay off in the environment to come. Now is the time to take a look at the risk in bond or fixed income holdings and make adjustments. The first one to two percent moves from the bottom will be the most painful.

Written by Nate White, Chief Investment Officer of Paragon Wealth Management

Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Unusually Uncertain?

Posted July 22, 2010 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , ,
Protest Sign

 Photo By Shutterstock

Written by Dave Young, President of Paragon Wealth Management

Yesterday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the outlook for the economy is “unusually uncertain”.

He stressed that the economy was growing at a moderate pace. He mentioned that employment and consumer retirement sentiment were weak.

When he said, “unusually uncertain” the market sold off. What a surprise.

So why is this recovery “unusually uncertain”? What is unusual about it?

I’ve been through a few economic cycles and have never heard the fed chairman use those words.

I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’ll take a guess. After an economic slowdown/meltdown “usually” the economy goes through a normal cycle of recovery. He said this one is “unusually uncertain” indicating it is not “normal”.

What is “unusual” this time?

I believe it is the impact that politics is having on our economy and the markets. Usually politics do not have that big of an effect on the economy. This time is different.

Is it unusual for government to completely overhaul the private sector health care system, which makes up around 17 percent of our economy? Is it even more unusual to do it during such difficult economic times? Maybe it’s unusual to do it when surveys show that most Americans oppose it.

Or maybe it’s embarking on a complete overhaul of the financial system? Maybe it’s that the financial overhaul is based on the theories of senators like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank that have no “real world” financial experience and therefore those living in the “real world” have no confidence in them. Maybe it is because congress passes these monster bills (2500+) pages on a purely partisan basis without reading them.

Why as he said, is unemployment high and why are consumers scared?

If you are a business that needs to make a profit, (unlike a government agency), there are costs and risks involved in hiring new employees. Maybe you aren’t sure how much the new health care regulations are going to cost your company. Possibly you aren’t sure how much of your money you will still have left to pay a new employee with after the upcoming new tax proposals are implemented. Now that unemployment costs go on for 99 weeks, maybe you don’t want to accept that unknown liability you have if you need to lay someone off in the future. Or maybe it’s simply because as a business owner you have a target on your back that says “Need Money? Tax Me!” and you don’t feel comfortable with that.

Why would you hire a new employee?

Why would you take the risk? You wouldn’t. And most employers aren’t. They are making things work with the employees they have. The government tells us every day they are saving us, but they are actually having the opposite effect. They have created incredible uncertainty. That uncertainty translates into high unemployment and low consumer confidence.

Not to worry.

Today congress cleared the way to spend another $33,000,000,000 (that’s billion) of our grandchildren’s money, and extend unemployment benefits once again. This administration seems to be taking the law on unintended consequences to a whole new level. Maybe higher tax rates and permanent government expansion are not the solution after all.

Maybe we’ll have a chance in the voting booth to start repairing this mess in November. Time will tell. 

Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions.  Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy.  All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice.  This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Today’s Market Update

Posted March 13, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , ,

Written by Nate White, CFA

The equity markets ended higher today after opening lower.

Following on the coattails of the Asian and European markets which closed lower, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all opened lower and went South immediately.

Just as things were looking very bleak, a report from S&P stating that the bulk of the writedowns for subprime debt are near an end turned the markets around and they were able to hold onto the gains until market close. Nine of the 10 secotrs gained with Materials, Energy, and Consumer Staples leading the way.

The 10-year Treasury bond yield increased 10 basis points to 3.52%. Crude oil set another high as it touched $111 a barrel and then retreated to close slightly lower. Gold also set another record high closing at $998.10 after hitting the $1,000 mark earlier. CPI is out tomorrow which promises more volatility for the markets.

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