The BRIC acronym, without the “S,” was introduced in 2001 by the Goldman Sachs chief economist who highlighted the prodigious growth and investment prospects of Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined. In 2009, Russia advanced the BRIC platform to create an informal bloc that could challenge the dominance of Western nations, particularly the United States. In 2010, South Africa joined and became the “S” in the BRICS lexicon. The original bloc, an informal economic alliance, comprises approximately 45% of the global supply chain for commodities, including industrial, precious, and agricultural products. In terms of contribution to global GDP, the BRICS constitute 31%, with expectations for a more expanded share as the new BRICS+ entrants are installed in 2024. The bloc has been characterized as the “commodity powerhouse of the world,” and that title will only strengthen with additional members.
Fixed income investors have had a rough time over the last few years. Normally a staid asset class, core bonds (as proxied by the Bloomberg Aggregate Bond Index) have seen negative returns over the last two calendar years and could potentially see negative returns for a third straight year—something that has never happened in the history of the core bond index (since 1975). But, despite the rapid rise in interest rates (fall in bond prices), there’s no reason to believe that we are in the beginning of a sustained bear market. Just because yields fell for many years doesn’t mean that they have to keep rising. In fact, at current levels, after years of artificially suppressed levels, long-term yields are back within longer-term ranges. And with inflation trending in the right direction and the Federal Reserve (Fed) near (at?) the end of its rate hiking campaign, we think the big move in long-term rates has already happened and interest rates are finally back to normal.
The Federal Reserve (Fed) often uses the Jackson Hole Symposium to announce tweaks in policy. Other central bank leaders are also worth watching as investors try to perceive where rates will be in the coming months. In this piece, we discuss some of the opportunities and risks we see in the markets and the economy following the central banker confab. We close the piece with investment implications.
Volatility has returned right on cue as U.S. equity markets continue to pull back from overbought levels. The recent jump in interest rates has proven to be too much too fast for stocks to absorb, especially for the heavyweight and longer-duration technology sector. Deteriorating economic conditions in China and weak seasonal trends have been additional factors behind the selling pressure. However, don’t panic, pullbacks are completely normal within a bull market. With volatility comes opportunity, and as valuations reset, overbought conditions recede, and support is found, we believe a buying opportunity back into this bull market will present itself over the coming months.
It’s different this time. The four (or five) most dangerous words in investing. We’ll take the risk and use those words here as we break down the recent decision by credit rating agency Fitch to downgrade U.S. government debt to its second-highest rating, AA+ (note that several countries in Europe, including Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland enjoy AAA ratings, as do Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) and Microsoft (MSFT)). We compare the potential market impact of this decision to what markets experienced in 2011 when S&P issued its U.S. debt downgrade.

Key Earnings Season Takeaways

by Brian Ormord on
Earnings season is mostly behind us with about 85% of S&P 500 companies having reported second quarter results. The high level results aren’t particularly impressive, but if we peel back the onion, the numbers are encouraging. Results and guidance probably haven’t been good enough for stocks to add to recent gains, but they have been good enough, in our view, to end the earnings recession and limit the magnitude of any potential pullback. Here we provide some takeaways from this earnings season.

A Cloudy Outlook Makes for Choppy Markets

by Brian Ormord on
The economy is doing better than expected, and the markets are responding accordingly. In this piece, we discuss some of the factors that cause us to think the Federal Reserve (Fed) hiked for the last time in this cycle as inflation is receding and the outlook for the consumer looks cloudy. We close the piece with investment implications.
The first half of the year probably didn’t go the way many fixed income investors had hoped, particularly after the historically awful year last year. It wasn’t a horrible start—more in line with recent years—but expectations were high this year, with many calling 2023 the year for fixed income. But the themes that negatively impacted fixed income investors last year have carried over into this year as well—namely inflation and the Federal Reserve (Fed). While many of us thought the Fed would likely be done raising rates at this point, given the still high (but falling) inflation levels, it looks like the Fed isn’t quite done just yet. Our base case is the Fed will raise rates again this week (and possibly one more time this year) but is close to the end of its rate hiking campaign. As we point out in our recent Midyear Outlook 2023: The Path Toward Stability, a Fed pause has been good news for fixed income. And since we know it’s not how you start but how you finish, once the Fed is done, it could mean the year for fixed income is only postponed and not canceled.
Earnings season is upon us as some banks and a small handful of other blue chip companies have already reported results for their quarters ending June 30. The results on the surface probably won’t offer much to write home about given consensus estimates imply a 7% year-over-year decline in S&P 500 earnings per share. However, the key question is always what’s priced in, which at least offers an opportunity for markets to react positively, though our best guess is we get the typical upside surprises and guidance reductions, giving this rally a convenient excuse to take a breather.
The long dormant capital markets have recently begun showing signs of interest from institutional investors and deal makers anxious to bring companies to market. While activity remains muted at best, expectations are focused on 2024, when there is a prevailing consensus that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will be finished with its rate hike campaign, and that economic conditions will be resilient enough to underpin a strong capital markets environment. Given the country's unique characteristics in nurturing innovation and technological leadership, the role of capital markets is crucial in maintaining hegemony. That Apple's market capitalization at the close of the second quarter crossed over $3 trillion, exemplifies the country's dominance and the role of innovative experimentation.
We know it’s old news at this point, but on June 8, 2023, the S&P 500 entered a new bull market. After such a strong rally off the October lows, this young bull probably needs a breather. A look at the charts suggests this market may be due for a pause. Bull markets are not linear. However, the impending end of the Federal Reserve (Fed) rate-hiking campaign, and the economy’s and corporate America’s resilience, help make the bull case that steers LPL Research toward a neutral, rather than negative, equities view from a tactical asset allocation perspective.

Market Responses to Fed (In)Action

by Brian Ormord on
As the economy is likely downshifting, investors should take heed that the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) current stance is eerily similar to early 2007. During that time, the Fed held a tightening bias since they believed the housing market was stabilizing, the economy would continue to expand, and inflation risks remained. Clearly, their expectations were not met as the economy soon fell into recession. That’s not suggesting another 2008 is coming, but rather highlights how fast the economic environment can change.