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The Case Against Premature Fiscal Austerity

 A new Congress has convened. Soon the battle of the budget will begin. On one side will be the advocates of stimulus, who think the economy needs help…

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A new Congress has convened. Soon the battle of the budget will begin. On one side will be the advocates of stimulus, who think the economy needs help to recover fully from the damage done by the pandemic. On the other side will be the deficit hawks, refreshed after their long slumber during the Trump administration. 

The case for a sharp turn toward fiscal austerity rests in large part on the idea that we are at the edge of a precipice, poised for a plunge into insolvency, default, hyperinflation, and who knows what other disasters. A new book from the Cato Institute, A Fiscal Cliff conveniently gathers the views of fiscal conservatives into a single volume. This commentary reviews some of the most common arguments for fiscal austerity and explains why they don’t hold up. 

How high is the debt ratio, really?

The signature chart of fiscal conservatives, one that appears no fewer than four times in A Fiscal Cliff, shows a soaring ratio of federal debt to GDP. An up-to-date version is shown in Figure 1. The blue line tracks the most widely used measure of federal debt, federal debt held by the public (FDHP), based on historical data and projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 


The historical peak of the debt ratio, 106.1 percent, was reached in 1946. By 1974, a combination of real economic growth and inflation had shrunk the ratio to 23 percent. After that, it moved within a fairly narrow range until 2007, and then began rising rapidly again. The CBO projects that the debt ratio will exceed its wartime high by 2023. Just how alarming is that, really?

In part, the answer depends on which measure of the debt ratio we use. As the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes, the version based on federal debt held by the public is widely accepted as “the most economically meaningful measure of debt.” However, a primer on federal debt published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) offers several alternatives. 

Some fiscal conservatives, including John Merrifield, an editor of A Fiscal Cliff and the author of an overview chapter, prefer to cite the gross debt. That measure, which includes money the federal government owes to itself (for example, in the form of treasury securities held by the Social Security Trust Fund) was about 28 percent higher than the FDHP as of 2020, as shown by a red data point in Figure 1. The reasoning behind a preference for the gross debt appears to be that the Social Security trust fund and similar funds reflect promises to pay benefits in the future, so they should be counted along with other financial obligations of the government. 

However, I see problems with that reasoning. For one thing, although the government should, of course, think carefully when making promises, promises to pay future benefits are not analogous to those made when issuing securities. The owner of a security has an actual legal claim against the treasury. A failure to honor that claim would be a default. In contrast, future Social Securities beneficiaries have only an expectation, not a legal claim. They hope that Congress will not change the benefit formulas before their turn comes to collect, but such changes have been made in the past, so they can’t be sure. Ironically, some of the very fiscal conservatives who treat the trust funds as financial obligations are among those who urge Congress to renege on its promises by “reforming” Social Security. Significantly, they do not refer to their proposed reforms as “defaults.” 

Furthermore, even if we were to count promises of future benefits as legal obligations of the government, the quantity of securities in the trust funds are not an accurate measure of those obligations. Suppose, for example, that Congress were to change Social Security to a simple pay-as-you-go basis. Instead of placing social security taxes in a trust fund when collected and holding them in the form of securities until they are paid out, those taxes would be deposited in the treasury’s general account at the Fed, along with other revenues. Benefits would not change, but would be paid out of the treasury general account instead of from the trust fund, as they are now. Any securities remaining in the trust fund would be moved to the balance sheet of the treasury, where they would now appear as both assets and liabilities and be canceled out. The whole operation would in no way change the annual federal tax burden, annual government spending, or the deficit. It would have no effect whatsoever on financial markets. But, if applied not just to Social Security but to all similar funds, it would immediately cut the value of the government’s gross debt by 30 percent. 

No wonder, then, that the CBO itself warns that “gross federal debt is a poor indicator of the government’s overall financial position.” 

As the CBO explains, if we want a measure of the debt that is more economically accurate than the FDHP, we would end up with a lower, not a higher number. One such alternative nets out government financial assets, such as the outstanding balances on student loans. As of 2020, that lowers the debt ratio by about 10 percent, as shown in Figure 1. A further adjustment recognizes that the Federal Reserve is de facto a part of the federal government, and thus excludes its large holdings of treasury securities from “debt held by the public.” Adjusting for both government assets and the Fed’s securities holdings reduces the 2020 value of the federal debt to 65 percent of GDP. Figure 1 shows only the 2020 values of the alternative debt measures, but because both student loans and the Fed’s portfolio of securities have grown rapidly in recent years, showing full historical values would reduce the apparent rate of growth of the debt ratio as well as its current value. 

Do we even care about the debt ratio?

Rather than quibbling over whether debt held by the public overstates or understates the government’s financial liabilities, perhaps we should ask the more fundamental question of whether the debt ratio is a meaningful measure of fiscal sustainability in the first place. In a recent paper, economists Jason Furman and Lawrence Summers argue that it is not. The problem with the debt ratio, say Furman and Summers, is that it compares the stock of debt with the flow of GDP. But that is not how we normally think about our finances either as borrowers or as lenders. 

Suppose you are a young person on the first rung of a promising career, and you are looking to buy your first home. Of course, you are not going to pay cash – you will take out a mortgage. Accordingly, what you want to consider in deciding how much house you can afford is not the ratio of the mortgage principal to your current annual income (a stock-to-flow comparison), but rather, the ratio of your monthly payments to your monthly income (a flow-to-flow comparison). 

The payment-to-income ratio is also what the bank will look at. The 28/36 rule is a widely-used flow-to-flow formula that says monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 28 percent of a borrower’s income, and that total debt service, including car loans and credit cards, should not exceed 36 percent of income. 

Figure 2 shows what a flow-to-flow comparison looks like for the federal government. The peak of federal interest outlays as a share of GDP came in the 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when the debt ratio was less than half what it is today. The trend from 2007, projected forward to 2020 and beyond, shows not a further increase in the ratio, but a return to normal, or even a little below what was normal for the post-WWII period. There is no sign of an impending fiscal cliff like the one that looks so alarming in Figure 1.

 


“Every family in America has to balance their budget. Washington should, too,” John Boehner liked to say when he was Speaker of the House, a sentiment often echoed by fiscal conservatives. By that standard, the debt service burden of the federal budget looks pretty modest in comparison to the 28/36 rule that is considered prudent for households. Federal interest outlays, which the CBO now pegs at about 2 percent of GDP and expects to decline toward 1 percent, figures out to just 5 to 10 percent of federal receipts. Furman and Summers consider 2 percent of GDP to be a reasonable standard for the long run. The budget in the twenty-first century is comfortably within that range so far. 

What are the risks?

But, warn fiscal conservatives, what would happen if interest rates rose? If we combined the high interest rates of the 1980s with today’s higher debt ratios, debt service costs would soar. Can we take that chance? The response has several parts. 

First, the smart money says that is not going to happen. What pushed the interest rate so high in the 1980s was high expected inflation. Market-based data – not the estimates of some government economist but the real market bets of people who are putting their own money on the line – show that investors don’t expect inflation even to reach the Fed’s target rate of 2 percent over the next ten years. Wall Street is behaving as if 1980s-style interest rates are about as big a worry as an asteroid strike. 

Second, there are sound structural reasons to justify market expectations of low inflation and low interest rates. Furman and Summers point to increased saving driven by lengthening life expectancy and rising inequality, and also to decreased private-sector borrowing demand driven by changes in technology and corporate behavior. In fact, they consider a further decline in interest rates to be as likely as even a modest increase. 

Third, we need to consider economic growth. Just as your home mortgage becomes more manageable as your income grows over your career, growth of GDP makes government debt management easier. Without getting too technical about it, as long as the rate of growth of GDP is higher than the rate of interest (either adjusting both variables for inflation, or adjusting neither), the debt is not going to explode. And, as Figure 3 shows, that has been the case for most of the past half-century. (See here for the detailed mathematics of deficits and debts.) 



Fiscal conservatives warn of inflation and a debt crisis, but the very measures they propose to avoid those risks – capping spending and balancing the budget -- have risks of their own. Economic policy, now as always, is a matter of balancing one set of risks against another. 

In the short run, the obvious risk is that of undertaking austerity prematurely, when aggregate demand is weak and the economy is still operating well below its potential. It is especially important to maintain an expansionary fiscal stance in periods when the Fed’s interest rate target is at its lower bound of 0 or close to it. Failure of fiscal policy to support aggregate demand at a time when zero interest rates render conventional monetary policy impotent virtually guarantees a slower recovery. A slow recovery, in turn, is more likely to widen than to narrow the budget deficit. 

That is just where we are, entering 2021. After its December 2020 meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee announced its intention “to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee's assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.” A commentary from the Cleveland Fed notes that the FOMC expects inflation to remain at or below 2 percent at least through the end of 2021. A survey of private securities dealers in New York shows even lower inflation expectations, in the range of 1.7 to 1.8 percent, through 2022. 

Eventually, the economy will recover from the current pandemic-induced recession. At that point, the balance of risks will change. The biggest risk will then come not from inadequate fiscal stimulus, but from an inappropriate way of achieving the appropriate deficit target. 

That risk comes from another side to fiscal conservatism, one that often hides behind all the noise about the size of the deficit and the national debt. That is an insistence that the desired deficit target always be achieved through cuts on the spending side of the budget, not through adjustments to revenues. Such a one-sided view of budget balance risks undermining the state capacity that is essential to support healthy, long-run economic growth. My Niskanen colleagues Brink Lindsey and Samuel Hammond put it this way in a recent manifesto, “Faster Growth, Fairer Growth:”     

[T]he private sector functions at its best when it is enabled and supported by a strong, capable, effective public sector. It needs government to write and enforce the rules that align private profit-seeking with the public welfare. It needs government to fund or supply the public goods — education, infrastructure, research and development — that enable people to participate in the marketplace at a high level and push the whole system to new heights by advancing the frontiers of knowledge and technology. It needs government to provide social insurance against various hazards of life — poverty, sickness, and joblessness — and thus protect well-being against downside risks, prevent the mass waste of human potential that would otherwise occur, and sustain support for economic dynamism even in the face of its incessant disruptions of people’s plans and expectations. 

Fiscal conservatives’ goal of shrinking the government until it is “small enough to drown in a bathtub” completely misunderstands the role of the state in a modern economy. As I have detailed elsewhere, the evidence is overwhelming that quality of government, not size of government, is the key to freedom and prosperity. Around the world, high quality governments tend on the whole to be somewhat larger rather than smaller.

 

Do we need fiscal rules? Absolutely. In a dissenting chapter included in A Fiscal Cliff, I outline a set of rules that would guarantee long-run fiscal sustainability while leaving room for cyclical stimulus or restraint as needed, and permitting a government whose size is determined by the country’s actual needs rather than driven by ideology. (An updated version of the chapter is available on the Niskanen Center website.) 

For far too long, successive presidential administrations and Congresses have made tax and spending decisions with little regard for either appropriate short-term demand management or long-term growth and fairness. But naïve calls for fiscal austerity are not the answer. We do not face a fiscal cliff – we face a deficit of clear thinking about the proper size of government in a liberal democracy and the proper way to achieve the sustainable prosperity that we all want and deserve.

Previously posted at NiskanenCenter.org. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

 











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Here We Go Again – Monkeypox Communications Challenges

In February 2020 I published a blog posting – Emerging Pathogens, Communications – that encapsulated my observations and learnings from my years work…

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Source: CDC

In February 2020 I published a blog posting – Emerging Pathogens, Communications – that encapsulated my observations and learnings from my years work in the early years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the early 1980s. As we sit, possibly, on the cusp of another large scale medical challenge with monkeypox, it seemed like a good idea to revisit the topic. When there is a new and scary thing we are facing, medically speaking, there are some truisms regarding the communications environment that can inform strategic thinking about how we talk about it.

  1. Facts are low, speculation is high – And nature hates a vacuum and there will be many who are willing to fill the void with misinformation. People want facts, and the fact is, facts are in short supply.
  2. Numbers don’t mean a lot – First of all, they change quickly – and are changing very quickly with monkeypox. In addition, there is often a lack of accurate reporting for many reasons.
  3. Points of reference will change – What we know, and what we don’t know, will change over time as we get more experience and gain wider understanding. That might seem like a good thing, but in fact, changing stories undermine credibility.
  4. Fraud potential is high – There are people who will take advantage of the situation and exploit it for political and/or financial gain. That, too, impacts credibility and can confuse people.
  5. Policy is likely to be ham-handed – Policies may be developed quickly and without adequate information and be based on emotion and bias more than facts. This is another factor that strains credibility.

Monkeypox is not COVID, and COVID was not AIDS. They each present distinct challenges and evoke particular fears and concerns. There are big differences between the three. But they are all viruses. And when it comes to communications challenges there are many commonalities.

First and foremost, in the absence of facts, fear can drive actions. And when a pathogen is newly emerging, facts are greatly outnumbered by questions. The degree to which companies, educators, businesses and service providers may want to prepare to deal with those challenges may depend on where they are, who their stakeholders are, and how big or small they are. At this stage though, better to consider the challenges that may lay before you know, before they present themselves.

Source: CDC

Analysis

It may be that monkeypox is contained early if we are lucky. There are reported signs that transmission may be slowing in the U.K. and the trend in the graph above appears to show some deceleration. That said, the numbers have increased quickly on an extremely steep curve. That means there is an increasing amount of virus out there. The virus has mainly spread among men who have sex with men and transmission is being attributed to skin contact. But the higher the numbers go the greater potential there is for more lateral spread. A presumptive pediatric case was reported last week in California. It is also a virus that can move between people and animals.

Containment depends on systems that are able to screen, test, treat, and prevent (both by means of avoiding circumstances that can enhance transmission and by vaccination). To that end, many things are not in our favor. An extremely splintered approach at federal, state and local levels impacts the coordination of a public health response. We have COVID fatigue in the extreme. And in terms of tools, we do not have a means for screening, meaning we do not know who is infected before they exhibit symptoms which may take several days; the testing situation is complicated because there is no quick, at-home testing like there is for COVID and may be best applied when there are lesions. But people may have other symptoms such as headache, chills, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. The only FDA-approved drug to treat is approved for smallpox, but no Monkeypox and has been difficult to access. In terms of prevention, while a vaccine has been developed, supply is very short and it, too, has been hard to get.

Additional challenges include the fact that the course of illness runs two to four weeks. If a person must self-isolate for that length of time it is not only difficult, but there may be unintended consequences. With men who have sex with men comprising the overwhelming majority of cases, a diagnosis is the equivalent of coming out. For many gay men that is not a problem. For many others, who may have wives and children, it can be a very large one, facing a situation that may have both personal and professional peril.

At the present time, there are some states which are reporting higher numbers than others. If the numbers do continue to climb, then a larger number of geographies will be impacted and most likely a wider circle of people, raising the chances that large employers, those in specific sectors, may face communications challenges sooner rather than later such as:

  • Travel and hospitality
  • Schools and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Institutional settings such as daycare centers, rehab and nursing homes (a case of a daycare workers was reported in Illinois last week)

What to Do

Every business, service or place of public accommodation is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preparation. One must consider the size of the enterprise, the stakeholders and the level of physical contact and interaction with surfaces. That said, there are echos from both AIDS and COVID that shed light into how people may react to the emergence of another communicable condition. A few things to consider:

  • Review policies and assess what may need to be changed or amended; this is not just COVID return-to-work policies, but discrimination policies as well. Re-think many of the things you have had to communicate about a virus transmitted by air, and re-fashion to think about surfaces. Monkeypox will present distinct challenges.
  • Consider the questions and issues you may face. Can we catch monkeypox using the toilet? Trying on clothes? Do I have to sit next to the gay man? My co-worker says it is eczema, I’m afraid it is Monkeypox. Depending on your business, your clientele, there are different sets of questions that may arise for different settings. Think about what they might be and to what degree you are the one to have to provide the answers.
  • Assess the triggers for potential fear and conflict between employees, customers and users of any service.
  • Communicating in an environment where what we know changes, and what was certain yesterday may be uncertain tomorrow is always a strain on credibility. Therefore consider integrating reminders to that effect in your communications. What we know now is….
  • Gather reliable resources – the obvious ones such as CDC, FDA, and Departments of Health at the state and local levels, but also consider credible grassroots organizations, particularly ones that may resonate with stakeholders, particularly those dealing with gay-related health issues and key medical societies such as the American Society for Microbiology and others.

Many people think that preparation during such a nascent phase of the outbreak is over-reacting. I hope they are right. But having lived through AIDS and COVID, and seen early numbers quickly spell a different story over a very short period of time, one may be well-served to think it through now.

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Stocks for a recession: which companies have historically done well during recessions or are likely to this time?

Last week the Bank of England forecast a recession starting this autumn that it now expects to be deeper and longer than previously assumed. It also expects…

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Last week the Bank of England forecast a recession starting this autumn that it now expects to be deeper and longer than previously assumed. It also expects inflation to hit 13% by the end of the year just months after reassuring that it didn’t expect more than modestly high figures.

Having belatedly acknowledged the extent of the inflation problem, admittedly exacerbated by the impact on energy and food prices the war in Ukraine has had, the UK’s central bank’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee voted to raise interest rates. Thursday’s 0.5 percentage points rise, which took the BoE’s base rate to 1.75%, was the biggest single increase in 27 years.

The European Central Bank and USA’s Federal Reserve have also taken aggressive measures on rates, with the former also raising rates by 0.5% to 0%. It was the ECB’s first rates rise in 11 years. The Fed went even further, raising rates for the fourth and largest time this year with a 0.75 percentage points hike to between 2.25% and 2.5%.

Aggressive interest rate hikes alongside high levels of inflation tend to result in recession with the combination referred to as stagflation. With inflation expected to remain high next year and not dropping back towards the target 2% before 2023, we could be in for an extended period of recession.

Why stock markets fall during a recession but not all stocks do

Stock markets historically do badly during recessions for the simple reason they are a proxy for the economy and economic activity. When economic activity drops, people and companies have less money or are worried about having less money, so they spend less and companies earn less. Investors also become less optimistic about their prospects and valuations drop.

But the kind of drop in economic activity that leads to recessions is not evenly distributed across all areas of an economy. When consumers cut back on spending, they typically choose to sacrifice some things and not others, rather than applying an even haircut across all costs. And there are goods and services that people spend more on rather than less when tightening their belts.

So while the net impact of a recession has always historically been the London Stock Exchange and other major international stock markets losing market capitalisation, or value, that doesn’t mean all the stocks that constitute them go down. Some go down by more than others. And some stocks grow in value because the companies sell the categories of goods and services people spend more on when they are either poorer or worried about becoming poorer.

Should we be investing “for” a recession?

This surely means all investors need to do to mitigate against a recession is to sell out of the stocks that do badly during an economic slump and buy into those that do well? In theory, yes. In practice, doing that successfully would mean being sure a recession will take place some time before it becomes a reality and timing its onset, then the subsequent recovery, well.

That is of course far easier said than done which is why even professional fund managers don’t attempt the kind of comprehensive portfolio flip that would involve. Some investors will make big bets on events like the onset of a recession or inflation spiralling out of control.

They are the kind of bets that make for dramatic wins like those portrayed in the Hollywood film The Big Crash, which tells the story of a group of traders who predicted and bet big on the 2007 subprime mortgage implosion that triggered the international financial crisis. But as the film relies on for its dramatic tension, the big winners of The Big Crash very nearly got their timing wrong. Another few days and they would have been forced to close their positions just before market conditions turned in their favour and lost everything.

The reality is the big, risky bets that result in spectacular investment wins when they come off are usually far more likely to go wrong than right. Which is why regular investors, rather than high risk traders using leverage, shouldn’t take them. At least not with their main investment portfolio if they don’t have the luxury of being able to justify setting aside 10% to 20% of capital for highr isk-high reward bets.

If you have a well-balanced investment portfolio with a long term horizon and you are happy with the overall quality of your investments, you may choose to do nothing at all to mitigate against the recession that is almost certainly coming. If you have ten years or more until you expect to start drawing down an income from your portfolio, your investments should have plenty of time to recover from this period.

But if you do want to rebalance because you feel your portfolio is generally too heavily weighted towards the kind of growth stocks particularly vulnerable to inflation, higher interest rates and recession, you might want to consider rotating some of your capital into the kind of stocks that might do well in a recession.

How to pick stocks that will do well in a recession?

There are two ways to highlight stocks that might do well in a recession. The first is the most obvious and simplest approach – look at which did well in previous recessions. We had a very brief recession at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and a much more significant one in 2008/09 in the wake of the international financial crisis. Which companies did well over those periods?

The second approach is to add a layer of complexity into the equation and consider how and why the coming recession might differ from the two most recent historical examples. The 2020 recession was extremely unusual in its brevity. Within a couple of months, stock markets were soaring again as people under quarantine and social distancing restrictions spent more in the digital economy and generally on services and products to enhance their experience being couped up at home.

The 2008/09 recession was also different because it was caused by a systemic failure in the financial sector. Unemployment leapt which is not expected to happen this time around with an especially tight labour market one result of the combination of the pandemic and Brexit. Many households also have higher levels of savings built up during the pandemic which a significant number of analysts believe is softening the impact of inflation.

While there are likely to be constants throughout recessions, there are also differences that should be taken into account. Normally energy companies do badly during a recession as lower economic activity means less energy being used. But energy companies are currently posting record profits because of sky-high energy prices which are one of the major factors behind the expected recession. They should continue to do well while the recession lasts as energy prices dropping again is likely to be one of the catalysts behind the recovery.

The online trading company eToro recently published two baskets of “recession winning stocks” – one made up of Wall Street-listed companies and the other companies listed in the UK. The stocks in each basket were selected because they were the biggest gainers during the last two recessions. Interestingly, they also did well during the intervening period between 2009 and 2020, as well as in the aftermath of the coronavirus crash.

The portfolio of US stocks beat the S&P 500 index of large American businesses by 60 percentage points through the financial crisis between 2007 and 2009 and by 9 percentage points during the Covid crisis in 2020.

The portfolio of UK stocks beat FTSE-100 by 35 percentage points during the financial crisis and by 17 percentage points in the Covid crash. Since 2007, the US portfolio has gained 834%, more than twice the return of the Nasdaq and about five times that of the S&P 500. The UK portfolio’s 129% return is eight times more than the FTSE 100’s, excluding dividends.

eToro says:

“Well represented segments included discount and everyday-low-price retailers as consumers trade down, like Walmart (WMT), Ross Stores (ROST) and Dollar Tree (DLTR).”

“Fast food McDonalds (MCD) is related. Similarly, home DIY, like Home Depot (HD) Lowe’s (LOWE), and auto repair parts stocks Autozone (AZO) and O’Reilly (ORLY). Health care and big biotech is well-represented as inelastic non-discretionary purchases, like Abbott (ABT), Amgen (AMGN), Vertex (VRTX).”

“Also, domestic comforts from toys (Hasbro, HAS) to candy (Hershey, HSY), and getting more from your money and tax (H&R Block, HRB), and educating yourself (2U, TWOU).”

The UK portfolio included the drug makers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, which did well because spending money on healthcare and medicines is essential and families don’t tend to cut back even when struggling financially.

The cigarette makers British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands also don’t usually see any downturn in demand because they benefit from a customer base addicted to their products. Both companies pay high and rising dividends. Consumer goods firms such as Unilever and Premier Foods also typically do well because they own strong brands that people bought even after price rises have been passed on.

Proactive Investor also picks out a range of London-listed stocks it expects to do well over the next year or so. In the energy sector that is doing so well at the moment it highlights Harbour Energy as a “core sector stock” and Diversified Energy Company as having “one of the lowest-risk free cash flow profiles in the sector”, while Energean (a client) provides “excellent visibility on multi-decade cash flows”.

Another difference to recent recessions could be how miners do during the one expected from autumn. Normally lower economic activity reduces for demand for commodities but the sector is also facing supply constraints that should see prices supported or rebound quickly.

Copper, mineral sands and diamonds look among the commodities most constrained in terms of supply, with limited supply growth under development. Mining and commodity stocks to look at are suggested as:

“Atalaya Mining (AIM:ATYM, TSX:AYM), Central Asia Metals, Kenmare Resources, Petra Diamonds and Antofagasta, with Tharisa PLC (LSE:THS, JSE:THA) tagged on as platinum group output to be in focus as automotive sales recover.”

“Gold stocks are seen as outperforming the market during the pullback phase, as in March 2020 and in the initial stages of a rebound, with top picks currently Pan African Resources PLC (AIM:PAF, OTCQX:PAFRY, JSE:PAN, OTCQX:PAFRF), Pure Gold Mining Inc (TSX-V:PGM, LSE:PUR, OTC:LRTNF), Wheaton Precious Metals and Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI, LSE:AUY).”

Credit Suisse has also picked out stocks that have historically outperformed during recessions, highlighting:

“London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LSE:LSEG), RELX PLC (LSE:REL), Experian (LSE:EXPN) PLC, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Visa Inc (NYSE:V).”

Don’t panic

While there is nothing wrong with doing some periodic portfolio rebalancing and potentially rotating more assets into stocks seen as likely to thrive in a recession, don’t panic. Recessions have always come and gone as part of the economic cycle and stock markets traditionally go on to greater heights during the subsequent recovery.

That means the chances are your portfolio will regain its losses and add new gains over the years ahead. Buying cheap growth stocks seen as likely candidates to flourish again during the recovery could be seen as just as sensible a tactic as rotating into recession-proof stocks. But if you do decide to reposition to some extent, look for stocks that have not only historically done well during recessions, or could be expected to during this one ahead, but are also healthy companies you would expect to keep doing well when markets recover. Then your success won’t come down to the fickle fate of whether or not you get your timing right.

The post Stocks for a recession: which companies have historically done well during recessions or are likely to this time? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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TDR’s U.S. Stock Market Preview For The Week Of August 8, 2022

A weekly stock market preview and the data that will impact the tape. Sunday Evening Futures Open – Stock Market Preview Weekend News And Developments…

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A weekly stock market preview and the data that will impact the tape.

Sunday Evening Futures Open – Stock Market Preview

Weekend News And Developments

Berkshire Hathaway dramatically slowed new investment in the second quarter after setting a blistering pace at the start of the year, as the US stock market sell-off pushed the insurance-to-railroad conglomerate to a $43.8bn loss.

China’s southern island province of Hainan started mass Covid-19 testing on Sunday, locking down more parts of the province of over 10 million residents, as authorities scramble to contain multiple Omicron-driven outbreaks, including the worst in capital Sanya, often called “China’s Hawaii”.

Cuba: 17 missing, 121 injured as fire rages in oil tank farm in Matanzas City

Equity positioning for both discretionary and systematic investors remains in the 12th percentile of its range since January 2010, according to Deutsche Bank published last week.

Fisker Inc. (NYSE:FSR) unveils a process for qualifying US-based reservation holders of the Fisker Ocean all-electric SUV to retain access to the existing federal tax credit. The current $7,500 tax credit would be unavailable should Congress pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and President Biden signs the legislation into law.

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has called for an emergency budget before the UK hits a “financial timebomb” this autumn. Mr. Brown said millions would be pushed “over the edge” if the government does not address the cost of living crisis.

Israel said Sunday it killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in a crowded Gaza refugee camp, the second such targeted attack since launching its high-stakes military offensive against the militant group just before the weekend. The Iran-backed militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response, raising the risk of the cross-border fighting turning into a full-fledged war.

NexJ Systems (TSX: NXJ) announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2022.

Rhine river hit by drought conditions, hampers German cargo shipping. According to reports, transport prices have shot up as drought and hot weather have affected water levels in the river Rhine in Germany leading cargo vessels to reduce loads during transportation.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected 66 Chinese air force planes and 14 Chinese warships conducting activities in and around the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, Reuters reports. Thursday’s drills involved the live firing of 11 missiles.

Unifor: 1,800 members from across the country arrive in Toronto this weekend before Monday’s start to the union’s 4th Constitutional Convention, where delegates will elect a new National President and vote on key priorities and initiatives. Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. 

U.S. rate futures have priced in a 69% chance of a 75 bps hike at its September meeting, up from about 41% before the payrolls data. Futures traders have also factored in a fed funds rate of 3.57% by the end of the year.

What The Analysts Are Saying…

Anybody that jumped on the ‘Fed is going to pivot next year and start cutting rates’ is going to have to get off at the next station, because that’s not in the cards. It is clearly a situation where the economy is not screeching or heading into a recession here and now.” — Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Financial

“It is not a market bottom, things are not going to go up consistently from here because we are going to be buying low tech products for a while, so everyone has something to make up as COVID demand = pre-COVID​, there are fewer units for this. Reality check – unlike ‘Big Tech’, consumer discretionary related companies are offering more cautious guidance.”Morgan Stanley analyst commentary on a potential market bottom

The fact of the matter is this (Aug. 5 nonfarm payroll report) gives the Fed additional room to continue to tighten, even if it raises the probability of pushing the economy into recession. It’s not going to be an easy task to continue to tighten without negative repercussions for the consumer and the economy”. — Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors

“We are surprised to not see investors start to chase upside calls in fear of underperforming the market. People are just watching.” — Matthew Tym, head of equity derivatives trading at Cantor Fitzgerald

What We’re Watching

Psychedelic Sector Gaining Momentum: What started out as bottoming action after a protracted multi-quarter decline has now morphed into a tangible bullish impulse. We believe Netflix new docuseries How To Change Your Mind has played an important roll in the creation of critical mass awareness for the sector—and a rebound in broad market risk assets hasn’t hurt. At the tip of the spear for this sentiment shift is COMPASS Pathways plc (CMPS), which has risen 62.64% since  the docuseries debuted on July 12. Price on the benchmark Horizons Psychedelic Stock Index ETF has now breached the 20-day MA/EMA.

We are watching to see if investor sentiment shifts into laggard names such as Cybin Inc. and MindMed, which has continued to fall following a proposed 15-1 reverse stock split initiative announced this year. Many Tier-2/3 names still 90%+ off their highs…

Revive Therapeutics (RVV:CSE, RVVTF:OTC): This has been on our radar for the last couple of weeks, and remains on our watch list. The company has already confirmed that their statistician is in possession of 210 unblinded patient data for its Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate Bucillamine to treat COVID-19. The company is currently attempting to revise endpoint data from a hospitalization/death focus to a symptoms focus. If they are to achieve this, it will mark a material event in the course of the trial.

YTD performance (+33.09%), Revive Therapeutics (RVVTF); Red line = 7day EMA

We believe an endpoint decision, either positive or negative, is imminent and will have cause a material price action event.

Consumer Price Index, August 10: Consumer inflation expectations for July are released by the New York Fed, while the University of Michigan’s preliminary survey of consumers for August is on tap. Taken together, these should give investors a better picture of how consumers are feeling about current economic conditions. 

As of June, it’s running at 9.1% on an annual basis. Investors, economists and consumers will be watching to see if price increases are easing as everything from gasoline to food is elevated.

Given the mixed signals on the overall state of the economy (i.e. indications of recession vs. this week’s strong nonfarm payrolls number), CPI will be in-focus by market participants. Scotiabank expects 8.9% y/y (9.1% prior) and 0.4% m/m for headline CPI; ex-food-and-energy: 6.1% y/y led by a 0.6% m/m gain.

Pot stocks earnings continue, with several Tier-1/Teri-2 names reporting including Curaleaf Holdings, Trulieve Cannabis, Marimed Inc., Cronos Group, TerrAscend Corp. and more. Last Wednesday, Green Thumb Industries allayed fears somewhat that this earnings season would be a write-off, producing solid numbers which beat expectations on several key metrics. An additional strong report or two will go a long way to help improve sentiment for a sector that’s been decimated over the past six quarters.

U.S. Economic Calendar

TIME (ET)REPORTPERIODMEDIAN FORECASTPREVIOUS
Monday, August 8
11:00 AMNY Fed 3-year inflation expectationsJuly3.60%
Tuesday, Aug. 9
6:00 AMNFIB small-business indexJuly89.589.5
8:30 AMProductivityQ2-4.30%-7.30%
8:30 AMUnit labor costsQ29.30%12.60%
Wednesday, August 10
8:30 AMConsumer price indexJuly0.30%1.30%
8:30 AMCore CPIJuly0.60%0.70%
8:30 AMCPI (year-over-year)July-8.70%9.10%
8:30 AMCore CPI (year-over-year)July6.10%5.90%
10:00 AMWholesale inventories (revision)June1.90%1.70%
2:00 PMFederal budget (compared with year earlier)July-$302 billion
Thursday, August 11
8:30 AMInitial jobless claimsAug. 6265,000260,000
8:30 AMContinuing jobless claimsJuly 301.42 million
8:30 AMProducer price indexJuly0.20%1.10%
Friday, Aug. 12
8:30 AMImport price indexJuly-0.80%0.20%
10:00 AMUMich consumer sentiment index (preliminary)Aug.5352
10:00 AMUMich 5-year inflation expectations (preliminary)Aug.2.90%

Meme Of The Week

Key Earnings (US Markets)

DateCompanySymbolEarnings estimate
Monday, August 83D SystemsDDD$0.00 per share
BarrickGOLD$0.22
BioNTechBNTX$7.08
EnergizerENR$0.76
News Corp.NWSA$0.08
NovavaxNVAX$5.18
Palantir TechnologiesPLTR$0.03
Take-Two Interactive SoftwareTTWO$0.86
Tyson FoodsTSN$1.97
UpstartUPST$0.08
Tuesday, Aug. 9Akamai TechnologiesAKAM$1.31
AramarkARMK$0.24
Bausch HealthBHC$0.91
Carlyle GroupCG$1.07
CoindeskCOIN-$2.68
Cronos GroupCRON-$0.07
EbixEBIX$0.58
EmersonEMR$1.29
GlobalFoundriesGFS$0.45
Grocery OutletGO$0.24
H & R BlockHRB$1.24
Hilton Grand VacationsHGV$0.88
Hyatt HotelsH$0.03
IAC/InterActiveCorpIAC-$2.35
iRobotIRBT-$1.55
Maxar TechnologiesMAXR$0.12
Norwegian Cruise LineNCLH-$0.83
Plug PowerPLUG-$0.20
Rackspace TechnologyRXT$0.16
Ralph LaurenRL$1.71
RobloxRBLX-$0.26
Spirit AirlinesSAVE-$0.46
Super Micro ComputerSMCI$2.35
SyscoSYY$1.11
The Trade DeskTTD$0.20
TTEC HoldingsTTEC$0.85
Unity SoftwareU-$0.21
Warner Music GroupWMG$0.20
World Wrestling EntertainmentWWE$0.55
Wynn ResortsWYNN-$0.97
Wednesday, August 10AppLovinAPP$0.50
CoherentCOHR$2.13
CoupangCPNG-$0.10
CyberArk SoftwareCYBR$0.01
Dutch BrosBROS$0.07
Fox Corp.FOXA$0.77
Franco-NevadaFNV$0.98
Jack in the BoxJACK$1.42
Manulife FinancialMFC$0.76
MatterportMTTR-$0.14
Pan Am SilverPAAS$0.14
Red Robin GourmetRRGB-$0.16
SonosSONO$0.21
TraegerCOOK$0.04
Wendy’sWEN$0.22
Wolverine World WideWWW$0.65
Thursday, August 11AerCapAER$1.42
BaiduBIDU$10.92
Brookfield Asset ManagementBAM$0.69
Canada GooseGOOS$2.98
Cardinal HealthCAH$1.18
Dillard’sDDS$2.88
Flower FoodsFLO$0.27
IlluminaILMN$0.64
LegalZoomLZ$0.02
Melco Resorts & EntertainmentMLCO-$0.44
NioNIO-$1.36
PoshmarkPOSH-$0.25
Rivian AutomotiveRIVN-$1.63
Ryan Specialty GroupRYAN$0.35
Six FlagsSIX$1.04
Solo BrandsSOLO$0.28
ToastTOST-$0.12
Utz BrandsUTZ$0.12
Warby ParkerWRBY-$0.02
W&T OffshoreWTI$0.37
Wheaton Precious MetalsWPM$0.32
Friday, Aug. 12Broadridge FinancialBR$2.65
Honest CompanyHNST$-$0.09
Spectrum BrandsSPB$1.42

FDA Calendar

None

Source: CNN Business – TDR’s stock market preview sentiment indicator

Past Week What’s Hot… and What’s Not

Source: TradingView – TDR’ stock market preview what’s hot this past week

Top 12 High Short Interest Stocks

TickerCompanyExchangeShortIntFloatShares O/SIndustry
BBBYBed Bath & Beyond Inc.Nasdaq46.38%61.57M79.96MRetail (Specialty Non-Apparel)
ICPTIntercept Pharmaceuticals IncNasdaq43.76%23.62M29.71MBiotechnology & Medical Research
MSTRMicroStrategy IncNasdaq39.29%9.32M9.33MSoftware & Programming
BYNDBeyond Meat IncNasdaq37.91%56.79M63.54MFood Processing
SWTXSpringWorks Therapeutics IncNasdaq37.51%31.64M49.41MBiotechnology & Medical Research
BIGBig Lots, Inc.NYSE37.37%26.49M28.92MRetailers – Discount Stores
EVGOEvgo IncNasdaq35.65%67.76M69.00MUtilities – Electric
UPSTUpstart Holdings IncNasdaq35.60%72.32M84.77MConsumer Lending
BGFVBig 5 Sporting Goods CorpNasdaq34.65%20.85M22.33MRetailers – Miscellaneous Specialty
SRGSeritage Growth PropertiesNYSE34.38%23.58M43.68MReal Estate Operations
NKLANikola CorporationNasdaq32.77%265.95M421.14MAuto & Truck Manufacturers
BLNKBlink Charging CoNasdaq32.54%33.98M50.20MUtilities – Electric

Tags: stock market preview, stock market preview August 8, 2022.

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