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Category Archives: Trends

What Can the Weather Teach Us About Interest Rates?

In April, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced that its preliminary metric for how quickly our economy grew in the first three months of 2014 was annualized growth of 0.1%. That doesn’t seem very quick at all. Economists …Read more

Asset Class Returns during Previous Fed Tightenings

The Federal Funds Rate is the interest rate at which institutions lend funds maintained at the Federal Reserve (“Fed”) to other institutions. The Fed Funds Rate is often looked at as a benchmark for other interest rates and has a profound influence on overall economic activity as its level can either help to stimulate the economy or control inflation pressures. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sets targets for the Fed Funds Rate and looks to achieve these targets through their own open market operations. Following the market meltdown of 2008 – early 2009, the Fed adopted an accommodative stance by lowering interest rates, through various operations including quantitative easing, to historic lows with an overarching goal of stimulating the economy through less expensive sources of credit. Now that the economic recovery is getting to a point where the Fed believes that the U.S. economy may be able to stand on its own two legs, the Fed will be in a position to tighten (i.e. be less accommodative) by raising their Fed Funds target rate. This then begs the question as to which asset classes have historically fared better, from a total return perspective, when the Federal Funds rate was increased in previous years.Read more

June Fund Flows Suggest Overall Rotational Shift by Investors

When the Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) announced in June that the U.S. economic recovery was showing such progress, based on their assessments at that time, that they may consider starting to taper their bond buying program (i.e. quantitative easing) sooner than originally expected, perhaps as early as the Fall of 2013, investors fled the markets; bonds and equities, in droves. Order was eventually restored to the markets as investors came to their senses, realizing after some additional time to digest the entirety of the comments from the Fed, that the Fed did not suggest that they were going to start raising interest rates, or even sell bonds, in 2013, the damage was already done. Mutual fund and Exchange-traded fund (ETF) flows for the month of June provide evidence of this exiting behavior on the part of investors as well as what we believe to be a re-positioning of portfolios by investors (presumably with diversified growth objectives) to brace for an environment of rising interest rates - where economic, and stock market, growth would be expected to continue to progress to some degree.Read more

Worried about Rising Interest Rates?

Many individual and institutional investors are growing more concerned that we may be entering an environment of rising interest rates sooner than many expected. The behavior of yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury Notes since the beginning of May provides credence to this sentiment as 10-year Treasury yields have risen by 59 basis points, or nearly 36% (from 1.66% to 2.25%), during the time period of May 1, 2013 – June 12, 2013.Read more

Forecasting the Price of Gold in 2013

At Hennion & Walsh, we tend to view investments in gold not only as a potential inflation hedge (recognizing that shorter term inflation forecasts remain muted presently) but also as an equity market volatility hedge. The latter in a similar fashion to the way that investors traditionally have gravitated towards fixed income investments when equity markets are volatile, or depressed, these same investors now seem to be increasingly looking to precious metals (gold and silver included) to help not only from a diversification standpoint but also to assist with total return potential given the record low interest rate environment that fixed income investments find themselves within currently in the U.S..Read more