10 Jan INDEXING AND JOBS
Indexing the last five years has been a runaway success but has this success created market imbalances? Many are starting to opine valuations of the mega sized technology issues have created an environment conducive to increased volatility.
Simplistically speaking Tesla is up about 100% in three months and is worth more than GM and Ford combined. Amazon is almost a trillion dollar company that is trading over 70x expected earnings. Apple is worth $1.3 trillion and is viewed as a growth company.
Because of the manner in which the averages are comprised, the highest dollar companies have the largest influence upon the averages. Everything is great until it is not.
According to Bloomberg “tech attracted almost $3 dollars for every one dollar of the nearest sector since January 1.” Wow!
Also according to Bloomberg, oil shares are at the sharpest discount to oil prices in history. A graph overlaying geopolitical events to that of oil valuations suggests the oil sector is as undervalued as much as sovereign debt is overvalued. As noted many times negative interest rates are a statistical abnormality occurring only 0.001% of the time. Yes negative yielding debt has dropped to $11 trillion from $17 trillion in September but such is the ultimate black swan event.
Perhaps the most frightening statistic is that 22% of the shares of the typical S & P 500 company are controlled by passive funds managed by Vanguard, Blackrock and State Street according to Bloomberg. This is up from 13.5% in 2015.
What happens if volatility on the downside returns? Will a liquidity crisis occur perhaps threatening the viability of a major non-bank financial as the end user is the customer not a money center bank? All must remember fear is more powerful than greed.
It is my view this is the fear that is talked about behind the proverbial curtain, validated by last year’s December rout when the Treasury called the largest banks on Christmas Eve Day asking if a liquidity squeeze was at hand. The answer was no but it was later discovered via Federal Reserve data and examinations credit lines were almost exhausted to several mega sized non-bank financials to meet liquidity demands.
As written in the introductory paragraph indexing is a massive runaway success which today is now “the market.” It is no longer a strategy; it is the one and only strategy.
Today December’s jobless data is released. Will the statistics continue to confirm the economy is growing at pace faster than expected? Will the data again question monetary policy assumptions as the Fed did say everything is data dependent? If so, will market volatility increase as interest rates are the largest component of valuation formulas?
Analysts are expecting a 160k increase in nonfarm and private sector payrolls, a3.5% unemployment rate, a 0.3% increase in hourly earnings, a 34.4 work week and a 63.2% labor participation rate.
Last night the foreign markets were up. London was up 0.06%, Paris up 0.03% and Frankfurt up 0.22%. China was down 0.08%, Japan up 0.47% and Hang Sang up 0.27%.
The Dow should open nominally higher but his could change significantly if the data sharply differs from consensus. The 10-year is unchanged at 1.85%.