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Why Your Index Fund Is Built To Survive The Coronavirus Outbreak

With The market already down more than 10%, the coronavirus-triggered plunge may turn into one of the fastest bear markets to hit U.S. stocks ever. But, believe it or not, a passive investment in the S&P 500 may be the best way to ride out and ultimately profit from the storm.

As coronavirus spreads, the problems at these companies will worsen and cyclical sectors that track closely with global gross domestic product growth will also suffer. This morning, the industrial and materials sectors went into the red, posting negative returns for the past 12 months. They joined energy, down 30% over the year, as the only sectors to lose money. The S&P 500 is still ahead 7% year-over-year.

Here’s the good news: Your index fund already predicted all of this.

Even before the coronavirus became a global crisis, the S&P 500 was under-weighted in the types of stocks that were most vulnerable to the outbreak and it was heavily over-weighted in the software, internet, online retail and social media companies that are likely to either weather the storm, or thrive.


The Coronavirus Plunge

Coronavirus caused the quickest 10% market correction since the 2008 financial crisis.

                           

Almost a quarter of the S&P 500 index is comprised of the ten biggest companies in America by market capitalization: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, Alphabet (Google), JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, Visa and Wal-Mart.

These companies have pristine balance sheets and strong long-term growth prospects to manage through the outbreak. Some may also see increased sales as people stockpile food and health safety products, or benefit from people staying at home. About half of the overall S&P 500 is in information technology, healthcare and communications stocks —all unlikely to see major long-term disruptions due to the outbreak.

On the other hand, the types of businesses that are in free-fall, such as energy and retail, hardly make a dent as a weighting in the S&P 500. For instance, the entire energy sector entered 2020 at about the same weight as Apple alone. Thus energy’s 20% plunge over the past month is causing relatively minor pain. Retailers like Macy’s, Gap and Nordstrom that may struggle further are also minor weightings, in addition to small-sized drillers like Cimarex Energy, Helmerich & Payne, Cabot Oil & Gas and Devon Energy.

While holders of the S&P have sidestepped the worst stock implosions since the outbreak, they’re also big holders of potential beneficiaries.

Johnson & Johnson, United Health Group and Procter & Gamble are about 1% index weightings and they could see an uptick in sales as people all the world prepare for the virus’s spread. If more people begin to work from home, companies like Microsoft will benefit as demand spikes for its suite of cloud products including email and remote working services. Wireless carriers like Verizon and cell tower giants SBA Communications and American Tower will benefit from rising smartphone and internet activity.

Any surge in online sales will help ecommerce companies like Amazon and logistics warehouse operator Prologis as well as another S&P 500 member Equinix, one of the largest data center real estate investment trusts. Streaming services like Netflix and internet giants like Google and Facebook will also see a boost in eyeballs from masses of homebound Americans.

You guessed it. Each of these companies has high weightings in the S&P 500.


Your Index Fund Picks Winners

The biggest weights in the S&P 500 are also the largest and most successful companies in America.

                        

The index is well-prepared for the coronavirus because it is designed to track changes in the economy, which may actually be accelerated by the outbreak. The S&P 500 weights companies by market capitalization, meaning it increases exposure to companies with improving business prospects and rising stock prices, and it decreases exposures to those with worsening fates.

Already, people have been avoiding department stores and brick and mortar retailers, and driving more efficient vehicles, cutting back on oil and gas consumption. Movie theaters are being made obsolete by streaming media services. By design, the S&P has done a near-perfect job keeping up with these changing economic trends and consumer habits.

Investors, meanwhile, have spent the past decade bidding up the stock values of cash-generating software and internet companies, and have been abandoning stocks in companies with heavy debts and large pension obligations, or those exposed to economic cycles. Here again, the S&P 500’s algorithm has been trimming holdings in burdensome industrial companies and auto manufacturers. Information technology, the most heavily weighted in the index has fallen about 5% over the past month, but is still up 23%-plus over the past year.

In 2007, at the outset of the financial crisis, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett famously predicted an ordinary investor in an S&P 500 index fund would beat just about any hedge fund on Wall Street. Buffett offered a $1 million bet—payable to charity—to anyone who thought they could pick hedge funds that would beat the index over the ensuing decade.

A hedge fund investor named Ted Seides took up Buffett’s wager. It wasn’t even close. Seides conceded a loss in 2015, waving a white flag of defeat before the decade was over. The S&P returned 8.5% annually over that ten-year stretch, while the average hedge fund failed to deliver half that return.

The reality is as follows: Market corrections like the current one are frightening. But sometimes, the smartest play is also the easiest. With an investment in the S&P 500, the house is on your side.

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I’m a staff writer at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, M&A and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a part of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to agara@forbes.com. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara

Source: Why Your Index Fund Is Built To Survive The Coronavirus Outbreak

Multistreaming with https://restream.io/?ref=JQjEP Snoop Dogg is worth $124M, but doesn’t have a will

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A New Dutch Disease? The Netherlands Ranks Most Competitive, Least Sustainable

As recent numbers show, the Netherlands ranks very high in international rankings on innovation and competitiveness. It ranks fourth in the 2019 editions of both the Global Innovation Index and the Global Competitiveness Index, making it Europe’s most competitive economy. At the same time, its energy usage is least sustainable of all countries in Europe and its air is one of most polluted in Europe too. What is going on? Do we have a new “Dutch Disease?”

The old Dutch Disease

The term “Dutch Disease” was coined by The Economist in 1977. As they explain in a 2014 article, it refers to a situation in which discoveries of large amounts of natural resources could be harmful to the economy in the long-term. At that time, it referred to the discovery of significant amounts of natural gas in the Dutch part of the North Sea and a resulting economic decline.

There are at least three explanations for this paradoxical economic decline. First, it results from changes in currency exchange rates following a large inflow of foreign currency, leading to a worse competitive position, reduced export and increased unemployment. Second, the discovery of significant natural resources can disturb the national economy. The income generated with the natural resources can lead to an increased demand for luxury goods and services, triggering workers to go there and leave other sectors like manufacturing. Third, the discovery of natural resources also can trigger governments to overspend on social security and other public means, which are counterproductive and untenable in the long run (see also this article for a good explanation of the original Dutch Disease).

A New Dutch Disease?

The current situation in the Netherlands is obviously very different than in 1977. There are no new discoveries of natural resources and there is no economic decline. On the contrary, as the rankings referred to above indicate, the Dutch economy is doing very well. And with respect to natural resources: due to increasing earth quakes caused by the extraction of natural gas, the Dutch usable gas reserve actually quickly decreases as well as the political and public support for further extraction.

But nevertheless, the extreme opposing rankings in terms of economy (top) and sustainability (bottom) are indicating something is going on in the Netherlands that is not quite right. Hence, the question: is there a New Dutch Disease?

On the surface there are two simple explanations for the contrasting rankings. The first is that the high rankings on innovation and competition are a direct result of efficient use of available natural resources rather than spending expensive money on alternative energies and clean air. Seen as such, it is simply old school smart business. The second explanation is that every Euro can only be spent once: either in the economy or elsewhere, such as in reducing a country’s climate impact. Seen from that perspective, it is not more than logical that the Netherlands’ high scores on economy are accompanied by low scores on sustainability—they simply reflect the priorities set by the Dutch government.

But such trade-off thinking is too simple. It suggests improved sustainability and economic prosperity are opposite goals and cannot be improved at the same time. Countries like Sweden and Finland show this is just not true. These countries rank 2nd and 6th in the Global Innovation Index, 8th and 11th in the Global Competitiveness Index and 1st and 2nd in Europe in terms of use of renewable energy. This means that the two can go hand in hand very well indeed.

A third simple explanation of why this is not possible in the Netherlands can be given. It is a small and densely populated country, making it much harder than Sweden and Finland to use alternative sources of energy and keep the air clean—there simply is too little space for solar panels and windmills and with more people and cars per square kilometer, the air gets polluted quicker.

Like the first two explanations above, there is of course an element of truth in this third explanation too. Yet, it is not entirely convincing and together they don’t explain well enough what is going on. There is one important—mental—element missing: comfort, or lack of willingness to change.

From an economic point of view, the situation in the Netherlands is comfortable. The economy is doing well, all resources that are needed are available or can be bought elsewhere and there is no direct danger or urgency requiring change. This has made my country, in Pink Floyd’s terms comfortably numb.You can also call it lazy.

In this sense, this “new” Dutch Disease is not so different from the “old” Dutch Disease. Even though the mechanisms for economic decline in the Dutch Disease work via currency exchange rates, export, shifts in employment between sectors and so on, the real issue in the 1970s was the same as today: because of a short-term comfortable position, choices are made that harm the country on the long-term.

Being Dutch and living in the Netherlands, I prefer to be proud of my country. Along those lines, I’ve written about beautiful companies such as Coolblue, Tony’s Chocolonely, Fairphone and KLM. However, in this case I feel embarrassed to be Dutch. Especially about living in the country with the lowest share of renewable energy in Europe. With such great innovation power and such great competitive position, it should be easy to climb up the sustainability ladder in a fast pace. So, it is time to get out of the comfort zone. Or, I would almost say, let’s make the Netherlands great again.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am a strategy consultant, trainer, writer and speaker. As strategy professor and consultant I help leaders and organizations across the globe deal with the strategic challenges they face in an uncertain, complex, and fast-changing world. My drive is to bring strategy to the next level with new and effective approaches and tools. Along that line, I wrote the two-volume “The Strategy Handbook”—a practical and refreshing guide for making strategy work and “No More Bananas”—a nine-step approach for keeping your cool in today’s madness. You can reach out to me via jeroenkraaijenbrink.com, LinkedIn or jk@kraaijenbrink.com.

Source: A New Dutch Disease? The Netherlands Ranks Most Competitive, Least Sustainable

The explanation for why some countries with natural resources see their economies weaken and jobs disappear.

 

Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey: Exploring A “Generation Disrupted” [Infographic]

In business, disruption can promote innovation, growth, and agility. But, what impact is continuous change and instability having on people, especially younger generations? Deloitte’s 2019 Millennial Survey takes a look at the human side of disruption and its effects on millennials and Gen Zs. Learn more about the survey’s key findings in the infographic below. For more information and the full report, click here.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and high-quality service to address clients’ most complex business challenges.

Source: Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey: Exploring A “Generation Disrupted” [Infographic]

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Despite current global economic growth, expansion and opportunity, millennials and Generation Z are expressing uneasiness and pessimism—about their careers, their lives and the world around them, according to Deloitte’s eighth annual Millennial Survey. In the past two years especially, we’ve seen steep declines in respondents’ views on the economy, their countries’ social/political situations, and institutions like government, the media and business. Organizations that can make the future brighter for millennials and Gen Zs stand to have the brightest futures themselves. Learn more: https://deloi.tt/2Jt17HF

Chinese E-Commerce Giants Report Booming Singles Day Sales

A big screen shows the online sales for e-commerce giant Alibaba surpassed RMB 100 billion or US14 billion at 01:03:59 after the Nov. 11 Tmall Shopping Festival started midnight in Shanghai, China Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Chinatopix Via AP)

(BEIJING) — Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com reported a total of more than $50 billion in sales on Monday in the first half of Singles Day, an annual marketing event that is the world’s busiest online shopping day.

Singles Day began as a joke holiday created by university students in the 1990s as an alternative to Valentine’s Day for people without romantic partners. It falls on Nov. 11 because the date is written with four singles — “11 11.”

Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce brand by total sales volume, adopted the day as a sales tool a decade ago. Rivals including JD.com and Suning joined in, offering discounts on goods from smartphones to travel packages.

E-commerce has grown rapidly in China due to a lack of traditional retailing networks and government efforts to promote internet use. Alibaba, JD.com, Baidu and other internet giants have expanded into consumer finance, entertainment and offline retailing.

On Monday, online retailers offered discounts on goods from craft beer to TV sets to health care packages.

Alibaba said sales by merchants on its platforms totaled 188.8 billion yuan ($27 billion) between midnight and noon. JD.com, the biggest Chinese online direct retailer, said sales reached 165.8 billion yuan ($23.8 billion) by 9 a.m.

Electronics retailer Suning said sales passed 1 billion yuan ($160 million) in the first minute after midnight. Dangdang, an online book retailer, said it sold 6.8 million copies in the first hour.

Alibaba kicked off the event with a concert Sunday night by Taylor Swift at a Shanghai stadium.

Chinese online spending is growing faster than retail overall but is weakening as economic growth slows and consumers, jittery about Beijing’s tariff war with Washington and possible losses, put off big purchases.

Online sales of goods rose 16.8% over a year earlier in the first nine months of 2019 to 5.8 trillion yuan ($825 billion), according to government data. That accounted for 19.5% of total consumer spending. Growth was down from an annual average of about 30% in recent years.

By JOE McDONALD

Source: Chinese E-Commerce Giants Report Booming Singles Day Sales

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Nov.11 was Singles’ Day in China, the country’s busiest online shopping day of the year. More than 35 billion RMB was spent on two online platforms, Tmall.com and Taobao.com, which are owned by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. A total of 170 million transactions were made during the day.

Three Credit Score Myths That Are Wildly Untrue

Sydney Enzler opened her first credit card when she was a 19-year-old college student. Her mom encouraged her to open the account in order to build credit and establish a strong credit score.

“I wanted to use my credit cards every once in a while to build credit, but I generally just use them for larger purchases,” said Enzler.

Now 24 years old, Enzler is one of the millions of Americans who owe a collective $1.1 trillion dollars in credit card and other revolving debt. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on those credit card balances is 16.97% APR.

With interest rates that high, it’s easy to see how credit card debt can quickly spiral out of control and leave you with a bruised wallet – and ego. The reality is that credit cards aren’t going anywhere, and they play a large role in determining your credit score – a critical factor when it comes to getting the lowest possible interest rate on your mortgage or other loans.

Today, I am dispelling three common credit card myths so that you can focus on the things that will actually improve your credit score.

Myth 1: Carrying A Small Credit Card Balance Is Good For Your Credit

Today In: Money

I applied for my first credit card shortly after my 18th birthday and I remember being told by a well-meaning colleague at work that I should try to use the card regularly and carry a small balance. The rationale was that by using the card and paying a small amount of interest monthly, the bank would love having me as a customer and give me a better credit score.

Fortunately, I was a curious teenager and fact-checked that claim, because it’s not true. And not following that advice has saved me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in unnecessary interest charges over the years.

To begin, your credit score is not determined by your credit card company or any other lender. Your credit card issuer (in my case it was Chase), provides the credit bureaus with regular updates on your payment and account history. These credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) simply receive information from your lenders and use it to calculate your credit score.

Second, carrying a balance on a credit card will increase your utilization, which could actually lower your score. In general, using less of your available credit is better from a credit score perspective.

The important lesson here is that it’s never wise to pay interest on your credit card if you can avoid it. Always pay off your full statement balance in full if possible. It will help you lower your credit utilization while avoiding costly interest charges.

(Read: The 60 Second Guide To Credit Utilization.)

Myth 2: Checking Your Credit Report Will Hurt Your Score

Reviewing your credit score regularly (and for free) is one of the best things you can do as a responsible credit card user. Period.

However, the myth that checking your credit hurts your score pervades, in part, because of the confusing language that’s used to notate when your credit file has been accessed. Whenever your credit report is requested, you’ll receive an ‘inquiry’. However, it’s important to note that there’s a big distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ inquiries.

When you request your own credit report, this qualifies as a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries have no effect on your credit score whatsoever. That means that checking your own credit report will not hurt your credit score. It’s that simple.

However, when you apply for a new loan or other type of credit, the prospective creditor will access your credit file to assess your creditworthiness. This will result in a hard inquiry, which will, in fact, have a negative impact on your credit score. Hard inquiries will remain on your credit file for two years, although they will only affect your score for 12 months.

If you’d like to check your credit report, you can do it here for free. By law, each of the three major credit bureaus must give you free access to your credit report once per year. I try to check a credit report from a different bureau every three to four months to check for inaccuracies or fraud. In fact, I just requested my credit report while writing this article and it took all of 90 seconds. You should do the same.

Bonus: If you are serious about protecting your credit you should also freeze your credit files for free.

Myth 3: You Can Pay Someone To Fix Your Credit Score

If you have a history of making late payments and don’t practice sound credit management, there’s no magic switch you can flip in order to have accurate information removed from your credit report on-demand.

While there are a lot of credit repair services roaming the web and social media, the fact is that they don’t do anything that you can’t do on your own.

The best way to repair your credit is to practice good credit management strategies. This means paying your cards and other credit accounts on time, every time. It also means understanding how credit scores work and what the components that go into your score are.

The components of your credit score are as follows:

  • Your payment history comprises 35% of your credit score
  • Amount of debt (credit utilization) comprises 30%
  • Length of credit history comprises 15%
  • Amount of new credit (and inquiries) comprises 10%
  • Your credit mix comprises the final 10% of your credit score

This means that 50% of your score (payment history and length of credit history) is related to time. Clearly, to meaningfully improve your score it will take patience.

If you’re getting ready to apply for a mortgage, or if you are hoping to lower your student loan interest rates by refinancing, here’s what you can do to give your score a boost more quickly. Thirty percent of your score is based on your credit utilization, which is essentially based on a current snapshot of your accounts. While it could take years for negative marks to roll off of your credit report, you can quickly lower your credit utilization.

Your credit utilization is determined by taking your outstanding balance on your revolving credit accounts and dividing it by the total credit available to you. It could take several weeks for the updated information to be passed from your creditor to the credit bureaus, but it’s a fast way to improve an important metric. For the highest credit scores, aim to lower your utilization below 10%.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that it can take time to improve your credit score. Start to establish healthy credit habits today so that your score reflects them in the future. But most importantly, don’t despair if your credit isn’t perfect.

Regardless of what your credit score is, it’s important to know that your credit score might not be as important as you think it is.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Camilo Maldonado is Co-Founder of The Finance Twins, a personal finance site showing you how to budgetinvestbanksave & refinance your student loans. He also runs Contacts Compare.

Source: Three Credit Score Myths That Are Wildly Untrue

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Get exclusive content: http://patreon.com/mattdavella There’s a basic formula to win at personal finance. And it’s this… Make more money than you spend. In practice it’s not that easy. In the real world our money slips through our fingers. No matter how much we make our bank account seems to have its own agenda. In this video I breakdown common myths, pressures & misconceptions about money and how to manage it. New videos every week! New podcast every Wednesday! My gear… https://kit.com/mattdavella ^These are affiliate links. I only recommended products that I use & fully endorse. Subscribe: https://goo.gl/nzS5ri Podcast: http://groundupshow.com Instagram: http://instagram.com/mattdavella/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/mattdavella/ Thanks for watching!

Late-Inning Heroics? Stocks Hint At Friday Rally As Trade Talk Optimism On the Rise

  • Stocks down for the week so far but trade optimism gives positive tone early
  • Micron shares fall on disappointing forecast
  • Wells Fargo gets a new CEO, helping lift shares

Friday dawns after a week that didn’t provide much direction for investors. Stocks have generally chopped around in reaction to the latest geopolitical or domestic political news, and stayed in a tight range.

The question Friday might be whether the major indices can propel themselves to a victory for the week, because they start the session slightly down from a week ago thanks to positive trade vibes and solid durable goods data. That data looked really nice, up from the previous month and rising for the third month in a row. We’ll have to see if that’s sustainable because a lot of it was from the defense sector in the form of planes and parts. Either way, the trend can sometimes be your friend, as the old market saying goes.

Today In: Money

Also, the Personal Consumption Index (PCE)—the Fed’s preferred inflation metric—rose 0.1%, roughly in line with expectations. The core index, which strips out the often-volatile food and energy prices, also rose 0.1% to an annualized rate of 1.8%. It’s an uptick for sure, but still below the Fed’s stated target of 2% inflation. Might this be enough to shift the Fed’s thinking from dovish to neutral?

Whether or not stocks make a last-minute run here, it’s been hard to find much of a theme in the last few days. Hopes for progress in trade negotiations got reinforcement yesterday with an October 10 date set for new talks, but the noise out of China since then has mostly been about how willing they are to buy more U.S. products.

That’s all good, but it doesn’t get at the intellectual property and other issues that U.S. negotiators say are at the heart of the matter and apparently were a sticking point when the last round of talks broke down. It’s hard to see these talks getting much further without movement on these issues.

Another focus is the impeachment drama in Washington. Two big bombshells came out this week, but stocks didn’t show much reaction. As we’ve said, it’s important to keep your emotions out of trading, and impeachment is an emotional issue. It’s likely to be a long process and a constant background noise over the next weeks and months, but investors might serve themselves better by watching earnings and data.

It’s interesting to hear some analysts saying that the impeachment situation might actually be bullish because it could put pressure on the administration to get a trade deal done on the sooner side. This school of thought suggests President Trump might be keen to get some positive headlines to counter the negative ones. That remains to be seen and is just speculation for now.

On the earnings front, bad news came at the end of the week from Micron (MU), as the semiconductor firm issued guidance that Wall Street didn’t seem to like too much. Shares were down 5% in premarket trading. Revenue and earnings beat third-party consensus views, but were way down from a year ago as the company continues to struggle with demand for its memory products. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see the weakness in MU shares work their way into the entire chip sector, maybe putting pressure on Technology stocks today.

And Wells Fargo (WFC) is back in the news today after the financial company hired a new CEO. This ended a six-month search and means investors won’t have to approach WFC’s earnings call next month with more questions about who would head the company. Shares rose in premarket trading.

Quarterly Market Gains Not Much To See

The old quarter is just about over, and it’s been a wild one that basically didn’t go much of anywhere if you look at the major indices. Sure, they surged to new peaks at times, but also retreated. It ended up being almost a wash, with the benchmark S&P 500 (SPX) closing Thursday up just 1% from where it finished at the end of June.

The choppy trade that marked most of the quarter continued on Thursday, with the market giving up early gains, clawing back to flat and then losing more ground by the closing bell. Some of the “risk-on” trading we saw on Wednesday didn’t really carry into Thursday, with small-caps in the Russell 2000 (RUT) drifting lower and Financials having a rough day.

Instead, some caution appears to be coming back into play late this week, with Utilities and Real Estate near the top of the leaderboard Thursday. Those aren’t places people tend to go when they’re feeling gung-ho about the economy. Bonds—another defensive area—also rallied, but gold didn’t share in the fun.

Though every day seems to have a different theme, there’s a lot of concern out there about the fundamental picture. It’s good to hear that new trade talks begin October 10, as we found out Thursday, but a resolution doesn’t seem all that close.

One concern is that new tariffs announced last month on Chinese goods could start having an impact on consumer spending, which would possibly cause companies to get even more cautious. If companies stay in a holding pattern, it’s hard to see any significant rally on the horizon. Earnings growth is already expected to fall year-over-year in Q3 after sinking in Q1 and Q2.

When you get right down to it, earnings drive the market. If investors continue to see earnings grow at slower rates, at some point the market could start to reflect that. FactSet, a research firm, predicts a nearly 4% earnings loss for S&P 500 companies in Q3. Earnings fell 0.4% in Q2 and also fell in Q1, making this potentially the first three-quarter stretch of falling year-over-year earnings since late 2015/early 2016.

No Fun for FAANGS

Some of the FAANG stocks, including Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Facebook (FB), also are having tough weeks. Again, it’s regulatory issues dogging FB, but the others could be under pressure from changing money flows as the FAANG sector seems to be losing some of its mojo, according to an article this week on MarketWatch.

Next week will be October, after Monday at least, so let’s look at what the market’s going to be grappling with beyond the China trade and impeachment stories. We’re still a few weeks out from earnings, meaning volatility could be a factor and the market could move up or down quickly based on the latest headlines or tweets. It could still do that after earnings start in mid-October, too, but earnings give people something solid to point at in times of turmoil.

One thing we’ll be pointing to next week is a monthly payrolls report for September. A lot of eyes are likely to be on the numbers a week from today, wondering if those relatively modest job gains back in August were a one-time deal or maybe a sign of something more serious. Even before August, job growth had been slowing this year, but it’s still above the level economists think we need to keep unemployment low.

Other data aren’t so exciting next week, but Chicago PMI on Monday might be interesting when you consider recent data where manufacturing activity appears to be slowing down. Chicago PMI surprised to the upside last time and came in above 50. Anything below that would indicate economic contraction, according to how the report is structured. It was 50.4 in August.

Volatility can sometimes tick up the last days of the quarter, but the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) has dropped below 16 this morning after topping 17 earlier this week.

Company Caution Crimps Quarter: Normally, the government’s report on gross domestic product (GDP) gets lots of attention. That wasn’t the case yesterday because a few other things were going on (there’ve been some political headlines, if you haven’t noticed). A check of the data showed 2% growth in Q2, which means the slowdown that began early this year continued. As a reminder, gross domestic product was nearly 3% in 2018. To some extent, this downturn probably reflects the trade war with China. Many companies appear to be in a holding state because they’re putting off decisions on business plans. You can’t continue to have companies putting decisions off, because it could start affecting the longer curve of growth. It may already be doing that.

Crude Concerns: The fundamental concerns mentioned above aren’t any easier to dismiss when you consider how crude’s behaved recently. Remember when U.S. crude rose above $60 less than two weeks ago in a 15% one-day rally? Seems like a long time ago, with crude back down in the mid-$50s by Thursday. Rising U.S. inventories apparently caught some market participants by surprise and raised questions about demand. It’s just a week or two of data, so you don’t want to make any broad conclusions, but falling crude demand would possibly be a sign of a slowing economy if it continues. That remains to be seen, but for the moment it’s hurting the Energy sector, which suffered more than a 1% loss yesterday.

Batting 3000: The first time the S&P 500 (SPX) crossed the 2000 level was on Aug. 26, 2014. But it traded below 2000 on an intraday basis 22 months later, on June 27, 2016. The lesson here? Just because an index crosses a big round-number benchmark doesn’t mean you can put that magic number in the rearview mirror and forget about it. We’re getting a reminder of that now, with the SPX struggling to get its head above 3000 after first hitting that mark back in July. At this point, the late July intraday high of 3027 remains the peak, and the SPX has fluttered back and forth above and below 3000 ever since.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll still be wrestling with 3000 in mid-2021, though that can’t be ruled out. And while we’re talking scenarios, one can’t rule out a major test to the downside either. In the near term, it’s very hard to see any move above 3000 lasting long without a China deal. Anticipated weak earnings are another major barrier, because without earnings growth, it gets harder and harder to justify rallies.

TD Ameritrade® commentary for educational purposes only. Member SIPC.

I am Chief Market Strategist for TD Ameritrade and began my career as a Chicago Board Options Exchange market maker, trading primarily in the S&P 100 and S&P 500 pits. I’ve also worked for ING Bank, Blue Capital and was Managing Director of Option Trading for Van Der Moolen, USA. In 2006, I joined the thinkorswim Group, which was eventually acquired by TD Ameritrade. I am a 30-year trading veteran and a regular CNBC guest, as well as a member of the Board of Directors at NYSE ARCA and a member of the Arbitration Committee at the CBOE. My licenses include the 3, 4, 7, 24 and 66

Source: Late-Inning Heroics? Stocks Hint At Friday Rally As Trade Talk Optimism On the Rise.

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The Fear Fund: Nancy Davis’ ETF Aims To Protect Investors From Scary Stuff, Like Recession And Inflation

Stocks have recovered from last fall’s crash, low interest rates stretch out to the horizon and the VIX volatility index is half what it was at Christmas. Sit back and coast to a comfortable retirement.

No, don’t, says Nancy Davis. This veteran derivatives trader runs Quadratic Capital Management, where her somewhat contrarian view is that investors, all too complacent, are in particular need of insurance against financial trouble.

The Quadratic Interest Rate Volatility & Inflation Hedge ETF, ticker IVOL, is designed to provide shelter from both inflation and recession. Its actively managed portfolio mixes inflation-protected Treasury bonds with bets, in the form of call options, on the steepness of the yield curve.

Those options are cheap, for two reasons. One is that, at the moment, there is no steepness: Yields on ten-year bonds are scarcely higher than yields on two-year bonds. The other is that the bond market is strangely quiet. Low volatility makes for low option prices.

                                   

“Volatility has been squashed by central bank money printing,” Davis says, before delving deep into the thicket of option mathematics. If volatility in interest rates rebounds to a normal level, her calls will become more valuable. Alternatively, she would get a payoff if the yield curve tilts upward, which it has a habit of doing when inflation surges, stocks crash or real estate is weak.

If IVOL is all about peace of mind for the investor, it’s all about risk for its inventor. Davis, 43, has poured her heart, soul and net worth into Quadratic, of which she is the founder and 60% owner. If the three-month-old exchange-traded fund takes off, she could become wealthy. If it doesn’t, Quadratic will struggle.

The fund showed its worth in the first week of August, climbing 2% as the stock market sank 3%. But it needs a much bigger shock to stock or bond prices in order to get big. It has gathered only $58 million so far. A crash had better arrive soon; IVOL’s call options expire next summer. Quadratic, moreover, needs to somehow scale up without inspiring knockoff products from ETF giants like BlackRock.

Davis was a precocious trader. As an undergraduate at George Washington University, she took grad courses in financial markets while earning money doing economic research for a consulting firm. She put some of her paychecks into a brokerage account. “Some women love to buy shoes,” she says. “I love to buy options.”

This was in the 1990s, a good time to indulge a taste for calls. Davis made out-of-the-money bets on technology stocks, which paid off well enough to cover the down payment, in 1999, on a New York City apartment. Nice timing.

There may be a sour grape, but there’s also truth in her current philosophy that hedge funds are not such a great deal for investors. ETFs, she says, are more liquid, more transparent and cheaper.

Davis spent a decade at Goldman Sachs, most of it on the firm’s proprietary trading desk, then did a stint at a hedge fund. At 31 she quit to actively manage two kids. Returning to Wall Street after a three-year hiatus, she worked for AllianceBernstein and then did what few women do, especially women with children: She started a hedge fund.

Quadratic, whose assets once topped $400 million, used a hedge fund platform at Cowen & Co. When Cowen ended the partnership last year, Davis set about reinventing her firm. There may be a sour grape, but there’s also truth in her current philosophy that hedge funds are not such a great deal for investors. ETFs, she says, are more liquid, more transparent and cheaper.

IVOL’s 1% annual fee is stiff, but Davis says it’s justified for a fund that is not only actively managed but also invested in things that ordinary folk cannot buy. If you want to duplicate her position in the Constant Maturity Swap 2-10 call due July 17, you’d need to know what banker to ring for a quote, because this beast is not traded on any exchange. Each of these calls, recently worth $7.71, gives the holder the right to collect a dollar for every 0.01% beyond 0.37% in the spread between ten-year interest rates and two-year interest rates. The spread has to move a long way up before the option is even in the money. But at various times in the past the spread has hit 2%. Could it do that again? Maybe, at which point the option pays $163.

Starting a firm like Quadratic is like buying an out-of-the-money call: long odds, big payoff. Davis is doing what she was doing in college. You can’t stop a trader from trading.

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Source: The Fear Fund: Nancy Davis’ ETF Aims To Protect Investors From Scary Stuff, Like Recession And Inflation

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Nancy Davis, founder and CIO of Quadratic Capital Management, introduces her new ETF that takes advantage of interest volatility and inflation expectations: IVOL. In this interview with Real Vision’s co-founder & CEO Raoul Pal, Davis deconstructs the structure of the ETF, highlights the cost of carry associated with the strategy, and discusses her macro outlook and where she thinks the yield curve is headed next. Filmed on May 29, 2019. Watch more Real Vision™ videos: http://po.st/RealVisionVideos Subscribe to Real Vision™ on YouTube: http://po.st/RealVisionSubscribe Watch more by starting your 14-day free trial here: https://rvtv.io/2KHDkoc About Trade Ideas: Top traders unveil their specific plans for cashing in on the market’s next move. In these short videos, our traders cut straight to the point and lay out their thoughts on the best risk-reward trades of the moment. Each episode concludes with a visual recap of trade details including profit-loss potential and trade duration. About Real Vision™: Real Vision™ is the destination for the world’s most successful investors to share their thoughts about what’s happening in today’s markets. Think: TED Talks for Finance. On Real Vision™ you get exclusive access to watch the most successful investors, hedge fund managers and traders who share their frank and in-depth investment insights with no agenda, hype or bias. Make smart investment decisions and grow your portfolio with original content brought to you by the biggest names in finance, who get to say what they really think on Real Vision™. Connect with Real Vision™ Online: Twitter: https://rvtv.io/2p5PrhJ Instagram: https://rvtv.io/2J7Ddlw Facebook: https://rvtv.io/2NNOlmu Linkedin: https://rvtv.io/2xbskqx The ETF Play on Interest Rate Volatility (w/ Nancy Davis) https://www.youtube.com/c/RealVisionT… Transcript: For the full transcript visit: https://rvtv.io/2KHDkoc NANCY DAVIS: So we invest with options with a directional bias on everything. So our new product that we recently launched, IVOL, is the first inflation expectations and interest rate volatility fund out there. It’s a exchange traded product. RAOUL PAL: Does anybody even know what that means? NANCY DAVIS: So what we do is for an investor, if you’re an equity investor, you want to have tail protection, for instance. It’s hard to own equity volatility as an asset allocation trade because it decays so aggressively. So it’s a more benign way to carry volatility as an asset class from the long side using fixed income vol. It’s not as sensitive as equity vol, but it’s a lot lower level. Like, the vol we’re buying is 2, 2 basis points a day in normal space. So it’s very, very cheap, in my opinion, and it gives you a way to have an asset allocation to the factor risk of volatility without having as much decay as you would in the equity space. And then for a fixed income investor, the big risk there is obviously Central Bank policy, fiscal spending, trade wars, as well as inflation expectations. And we saw a need to really give a fixed income investor a way to capitalize on the deflation that’s been priced into the market for the next decade. I mean, so current US inflation is around 2%. The five-year break-even is 1.59%. So that’s an opportunity in an option space. And so it’s long options with TIPS. And so that gives investors exposure. It gives you inflation-protected income, but also options that are sensitive to inflation expectations. And we think it’s pretty– you know, you’re never going to time these macro calls perfectly. But given the Central Bank in the US is so focused right now on increasing inflation expectations, and there’s been so much talk about the yield curve inverting– and that’s kind of crazy. If you step back and you’re like, all right, we have a $3.9 trillion balance sheet. We have a fiscal budget deficit. We have unclear or radically changing monetary policy. If you look where we are now with so many cuts priced into the interest rate markets in the US versus where we were four months ago, it’s wildly different. And at the same time, interest rate volatility is literally at generational lows. Equity, while people talk about equity vol, I think VIX today is 17. It’s low, I guess, in the context. But when you look at a percentile, like one-year vol over the last decade in equities, it’s about the 70th percentile. So it might be low, but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Interest rate volatility is literally at, like, 2, 1, you know, 0.

In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

It’s been a medal-caliber few years for Japan’s property developers. Not Olympic gold of the kind Tokyo will award athletes 12 months from now. But construction ahead of the 2020 Games, building that’s been a godsend for Japan’s property developers. That will happen when the cost of staging a few weeks of sporting events explode to $25 billion from the $7 billion Tokyo originally estimated.

What if, though, the 2020 construction boom spells trouble for the century ahead? The reference here is to the “Skyscraper Curse” that may be rearing its head in the third-biggest economy.

Building related to Tokyo 2020 turned the Japanese capital into a giant construction site. Even developers unattached to the August 2020 Olympics have used the excitement to build new office towers throughout the city. Office space that, frankly, might have a hard time renting out floors two years from now.

Multinational companies, after all, continue to favor Singapore and Hong Kong (for now, at least) for Asian headquarters. And it’s not Shinzo Abe’s seven-year reflation scheme is catalyzing a startup boom to fill all that office space once the five-ring Olympic circus leaves town.

Today In: Asia

Mori Building recently unveiled ambitious plans to construct Japan’s tallest skyscraper, a title suddenly held by Osaka. This epic redevelopment project that will include offices, residences, shops, restaurants, a hotel, and an international school will come at a cost of 580 billion yen ($5.45 billion), which surely has contractors and rivals salivating at the possibilities. But there’s reason for broader caution.

One can quibble with the wisdom of putting a 64-story, 330-meter edifice in the center of one of the world’s most seismically active metropolises. It’s economic risks, though, that Prime Minister Abe’s office should be considering.

History betrays an uncanny correlation between world’s-tallest-building projects and financial crises. Roll your eyes if you want, but I’ve been covering the phenomenon for two decades. Here’s a quick recap of the last 112 years.

The Panic of 1907, when the New York Stock Exchange lost 50%, occurred just as Manhattan celebrated the opening of the 47-story Singer Building and 50-story Metropolitan Life North Building. The Great Depression that began in 1929 coincided with the New York christenings of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building. Despair and homelessness spoiled the party over the 1931 opening the Empire State Building.

Fast forward four decades to New York and Chicago, the hosts to the world-topping World Trade Center and Sears Tower projects. Both opened as the Bretton Woods monetary system was breaking down and stagflation was fueling fiscal crises.

In 1997, Kuala Lumpur was quaking amid regional market turbulence just as Malaysia’s Petronas Towers came online. In the early 2000s, Taipei opened the world’s biggest architectural marvel in time for political turmoil at home and growing tensions with China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province. The 2008 completion of Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa Tower dovetailed with the city’s bust, cascading oil prices and the “Lehman shock” a world away.

This is just the last 100 or so years of the Skyscraper Curse. Spiritualists may track the phenomenon back to the biblical Tower of Babel. But coincidence or not, it’s hard to miss the overlap between history-making economic disruptions and new architectural Guinness World Records entries.

The common, and indisputable, thread is ultra-low interest rates fueling over-investment and froth. Developers are always looking to harness the newest engineering and technological advances. That impulse gets supercharged by excess monetary expansion. It’s not surprising, then, that tallest-building projects often get green-lighted near the top-ticks of speculative manias.

Again, not the most solidly scientific of arguments. Yet Asian developers still engage in serious real-estate one-upmanship. South Korea’s tallest building, the Lotte World Tower, opened in 2017 just in time for President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment on bribery charges. Also in 2017, Shenzhen toasted the opening of the Ping An Finance Center, the No. 4 tallest building globally, as U.S. President Donald Trump was telegraphing his China trade war.

In Melbourne, the ongoing Australia 108 project aims to become the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower. A coincidence, maybe, but many economists worry Australia is veering toward its first recession in more than 25 years.

What about Tokyo? Abe’s seven-year revival project has been 90% monetary easing and perhaps 10% structural reform (and that’s being generous). All that liquidity, coupled with the construction boondoggle that is Tokyo 2020, has revived land prices in an otherwise deflation-traumatized economy.

As of February, the Nikkei Financial Review reported, Tokyo property prices, as measured by new condos, approached late 1980s bubble-period levels. Yet inflation is advancing just 0.6% year-on-year, less than halfway to the 2% target. And ominously, real wages are down six straight months now as Trump’s China trade war slams Japan’s export engine.

All this means the Bank of Japan’s historic easing has Tokyo construction sites buzzing with activity. The rest of the nation’s slowing economic regions, not so much. All that building is stellar news for property developers, but it’s also creating a bull market in concerns that Japan’s latest building boom could be, well, cursed.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Source: In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

The one-year countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics begins! As Tokyo gears up to host the games, NBC’s Keir Simmons takes us around the amazing venues in Japan’s capital city. » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day. If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY #SummerGames #TokyoOlympics #TodayShow 2020 Olympics 1 Year Out: How Tokyo Is Prepping For Summer Games | TODAY

Shopify Cracks The E-Commerce Code, And Its Billionaire CEO’s Fortune Doubles In Just Six Months

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Tobi Lutke, the Canadian CEO and founder of e-commerce platform Shopify, has a net worth that’s doubled to $3.2 billion in just six months, thanks to his company’s skyrocketing stock.

  • The e-commerce platform’s stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, has skyrocketed up 106% since mid February, when Forbes measured net worths for the 2019 list of billionaires. Shopify provides the online shopping engine for more than 800,000 customers, including Kylie Jenner’s beauty store Kylie Cosmetics.
  • Lutke, who was born in Germany, owns nearly 9% of the Ottawa-based company. He founded Shopify in 2004 after he and a friend had attempted to start an online snowboard shop out of Ontario and realized there were no efficient tools to help small business owners operate online. As winter ended and snowboard sales plummeted, Lutke told Forbes in a June 2018 interview that he decided to create Shopify.
  • Shoppers have spent over $100 billion on Shopify-powered sites since it began operating, according to the company.
  • Shopify had $1.1 billion in 2018 revenues, a 59% increase from the previous year.
  • Shopify’s $42.3 billion market capitalization is now larger than that of many big tech brands, including Twitter, Snap, Square and Lyft.
  • According to the Financial Times, Lutke prefers that his employees refrain from regularly checking Shopify’s stock price.

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Angel Au-Yeung has been a reporter on staff at Forbes Magazine since 2017. She covers the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and tracks how they use their money and power.

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com

Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein breaks down how the Canadian e-commerce platform creates economies of scale to give small businesses benefits that help entrepreneurs compete with giant retailers. » Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Watch more Mad Money here: http://bit.ly/WatchMadMoney » Read more about Shopify: https://cnb.cx/2vxmuPg “Mad Money” takes viewers inside the mind of one of Wall Street’s most respected and successful money managers. Jim Cramer is your personal guide through the confusing jungle of Wall Street investing, navigating through both opportunities and pitfalls with one goal in mind — to try to help you make money. About CNBC: From ‘Wall Street’ to ‘Main Street’ to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Get More Mad Money! Read the latest news: http://madmoney.cnbc.com Watch full episodes: http://bit.ly/MadMoneyEpisodes Follow Mad Money on Twitter: http://bit.ly/MadMoneyTwitter Like Mad Money on Facebook: http://bit.ly/LikeMadMoney Follow Cramer on Twitter: http://bit.ly/FollowCramer Connect with CNBC News Online! Visit CNBC.com: http://www.cnbc.com/ Find CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: http://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Google+: http://cnb.cx/PlusCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: http://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC Shopify COO: Servicing 820,000 Merchants | Mad Money | CNBC

 

 

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