Dysfunctional Financial Markets are Making Inequality Worse All The Time

Winners and losers. Tama2u

The global market in government bonds has been bleeding red lately. “Bond market screams for help but no one answers”, says Bloomberg. It is “the worst start to a year in bonds since 2015”, according to the Financial Times.Though bonds have been declining since last summer, the sell-off became a lot more violent in February.

This meant that the yield on ten-year US Treasury bonds, which is inversely related to the price, rose by around 60% to peak at over 1.6% a couple of days ago, before falling back to 1.5% at the time of writing.The US ten-year strongly influences the price of everything from mortgages to business loans in the US, and by extension around the world, so such a sharp rise has the potential to reduce borrowing and weaken the economic recovery from COVID –especially when there is so much debt in the global system.

The world’s rampant stock markets responded by going into reverse in February as they factored in higher interest rates, as well as higher production costs because of surging commodity prices.

Bond prices can fall for several reasons. It can mean that the market thinks that economic growth is going to pick up (meaning investors shift their money into riskier investments). But it can also reflect fears that inflation is on the way without much accompanying economic growth, meaning that interest rates need to go higher so that lending is still profitable.

In the present case, it is a bit of both: the rollout of the vaccination programmes has made many observers more optimistic about the prospects of a recovery. But the rise in the price of commodities like oil, copper and coffee is more about pandemic-related supply issues than because this optimism has prompted a step-change in demand.

When Fed Reserve Chairman Jay Powell failed to announce any immediate intervention to put a floor under the sell-off in bonds during a public appearance in early March, it appeared to trigger more selling – a sign that falling bond prices have been more a reflection of fears than optimism.

Interestingly, in the hours since the new US$1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) US stimulus package has been agreed by Congress, the bond market and stock market have both been rising. Though there have been fears that sending US$1,400 stimulus cheques to most Americans will cause a further surge in inflation, the extra consumer demand will also prop up the economy. On balance, then, this appears to have been received as a net positive by the markets.

QE and perverse consequences

Any attempt to explain what is happening in the markets needs to be in the context of quantitative easing (QE). Shortly after the first wave of lockdowns in early 2020, central banks stepped in to help their national economies. They announced huge new QE plans in which they would create new money with which to buy government bonds and other financial assets. This drove up bond prices and hence kept yields (and interest rates) at very low levels to encourage as much borrowing from consumers and businesses as possible.

Most central banks originally began QE programmes after the 2007-09 financial crisis (besides the Bank of Japan, which began a few years earlier). This was primarily to help companies get access to capital to boost their business, in the hope that they would then hire staff, which would help to reduce unemployment rates that had been sent soaring after the crisis.

However, some companies took advantage of these low interest rates in another way: they borrowed cheaply and invested it in the stock market. With investors doing likewise, this has helped to drive the relentless rise in global stock markets over the past decade. It also helps to explain why these markets have been mainly climbing ever since the COVID panic sell-off of March 2020.

In the coming months, economies are going to reopen, but interest rates are to stay low. Fed Reserve Chairman Jay Powell may have declined to announce any new interventions to date, but it is fairly clear that he will only let yields rise so far.

This gives investors a great opportunity to continue taking advantage of the situation. So long as the gain from your investment in stocks is greater than the interest rate you have to pay on your borrowings, you are a winner. Better still, buy stocks in a company such as Apple whose bonds central banks have been buying as part of their QE activities. Apple is still trading at over double the lows of March 2020, even after the February correction.

But if you are not in a position to take advantage of this one-way bet, you are a loser. The central banks have already created a situation where major institutions like the biggest hedge funds and investment banks are achieving record earnings while many families are sinking into poverty on the back of the pandemic.

The endless stimulus is in danger of creating an ever more divided society. While it is true that the latest US package (and the support measures announced in the UK budget) will temporarily help those struggling during the pandemic, the shot in the arm is also another way of propping up markets that seem too overvalued to fail.

And if they can no longer survive without central bank life-support to keep bond yields low, the question is how to prop up the markets without exacerbating inequality. It’s not clear that anyone has the answer. It might be that a shift to a much more redistributive politics to offset the widening gap between rich and poor is about the best that we can hope for.

By: Lecturer in Finance, University of Bath

Arman Hassanniakalager does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Source: Dysfunctional financial markets are making inequality worse all the time – here’s what to do about it

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Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

Getty

If you’ve been on LinkedIn recently, you’ve likely seen posts about someone being laid off or having a dream job offer rescinded, often by a high-profile, once hot startup. According to the tracker Layoffs.fyi, so far this year, 349 startups have laid off more than 53,000 employees.

Startups looking at the prospect of falling venture capital valuations are scrambling to conserve the cash they have. Just yesterday, OpenSea, the early leader in the once bubbly non-fungible token (NFT) market, cut 20% of its workforce. Earlier this month, virtual office startup Gather let a third of its 90 employees go. Last month, high-flying ID verification unicorn Socure laid off 13% of its employees.

And it’s not just startups. Coinbase, the nation’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, laid off 1,100 employees and rescinded some job offers. Elon Musk’s Tesla is cutting 3.5% of its workforce. Meta has plans to slash hiring of engineers this year by at least 30%.While most of the layoff news has come from tech companies, the mortgage industry, too, has been slashing away as higher interest rates crush mortgage volume.

This week loanDepot disclosed plans to eliminate thousands of jobs. Real estate companies RedFin and Compass have cut about 450 jobs each, and PIMCO-backed First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation let go of more than 75% of its workforce in June, before filing for a chapter 11 bankruptcy a week later.

Despite such high-profile layoffs, unemployment remained at a low 3.6% in June as the economy added 372,000 jobs. Moreover, interviews with recent job–or job offer–losers, as well as hiring managers, suggest that so far at least, most of those cut are landing on their feet with new offers.

Yet the sense of dread is unmistakable, with more consumers now pessimistic than optimistic about the short-term labor market, according to the Conference Board. And the layoffs could just be getting started: Oracle recently considered letting go of thousands of employees as early as August.

“In the tech industry, this is dejà vu all over again,” observes economist Anthony Carnevale, who has been involved with employment and education policy for four decades and is now director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“This is pretty much precisely what happened in the late 1970s, early 80s, when technology was not penetrating American industry rapidly enough and [former Fed Chair] Paul Volcker put on the brakes. We get high interest rates, high unemployment rates, and basically that shuts down technology investment and secondly, it chokes the industry.”

Given the current low unemployment rates, Carnevale adds, it’s still a question whether the slowdown will ultimately “create dislocation of substantial sorts in tech or any other industry.” His answer? “Yes and no,” he says. “The yes is yes, specific technology-based industries might be affected, interest rates being the culprit here. But what we’re seeing in the churn is that people who are seeking jobs are getting jobs.

And we haven’t come to the point yet where it’s a classic recession…in which people don’t get jobs.” He noted that in general, wages are increasing — though those increases are generally offset by inflation.“So what does that mean going forward? It may mean a slowdown in startups and in the expansion of particular technology companies, in even the overall industry if it’s strong enough, but so far, it has not meant that people can’t find jobs,” Carnevale said.

“And it does not reflect on the possibilities for college graduates, at least so far, we don’t really see that.” Indeed, a recent survey of almost 200 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that almost 90% of respondents will be hiring new graduates for both full-time and intern/co-op positions — up from last spring’s figure of 83%.

But while early-career recruiting is still strong, it can’t erase the memory of what happened in the wake of the Great Recession, with its large jobs loss and unusually slow recovery. Some new grads caught in the undertow experienced what economists call “permanent scarring”—meaning poor economic conditions when they graduated from college contributed to a long-term reduction in their employment prospects.

Again, that’s the scary prospect, but not, as of now, the reality. Aidan Deery, associate director at the global talent partner X4 Technology, reports that among tech companies, “largely, everyone is still hiring” and “the demand for experienced professionals is at an all-time high.” He adds that those laid off from crypto companies like Coinbase are generally “very employable” and “highly sought after in the finance and technology world.”

Danny, 23, whose last name and former employer are not being included due to a nondisclosure agreement he signed, was let go in June from his engineering job at a sales productivity company. “I know I’ll be able to find a job,” he said, estimating that of the roughly 30 jobs he applied to since being laid off, 8-10 got back to him. “Three of them actually were like, ‘Yeah, just kidding, we’re not hiring for this role.’”

Some of the other companies he started interviewing with stopped the process because of hiring freezes. However, Danny has already turned down one offer for reasons including the pay, and says he is still being picky in his job search.

Curio Health, a startup working to improve remote patient care, is among the companies still hiring. CEO Yuchen Wang worries that layoffs among startups may encourage job seekers to look to more established companies for future opportunities, but insists startups will retain their appeal because, “you take a broader responsibility, and you can grow faster and learn more.”

Wang has seen both sides of this job-cutting drama. He himself lost his job in 2001, shortly after earning a Masters in computer science at Georgia State, and in a later role, had to lay off employees himself because a contract did not pan out as well as expected. “These things kind of happen, even if you do everything 100% perfectly,’’ he says. “Treat it as a new start — there are more opportunities ahead than the one you just lost.”

Still, for some job-losers, the new start carries a unique challenge–one imposed by the U.S.’ dysfunctional system for retaining foreign tech talent. Twenty-seven-year-old software developer Amitesh Singh Baghel was laid off in late June while on STEM OPT, a visa program allowing graduate international students to gain work experience in the U.S. in their field. The catch: he lost his job as a software engineer at a data security startup before he completed his visa extension — about two weeks before his employment authorization document was set to expire.

He had been offered other jobs while working there but turned them down out of “goodwill” and because his manager, who also was let go, provided good mentorship. “I had other offers coming, but I chose to stay ignoring the red flags,” such as a manager being fired and not replaced, he said.

“I tried to negotiate. I was like, ‘Instead of giving me the severance pay, keep me on the payroll so that I can finish with the extension process and I’ll still work,’” he said. “I offered them a solution…but they didn’t want to do the extra work, which is understandable. I mean, it’s not their problem.”

And then there’s the experience of Jenna Radwan, 22, who recently earned her BS in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of San Francisco. She originally accepted a job at San Francisco-based startup Hirect, which helps other tech startups recruit and hire.

When she heard Hirect would pay her a base salary of $80,000 plus uncapped commission that could push her total compensation to a multiple of that, she cut short other interviews to accept the offer, “My ears perked up, my eyes got big, and I didn’t even see any of the other companies as even close competition,” she said. But two weeks before her start date, Radwan got thrown a curveball. Her offer had been rescinded “due solely to the current unforeseen circumstances & drastic turn in the market.”

“Due to the very volatile market conditions, the business & leadership team has decided to halt/freeze all forms of external hiring at this time, and we have entered an immediate hiring freeze and a round of layoffs,” reads an email from a recruiter that Radwan shared on LinkedIn. (A spokesman for Hirect confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it had rescinded two job offers due to the slump in tech hiring.)

Radwan was “in shock,” but quickly tapped into her network and reached out to recruiters she’d previously been in the process of interviewing with, and ultimately landed a job as a recruiter at Insight Global. “It was a wild ride but I know that I’m exactly where I am meant to be,” Radwan said, adding that she hadn’t really considered her values in terms of a career before then. “I just thought of money, but I realized that you can have money plus other things, like good company culture, like good job security, like good benefits, like good PTO,” she said.

Her advice for recent grads entering the job market amid the growing fear of offers being rescinded? Do your research, ask questions like how the company reacted to COVID in 2020 (i.e. was it quick to lay off workers?), talk to current employees and take time to weigh all your offers.

If you’re looking for an indication of the current gestalt, it may come from Radwan’s new employer. Insight Global is still hiring. But in June, it surveyed 1,000 workers and found 23% were “extremely worried” about losing their job in the next recession. Or, as Insight put it, the “Great Resignation” is giving way to the “Great Apprehension.”

Katherine Huggins is an editorial intern for Forbes Money and Markets. Before joining Forbes, Katherine covered media and politics as a reporter at Mediaite

Source: Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

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Why Investors Should Lower Expectations For Making Money on Stocks

Vanguard, others predict bonds will rival single-digit returns on stocks; best bets are overseas.The era of big returns on stocks is over. It’s time for investors to recalibrate their expectations. That’s what many Wall Street firms and advisors are telling their clients.

Look for lower returns from U.S. stocks during the next decade compared with what has historically been the case, and expect U.S. bond returns that are on a par with equities. The best returns are projected for overseas stocks and bonds. Returns from most asset classes are projected to be positive.

“The next 10 years will be different than the last 10 years,” says Jim Masturzo, partner and chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at Newport Beach, California-based Research Affiliates. “It will be more normal.”

Expect Single-Digit U.S. Stock Returns

With inflation at the highest levels in 40 years, against a backdrop of rising interest rates and a decline in valuations, long-term returns for U.S. equities are projected to be in the low- to mid single-digit territory. That’s compared with a historical yearly average of 12%-13% before inflation, and well below the nearly 16% average annual returns of the past decade.

This is clearly a whole new world to which investors are unaccustomed after decades of low inflation and the near-zero interest rates of the past 10 years. “Returns will be more muted compared with history and especially the past two years, especially for equities,” says Roger Aliaga-Diaz, head of portfolio construction and chief Americas economist at The Vanguard Group.

Bond Returns to Rival Stocks

On the brighter side, bonds are seen giving equities a run for their money, as fixed-income returns are projected to rival those of stocks.

“Bond market returns could equal equity returns with less risk,” says Joseph Carson, economic consultant and former chief economist at AllianceBernstein. Returns on stocks in the next decade will appear “minuscule” at 4%-5%, he says, mainly because “equity returns for three of the last four decades were far above average.”

Stocks benefited from declining inflation and lower bond yields in the 1980s. Stable inflation and expectations of “a new era of long cycles of growth and earnings” pushed stock returns higher in the 1990s. And “in the decade ending 2020 it was zero rates and inflated market multiples” that led to outsize gains in stocks, says Carson.

A line chart showing rolling annualized 10-year returns between 1971 and 2021.

The Lost Decade

The outlier decade proved to be 2000 through 2009, a period that included the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as two punishing recessions and accompanying bear markets that dragged down returns and set the stage for easy money conditions. In what became known as the Lost Decade, stocks delivered a negative annualized total return of 0.95%, the only decade outside the Great Depression in which total returns for the period were negative.

At the start of the decade, a bubble in technology, telecommunications, and media stocks burst, resulting in a recession and the bear market of 2000-02, when stocks fell nearly 50%.

Not long afterward came the global financial crisis of 2007-09, precipitated by a housing meltdown brought about by banks and mortgage companies extending credit and making nontraditional interest-only and adjustable-rate loans to high-risk borrowers that were then packaged into mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and sold as stable and safe investments.

With home prices skyrocketing, the Federal Reserve started raising rates to cool the market, which prompted a wave of mortgage defaults and a subsequent liquidity crisis. The result: the deepest and longest-lasting recession since World War II. Stocks fell about 55%. The unemployment rate more than doubled.

The interventions to rescue the financial system and the economy during the crisis introduced ultraloose monetary policies that were reintroduced more recently during the pandemic crisis of 2020, creating a boom in asset prices and driving inflation to the highest levels since the 1980s. Aiming to rein in spiraling prices, the Fed has boosted the federal-funds rate six times this year at an aggressive pace and plans to continue until it sees clear signs that inflation is abating and heading back to its target rate of 2% from more than 8%.

That’s driven up yields on bonds, driving their prices lower, and sent stocks sliding. No one expects inflation and interest rates to stay at current levels over the next 10 years, but they will be at higher levels than has been the case in the past decade. And that will affect valuations.

The Case for Bonds

“Definitely, the case for bonds in the portfolio is coming back,” says Aliaga-Diaz of Vanguard. “Higher yields make the case for bonds stronger.” Over the next 10 years, Vanguard is forecasting annualized nominal returns, that is before adjusting for inflation, on U.S. equities of 4.7%-6.7% and U.S. bonds at 4.1%-5.1%.

Research Affiliates projects annualized nominal returns on U.S. equities of 2.3% over the next decade. Its forecast for U.S. bonds is 5.1% on an annualized nominal basis. Morningstar Investment Management projects U.S. stocks will deliver 5.5% in annualized nominal returns and 4.8% for U.S. bonds.

A grouped bar chart showing forecasts for annualized asset class returns over the next 10 yrs from Morningstar, Vanguard, and Research Affiliates.

Of course, stock and bond returns will vary from year to year, but these long-term annualized forecasts provide a gauge that helps firms construct diversified asset-allocation portfolios that can be tailored to optimize returns for different risk tolerances.

Investment firms also calculate these projections in real terms, which means they factor inflation into their models in addition to other variables such as valuations, earnings growth estimates, and dividend yields to obtain a more accurate assessment of potential total returns. Still, it has become standard practice for firms to issue forecasts in nominal terms because that is what is reflected in client accounts.

As Vanguard’s Aliaga-Diaz explains: “If you start with a $1,000 investment in 2022 and your portfolio returns 10% in nominal terms in 2023, your account will be $1,100. In real terms, your account would be worth $1,080 measured in 2022 dollars.”

Many investors may be gun-shy about embracing bonds, burned by steep double-digit losses this year in their portfolios at a time when stocks fell into a bear market.

The popular investment strategy of structuring portfolios with a mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds to achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns with lower volatility, the so-called 60/40 portfolio, failed to provide the diversification and balance that made it a tried-and-true investment approach for so long, delivering 10.6% average annual returns for the past 40 years.

The Morningstar US Moderate Target Allocation Index, which serves as a benchmark for the 60/40 strategy, is down 17.53% this year, while the Morningstar US Market Index is down more than 21%. But what worked so well for so long will work again, say strategists.

“There is a fear and concern that what we saw this year with stocks and bonds coming down together represents a new regime,” says Aliaga-Diaz. “But we will get back to the normal relationship.”

That view has been echoed by others, including Morgan Stanley’s chief cross-asset strategist Andrew Sheets, who has forecast a 10-year annualized return of 6.2% for the strategy. “While we do expect the 60/40 portfolio to deliver lower risk-adjusted returns compared with those over the last four decades, that doesn’t mean it is broken,” he wrote in a report issued this summer.

Starting Points Matter

A key driver of these forecasts comes down to prices: Lower prices point to higher implied returns. “Starting prices matter,” says Philip Straehl, global head of research and investment management at Morningstar Investment Management. “U.S. valuations have improved dramatically in the last 12 months. There’s been significant repricing in the U.S. equity markets.”

That’s even more true internationally, where stocks have had the added burden of coping with the strong U.S. dollar and weakened local currencies on top of inflation and rising rates. Strategists say developed and emerging markets represent the best opportunities for the highest returns.

Morningstar Investment Management forecasts stocks in developed international countries will return 9.4% annualized over the next decade. For emerging markets, the expectations are even rosier at 11.8%. Vanguard’s outlook for stocks in developed international countries is for annualized total returns of 7.2%-9.2%, and 7%-9% in emerging-markets equities. Research Affiliates is forecasting 13.1% returns annualized for emerging markets over the next 10 years and 12.6% annualized for developed international markets.

“Our recommendation would be to look outside the U.S.,” says John Thorndike, co-head of asset allocation at Boston-based investment manager GMO, which bases its outlook on a seven-year investing time frame. “If you are going to take equity risk, take the bulk of it in non-U.S. value stocks. We think you should take the risk. These stocks are attractive.”

By:

Source: Why Investors Should Lower Expectations for Making Money on Stocks | Morningstar

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Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again?


Credit...Photo Illustration by Dan Winters

The third time Drew Mena’s manager asked him about relocating to Austin, Texas, he and his wife, Amena Sengal, began to seriously consider it. They had deliberated each time before, in 2017 and 2018, but landed on a hard no: Drew and Amena had lived in New York for more than 10 years, and they loved it.

They owned a two-unit townhouse in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and they felt lucky to have it, with its yard and the kind of close-knit neighbors who compete to shovel one another’s sidewalks after a snowfall.

But now it was August 2020, and the pandemic had changed their calculus. When the city shut down, their daughter, Edie, was 7 months old; Drew and Amena co-parented while working full time, one at the kitchen island, the other at the breakfast table. In May, they escaped to Drew’s family’s cottage in New Hampshire, and gradually their tether to the city began to fray.

When the relocation offer came in from Drew’s employer, an asset-management company, they started browsing listings online, and it looked as if they could get a lot more space in Austin. They would certainly save money on everything else, like gas and groceries. The world is ending, they said to themselves. Why the hell not?

Amena, who was born and raised in Houston and attended the University of Texas at Austin, called her parents to solicit their opinion. They were so thrilled at the thought of her return that they suggested she consider buying, and offered to help with the down payment. They could all share the home as an investment property if Drew and Amena moved on.

Amena crunched the numbers and quickly realized a truth about America: Thanks to persistently low interest rates and tax policies that favor the rich, you can almost always get more space with a mortgage than with the same amount in rent.

So she threw herself into the search with zeal. She mapped commutes to Drew’s new office downtown; she found a dozen preschools she liked, and video-toured more than half of them. In her mind’s eye, she drew a backward C around central Austin, cutting out downtown and the expensive west side.

Their maximum budget was $550,000, $575,000 tops. They were looking for a house that was move-in ready, maybe around 1,500 square feet overall, with three to four bedrooms, two baths and a shed or office space for Amena in the backyard — she planned to keep her New York job in education policy and telecommute.

She reached out to John Gilchrist, a close friend from college who was now a real estate agent and, in January, he began taking her on up to four FaceTime tours a day. In the background, she could see other intent buyers, masked but often encroaching on one another. She could sense quality, but scale was harder to discern. “How many paces is that?” Amena would ask Gilchrist. “Can you put your hand in that sink? It looks tiny.”

The day that she and Drew were scheduled to fly to Austin for house-hunting, at the beginning of February, New York was buried in snow and flights were being canceled, so they opted to reschedule theirs. Feeling stranded and agitated, Amena began bidding on houses. There were two for sale in Johnston Terrace, on Emmitt Run, on the same block as Amena’s best friend from high school.

Both were two stories and 1,700 square feet. One, listed for $437,700, was a bouquet of beiges — beige interior and exterior paint, beige carpets, beige linoleum floors and beige oak cabinets. The other, listed for $50,000 more, was being remodeled by its owner and his friends: modern gray paint, white cabinets, dark wood luxury vinyl plank. “We’re all putting lipstick on a pig trying to get our houses sold,” the owner told me.

Amena bid on the beige, imagining she’d use the extra money to do her own remodel. It went under contract for $45,800 over the asking price, or $43,500 more than her bid. A few days later, Amena bid on another home she’d been dying to see on their trip, a black-and-white ranch house in South Austin listed at $460,000.

At the urging of Gilchrist, who told her how tight the market was, she bid more aggressively, offering $495,000, and was chagrined when she lost that house too. For Amena and Drew, their Austin home-buying odyssey was just beginning — a monthslong ordeal that would teach them quite a bit about the cruel realities of America’s housing market, in which home prices nationwide have risen by an astonishing 24.8 percent since March 2020.

And this first lesson, appropriately enough, demonstrated just one of many ways that the old, measured rules of home-buying no longer applied — that the cutthroat competitiveness that once defined only a few U.S. markets (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles) had now become standard across the country, as the median home price in small- and medium-size metropolitan areas rose by jaw-dropping levels: Boise, Idaho, 46 percent; Phoenix, 36 percent; Austin, 35 percent; Salt Lake City, 33 percent; Sacramento, 28 percent.

By bidding on two properties she had never visited, in a city nearly 2,000 miles away, Amena joined the 63 percent of North American home buyers in 2020 who made at least one offer on a home that they had never stepped into. Homes had been one of the few things resistant to online shopping: We browsed online, but we didn’t buy. The pandemic changed that. The result was a market that moved much, much faster.

What Amena and Drew would ultimately learn about Covid-era real estate was not just the necessity of raising their budget and lowering their expectations. It was also that the whole mind-set required to buy a house, the most important purchase that most Americans will ever make, had undergone a fundamental transformation — possibly a long-term one, given the realities of both supply and demand. Freddie Mac estimated at the end of 2020 that the United States was 3.8 million housing units short of meeting the nation’s needs.

Combine that with the surge of millennials into the housing market — they represented more than half of all mortgage originations last year — as well as the insatiable appetite of investors, who now snatch up nearly one in six homes sold in America, and the contours of a new, lightning-fast, permanently desperate housing market come clearly into view.

“It’s so irresponsible,” Amena lamented, when discussing those first, remote bids they made, and Drew chimed in: “In a normal market you would never do that.” By “normal,” Drew meant a time when a home buyer could tour a house in person, mull it over, go back a second time with her parents or friends and then make an offer with time for an inspection and an appraisal. But there’s reason to fear that America’s real estate market, after passing through the pandemic madhouse, might never get back to that kind of normal again.

Several Austin real estate agents told me the same story about when the “flip switched” during Covid: a sale on Ephraim Road, in the suburb of Brushy Creek, on New Year’s Day 2021. The house was “well cared for,” a buyer’s agent told me, but “nothing out of the ordinary”: two stories in brick, with a large arched window — the sort of place one of Tony’s underlings might own in a Texas spinoff of “The Sopranos.”

It was listed on Dec. 30, 2020, for $370,000, and it seemed like mere minutes until buyers and agents began lining up in the bitter rain to tour the house one by one, a process that took hours….Read more…

By:

Source: Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again? – The New York Times

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Diesel Gas Shortage: What Stocks Are Impacted By A Diesel Gas Shortage?

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  • As the government has been focused on crude oil and gasoline, diesel gas supplies have drastically fallen to dangerously low levels.
  • With diesel prices going up, it will cost more to transport consumer goods, which means that inflation won’t taper off anytime soon.
  • See list below for sectors and stocks most impacted by the shortage.

While a lot of attention has been directed toward the prices of crude oil, diesel gas suddenly appears scarce as we head into the winter months. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has stated that the U.S. now only has 25 days’ worth of diesel supply left, which is a dangerously low level. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has drastically impacted global energy supplies as refinery closures and disruptions in the U.S. have recently caused issues with the supply of diesel gas at a time when demand is surging due to the changing seasons.

With diesel fuel and heating oil inventories running low, inflation will remain high for the foreseeable future. Since diesel is the primary fuel source for trucks, rails and vessels that transport most consumer goods, it’s looking like the prices of these transported goods will also increase.

What’s happening with Diesel right now?

Bloomberg reported that the U.S. diesel crisis is here and will spread across the East Coast, where there are transportation delays. Diesel inventories are at the lowest seasonal level ever, heading into winter. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that U.S. distillate inventory (including heating oil and diesel fuel) had 106.2 million barrels in the week ending October 14, which is about 20% below the 5-year average and a 25-day supply.

There are colossal supply and demand issues with diesel fuel right now. Since diesel fuel is similar to heating oil, the demand will skyrocket as the northern hemisphere enters the winter months where people will need oil to heat their homes. Some speculate that if reserves aren’t built up by the end of November, there could be severe consequences — similar to the European energy crisis. The supply issues are being caused partly due to the embargo on Russian oil and because the refining capacity in the U.S. has dropped over the past few years.

The price of diesel hit a record high of $5.816 per gallon in June, and there’s a chance that it could go higher if we have a cold winter or if the European energy crisis gets worse — both of which are still undetermined as of the time of this writing.

Policymakers have been focusing on crude oil prices to fight inflation, but it appears that the diesel gas shortage could offset this. Goldman Sachs has warned that the government’s focus on fighting higher energy prices has only been on crude prices, even though that has little impact on what customers have to pay for. It’s also believed that refinery closures and disruptions are leading to this shortage of refined products like diesel gas.

What stocks are impacted by a diesel gas shortage?

A diesel gas shortage impacts many companies since the fuel is needed to transport goods across the country.

These are the industries most impacted by a diesel gas shortage:

  • Trucking and transportation. Since most of our goods are transported by diesel fuel, any company in this industry is facing the potential of low diesel supplies that could drive prices up.
  • Construction. Many power trucks and excavators use diesel, the increased cost of transporting raw materials, will drive home construction prices even higher when people already have to deal with soaring loan rates. This would also impact the mortgage industry since consumers will think twice about borrowing money, making everything more expensive.
  • Fresh produce. The prices of fresh produce will continue to increase as it’s becoming more costly to transport the goods promptly.
  • Other consumer goods. With all of our goods being transported by freight or truck, there could be issues with getting items into stores in time for the holiday season as we reach dangerously low levels of diesel.

It’s fair to say that stocks in any of these industries could be impacted by the diesel gas shortage if they can’t get the goods out on time or if they have to raise prices. Higher prices would only hurt consumer confidence as the threat of a recession looms large.

When we looked at stock market winners, we discovered that many oil companies were doing exceptionally well in 2022. We will be watching to see if limits are imposed on the export of U.S. oil and natural gas, as this would impact earnings.

What stocks are impacted by the diesel gas shortage?

Suncor Energy (SU)

Suncor produces synthetic crude from oil sands, a method that’s unlike conventional oil production. With diesel gas prices going up, Suncor stands to benefit as the stock is up almost 40% for 2022. Suncor has hiked up its dividend recently, making this an attractive stock for investors.

Valero Energy (VLO)

Valero is one of the top oil refineries as they manufacture and market transportation fuels. The company is also the second largest producer of renewable fuels, which means it will stay profitable if the world turns to renewable energy sources. Valero beat the earnings estimate for the third quarter, and the stock is up about 67% for 2022.

PBF Energy Inc. (PBF).

PBF is a petroleum refiner and supplier of transportation fuels, heating oils and other petroleum products. The company is working on producing renewable diesel by 2023 which would be a major game changer in this space. This stock is also up over 200% for the year while the rest of the market has continued to struggle.

Even though there’s a growing concern about switching over to cleaner energy sources, it’s important to note this transition won’t be quick.

What’s the impact of a diesel gas shortage?

While there has been plenty of buzz about the European energy crisis and the growth prospects of electric vehicles, we can’t ignore that diesel is the primary fuel source for power trucks, rails and vessels transporting consumer goods. If diesel prices skyrocket, then the prices of the goods transported will also increase accordingly. With the holiday season approaching, this would mean that we could expect further increases in prices.

Experts also worry that diesel prices could tip the economy into a recession. As the Fed continues to fight inflation by raising interest rates, other factors are causing diesel prices to go up, which would then impact the costs of everything that’s transported. This would mean prices would still go up and cause inflation to soar despite the aggressive rate hikes.

Diesel prices are going up right now due to simple supply and demand issues. There are also disruptions to the global markets being caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the current lockdowns in China.

What’s next for diesel prices?

As the supply of diesel gas dwindles and the demand continues to surge, actions must be taken promptly. The Biden Administration has considered limiting fuel export to help with the supply and prices. President Biden recently announced that they would be releasing 15 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve in December to increase the supply. However, there’s no clear indication this would solve, or substantively help, us with the diesel gas shortage.

It’s important to note that this fuel is used for heating and trucking, which is generally required to keep the economy going, especially in winter. Diesel keeps commerce and freight going because trucks, excavators, ships and freight trains need the energy source. If there’s a shortage of diesel, we would see higher costs for everything in the economy, from transportation to construction, at a time when the Fed continues its aggressive rate hike campaign.

What does this mean for investors?

With the stubborn inflation numbers causing stock market sell-offs as the Fed continues to raise rates to attempt to cool down the economy, it isn’t clear where to invest your money. With additional concerns of prices going up even higher due to a diesel gas shortage, there’s even more risk involved with investing in individual companies.

Many experts agree that soaring inflation will invariably worsen if fuel prices continue to rise. Although there has been a lot of attention on crude oil, diesel gas issues could hurt us as much or more. With Q.ai’s Inflation Kit, you could turn those inflation fears around with an Investment Kit that helps you profit from higher inflation. With our unique Portfolio Protection feature, you can protect yourself further against continued volatility and unforgiving downturns.

The bottom line

The diesel gas shortage could pose many challenges if the refineries don’t increase capacity or if we don’t find ways to replenish supplies. If diesel gas prices continue to go up, consumers will feel this impact as the prices of everything will continue to increase. We will continue to monitor the situation with diesel gas as it’s an urgent matter at this time.

Download Q.ai today for access to AI-powered investment strategies. When you deposit $100, we’ll add an additional $100 to your account.

Q.ai helps you invest like the pros with advanced investment strategies that combine human ingenuity with AI technology. Our strategies, packaged

Source: Diesel Gas Shortage: What Stocks Are Impacted By A Diesel Gas Shortage?

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