Latest Stories

Washington DC, North Korea Have Skew at Multi-Year Highs

By John Swarr | August 31, 2017

Despite the S&P500 (SPX) being less than 2% off the all-time high it achieved a mere three weeks ago, market signals are suggesting that investors are beginning to turn bearish on equities. Turbulence within the Trump administration, the potential for a government shutdown, and tension with North Korea all have investors nervous as volatility starts to pick up after a historically low period the past several months. As a sign market participants are wary of a pullback in equities, traditional safe-haven assets such as gold and the Japanese Yen have been rallying since mid-July.

Geopolitical Risks, Market Forecasts and a Tax Reform Clause

By Mark Heppenstall | August 30, 2017

While trading slowed during the summer months, as it historically does, the headlines did not! From squashed healthcare reform to placing sanctions on North Korea to the Amazon/Whole Foods deal, there was no shortage of market-moving news in the last several months. Before we unofficially say goodbye to summer next week, we checked in with CIO Mark Heppenstall for his take on what’s been happening in the news cycle and its impact on markets as well as what investors can expect leading into the final quarter of 2017.

Uneventful Jackson Hole Meeting Leaves Markets Waiting on Economic Data

By David O'Malley | August 28, 2017

I first want to send my thoughts and well wishes to everyone enduring the impact of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Last week’s Jackson Hole Meeting was very uneventful from a market perspective as central banks kept their remarks very much in line with recent commentary. Janet Yellen’s speech felt more like a farewell address than laying out future Federal Reserve (Fed) policy.

The Grind is Real

By Jason Merrill | August 24, 2017

In spite of domestic political unrest and continued geopolitical uncertainty, the markets have enjoyed a surprising amount of stability since September 2016. Spreads have continued to grind tighter and tighter, begging the question, “how low can you go?” When spreads are at the tights across most sectors, cross-sector relative value becomes a more important form of differentiation between investments – and definitely more interesting during a summer of weak supply and low market volatility!

Jackson Hole Conference will be Closely Watched

By David O'Malley | August 21, 2017

Beginning on Thursday, the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank hosts its annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The annual meeting draws central bankers from around the world, including Janet Yellen from the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) and Mario Draghi from the European Central Bank (ECB).

Rating Changes Signal Balanced Credit Trends

By Greg Zappin | August 17, 2017

Despite criticism for acting too slow or being backward looking, rating agencies and the credit ratings they assign are still relevant in the corporate bond market today. Ratings trends can be a useful, albeit imperfect, tool to access over credit quality in the market and sometimes offer a source of alpha if future ratings direction can be correctly anticipated. Non-financial credit ratings are based on fairly transparent criteria, particularly the leverage and profitability metrics. It’s the qualitative judgments about competitive position, industry dynamics and financial policy that are grey areas. While new issue ratings have proven to be an accurate gauge of default risk over time, the timing of subsequent ratings actions is a big market gripe. Ratings are meant to look through cycles, which can create big gaps between an issuer’s ratings and bond pricing and current fundamentals.

Geopolitical Risks Muddy the Economic Picture

By David O'Malley | August 14, 2017

Geopolitical risks dominated headlines last week with the increasing escalation over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program stealing most of the spotlight. The war of words that has been simmering between the U.S. and North Korea bubbled over into markets. After making new highs, the S&P 500 fell 2% late in the week, marking the first significant sell off in several months.

Benign Economic Environment, Low Market Volatility

By Zhiwei Ren | August 10, 2017

Low volatility has been the hallmark for this year’s market. We have seen the lowest level on record for the volatility index (VIX) and the lowest realized volatility in the S&P 500 Index. The reason we have such low volatility in the market is clear: The macro environment is very benign and investors know it.

How Long Will our ‘Goldilocks’ Economy Under Trump Last?

By Penn Mutual Asset Management | August 9, 2017

Penn Mutual Asset Management CIO Mark Heppenstall contributed an article to The Hill where he discusses the current gridlock in Washington, the “new normal” economic environment and investment trends amid low volatility. Mark anticipates all these factors will extend the credit cycle into extra innings and enable the Fed to be patient with future rate hikes.

Treasury Auctions and Inflation Data

By David O'Malley | August 7, 2017

Last week’s employment data confirmed the strength of the jobs market with 209,000 new jobs added during July versus an expected 180,000. The unemployment rate fell to a cyclical low of 4.3% while hourly earnings increased by 0.3% to a 2.5% year-over-year rate.



Disclosure Statement

This blog post is for informational use only. The views expressed are those of the author, Dave O’Malley, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Penn Mutual Asset Management. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and it is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy.

Any statements about financial and company performance of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company or its insurance subsidiaries (each, “Client”) made by the author is provided with a written consent from the Client.  Penn Mutual Asset Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company.

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Opinions and statements of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute judgment of the author and are subject to change without notice.  The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from sources deemed to be reliable but should not be assumed to be accurate or complete.  Statements that reflect projections or expectations of future financial or economic performance of the markets may be considered forward-looking statements.  Actual results may differ significantly.  Any forecasts contained in this material are based on various estimates and assumptions, and there can be no assurance that such estimates or assumptions will prove accurate.

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