Latest Stories

Mortgage Opportunities After Quantitative Easing?

By Jen Ripper | September 28, 2017

Nearly ten years ago, the Federal Reserve (Fed) embarked upon what became known as quantitative easing as a way to combat the financial crisis of 2008. With the Fed Funds rate near zero percent, the Fed announced it would purchase U.S. Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities. After three rounds of quantitative easing, the Fed ended its purchases in late 2014. During that time, the Fed has purchased nearly $1.78 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

Fed Continues Hawkish Tone

By David O'Malley | September 25, 2017

The stock market held near record levels and interest rates were stable after the Federal Reserve (Fed) announced its much anticipated plan to shrink its balance sheet last week. Despite concerns about the impact of Fed interest rate increases on the long term economy and inflation outlook, the Fed took a constructive view of the dynamics impacting the economy. As a result of the relatively hawkish tone, the odds of a December rate hike increased. I still believe the Fed will hold off on increasing rates until 2018.

What is the State of Corporate Bond Liquidity?

By James Faunce | September 21, 2017

Since the financial crisis, investment grade corporate bond trading volumes have almost doubled. 2017 volumes are projected to total $4.1 trillion, compared to $2.1 trillion in 2007. However this doesn’t tell the whole story – the size of the overall market has tripled over this time period. As a result, liquidity, measured as volumes relative to the overall market, is down quite meaningfully. Today’s chart shows that volumes currently represent 86% of the market while in 2007 they came in at over 120%. This steady decline is due to numerous factors, but a large contributor is the increased regulatory oversight, most notably the Volcker rule which has limited bank investment capabilities.

Stocks Make a New High

By David O'Malley | September 18, 2017

The S&P 500 closed above the 2,500 mark for the first time on Friday. The markets ended a strong week of gains driven by continued favorable conditions for economic growth and the prospects for potentially bipartisan action coming out of Washington.

I’m not an Economist, But…

By Scott Ellis | September 14, 2017

I am certainly not an economist, but when a Barron’s article early in September highlighted an obscure but potentially troubling economic data point, I had to find out more. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia produces monthly coincident indexes for each of the 50 U.S. states. These monthly indexes describe recent trends and are further combined into a diffusion index value. More specifically, these indexes focus on four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions. The variables in this coincident index include nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing by production workers, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average) – per the Philadelphia Fed’s website.

Hurricane Recovery and Economic Impact

By David O'Malley | September 11, 2017

The one-two punch of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has impacted so many in Texas, Florida and throughout the Southern part of the U.S. We keep all of those impacted in our thoughts and wish them a speedy recovery.
Markets will be looking at how these two storms will impact the economy both in the near term and farther down the line. In the short term, the potential is for the storms to put downward pressure on economic performance and distort statistics (like the rise in unemployment claims last week), but the rebuilding process will be a boost to the economy.

Corporate Bond Credit Quality Moving Lower with Yields

By Mark Heppenstall | September 7, 2017

This week’s chart highlights the dramatic shift in credit quality for the corporate bond market during the past 30 years. Investment grade rated corporations have been on a 30-year borrowing binge judging by the increasing weight of BBB-rated credits in the Bloomberg Barclays Corporate Index. U.S. companies are taking advantage of lower and lower borrowing costs and embracing the use of higher leverage. Nearly half of the index is made up of BBB credits today ─ double the level from 30 years ago. Despite more than 60 companies being rated AAA in the 1980s, only Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft remain as the two U.S. companies with the top rating.

Unexpectedly Weak Employment Report

By David O'Malley | September 5, 2017

The nuclear test by North Korea has brought geopolitical uncertainty to a new level. As I have previously written, it is very hard to trade geopolitical risk so I prefer to stay focused on fundamentals.

Last week’s August employment report was weaker than expectations on almost all aspects. The report comes after stronger employment data earlier in the week. The ramifications of the weaker report bring the odds of a December interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve (Fed) to less than 50/50. The weaker average hourly earnings and sluggish inflation data may keep the Fed on hold until after the holiday spending season.



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.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  All information referenced in preparation of this material has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information and Penn Mutual Asset Management shall have no liability for decisions based upon such information.

High-Yield bonds are subject to greater fluctuations in value and risk of loss of income and principal. Investing in higher yielding, lower rated corporate bonds have a greater risk of price fluctuations and loss of principal and income than U.S. Treasury bonds and bills. Government securities offer a higher degree of safety and are guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest if held to maturity.

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