The Long View

Chart of the Week

A visual snapshot of the trends shaping the economy and the market.

Latest Stories

What’s the Potential for Outperformance in Crossover Credits?

By James Faunce | November 16, 2017

As the cycle progresses further into its late stages, upward rating migration may continue due to improving fundamentals, operational enhancements, and active balance sheet repair. After spending a good portion of the past year repairing their balance sheets through asset sales and debt pay downs, energy companies have been the prime beneficiaries of positive rating actions in 2017. According to Barclays, of the credits that have seen upgrades into investment grade year to date, a full 60% of the volumes have occurred in the energy sector. Credits outside the commodity related sectors have only represented 30% of total volumes and those were largely driven by credit specific factors.

Gold Shimmers in the Face of Fed Tightening

By Mark Heppenstall | November 9, 2017

After five years of disappointing returns, this year’s double-digit gains in gold prices have surprised many investors, especially in light of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) continued monetary policy tightening. Conventional wisdom held that as the Fed hiked short-term interest rates, the higher opportunity cost to own gold would put additional downward pressure on prices.

Drilling A Bit Deeper into High Yield Energy

By Scott Ellis | November 2, 2017

With the energy markets seemingly rebalanced and oil prices hovering near $55 per barrel, we have decided to take a closer look at the Oil Field Services sector. This subsector is the weakest link in the energy supply chain as these companies largely rely on exploration and drilling capital expenditures. It was the most distressed energy subsector in 2016 and has been the last to recover. Still, enough has transpired to suggest a potential inflection point in fundamentals in 2018 or 2019, with many of the survivors effectively extending their own runways via opportunistic refinancings. Despite the spread compression in 2017, as seen in this week’s chart, this subsector of High Yield Energy still has higher credit spreads than the overall High Yield Energy sector and therefore is worth drilling into further (pun intended).

A Quick Guide to the Fed Chair Nominees

By John Swarr | October 26, 2017

This week’s Monday Morning O’Malley highlighted the upcoming selection of the next Federal Reserve (Fed) chair. The top candidates for the nomination include Jerome Powell, John Taylor, Janet Yellen, Kevin Warsh, and Gary Cohn. The Chart of the Week shows recent betting odds on who will receive the nomination. While the odds are fun to talk about, this week’s write-up covers the candidates’ viewpoints and policy stances so the risks behind the candidates can be anticipated. Investors should be prepared for any outcome by understanding how each candidate would lead the Fed on key issues including monetary policy, the balance sheet, transparency, and regulation.

A Perfect Storm

By Jason Merrill | October 19, 2017

Before we jump into the commentary on this week’s Chart of the Week, let me first acknowledge how much of a tragedy these natural disasters have been for our country this year. The loss of lives and homes has been devastating. It is important for those of us that are personally unaffected by these events to keep in mind the struggle that so many are going through this year. However, the fact remains that many institutional investors have investment exposures to these disasters as well, so the discussion regarding the impact on portfolios must and will continue.

Fundamentals Rule the Day

By Greg Zappin | October 12, 2017

The daily record highs in the equity markets and the relentless grind tighter in the credit markets elicit both feelings of marvel and trepidation. As you can see in the chart above, revenue and EBITDA are growing at strong levels across the companies in the S&P 500. The uneasy feeling in the fixed income market comes from the disparity between valuations at or near their post crisis tights versus the constant barrage of negative news outside of Wall Street – North Korean war talk, devastating hurricanes and fires, mass shooting in Las Vegas, and dysfunction in Washington. For most high-yield investors, waiting for the big pullback by sitting in cash is not an option, as the active manager gets compensated to take risk and outperform an index. It’s easy to get distracted in this type of market. When I sift through all the noise, I have found the best way to construct a credit portfolio is to rely on business fundamentals as a guiding light.

Fade the Metal Rally

By Zhiwei Ren | October 5, 2017

In the last two years, there has been an impressive rally in industrial metals. From the lows during early 2016 until today, copper is up 50%, zinc is up 100%, aluminum is up 50%, and lithium is up 120%. When industrial metals rallied, stocks in the metal and mining sector rallied sharply as well.

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).

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.

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.



Disclosure Statement

The material provided here is for informational use only. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Penn Mutual Asset Management.

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This material is for informational use only. The views expressed are those of the author, 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.

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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Copyright © 2014 Penn Mutual. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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