A few weeks ago Emiel showed us a photo of his Panther Kalista classic car. Not to be outdone, I’m including a photo of my car, a Nissan Leaf. It may have less character, but if the Panther is a reminder of car history, the Leaf could provide a glimpse of the car future.
Going into 2017, the market consensus was one of a strong US dollar environment, with the expectation of the US engine firing on all cylinders, with support from fiscal policy, monetary policy and de-regulation. The engine has stuttered, the US dollar has been declining all year and not many US dollar bulls are left. We are taking stock.
Oil price spikes have contributed to almost all US recessions since 1950. But with the US shale revolution, most investors are more concerned with how low oil prices could go. Ultimately, OPEC will decide the answer to that question. Our analysis suggests OPEC will continue to limit production when necessary, with the aim of generally keeping prices between $45-$55 outside of recessions and significant new supply disruptions.
One thing is for sure, the US economy is closer to full employment than it was a year ago. More difficult to say is whether it is at full employment. So far we’re still lacking much evidence that US wage growth is picking up steam. However, much like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed a little too hard, wage growth can suddenly accelerate when labour markets are tight. So from an equity investor’s perspective it’s better to think about the potential impact of rising wages on profits before it actually happens.
The Q2 US reporting season is upon us. It’s a busy time for equity investors, though earnings seasons rarely move the needle much from a macro perspective. Here is a quick-read primer of what to expect over the next few weeks and my two key top-down conclusions.
Low interest rates can be considered both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that the government yield curve impacts discount rates used across almost all financial assets. The curse is that they incentivise changes in economic structures (e.g. higher debt) which, in turn, make low interest rates more entrenched. The blessing and curse of low interest rates is therefore that they are (probably) here to stay.