The investment climate is changing. The speed of the economy is picking up. Interest rates have risen and around the world inflation is edging higher.
The Federal Reserve acknowledged the improvement last week with its first rate hike of the year and only its second since the financial crisis.
Investors are responding too. U.S. markets have been leading the charge and market leadership has changed. Year-to-date the large cap S&P 500, with its many global businesses is up just over 11%, while the more domestically oriented and more speculative, small company stocks in the S&P SmallCap 600 have surged more than 27%. On an industry basis as well, more cyclical S&P 500 sectors like Energy (+24.7%), Financials (+22.3%), Industrials (+18.3%) and Materials (+15.8%) have vastly outperformed more stable, defensive businesses like Consumer Staples (+3.2%) and Health Care (-3.9%).
What a difference an election can make! According to The Wall Street Journal, global equity markets have added $3 trillion to their total value since November 8th, while an almost equal amount came out of the global bond market.
Improving economic indicators and profits is what this week’s guest spotted early this year, and convinced him to abandon what had become the common wisdom on Wall Street, that interest rates and inflation would stay “lower for longer.” As a result he completely changed the positioning in his portfolios from high quality defensive to lower quality cyclical.
He is Richard Bernstein, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Richard Bernstein Advisors, an independent investment advisory firm that focuses on longer-term strategies combining top-down macro-economic analysis and quantitative portfolio construction.
Bernstein runs multiple portfolios including several mutual funds. His flagship fund is the Eaton Vance Richard Bernstein Equity Strategy Fund, which is rated 4-Star by Morningstar, and has beaten its World Stock category and market benchmark, with less than market risk, since its 2010 inception.
We will discuss what Bernstein describes as a seismic shift in the macro picture and what it means for investment strategy.
If you’d like to see the show before it airs, it is available to our PREMIUM subscribers right now. We also have an EXTRA interview with Bernstein about how he personally tests economic theories in real life. It’s available exclusively on our website.
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We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for devoting your precious time to reading our missives to you, watching WEALTHTRACK on TV and online, and especially for sharing your comments with us in 2016.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful holiday week leading up to the New Year. We hope you can share it with many loved ones. I look forward to making the year ahead a profitable and productive one with you.