This week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J highlights an update on the global economy. Germany appears to be a bright spot within the European Union with a budget surplus in 2015 despite global trade trending down, particularly in China. After recording a trade deficit with China for 2015, Germany is now seeking to make the United States their primary trading partner. Japan is also seeing a downturn in output and could be in recession by this summer. Listen in to hear more on the ECB’s continued quantitative easing, the flood of refugees into Germany, and comments on Emerging Market debt.
This week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J continues the discussion on oil and the challenges hindering the much anticipated boost in production from Iran. Meanwhile, Europe’s banking system is under pressure to keep its zero-interest and negative-interest rate policies in place for the foreseeable future. Listen in for commentary on the aftermath of the Brussels and Paris attacks and how it is affecting tourism and putting further pressure on the European banking system. We discuss how the first quarter is wrapping up and the outlook for the remainder of 2016.
During the summer months some of us like to cook outside – and slow cookers seem to be all the rage this year! The food may seem to take forever to cook, and we often can become impatient waiting for signs of progress.
We may have the same feeling when contemplating most of the world investment markets. Investors have finally decided that a diet of foreign bonds paying negative interest is unhealthy. While in the U.S. we are still w-a-i-t-i-n-g for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. The latest forecast is for a September rate increase. We can only hope! In the meantime the bond markets are suffering and definitely cooling. We saw big declines in bond values and returns for the second quarter, as hope for an interest rate increase in June evaporated.
Consumers in the U.S. enjoyed a little relief as energy costs declined – a useful prelude to the summer driving season instead of the usual increases in gas prices. Housing is recovering, employment is stabilizing and, although excruciatingly slow – we are indeed cooking here!
Volatility is increasing in the U.S. markets making it more difficult to determine what direction your investments should take in 2015. When Oil slid from $100 to $50/barrel, the U.S. stock market rallied in anticipation that lower gasoline prices would allow consumers to spend this windfall somewhere more interesting than the pump, but that hasn’t happened yet. So far, all we’ve seen are layoffs in the oil patch and more price swings in the S&P 500. Europe is justifiably concerned about Greece and its willingness to resolve its debt crises. They keep talking and positioning as well as negotiating via the media with the Germans, but nothing significant has happened yet. So far this year, international markets have had some gains even slightly more than the U.S., but the structural problems outside the U.S. make us remain cautious. Over the past 6 years, the best place to invest your money has been the S&P 500. This index is likely a bit overvalued right now, and perhaps the international markets are a bit undervalued, but no one knows when the trend will change. It appears that the U.S. dollar will maintain the dominant currency for the foreseeable future making our exports more expensive. This does however, allow foreign companies to increase their sales to the U.S., likely making them more profitable. The U.S. has seen substantial job growth but minimal wage growth over the past year, which is encouraging news for corporate profits. We have yet to see consumer spending rebound to its pre great recession levels, but as more people get reemployed and old debts are repaid, the outlook for the U.S. appears to be the brightest around. How does this translate into your portfolio design? A large part of your portfolio will remain invested in the U.S. with some allocations hedged to the U.S. dollar in International stocks and bonds. Bond positions will remain primarily in U.S. corporations with some international exposure, but the U.S. looks like the place to be right now.
Sharkey, Howes & Javer is a Denver-based financial planning and investment management firm. For additional market updates and financial news, please follow our LinkedIn page. If you are interested in setting up a complimentary consultation with one of our Certified Financial Planners™, please call 303.639.5100 or visit shwj.com.