Quick Thoughts: Impacts of ceilings, tightening and liquidity
Head of Franklin Templeton Institute Stephen Dover recently moderated a panel of our leading economists and asked this key question: What’s in store for investors in the second half? Here’s a quick take on their answers.
In the first half of 2023, investors faced aggressive Federal Reserve (Fed) tightening, consecutive quarters of falling corporate profits, two of the largest bank failures in US history, a near-default by the US federal government, and universal predictions of US and global recessions.
I moderated a panel of our leading economists that included John Bellows, Portfolio Manager, Western Asset Management; Sonal Desai, Chief Investment Officer, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income; Michael Hasenstab, Chief Investment Officer, Templeton Global Macro; and Francis Scotland, Director of Research, Brandywine Global. I asked this key question, what’s in store for investors in the second half of 2023?
Below are my key takeaways from the discussion.
- Inflation is going to continue to be an issue for the next 6-12 months. There are some indicators that point to a slowing in inflation and that the economy is entering a period of disinflation, where the rate of inflation is falling as prices are not increasing as rapidly. (This is not deflation where prices are falling.) Failure of inflation to retreat is a risk, and core price inflation has been sticky, but the lagged effects from tighter monetary policy have yet to be fully felt.
- Where will interest rates settle? While the markets generally anticipate another interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve (Fed), there appears to be a disconnect with how fast rates will drop in the future. The market is pricing rate cuts back to pre-pandemic levels, but we think the 10 years that followed the global financial crisis were an aberration; inflation is likely to revert to pre-GFC levels as the long-term norm.
- While inflation has been coming down in many countries, the global recovery has been uneven.
- China is struggling to find sources of growth. A surge in growth did not materialize following the post-COVID reopening of the country. It is not a pending collapse but will require more economic management.
- Supply chain rebuilding and friend-shoring should contribute to growth opportunities in some countries. Supply chain rebuilding is increasing investment within Asia, particularly in countries like India and Indonesia. Other countries that should likely benefit include Mexico and Canada.
- Japan has benefited from recent increases in inflation as it has struggled with low growth for decades. The current inflation and growth levels have created opportunities to deploy corporate cash balances into investments. Japan also benefited from higher female participation in the labor force which has prevented a labor shortage, which in turn has supported growth.
- Where are the opportunities?
- Fixed income currently shows a low correlation with equities, which we think makes fixed-income investments good portfolio diversifiers. Unlike last year’s experience where the correlation of fixed income and equities aligned, fixed income investments are showing low correlation with equities and other risk assets.
- Selectively increasing duration offers an attractive total return. Neutral to shorter duration has provided a better return/risk profile to date in 2023. However, given current yield levels and the expected peak in interest rates, the expected total return from extending maturity is emerging as an attractive option.
- Emerging markets can provide diversification. Many emerging market countries showed strength in managing through COVID-19 and subsequent inflation shocks, partially by controlling debt issuance to a greater extent than their developed market counterparts. They also reacted quickly to bring inflation under control, raising rates ahead of the European Central Bank and the Fed. With many emerging market bonds enjoying attractive yields, this provides another source of return that is not necessarily synchronized with the rest of the world.
While the last six months have been extremely volatile in terms of interest rates and changing opportunities, we believe there is still a need to continue to bring inflation more fully under control as we look forward. The growth opportunities vary around the world, and across sectors and maturities. Fixed income is once again showing a low correlation with other risk assets, providing potential diversification and increased portfolio protection.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal.
Fixed income securities involve interest rate, credit, inflation and reinvestment risks, and possible loss of principal. As interest rates rise, the value of fixed-income securities falls.
Equity securities are subject to price fluctuation and possible loss of principal.
Special risks are associated with investing in foreign securities, including risks associated with political and economic developments, trading practices, availability of information, limited markets, and currency exchange rate fluctuations and policies; investments in emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors. Sovereign debt securities are subject to various risks in addition to those relating to debt securities and foreign securities generally, including, but not limited to, the risk that a governmental entity may be unwilling or unable to pay interest and repay the principal on its sovereign debt. To the extent a strategy focuses on particular countries, regions, industries, sectors, or types of investment from time to time, it may be subject to greater risks of adverse developments in such areas of focus than a strategy that invests in a wider variety of countries, regions, industries, sectors or investments. China may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political, and social instability. Investments in securities of Chinese issuers involve risks that are specific to China, including certain legal, regulatory, political, and economic risks.
Active management does not ensure gains or protect against market declines.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION
This material is intended to be of general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax advice. This material may not be reproduced, distributed, or published without prior written permission from Franklin Templeton.
The views expressed are those of the investment manager and the comments, opinions, and analyses are rendered as of the publication date and may change without notice. The underlying assumptions and these views are subject to change based on market and other conditions and may differ from other portfolio managers or of the firm as a whole. The information provided in this material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, or market. There is no assurance that any prediction, projection, or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market, or the economic trends of the markets will be realized. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. Past performance is not necessarily indicative nor a guarantee of future performance. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal.
Any research and analysis contained in this material has been procured by Franklin Templeton for its own purposes and may be acted upon in that connection and, as such, is provided to you incidentally. Data from third-party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and Franklin Templeton (“FT”) has not independently verified, validated, or audited such data. Although information has been obtained from sources that Franklin Templeton believes to be reliable, no guarantee can be given as to its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed and may be subject to change at any time without notice. The mention of any individual securities should neither constitute nor be construed as a recommendation to purchase, hold or sell any securities, and the information provided regarding such individual securities (if any) is not a sufficient basis upon which to make an investment decision. FT accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from the use of this information and reliance upon the comments, opinions, and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user.
Products, services, and information may not be available in all jurisdictions and are offered outside the U.S. by other FT affiliates and/or their distributors as local laws and regulation permits. Please consult your own financial professional or Franklin Templeton institutional contact for further information on the availability of products and services in your jurisdiction.
Issued in the U.S. by Franklin Distributors, LLC, One Franklin Parkway, San Mateo, California 94403-1906, (800) DIAL BEN/342-5236, franklintempleton.com – Franklin Distributors, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC, is the principal distributor of Franklin Templeton U.S. registered products, which are not FDIC insured; may lose value; and are not bank guaranteed and are available only in jurisdictions where an offer or solicitation of such products is permitted under applicable laws and regulation.
CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are trademarks owned by CFA Institute.
A message from Advisor Perspectives and VettaFi: To learn more about this and other topics, check out our most recent white papers.