This week I had the pleasure to attend Consensus 2018 in New York, the premiere gathering for the who’s who in blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Attendance doubled from last year to an estimated 8,500 people, all of them packed in a Hilton built for only 3,000. Ticket sales alone pulled in a whopping $17 million, while event booths—the largest of which belonged to Microsoft and IBM—generated untold millions more.
Market signals have been decidedly mixed thus far into the year. By this time a year ago, the S&P 500 had already returned 5%. Today, in early May, the S&P 500 is down fractionally, while volatility and bond yields are up.
The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April increased to 109.4 from a revised 109.0 in March. The Coincident Economic Index (CEI) came in at 103.5, up from the previous month.
Effective May 14, 2018, new regulations will be adopted aimed at increasing the transparency of bond pricing. The new rules require dealers of corporate, municipal and agency bonds to clearly disclose bond markups and provide retail investors with relevant price comparisons.
Global growth has been accelerating, but there are a few potential headwinds that could cause it to stall. Three of our senior investment leaders—Ed Perks, Chris Molumphy and Stephen Dover—recently participated in a panel discussion on the potential impact of trade tensions, inflation and other issues on their radar.
A review of last month’s market-moving events across countries and asset classes.
On May 14, new MSRB regulations will require the disclosure of the often dramatic markups that retail investors are subject to when buying individual municipal bonds. Will this accelerate the shift into active municipal bond management?
Call it the news of the year, perhaps even of the decade. For the first time since the Korean Peninsula was divided in 1948, leaders of the two warring nations met late last week in what had the look and feel of a jovial reconciliation between two estranged family members. Kim Jong-un of North Korea and President Moon Kae-in of South Korea made a number of important, though tentative, breakthroughs, including an agreement to denuclearize the peninsula and a pledge to revisit several infrastructure projects that would help bring some economic unity to the two Koreas.
When you see trade deficit data between the US and China, be aware that the numbers are vastly different depending on the source. China actually follows a more commonly used protocol to account for trade than does the US. For 2016, for example, US data shows a $375 billion trade deficit with China, whereas China shows $276 billion.
To address questions about the benefits of international investing and diversification, we don’t have to look too far back in time.