Tag Archives: Stock market

Stock Market Outlook 2021: Bull Market, But Buckle Up

In what may become the second year of a bull market, where can investors look for returns, amid the appearance of historically high valuations?
By Andrew Slimmon – Stock market returns in 2020 eerily resembled the trend in 2009—that is, the strength of the first year emerging from a deep stock market recession. While past performance does not necessarily predict future results, being an active equity investor does require understanding historical moves.

Last year, as the market recovered from its drop in March, many investors were way too bearish in retrospect, keeping too much cash on the sidelines. Once the rally began, volatility dropped, and the bull market climbed significantly before the bears eventually capitulated late in the year.

Now in 2021, amid hope and excitement that the pandemic might soon be behind us as vaccines are distributed, investors may actually find it tougher to generate the kind of stock market returns we saw last year in the midst of COVID-19. Strange I know, but as we saw last year, equity returns need not align with what is the current state of the economy. Instead, stocks this year may resemble their performance in 2010, i.e., year two of the bull market that started in 2009. After the S&P 500 Index’s stunning 68% return from the March 2020 low to the end of the year, stocks likely need to take a breather, much as they did in the second quarter of 2010. Importantly, however, overall returns of a second year of a bull market are historically positive, like in 2010.

We should therefore brace ourselves for a lot more stock market volatility in 2021. This will likely shake out the reluctant bulls, those who only recently put their cash to work in equities, at the exact wrong time. Based on history, investors should hold tight and keep eyes on the longer term. The second year of a new bull market historically performs quite well overall, though it tends to be more gut-wrenching along the way. more>

Updates from McKinsey

How capital markets keep us connected
Nasdaq’s 50th anniversary reminds us that markets should be more inclusive, share more information, inspire innovation, and bring the world together.
By Tim Koller – Fifty years ago this February 8, a UNIVAC 1108 mainframe computer blinked on in sleepy Trumbull, Connecticut. Thus was born the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system, or Nasdaq, the world’s first all-electronic stock exchange, where securities could be bought and sold online in real time.

Well, almost.

While the network did flash “bids” and “asks” of prices, users could not actually buy or sell through their computers. Instead, dealers sat before individual Nasdaq terminals and made their trades by telephone—as they would for the next 13 years. The Nasdaq came into being not as a platform for execution but as a source of information and innovation to help facilitate trades by participants across distant locations.

In that way, Nasdaq took its cues from the first modern stock market, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (now known as Euronext). It didn’t convene at a single or set address during its early years, nor did it actually sell stock certificates, at least in present-day terms. Founded in 1602, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange arose initially as a means for people to subscribe to, and then to sell, percentages of Dutch East India Company net profits. The selling and reselling of these interests, in an iterative series of individual, bargained-for trades, aggregated into “the market.” Trades took place wherever merchants happened to meet, at any hour of the day.

As trading proliferated, the imperative for information did, too. Prices weren’t imposed by fiat; they couldn’t be. Why part from your money or your shares if you didn’t believe you would come out ahead in the bargain? Within a few decades of its founding, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange included trades by forward contracts (already well in use in Europe and around the world for commodities transactions), selling securities short and even buying on margin. Investors understood that the value of their trade relied on the probability of future profits, which meant that the advantage tilted to the diligent, the perceptive, and the informed.

Early stock market investors (there were more than a thousand of them, right from the start) were eager to subscribe when the Dutch East India Company “went public” because, as merchants and traders themselves, they could perceive the potential for high returns. It wasn’t unusual for ships sailing back from East India to realize profits of 100-fold. It also wasn’t unusual for profits to be zero; when fleets set out from Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, and Zeeland, all might be lost to weather, pirates, or scurvy. That vessels did manage to travel the thousands of miles and back was a triumph of innovation and risk taking. Pooling investments and sailing multiple times allowed more investors to create wealth. It also helped protect against losing everything in a single, misbegotten voyage. 1

Soon, stock exchanges were forming or emerging out of existing bourses across the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The more people the better. Larger markets meant greater liquidity, the opportunity to sell and resell equity interests to an ever-growing pool of investors. More markets also meant more opportunity to be closer to the action, as shipping, trade, and commerce brought continents and cultures together. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Who is driving stock prices?
Some investors influence valuations more than others do, research suggests
By Emily Lambert – When stock prices fluctuate, commentators often attribute the moves to demand from certain groups of investors. A radio report might attribute a daily rise in the S&P 500 to sentiment-driven retail investors—or maybe hedge funds, pension funds, or sovereign-wealth funds.

But some investors drive valuations more than others do, suggests research by Chicago Booth’s Ralph S. J. Koijen, NYU’s Robert J. Richmond, and Princeton’s Motohiro Yogo. In traditional stock-valuation methods, it doesn’t matter who owns a stock. Indeed, someone valuing a company’s stock typically estimates the company’s expected profits, and then discounts these profits using an appropriate discount rate as implied by, for instance, the capital asset pricing model (CAPM). The demand of a particular group of investors matters only to the extent that it affects the market risk premium and therefore the discount rate, producing a typically small effect. But some research is starting to chip away at the gap between narratives about investor-driven market swings and traditional finance models.

The latter assume that markets are highly elastic, Koijen explains—if prices deviate slightly from their fair values, investors rush in to arbitrage such small mispricings away. But the market is far less elastic than thought, a growing literature demonstrates. In this case, differences in investor demand have a meaningful impact on prices.

If asset prices reflect differences in demand for the shares, who is driving that? Koijen, Richmond, and Yogo developed a framework to trace back differences in valuation ratios and expected returns to various investors. They assembled investors into eight groups, from passively managed behemoths such as the Vanguard Group, to smaller, actively managed investment advisers and hedge funds. They then modeled how valuations would shift if all the assets of one group were to be redistributed to other institutional investors in proportion to their assets—if all hedge fund assets, for example, were held instead by other institutions in the market. The effect of that would depend on an investor’s size and strategy compared with others in the market, the researchers show.

Overall, small, active investment advisers have the largest influence on valuations, according to the researchers. Controlling for size, they find that hedge funds tend to be the most influential. “Per dollar of capital, they are much more influential than pension funds and insurance companies,” says Koijen. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Trade policy is upending markets—but not investment
By Steven J. Davis – Trade-policy concerns became a major source of US stock market volatility in 2018. For example, the S&P 500 fell 2.5 percent on March 22, 2018, reacting to news about just-announced US tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese imports. Four days later, the index rose 2.7 percent on news the United States and China had begun trade negotiations. Still, tariffs and tariff threats between the two countries ratcheted upward over the next several months.

This prominence marks a striking change, as demonstrated in my research with Northwestern’s Scott R. Baker, Northwestern PhD candidate Marco Sammon, and Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom. We took a systematic look at the role of trade-policy developments and other news in large daily stock market moves. We first identified every daily move of 2.5 percent or more, up or down, in the US stock market. By this criterion, there were 1,112 large daily moves from 1900 to the end of 2018.

For each large move, we read next-day news articles in the Wall Street Journal to classify perceptions of what moved the market. The WSJ attributed seven of 1,103 large moves from 1900 to 2017 mainly to news about trade policy. But in a remarkable turnabout, the newspaper attributed three of nine large moves in 2018 to trade-policy news. From a historical perspective, the prominent role of trade policy in recent US stock market swings is highly unusual.

The highly visible US–China dispute is only one of the heightened trade-policy concerns behind the pattern we chart. The US has also become enmeshed in trade-policy disputes with several other major trading partners since Donald Trump became president.

How much do these heightened concerns affect capital-investment expenditures by US businesses? Not as much as you might think. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

What causes stock market crashes, from Shanghai to Wall Street
By Michael Maiello – The Shanghai Stock Exchange reached a historic peak in June 2015, and then plunged, losing almost 40 percent of its value in a month. This crash of the world’s second-largest stock market evoked comparisons to the 1929 Wall Street collapse, and provided a laboratory for testing an enduring explanation of its causes.

It has long been theorized that the 1929 crash reflected “leverage-induced fire sales,” according to University of International Business and Economics’ Jiangze Bian, Chicago Booth’s Zhiguo He, Yale’s Kelly Shue, and Tsinghua University’s Hao Zhou. They acknowledge that the theory has been well-developed to explain how excessive leverage makes investors sell in emergency conditions, accelerating market crashes. But they suggest that, until now, the empirical research has been lacking—and the China crash finally offers empirical evidence.

The researchers analyzed account-level data for hundreds of thousands of investors in China’s stock market. Because leverage was introduced in mainland China only in 2010, Bian, He, Shue, and Zhou were able to examine the implications of leverage-limiting regulations imposed in this decade. During the first half of 2015, there were two sources of leverage for Chinese investors—regulated brokerage houses and nonregulated online lending platforms. The latter, along with other nonbank lenders such as trust companies, formed the shadow-banking industry in China. The researchers thus studied the effects of each type of borrowing. more>

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Rational Irrational Exuberance?

By Andrés Velasco – The timing was exquisitely ironic: equity markets peaked – and a week later began crashing – just as pundits left this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where they concluded that the global economy was on a steady upswing. In the weeks since, experts have divided into two camps.

Some, including new US Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell, believe that economic fundamentals are strong, and that what stock markets experienced in early February was only a temporary hiccup.

Then there are those who believe that fundamentals are in fact weak, that the current upswing will prove unsustainable, and that investors should regard stock-market gyrations as a necessary wakeup call.

Both schools of thought share a focus on fundamentals, unlike a third – and, in my opinion, highly plausible – view: that the asset-price volatility we have been seeing has little or nothing to do with changes in fundamentals.

The human brain is wired to structure knowledge around narratives in which we can tell if and how A (and B and C) causes X. We tend to be uncomfortable with the notion that an economy’s fundamentals do not determine its asset prices, so we look for causal links between the two. But needing or wanting those links does not make them valid or true. more>

Is the next financial crisis looming

By Ross Barry -The strong performance of many share markets around the world has led many to speculate that another major correction may not be too far away. History has shown us, over the past 300 years or so, that major corrections have occurred every nine to 10 years, on average, albeit some have come closer on the heels of the one before, while others have been more than 20 years apart.

History has also shown us that financial manias and crashes are almost always an outworking of three things – an accumulation of large volumes of idle capital (savings), financial innovation and leverage. Most have also occurred following a strong, speculative surge in markets and a few years into a new phase of higher interest rates.

The less opportunities there are to deploy savings to create new wealth, the more they accumulate in safer stores of wealth. And the more wealth is stored rather than used creatively, the more the return on idle savings declines. The fact that yields on cash and bonds around the world are currently at, or below, zero per cent in real terms, tells us that there is a lot of storing going on right now.

We have seen this throughout history in the shadowy practice of “melting debt” in the 1860s, the proliferation of margin lending by Wall Street firms in the 1920s, the development of futures, options and “repo” markets in the late-1980s, and again with the mass production of highly leveraged CDOs built from sub-prime mortgages in the mid-2000s.

Too often, unfortunately, when productive risk-taking in an economy dries up, clever agents turn to new and resourceful ways to repackage riskier assets and promote them as something seemingly safer.

What makes investors succumb to the lure of such things is a whole study unto itself. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Lost money? Reinvest!
By Erik Kobayashi-Solomon – Investors sometimes play a psychological trick on themselves when they lose money, research suggests—and that mental accounting trick may help improve their investment performance.

According to Cary D. Frydman and David H. Solomon at the University of Southern California and Chicago Booth’s Samuel Hartzmark, investors who sell a losing investment often avoid the psychological pain by immediately reinvesting in another stock. By doing so, instead of thinking of the action as realizing a loss, they frame it as rolling capital into a related investment. The reference point used to compute gains and losses is linked to the amount paid for the original asset.

That mental accounting trick may help them avoid an often-made mistake. A key insight of behavioral finance is that investors, to avoid the pain of realizing a loss, fall prey to the disposition effect: they tend to be more likely to sell winners than losers. But the act of reinvesting makes investors more willing to sell a losing stock and realize a loss sooner. more>

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The Hidden Meaning of Dow 20000

By Paula Dwyer – Since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen almost 9 percent, flirting with closing for the first time ever at the 20,000 mark. The year-end rally is the market’s way of saying it approves of the president-elect’s ideas.

As well it should. Trump’s tax-cutting, deregulating and deficit-spending policies are tailor-made to boost corporate profits.

Now would be a good moment to wave the yellow flag. This may not be such great news for the rest of the economy.

What’s happening is exactly what some economists had predicted over the summer: In Trump’s first two years as president, business-friendly policies would lower corporate costs, and stock investors would get a bigger share of the economic pie. more> https://goo.gl/YjeH34

Michael Dell Bought His Company Too Cheaply

By Matt Levine – Appraisal is a weird bit of corporate law, because it undermines the usual nice clean process of deciding how much a stock is worth by just seeing what someone will pay for it.

In 2012, with the “market not getting” Dell and valuing it at just $9.35 a share, Michael Dell rounded up some financing sources and offered to pay about $12 or so for it. Eventually. Michael Dell and his private-equity backers at Silver Lake ended up paying about $13.75 a share ($13.96 counting some dividends) in a $25 billion deal that they signed in February 2013 and closed in October of that year.

Then some shareholders sued in an appraisal lawsuit, arguing that the $13.75 was too low and that a Delaware court should award them more money.

On Tuesday (May 31) Delaware Vice Chancellor Travis Laster ruled on the remaining appraisal claims and found, in a 114-page opinion, that Dell was really worth $17.62 a share, so everyone who successfully sued — and managed to jump through the correct hoops — is entitled to an extra $3.87 a share, with interest.

To get there, first of all, Vice Chancellor Laster had to disregard the market price for the stock, which was $9.35 when the deal was first proposed, $13.42 when it was officially signed, and never closed above $14.51 afterward.

The market price didn’t reflect fair value, not because the market didn’t have the relevant information, but because it weighted it incorrectly. Analysts had a myopic “focus on short-term, quarter-by-quarter results,” and couldn’t understand the long-term value of the company’s plan. more> http://goo.gl/vISqXO