Happy new year, everyone. 1999 was already 20 years ago. That was the year when The Matrix and Star Wars Episode 1 movies came out. Darn, I feel old. 😐
I think the financial markets are in for a very eventful year in 2019 as issues in the economy may expand and bleed into the real estate and bond markets. Here are a few things to consider as we kick off January.
- According to hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, since 2010 actual corporate earnings have only climbed 27%. Yet somehow the S&P 500 index has doubled in price. If stock prices are meant to reflect corporate profits then something doesn’t add up. Druckenmiller attributes the gap to buybacks and mergers financed by corporate non-financial debt, which climbed 60% to $9.6 trillion from 2010 to the end of 2018.
- High yield and leveraged loans are growing. In late 2018 Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned the Federal Reserve’s vice chair that leveraged loans pose an economic threat on scale with subprime loans from a decade ago. “The Fed dropped the ball before the 2008 crisis by ignoring the risks in the subprime mortgage market,” Warren said. Simon Macadam, global economist at Capital Economics, also said leveraged loans, which generally are issued to lower-quality borrowers that already have a substantial debt load on their balance sheets, pose a danger. This has not become a crisis just yet, but I would keep an eye on it.