Weekly Market Commentary August 12, 2019

Fast Facts

When ScreenTime Doesn’t Cut It- Wealthy U.S. parents are hiring “screen consultants” to help them wean children off digital devices. The consultants are paid up to $250 per hour to teach parents how to fill the digital void in their offspring’s lives. “‘Is there a ball somewhere? Throw the ball!’” consultant Rhonda Moskowitz says she advises parents. “‘Kick the ball!’”

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner- Sixteen-year-old Kyle Giersdorf of Pennsylvania took home $3 million in prize money for winning the first-ever Fortnite World Cup over 99 other top-ranked players of the popular shooter-survival video game. The tournament was held live in the packed Arthur Ashe tennis stadium in New York City, with more than 1 million people watching online.

Toothpaste, Camera, Socks, Missile Launcher, Sweatshirt, Shampoo- A military man tried to smuggle an unusual souvenir—a missile launcher—onto a commercial airplane. TSA agents seized the “inert” weapon from the man’s checked luggage at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, and he told them that he was an active member of the military and wanted to bring the launcher home to Jacksonville, Texas, as a memento of his time in Kuwait. The TSA sent off the launcher for “safe disposal,” and the man was allowed to board his flight. “Perhaps he should have picked up a keychain instead!” said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
                                                             –Sir Terence David John Pratchett, English author

The Markets

Global selloff. Quick comeback.

Investors boomeranged from stocks to safe havens and back as trade tensions between the United States and China intensified last week. The Economist reported:

“On August 1st President Donald Trump warned that he would soon impose a 10 percent levy on roughly $300bn-worth of Chinese goods that have not already been hit by the trade war. Four days later China responded by giving its exchange rate unaccustomed freedom to fall. The yuan weakened past seven to the dollar, an important psychological threshold, for the first time in over a decade. And stock prices in America duly fell…”

Asia Times explained, “Beijing has signaled that it is prepared to endure a long and debilitating trade war with the United States…A reported directive to Chinese companies to refrain from buying U.S. farm products seems an in-your-face challenge to the U.S. president.”

The possibility of a prolonged trade war triggered worries about global recession and set off a selloff. Global stock markets experienced the biggest one-day decline since February 2018, according to Bloomberg, and U.S. stocks delivered the worst one-day performance of 2019, reported MarketWatch.

Stocks staged an impressive recovery on Tuesday. Then, central banks in India, Thailand, and New Zealand announced unexpected rate cuts. The moves incited concern about the health of the global economy and stocks dropped again – and recovered again. By the end of the week, nearly all losses in U.S. stock markets had been erased.

If recent volatility has triggered a desire to change your investments, please get in touch with us before you do.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The global bond market deserves a spot in a believe-it-or-not museum, right next to the bathythermograph, radioactive vodka (brewed with Chernobyl grain), and 526 extra teeth recently removed from a youngster’s jaw.

Here’s why: Approximately one-fourth of all bonds issued by governments and companies around the globe are trading at negative yields, according to an index cited by The Economist.

Just imagine. You want to borrow money. An acquaintance agrees to lend you the money and then offers to pay you for borrowing it.

It sounds like a Monty Python skit, right?

It’s not. All over the world, bonds issued by governments and companies are offering negative interest rates. Investors who purchase the bonds are paying governments and companies to borrow their money. For instance, in Germany, investors are paying one-half of a percentage point annually for the assurance their money will be returned when the bond matures.

Why are so many bond yields in negative territory?

Strangely enough, retirement and longevity may play a role. Joachim Fels of PIMCO theorized a ‘savings glut’ could be the reason for low and negative yields. He explained:

“…it can be argued that in affluent societies where people can expect to live ever longer and thus spend a significant amount of their lifetimes in retirement, more and more people demonstrate negative time preference, meaning they value future consumption during their retirement more than today’s consumption…they are thus willing to accept a negative interest rate and bring it about through their saving behavior.”

We live in interesting times.

Best regards,

John Klevens, CFP

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Sources: The Week Magazine, CNN.com
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor