Within 2015 Perspectives you will find our views on today’s markets and recommendations for navigating them. The articles represent the depth and breadth of our investment teams, as well as our commitment to delivering timely investment solutions.
Key investment professionals review the first half of 2014 and share their insights into what may be ahead for the second half of the year. Interest rates
Zach Pandl, Portfolio manager and strategist
Government bond yields declined in early 2014, both in the U.S. and in other developed market economies.
The Fed (and all central banks) is highly sensitive to shifts in inflation expectations by either consumers or the markets. The one-year TIP breakeven appears to be pricing in some deflationary pulse and is also pulling down longer term inflation expectations across the curve.
The factors keeping inflation low remain U.S. dollar strength and sluggish global trade, together with the deflationary pulse from weak energy and commodity prices. While there is little danger of this developing into true deflation, the strong dollar effect will continue to depress inflation for much longer and this has a stronger influence on core inflation.
It is unclear if recent improvements in U.S. labor market data are due to less slack or government-related measures to support worker income and benefits. Occupations with some scarcity of qualified labor have seen some wage pressures, but the gains are likely due to one-time minimum wage hikes.
U.S. consumers have taken a more cautious attitude toward debt and been more selective about using it for discretionary purchases. With consumers using credit cards less and using debit cards much more, the supports for higher discretionary spending are keyed off income and wages and also employment.
While the current U.S. business cycle is likely past its mid-point, its durability should not be measured by length alone. The tepid nature of the recovery has prevented the build-up of excesses that normally precede recessions.
While there has been a broad slowing in the last 15 months, the U.S. housing market has stabilized and started to recover. Homebuilders are catering to upscale buyers where financing is less of a constraint, and also building larger and more expensive homes.
Several forces are colliding now and causing a downshift in the trajectory of the U.S. housing recovery. Household formations remain at multi-year lows due in large part to mediocre income and job gains in combination with high student loan debt by 25 – 45 year old homebuyers.
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