Excluding FAANG Stocks, The S&P Would Be Negative

Two weeks ago, Goldman made a surprising finding: as of July 1, just one stock alone was responsible for more than a third of the market’s YTD performance: Amazon, whose 45% YTD return has contributed to 36% of the S&P 3% total return this year, including dividends. Goldman also calculated that the rest of the Top 10 S&P 500 stocks of 2018 are the who’s who of the tech world, and collectively their total return amounted to 122% of the S&P total return in the first half of the year.

And another striking fact: just the Top 4 stocks, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Netflix have been responsible for 84% of the S&P upside in 2018 (and yes, these are more or less the stocks David Einhorn is short in his bubble basket, which explains his -19% YTD return).

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Now, in a review of first half performance, Bank of America has performed a similar analysis and found that excluding just the five FAANG stocks, the S&P 500 return in H1 would have been -0.7%; Staples (-8.6%) and Telco (-8.4%) were the worst.

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FAANGs aside, here are the other notable sector observations about a market whose leadership has rarely been this narrow:

  • Only three sectors outperformed in the 1H (Discretionary, Tech and Energy). Meanwhile, Staples and Telecom were the worst-performers in the 1H.
  • Energy staged the biggest comeback in 2Q to become the quarter’s best-performing sector after turning in among the worst returns in 1Q.
  • Industrials and Financials notably underperformed in June, the 2Q, and the 1H while Discretionary and Energy outperformed in all three.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/bofa%20h1%20by%20sector.jpg?itok=FHIK56Qt

Looking at the entire first half performance, tech predictably was the biggest contributor to the S&P 500’s 1H gain, contributing 2.6ppt or 98% of the S&P 500’s 2.6% total return.

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The broader market did ok: trade tensions, negative headlines, and the slow withdrawal of Fed liquidity contributed to volatility’s return in June and earlier in February, but the S&P 500 still ended 2Q +3.4% and the 1H +2.6%, outperforming bonds and gold.

The Russell 2000 led the Russell 1000 by 4.9ppt in the 1H as small caps may have benefitted from expectations of a stronger US economy, a strong USD and the sense that smaller more domestic companies are shielded from trade tensions (where we take issue with this notion). However, mega-caps also did well: the “Nifty 50” largest companies within the S&P 500 beat the “Not-so-nifty 450” in the 2Q and the 1H. Non-US performed worst.

Some additional return details by asset class:

  • US stocks outperformed most other asset classes in the 1H, including bonds, cash, and gold.
  • Within equities, the US was the only major region to post positive returns, outperforming non-US equities by 6.1ppt in US dollar terms in the 1H.
  • Amid concerns over global growth, a stronger dollar and trade, coupled with a strong US economic backdrop, small caps outperformed large caps in the 1H.
  • Megacaps also did well: the “Nifty 50” mega-caps within the S&P 500 beat the “Other 450” stocks in 2Q and the 1H.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/bofa%20asset%20class%20h1%202018.jpg?itok=rm6exHcj

Performance by quant groups:

  • Growth factors were the best-performing group in the 1H (+6.7% on average), leading Momentum/Technical factors (the second best-performing group) by 1.7ppt while Value factors were among the weakest.
  • Despite the macro risks, the best way to make money was to stick to the fundamentals and own stocks with the highest Upward Estimate Revisions (+12.4% in the 1H), a Growth factor.
  • Low Quality (B or worse) stocks beat High Quality (B+ or better) stocks in June, 2Q and the 1H. But both the lowest and highest quality stocks outperformed the rest of the market in all three periods.

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The Russell 1000 Growth Index beat the Russell 1000 Value Index by 9ppt in the 1H, on track to exceed last year’s 17ppt spread. Growth factors were the best-performing group in the 1H (+6.7% on avg.), followed by Momentum factors. But Momentum broke down in June, and June saw the 56th worst month out of 60, -1.4 standard deviations from average returns.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/russell%201000%20bofa%20relative.jpg?itok=JcbOK05i

What About Alpha?

Unfortunately for active managers, BofA notes that while pair-wise correlations remain lows, alpha remained scarce. The average pairwise correlation of S&P 500 stocks rose sharply in 1Q with the increased volatility which typically hurts stock pickers, but quickly came down below its long-term average of 26% in 2Q. However, performance dispersion (long-short alpha) continues to trail its long-term average.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/pairwise%20bofa%2022.jpg?itok=2FsATdHP

What does this mean for active managers? According to BofA, never has the herding been this profound: since the bank began to track large cap fund holdings in 2008, managers have been increasing their tilts towards expensive, large, low dividend yield and low quality stocks. And today, their respective factor exposure relative to the S&P 500 is near its record level.

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This is a risk because as we discussed recently, the threat is that as a result of an adverse surprise, “everyone” would be forced to sell at the same time. As BofA notes, “positioning matters more than fundamentals in the short-term, and this has been especially true around the quarter-end rebalancing. Since 2012, a long-short strategy of selling the 10 most overweight stocks and buying the 10 most underweight stocks by managers over the 15 days post-quarter-end would have yielded an average annualized spread of 90ppt, 15x higher than the average annualized spread of 6ppt over the full 90 days.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/bofa%20posdt%20quarter%20return.jpg?itok=xZPqePPa

Keep an eye on the first FAANG today when Netflix reports after the close.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Student Debt Bubble Expands As Parents Do More Of The Borrowing

Not so long ago, student debt was mostly the responsibility of students. That is, you paid for college with loans and then paid off those loans with the proceeds of the good job you got with an advanced education.

These days it’s a little different. The cost of higher education is soaring, the jobs available to college grads don’t pay as much, relatively speaking, as they used to, and the size of loans available to students – though huge – don’t cover the full cost of many degrees.

One might expect these changes to lead more students to work for a few years and save up, or choose a cheaper degree, or eschew college altogether (as a lot of successful people now recommend) and substitute work experience for a diploma.

Some of that is happening but apparently the biggest change is that parents have stepped in to cover the difference between what their kids can borrow and the cost of a degree. As the chart below illustrates, until just a few years ago, the average debt of students exceeded that of students’ parents. But post-Great Recession, parents have given up trying to moderate the cost of their kids’ education and started doing the borrowing themselves. They’re now taking on the majority of new debts, and the gap is widening dramatically.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Student-loans-July-18.jpg?itok=KUg1xS-4

Retirement Crisis?

So we can add student loans to the list of instances where people who once tried to control their borrowing have stopped trying and are now just going with the flow. Which means several things.

First, kids who if left to themselves and the market would probably opt for one of the aforementioned cheaper alternatives are still in high-cost, frequently low-reward degree programs, and are being sheltered from the consequences by well-meaning parents.

Second, the retirement crisis that everyone is talking about – in which people who have never saved a penny are approaching retirement age and looking at 30 years of abject poverty – is being made that much worse by parents taking on new debts at a time of life when they should be aggressively trending towards debt-free/cash-rich.

Third and most important for people who aren’t participating in this game of financial musical chairs, the eventual implosion of the student loan market – i.e., the point at which loan defaults become intolerable – will lead to a government bailout, making student loans everyone else’s problem.

But of course the government won’t raise taxes or otherwise inflict immediate consequences on the electorate. It will borrow the money and create enough new currency to cover the first few years’ interest, leaving the longer-term consequences for later years and other people.

As with all the other mini-bubbles out there, if student loans were an isolated problem in a sea of rock-solid financial behavior they’d be easily managed. But they’re just one of many time bombs set to explode shortly.

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Auto loans, credit cards, underfunded pensions and increasingly mortgages and home equity lines are all heading the same way domestically, while emerging market dollar debt (which dwarfs the US mini-bubbles) is just as precarious internationally.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Emerging-market-debt-April-18.jpg?itok=bsE1w3xB

The question then becomes, how many of these bursting bubbles can the US paper over before the currency markets figure out that each will be followed by another, for as far as the eye can see?

Source: ZeroHedge

The Exorbitant Cost Of Getting Ahead In Life

Some 84 percent of Americans claim that a higher education is a very or extremely important factor for getting ahead in life, according to the National Center for public policy and Higher Education.

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So, it’s worth the exorbitant cost, but not everyone can pay, and outsized costs in the U.S. are giving much of the rest of the developed world the higher education advantage.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with a Bachelor’s Degree earn around 64 percent more per week than those with a high school diploma, and around 40 percent more than those with an Associate’s Degree. In turn, those with an Associate’s degree earn around 17 percent more than those with a high school diploma.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that college graduates overall earn 80 percent more than those without a degree.

There’s also job security to consider.

Individuals with college degrees have a lower average unemployment rates than those with only high school educations. Among people aged 25 and over, the lowest unemployment rates occur in those with the highest degrees.

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From this perspective, it’s no surprise that students are willing to bite the bullet and take on a ton of debt to finance education.

About three-fourths of students who attend four-year colleges graduate with loan debt. And this number is up from about half of students three decades ago.

The average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400, up 6 percent from the previous year. Over 44 million Americans now hold over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero.

According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

The U.S. is one of the most expensive places to go obtain a higher education, but there are pricier venues, too.

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If you want a free higher education, try Europe—specifically Germany and Sweden. Denmark, too, doles out an allowance of about $900 a month to students to cover their living expenses. But don’t try to study in the UK on the cheap. The UK is the most expensive country in Europe, with college tuition coming in at an average of $12,414.

In Australia, graduates don’t pay anything on their loans until they earn about $40,000 a year, and then they only pay between 4 percent and 8 percent of their income, which is automatically deducted from their bank accounts, reducing the chances of default.

For Japan—a country that sees more than half of its population go to college—the highly respected University of Tokyo only costs about $4,700 a year for undergraduates, thanks to government subsidies. The Japanese government spends almost $8,750 a year per student because it sees the massive value in having a highly educated citizenry.

For Americans, while student loans may still be a good investment overall, the idea of taking a lifetime to pay off the debt may become increasingly unattractive. And it’s only going to get worse, according to JPMorgan, which predicts that by 2035 the cost of attending a four-year private college will top $487,000.

Source: ZeroHedge

If California Is Split Into 3, What New State Will Have The Hottest Housing?

https://www.mercurynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/0715-BUS-SPLIT-CA-01.jpg?w=842In this June 18, 2018, photo, venture capitalist Tim Draper points to a computer screen at his offices in San Mateo, showing an initiative to split California into three states qualified for the ballot. Opponents of an initiative are asking the state Supreme Court to pull the measure from the ballot. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Voters will decide in November on a proposition that calls for California to be split into three new and separate states.

This column isn’t the place to debate the merits of the idea. Nor will I ponder its odds at the ballot box. And I’ll leave to other pundits the vast legal, political and operational impacts of such a historic change — and that’s only if the breakup ever got all the necessary approvals after a winning vote.

We are here to talk one thing: What might these three new state housing markets look like based on historical trends. Geographically speaking, the plan creates new state borders along county lines.

There’s the retooled “California,” essentially the coastal counties from Los Angeles to Monterey. There’s the oddly named “Southern California” combining Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties up through the interior to Lake Tahoe. And there’s “Northern California,” everything else or basically the Bay Area plus everything up to Oregon.

Knowing the new county lineup, I filled my trusty spreadsheet with historical housing data provided by Attom Data Solutions. Looking at stats from 2000 through 2018’s first quarter, here are 10 things you should know about the housing markets within each of the new proposed states.

1. Price tags: When you shuffle the counties into three states, what does a sales-weighted median for 2018’s first-quarter selling prices for all properties look like? It’s no surprise that it would cost the most to buy in Northern California at $580,200. Next was the new coastal California at $571,900. Southern California was most affordable — remember all the cheaper inland properties are in this new state — at $426,000.

2. Best bet: Where was the best performance this century, as measured by growth in median selling prices for all properties, 2000 through this year? Well, seaside property rocks. The Pacific-hugging new California’s 181 percent gain was tops vs. Southern California at 148 percent and Northern California’s 120 percent.

3. Most pain: Split or not, don’t forget the pain of housing’s bubble bursting! What new state’s housing market would have fared the worst in the 2006-2011 downturn? Northern California’s 46 percent price drop was the largest loss and a shade ahead of Southern California’s fall of 45.6 percent and new California’s 41.4 percent tumble.

4. Top recovery: Where was the post-recession rebound the best, measured by the 2011-2018 selling price upswing? Northern California produced 108 percent in gains in seven years vs. Southern California at 84 percent and new California’s 83 percent.

5. Predictability: Split the state into three, expect the same crazy real estate. Just peek at the nearly uniform best and worst 12-month periods since 2000! New California’s best was up 30 percent vs. its worst of down 35 percent; Southern California ran from up 29 percent to down 37 percent; and Northern California ranged from up 29 percent to down 42 percent.

6. Big sellers: Ponder the size of these markets, in terms of purchase transactions closed in the past 18 years. Most sales activity in 2000-2018 was Southern California’s 3.2 million sales followed by Northern California’s 2.9 million and new California’s 2 million.

7. Sales dips: Home buying is down since the turn of the century as homeowners choose to move less and ownership is less affordable. New California’s sales pace is down 19 percent since 2000; Northern California is off 10 percent; Southern California is down 4.5 percent.

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8. Home sweet home: Now let’s think about single-family homes under the proposed three-way split. Southern California would have 2.77 million single-family homes worth a combined $1.44 trillion. New California gets 1.84 million single-family homes worth $1.41 trillion. Northern California is home to 2.87 million homes worth $2.18 trillion.

9. Price extremes: Where’s the budget-busting housing in the proposed new states  … and where are the bargains? Southern California’s priciest single-family homes are in Orange County at an average value of $871,635 vs. the cheapest county, Kings, at $202,699. New California’s priciest is Santa Barbara County at $804,942 vs. San Benito County’s $541,434 low. Of course, Northern California has an insane gap: the highest prices are in San Mateo County at $1.61 million vs. the cheapest county, Modoc, at $89,158.

10. Tax bite: Ownership equals property taxes. How would that cost for single-family homes slice up among the three proposed states? Southern California’s 2017 tax collections for single-family homes ran $12.13 billion or $4,372 per average taxpayer. Northern California property taxes totaled $15.53 billion or $5,419 per average taxpayer. And the biggest individual tax bills were in the new California where $10.38 billion in collections translates to an average $5,636 per property.

Source: by Johnathan Lansner | Mercury News

Trump Says No Economic Brexit Means No U.S. Trade Deal

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President Trump gave Rupert Murdoch (British U.K. Sun) an interview prior to leaving Washington DC for Brussels and the NATO summit.   Mr. Multinational Murdoch is severely against President Trump’s trade positions and wants to retain control over the global trade structure.   Murdoch personally has billions of dollars dependent on retaining the current globalist multinational trade scheme.

That’s the backdrop to understand the timing and presentation of the interview content.

As to the substance of the interview, President Trump is 100% accurate.  If the U.K. keeps the pre-existing trade pact with the EU, and essentially stays economically attached to the EU through acquiescence to the EU trade bloc, then any bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. is essentially impossible.   Duh.

The EU doesn’t allow member nations to conduct their own trade negotiations.  So, any agreement that keeps the U.K attached to the EU economically means any trade deal with the U.K. would be a trade deal with the EU; and the EU trade positions are adverse to the ongoing economic interests of the United States.

This factual reality is the basis for President Trump telling The Sun any trade deal with the U.K. will be impossible under the current ‘Brexit’ terms that Prime Minister Theresa May has consigned herself to accept.   According to the interview President Trump warned Prime Minister May of this likelihood. Mrs. May then screwed herself and her nation’s economic interests by following the path of appeasement with the European Union.  It is not Trump’s fault for calling out the reality of the British economic position.

If President Trump speaking honestly about the economic consequence from PM May’s decision causes consternation, well, so be it.  When the Brits get done gnashing their teeth, the math remains unchanged.  Attach yourself to the EU and no bilateral trade deal with the United States is possible.  No amount of foot-stomping is going to change that.

The Brits can kick out Theresa May and do what they should have done two years ago; withdrawn from the European Union – a ‘hard Brexit’.  Or, if they like the way things are going…. just keep on keeping on.  It’s their decision.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/trump-uk-10.jpg?w=623&h=410

May looks as if she knows she is screwed;
Mr. May looks like he knows his wife is screwed and he hates everything;
The President looks like Thor;
and Melania looks like a misplaced Goddess, above the fray.
Just a Great photo!

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Source: by Sundance | The Conservative Tree House

New Game Show Gives Millennials A Chance To Eliminate Student Loan Debt

Overinflated college tuition facilitated by a bottomless ocean of cheap student loans has so far trapped forty-five million Americans with a record $1.48 trillion in non-dischargeable debt – an amount which has more than doubled since the 2009 lows.

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As we reported in January, approximately 40 percent of student loans taken out in 2014 are projected to default by 2023 according to the Brookings Institute.

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However, a new game show on TruTV offers millennial contestants a chance to answer trivia questions – and if they win, the game show will pay off their student debt.

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“Paid Off,” a new trivia game show that premiered this week tries to illuminate the student debt crisis that has entrapped countless millennials. To get the balance right, the show’s producers partnered with a nonprofit group called Student Debt Crisis.

Its executive director and founder, Natalia Abrams, gave this advice to producers: “Every step of the way, from signing up for college to paying back their loans, it’s been a confusing process. So make sure that there’s some heart to this show.”

Video: Paid Off with Michael Torpey Season 1 Trailer 

Michael Torpey, a New York-based actor (“Orange is the New Black”) who is the host of the show, acknowledges that student debt is a crisis and one of the most difficult financial issues plaguing millennials in the gig economy.

“We’re playing in a weird space of dark comedy,” said Torpey, who developed the show with TruTV producers and various nonprofit groups. “As a comedian, I think a common approach to a serious topic is to try to laugh at it first.”

Video: Paid Off with Michael Torpey – The Story Behind Paid Off with Michael

The rules of game show are simple: Three millennial contestants, all of whom have an exorbitant amount of student debt, go head-to-head in a few rounds of trivia questions, hoping that their useless liberal arts degree enables them to answer enough questions right. If they win, well, the show will cover 100 percent of their outstanding student loans.

“One of the mantras is ‘an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,’” Torpey told The Washington Post. “A game show feels really apt because this is the state of things right now.”

Earlier this year, the show had a casting call in Atlanta – this is what the casting flyer stated: “truTV’s new comedy games show PAID OFF is going to do something the government won’t – help people get out of student loan debt! If you’re smart, funny, live in the Atlanta area and have student loan debt, We Want You!”

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Video: Paid Off with Michael Torpey – Finger The Masters

Torpey told NBC that “he strives to balance the light hearted trappings of a game show with an earnest, empathetic look at the student debt issue.”

“I want to be very respectful of the folks who come on our show, who opened their hearts and shared their struggles with us,” Torpey said. “I hope this show de-stigmatizes debt. I mean, there are 45 million borrowers out there. It is a huge number of people!”

Google searches for “paid off game show” have been rising since June.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-07-11-at-10.44.17-AM-600x316.png?itok=GMX41JcDhttps://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-07-11-at-10.18.32-AM-600x172.png?itok=_nQwMx-a

Meanwhile, “student loans forgiveness” searches have been surging over the cycle.

Source: ZeroHedge

UBS Creates A.I. Clone of Senior Banker to Advise Customers

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The computer-generated image of Mr Kalt greets clients on screen and can talk customers through the bank’s latest research as well as answer queries ( UBS )

An investment bank has digitally “cloned” one of its top staff members, allowing clients to get financial advice without the need to speak to a real-life banker.

UBS is testing the use of a lifelike avatar of Daniel Kalt, its chief investment officer for customers in Switzerland.

The computer-generated image of Mr Kalt greets clients on screen and can talk customers through the bank’s latest research as well as answer queries. Another digital assistant called Fin is also available to carry out transactions.

The new service, called UBS Companion is driven by artificial intelligence and voice-recognition technology developed by IBM. Another company, FaceMe, animated and visualised the avatars. UBS hopes the new tech will increase efficiency and allow it to advise more customers.

But are bankers set to be the latest group to fall victim to the much heralded about “rise of the robots”?

No, says UBS. The bank says it aims to find the “best possible combination of human and digital touch”.

The clone will give clients quicker answers to some questions but the option to speak to a human being will always be available.

UBS started trials in June at its branch in Zurich where it is testing the new system on 100 clients but it won’t say how they have reacted so far. 

At present, there are no plans to unleash an army of cloned bankers on the world.

“It is a project to explore new technology and find out how humans and machines can complement heightened levels of client experience in future,” UBS said.

“The aim is to explore how to create a new frictionless access to UBS’s expertise for our clients and to test the acceptance of digital assistants in a wealth management context.”

Source: Ben Chapman | Independent