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What Goes Up

Bloomberg News

Hosts Mike Regan and Vildana Hajric are joined each week by expert guests to discuss the main themes influencing global markets. They explore everything from stocks to bonds to currencies and commodities, and how each asset class affects trading in the others. Whether you’re a financial professional or just a curious retirement saver, What Goes Up keeps you apprised of the latest buzz on Wall Street and what the wildest movements in markets will mean for your investments.


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Hosts Mike Regan and Vildana Hajric are joined each week by expert guests to discuss the main themes influencing global markets. They explore everything from stocks to bonds to currencies and commodities, and how each asset class affects trading in the others. Whether you’re a financial professional or just a curious retirement saver, What Goes Up keeps you apprised of the latest buzz on Wall Street and what the wildest movements in markets will mean for your investments.




Using AI to Explain Stock Moves

Artificial intelligence is all the rage on Wall Street. Some strategists see AI trends driving further gains for stocks as others point to how big banks are beginning to use it to automate some jobs. MarketReader, founded by Jens Nordvig, is leveraging AI to analyze US equity market trends and help predict why a stock might be moving a certain way. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss how he sees AI helping investors digest information at a faster pace. “What’s happened this year is that actually applying AI has become so much easier than it was six months ago.” Nordvig says. “Our original plan was more focused on structural modeling, traditional fundamental modeling. But we’ve really seen how this actually allows us to do stuff that we just can’t do with traditional models.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Betting (on) the Farm

Investing in farmland has historically offered an attractive and stable source of returns, yet it’s not an easy asset class for most investors to access. Carter Malloy founded a platform called AcreTrader in an effort to make it easier to purchase fractional ownership of a farm. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss some of the benefits and risks of this type of farmland investing. “You don’t have big, huge up years and huge down years that you do across so many other mainstream asset classes,” Malloy says. “So the consistency of the returns and that relative lack of volatility—in investor speak, the Sharpe ratio—of farmland can be very, very attractive.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


With Fed Pause Likely, Here Are Ideas for Your Cash

A lot of investors are sitting on piles of cash. In fact, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management estimates its clients are more overweight with cash now than they’ve been in a decade. But attractive buying opportunities could be lurking, including in fixed income, US mid-cap stocks and European equities, according to Chief Investment Strategist Tom Kennedy. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss corners of the market—in the US and abroad—that look enticing. He also talks about how Europe managed to avoid a recession, and why the US Federal Reserve is likely done with its hiking campaign, among other things. “Cash very rarely outperforms, and it takes a long time for rates to go up, but they can come down really fast,” he said. “The last seven business cycles, when you have the last rate hike from the Fed, in the two years after that, cash tends to underperform duration assets.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Debt Ceiling Crisis Is an Opportunity

As the US government debt-ceiling standoff heats up and markets grow more volatile, veteran Loomis Sayles & Co. portfolio manager Elaine Stokes has some advice for investors in the corporate-bond market: Get ready to buy. Stokes joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss the opportunities the drama in Washington may create, the potential for a credit crunch stemming from regional-bank turmoil, and how high-yield bonds may not be as risky as they seem, given recession concerns. “The volatility that I think we’re going to have over the next couple weeks is going to be the opportunity. So take advantage of that opportunity to buy a little further out the curve, to buy low dollar-price bonds, to build in real return for a long time,” she said on the podcast. With regard to high-yield bonds, she added: “I don’t believe that this time around it’s going to be the traditional high-yield market that’s going to see the big wave of defaults. That is going to happen in either the bank-loan market or the private market. That’s where the weaker issuance has come, the lower-quality issuance. So the traditional high-yield market is actually setting up to look pretty attractive.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Fed Won't Ride to the Rescue

Brace for a US recession to start next quarter and worsen at the end of the year, and don’t bet on the Federal Reserve to react immediately to prop up growth. That’s according to Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. She joined the What Goes Up podcast to give her appraisal of the economy, and discuss what to expect for the rest of 2023. “It’s likely to be kind of more of a slow drag in terms of economic activity, just given that we also don’t think the Fed’s going to be riding to the rescue as soon as you do see that weakness,” she said on the podcast. “The nature of the inflation that we’re seeing right now, we think that the Fed’s actually going to be pretty reluctant to ease policy even as the economy is entering a recession.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Fed's Not Done Breaking Things

While the drama surrounding regional US banks has largely subsided following the failure of three lenders in March, that doesn’t mean the ripple effects of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes are over. This is according to Que Nguyen, chief investment officer of equities at Research Affiliates, who joined the What Goes Up podcast to give her outlook on markets and talk about why she doesn’t foresee a soft landing for the economy. “When the Fed raises rates and it breaks something, it rarely happens that it’s a very small break,” she says. “Usually it’s a very big break. And so while I’d never thought that we would get to a great-financial-crisis level of breakdown, I do believe—and I did believe, and I still believe—that there would be more things that break. Whether that continued to be in the small regional banks or whether that bled over to something else such as real estate lending, private credit—definitely those dangers still remain out there.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Morgan Stanley Braces for a Soft Landing

Runaway inflation. Surging interest rates. Bank failures. For a while it seemed like all of these issues would combine to trigger a US recession. Not so fast, says Morgan Stanley’s Seth Carpenter, the bank’s global chief economist. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to explain why there are signs the US could experience a “soft landing” that averts a major economic downturn. “It seems hard to avoid the fact that the US economy is going to slow down, and part of the reason why that’s hard to avoid is because that is absolutely, categorically, by design the Fed’s objective,” he said. “We think they’re looking carefully at the data and asking, ‘Do we have enough evidence that things are slowing down a lot, but not yet crashing?’ Because that’s what they’re looking for in order to stop the hiking cycle. So we think the last hike is in May, when there’ll be more evidence of a slowdown, but not yet evidence that things have actually fallen off of a cliff.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Case for a 22% Drop in S&P 500

Troy Gayeski, chief market strategist at FS Investments, says don’t wait until May to flee the stock market rally—get out now. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to explain why he’s expecting the S&P 500 to bottom out at around 3,200, a roughly 22% drop from current levels. “First of all, the strongest rallies have always been in bear markets,” he says. “Usually they’re driven by technical factors. And then there’s a narrative that’s put together to justify it: the more recent one was that inflation’s going to slow enough that the Fed won’t have to hike anymore, and then we’re going to have a recession and somehow that’s going to cause the Fed to cut rapidly. But recessions aren’t bad for revenue or earnings? It really makes very little sense.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Man Group's Stock Skepticism

It’s not just the prospect of deteriorating fundamentals that has Man Group’s Mark Jones skeptical about stocks these days. It’s also the risk of money flowing into fixed-income investments now that they’re sporting attractive yields. Jones, who is the deputy chief executive of the world’s largest publicly traded hedge-fund manager, joined the What Goes Up podcast to give his outlook on markets and explain what strategies have been working well at his firm. “I think the risk-reward in equities is very, very tough at the moment,” he says. The first reason is a potential further cut in earnings expectations. Second is the flow of money into alternatives to stocks such as government bonds and corporate credit. “Whether that’s the consumer or whether that’s big institutional clients starting to come back to an asset class that, frankly, had fallen relatively out of favor, some of that flow of funds is also an issue for equities as just people move money around.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


A Quant Takes on Microcaps

If there’s one thing that keeps professional investors up at night, it’s being involved in a “crowded trade.” In other words, a position that’s become so popular that there are few investors left to get involved with it, so there’s risk of painful losses for all if the crowd heads for the exits. That’s part of the appeal of microcap stocks for Patrick McDonough, a portfolio manager at PGIM Quantitative Solutions. He joined the What Goes Up podcast to explain his approach to analyzing these smaller, younger companies whose values are often measured in millions, rather than billions, of dollars. Since many investors are more comfortable with bigger, more-established companies, microcaps offer a unique and overlooked source of growth. “It’s something that people have historically avoided,” McDonough says. “Which means it’s not crowded. So it’s an area we can go in and get a lot of upside.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Flashbacks to 2008

When Steve Sosnick recalls 2008 and tries to make parallels to the current turmoil in the banking sector, one memory sticks out: riding the elevator with Thomas Peterffy, founder of Interactive Brokers, who offhandedly asked him “what’s new?” “And I said, ‘what’s really interesting to me is the story that I’m reading this morning about how Bear Stearns may have as much as $20 billion in losses at some of their hedge funds,” recalled Sosnick, who’s currently chief strategist at Interactive. “And he said, ‘what’s their market cap?’ And I said, ‘I think about $20 billion.’” “‘Are you telling me Bear Stearns is broke?’” Peterffy asked. Sosnick recalls saying, “‘I guess I am, aren’t I?’” Sosnick joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss what lessons from the 2008 financial crisis can be applied today. Though the current predicament isn’t similar to that period—banks are in much stronger positions and the economic backdrop is vastly different—it’s important to keep lessons learned in mind, he says. “They say history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes,” Sosnick says. “And I think there’s a certain rhyme to it, but we’re not there yet. And I certainly hope we don’t get there.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Huge Significance of Small Banks

Torsten Slok had been firmly in the “no landing” camp of economists. More positive than a “soft landing,” its adherents say the Federal Reserve will tame inflation without triggering a recession at all. But for Slok, chief economist of Apollo Global Management, that all changed with the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. Now he’s bracing for a “hard landing.” Slok joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss the sizeable role regional banks play in the US economy, and the reasons why SVB’s collapse changed his outlook. A big reason is how regional banks may now change their behavior. “Regional banks make up 30% of assets and roughly 40% of all lending,” he explains. That big chunk of the US banking sector is now looking at what happened to SVB and worrying what comes next. With a slowdown potentially underway thanks to the central bank’s rate hikes, Slok warns a reluctance to lend by SVB’s mid-size brethren might mean it comes “faster simply because of this banking situation.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Jeremy Grantham's Market Meat-Grinder

Jeremy Grantham blames the US Federal Reserve for creating a bubble in asset prices—one he says has a long way to go before it’s fully deflated. As a result, stock prices may not reach bottom until late next year, he warns. The 84-year-old co-founder of investment firm GMO joined the What Goes Up podcast to explain what he calls the current, “meat grinder” phase of the market, and why he believes the central bank has “hardly gotten anything right.” “Since Alan Greenspan first arrived—Paul Volcker knew what he was doing—but since then it’s been a long, continuous horror show,” Grantham says of US monetary policy. “They’ve engaged in policies that drive up the prices of assets, other things being even, and create spectacular overpriced bubbles. They then break because that’s what bubbles have to do. They simply break of their own extreme overpricing, and we pay a very tough price.” Grantham also discusses broader market risks, including shortages of labor and natural resources, the climate crisis, de-globalization and a new version of the Cold War. “All of these long-term factors are beginning to bite,” he says. “This will make this particular down-leg more dangerous, and perhaps worse than we anticipated.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


A Soft Landing Is Getting Harder

Princeton University’s Alan Blinder is one of the most prominent economists to have expressed optimism that the Federal Reserve can engineer a so-called “soft landing” for the US economy—taming inflation without triggering a recession. But Blinder, who served in the 1990s as a vice chair of the Fed and a member of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, explains on this episode of What Goes Up why he’s toned down his assessment. A big reason is the change in the way the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusts inflation data for seasonal factors, he says. The result is that, while inflation moderated in the second half of 2022, it didn’t cool off as quickly as previous data indicated. Blinder says that means there’s reason to expect more rate hikes from the Fed. “I think they still have a chance” at a soft landing, he concludes, “but it's a tougher chance than it was.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


BlackRock on 'Fixing' the 40 in 60/40

Exchange-traded fund managers have seen massive inflows into fixed-income ETFs in recent months. As the dust settles from the bond market’s worst year on record, ETFs focused on safe and simple Treasuries have attracted the bulk of the money. Stephen Laipply, the US head of fixed income ETFs at BlackRock, explains this state of affairs on the latest episode of the What Goes Up podcast. Many investors who follow a standard strategy of investing 60% of their portfolio in stocks and 40% in bonds have found it to be the right time to “fix” that 40% segment, Laipply says. “Investors are looking at this market, the public fixed-income markets, and realizing that they can ‘fix’ their 40 by de-risking it to varying degrees,” he says. “You don’t have to have the majority in high yield to get a certain yield target. You can allocate to the front end of the Treasury curve and get yields that you were seeing at some point in the high-yield market. So it really is an opportunity to get back to what that 40 was supposed to do, which is diversify your risk assets.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Don’t Feel Bullied by the Stock Rally

The stock market may be off to a great start in 2023, but investors should be “mindful about not being bullied” by the rally, says Wealth Enhancement Group’s Nicole Webb. She warns that it won’t last. The S&P 500 is up 7% so far this year, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has surged roughly 15%. Webb, a senior vice president and financial adviser at the firm, joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss her views on the market and the speediness of the recovery. “To us fundamentally, does technology make sense from a valuation standpoint?” she said. “Much of this rally in mega-technology—or if you even want to just call it a Nasdaq rally year to date—it’s a little bit of an unwinding of the selloff of last year, probably closely followed by a bit of a FOMO rally.” “We’re not bullish on the stickiness of this as we don’t see any type of Fed pivot” from rate hikes in the near term. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


How Wall Street Is Using AI to Build ETFs

ChatGPT has taken the internet by storm, spurring all manner of experiments and examination as to what extent the artificial-intelligence model can supplant humans and daily tasks. But it’s also being used on Wall Street, where a number of exchange-traded fund issuers, including State Street, have grasped onto the concept to help put together innovative products. Matt Bartolini, head of SPDR Americas Research at State Street Global Advisors, joined the What Goes Up podcast to talk about using AI in portfolio construction. His firm’s SPDR S&P Kensho New Economies Composite ETF is up roughly 20% this year. “The reason why we went down this path of using AI is that we wanted something forward looking—something dynamic—because back in 2018, we understood that, in the ETF world, there weren’t a lot of strategies that were this forward-looking, innovative-type paradigm,” Bartolini said. “The AI process was able to deliver that for us.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


(Mis)interpreting the Fed

Morgan Stanley’s Jim Caron joined the What Goes Up podcast to dissect this week’s US Federal Reserve meeting and analyze how markets may have misinterpreted the message being sent by Chair Jerome Powell. “This is a guy who’s worried about inflation; this is somebody who’s not done tightening by any stretch of the imagination,” said Caron, the co-chief investment officer of Global Balanced Funds at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. But Powell’s comments triggered rallies in stocks and bonds amid speculation that the central bank was getting more dovish. “This is one of the risks that I think that we have coming up over the next few weeks,” Caron said. “That if the intended market reaction doesn’t match what the intended statement was supposed to convey, then, as is typical, there’s going to be some walking back of this.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


AlphaSimplex on Embracing the 'Uncomfortable'

The rare bright spots for investing last year were those strategies that follow trends in markets rather than fundamentals. This successful approach included the AlphaSimplex Managed Futures Strategy Fund, which returned more than 32% for the year. Kathryn Kaminski, chief research strategist and portfolio manager at AlphaSimplex Group, joined the What Goes Up podcast to discuss her firm’s strategies, and what she’s expecting in 2023. “We do really well when there’s massive trends, when there’s dislocation, when things are uncomfortable,” she says. “And last year was definitely uncomfortable, particularly fixed income.” One development she expects may make investors uncomfortable this year is the likelihood that inflation bottoms out at around 4%, rather than the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. At that point, Kaminski says, “the Fed either has to say, ‘well, we’re no longer going to try’ or ‘we’re going to have to keep trying.’ And people are not going to like that either. So I think that that’s the challenge.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Fading the New Year's Bounce

The stock market got off to a roaring start this year with the S&P 500 at one point clocking a year-to-date gain of more than 4%. Truist Wealth Co-Chief Investment Officer Keith Lerner, however, is skeptical of the New Year bounce. He says the possibility of a recession and dwindling liquidity make the rally unsustainable. Lerner joined the What Goes Up podcast to explain why he’s advising clients to take a defensive posture with investments, and what he believes is the best way to execute that strategy. “Being defensive from a stock, bonds and cash perspective is being overweight fixed income relative to equities. And then—in the fixed-income component—keeping it simple: keeping it with high-quality fixed income and not really taking a lot of credit risk at this point.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.