Thoughts from our Domestic Equity Team
We believe that the risk environment has recently changed materially due to three events. First, the risk that the U.S. launches a military strike against Syria in the near term appears to have dissipated. Second, President Obama will not nominate Lawrence Summers to be the next Federal Reserve Chair, which leaves Janet Yellen as the most likely candidate, a shift that we view as reassuring for investors due to Ms. Yellen’s record of support for accommodative policy. Finally, at the September 18 meeting, the Fed surprised markets by leaving its asset purchase program unchanged, rather than reducing it as many had expected.
Following these events, we see the key near-term risk in the U.S. equity markets being the debt ceiling debate, which will come to a head in October. If negotiations exhaust all available time and the U.S. comes perilously close to the brink of default, we would expect the equity markets to go down while investors look to the safety of U.S. Treasuries, as occurred under similar circumstances in August 2011, though likely less severe than before since this brinksmanship is no longer new to investors. We would also expect some flight away from emerging market equities, but less so because we see the fiscal crisis as putting pressure on the Fed to continue its accommodative policies, including quantitative easing, for an even longer period of time. Finally, we also see the possibility of a market “melt-up” or year-end rally following the resolution of the debt ceiling debate, and are looking to position portfolios accordingly.
Submitted by: Jason Benowitz, CFA
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