Thoughts on the Market
About the podcast Thoughts on the Market
Short, thoughtful and regular takes on recent events in the markets from a variety of perspectives and voices within Morgan Stanley.
Michael Zezas: A Step Forward for Build Back Better
The Build Back Better Act took a key step towards becoming law last week, signaling implications for fiscal policy and taxation as the bill heads to the Senate. ----- Transcript ----- Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Head of Public Policy Research and Municipal Strategy for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the intersection between U.S. public policy and financial markets. It's Wednesday, November 24th at 11:00 a.m. in New York. Last week, the Build Back Better Act took a step toward becoming law when the House of Representatives passed the bill along party lines. While the act now still needs to win Senate approval, likely with some substantive changes, there are two lessons that we learned from the House's actions. First, U.S. fiscal policy will continue to be expansionary in the near term. That's based on analysis from the Congressional Budget Office of the Build Back Better plan, adjusted for some key provisions that likely won't survive the Senate. When added to the analysis of the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, it shows the combined plans could add around $200B to the deficit over 10 years - close to our base case of about $260B. But more importantly, the analysis suggests most of this deficit increase is front loaded, with around $800B of deficits in the first 5 years - toward the high end of the base case range we flagged earlier this year. This is the number we think matters to the economy and markets, as the durability of the policies that will reduce this deficit beyond 5 years is less certain, as elections can lead to future policy changes. And this number also helps drive some key views, namely our economists' call for above average GDP next year and our rates teams' view that bond yields will continue to move higher. Our second lesson is that the corporate minimum tax looks like it has legs. The provision, also called the Book Profits Tax, survived the house process largely unscathed. While Senate modifications are to be expected, we expect the provision will be enacted. That means investors will have to get smart on the sectoral impacts of this new, somewhat complex, corporate tax. Our base case is that this won't be a game changer for markets. Our equity strategy team calculates a 4% hit to S&P 500 earnings before accounting for any economic growth. And while some sectors, like financials, appear most likely to have a higher tax bill, our banks analyst team expects most of this new expense can be offset by tax credits. Still, this new tax is tricky and untested, so fresh risks can emerge as the bill goes through edits in the Senate. So, we'll be tracking it carefully into year end. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy the show, please share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show.
Andrew Sheets: Twists and Turns In 2022
Our 500th episode! From all of us at Morgan Stanley, thanks to our listeners for all your support! An overview of our expectations for the year ahead across inflation, policy, asset classes and more. As with 2021, we expect many twists and turns along the way. ----- Transcript ----- Welcome to the 500th episode of Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, and from all of us here at Morgan Stanley, thank you for your support. Today, as always, I'll be talking about trends across the global investment landscape and how we put those ideas together. It's Tuesday, November 23rd at 2:00 p.m. in London. At Morgan Stanley Research. We've just completed our outlook for 2022. This is a large, collaborative effort where all of the economists and strategists in Morgan Stanley Research get together and debate, discuss and forecast what we think holds for the year ahead. This is an inherently uncertain practice, and we expect a lot of twists and turns along the way, but what follows is a bit of what we think the next year might hold. So let's start with the global economy. My colleague Seth Carpenter and our Global Economics team are pretty optimistic. We think growth is strong in the U.S., the Euro area and China next year, with all three of those regions exceeding consensus expectations. A strong consumer, a restocking of low inventories and a strong capital expenditure cycle are all part of this strong, sustainable growth. And because we think consumers saved a lot of the stimulus from 2021, we're not forecasting a big drop off in growth as that stimulus fails to appear again in 2022. While growth remains strong, we think inflation will actually moderate. We forecast developed market inflation to peak in the coming months and then actually decline throughout next year as supply chains normalize and commodity price gains slow. Even though inflation is moderating, monetary policy is going to start to shift. Ultimately, we think moderating inflation and some improvement in labor force participation means that the Fed thinks it can wait a little bit longer to raise interest rates and doesn't ultimately raise rates until the start of 2023. For markets, shifting central bank policy means that the training wheels are coming off, so to speak. After 20 months of unprecedented support from both governments and central banks, this extraordinary aid is now winding down. Asset classes will need to rise and fall or, for lack of a better word, pedal under their own power. In some places, this should be fine. From a strategy perspective, we continue to believe that this is a surprisingly normal cycle, albeit one that's moving hotter and faster given the scale of the drawdown during the recession and then the scale of a subsequent response. As part of our cross-asset strategy framework, we run a cycle indicator that tries to quantify where we are in that economic cycle. We think markets are facing many normal mid-cycle conditions, not unlike 2004/2005. Better growth colliding with higher inflation, shifting central bank policy and more expensive valuations. Overall, we think that those valuations and this stage of the economic cycle supports stocks over corporate bonds or government bonds. We think the case for stocks is stronger in Europe and Japan than in emerging markets or the US, as these former markets enjoy more reasonable valuations, more limited central bank tightening and less risk from legislation or higher taxes. Those same issues drive a below consensus forecast here at Morgan Stanley for the S&P 500. We think that benchmark index will be at 4400 by the end of next year, lower than current levels. How do we get there? Well, we think earnings are actually pretty good, but that the market assigns a lower valuation multiple of those earnings - closer to 18x or around the average of the last 5 years as monetary policy normalizes. For interest rates and foreign exchange, my colleagues really see a year of two parts. As I mentioned before, we think that the Fed will ultimately wait until 2023 to make its first rate hike, but it might not be in any rush to signal that action right away, especially because inflation remains relatively high. As such, we remain positive on the U.S. dollar and think that U.S. interest rates will rise into the start of the year - two factors that mean we think investors should be patient before buying emerging market assets, which tend to do worse when both the U.S. dollar and yields are rising. We forecast the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield to be at 2.1% by the end of 2022 and think the Canadian dollar will appreciate against most currencies as the Bank of Canada moves to raise interest rates. That's a summary of just a few of the things that we think lie ahead in 2022. As with 2021, we're sure they're going to be many twists and turns along the way, and we hope you keep listening to Thoughts on the Market for updates on how we see these changes and how they impact our market views. Thanks for listening. Subscribe to Thoughts on the Market on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen and leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you.
Mike Wilson: 2022 Equity Outlook Feedback and Debates
With the release of our outlook for the coming year comes a cycle of feedback and debates from clients and investors. We look at those discussions around equity markets, valuations, and more in 2022. ----- Transcript ----- Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Mike Wilson, Chief Investment Officer and Chief U.S. Equity Strategist for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the latest trends in the financial marketplace. It's Monday, November 22nd at 11:30 a.m. in New York. So let's get after it. Last week, we published our outlook for 2022 and spent a lot of time discussing it with investors. This week, we share feedback from those conversations where there is agreement and pushback. Our first observation is that there wasn't as much engagement as usual. Part of this may be due to the fact that our general view hasn't changed all that much, leaving us with an unexciting overall price target for the main U.S. indices. We also sense there's a bit of macro fatigue setting in, with many investors struggling to generate alpha in what appears to be a runaway bull market for the S&P 500 - the primary U.S. equity benchmark for most asset managers. This lines up with one of our key messages for the upcoming year - focus on the micro and pick stocks if you want to outperform. As the economic recovery matures, more companies are struggling with the imbalances created by the pandemic. To us, this generally means focus on earnings stability and superior execution skills as key factors when identifying winning stocks from here. Going back to our conversations, there's a broad agreement with our more recent tactical view that U.S. equity markets are ahead of the fundamentals, but they can stay elevated in the near-term given incredibly strong flows from retail, systematic strategies and buybacks. Furthermore, pressure to keep up with the benchmarks is curtailing willingness to de-risk early. While there are signs of deterioration under the surface with many individual companies suffering from inflation pressures, supply bottlenecks and even demand destruction in some cases, the S&P 500 earnings forecasts are still moving higher, albeit at a slower pace. More specifically, we are witnessing weak breadth as the major averages make new highs. Most clients feel that in the absence of an outright decline in earnings forecasts, seasonal strength can maintain the market's elevated levels and there's no reason to fight it. Having said that, while there is agreement valuations are currently rich, the primary push back to our outlook for next year is that we are too bearish on valuation. While many investors we speak with think 2022 will be more challenging than this year, most still expect US equity indices to deliver 5-10% returns over the next year, while we project flat to slightly down returns in our base case. The primary difference of opinion is on valuation, which appears vulnerable, in our view, to tightening financial conditions and a more uncertain range of outcomes in the economy and earnings over the next 6 months, and that should lead to higher risk premiums or lower valuations. The other key debate with clients center on the strength of the US consumer. Recent macro data like retail sales, and micro data from strong consumer earnings in the third quarter, suggests that consumers remain ebullient into the holidays. This is very much in line with the survey that we published two weeks ago - the same survey that suggests this strength may not be sustainable into next year due to weakening personal financial conditions from higher inflation. Our analysis and comparison of the Conference Board and University of Michigan consumer confidence surveys appear to support a deterioration into next year - a key reason we are underway the consumer discretionary sector despite strength into the holidays. Bottom line, U.S. equity markets have delivered another stellar year of returns, which is typical in the second year of an economic recovery. However, given the speed of this recovery and record returns over the prior 18 months, we thought it was prudent to reduce our equity exposure back in early September. While our timing on that risk reduction was wrong, higher prices, driven mostly by higher valuations, only make the risk/reward for 2022 worse, not better. In short, stick with larger cap, higher quality stocks at reasonable valuations. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague today.
2022 Global Economic Outlook, Pt. 2: Debates and Uncertainties
Andrew Sheets continues his discussion with Chief Global Economist Seth Carpenter on Morgan Stanley’s more optimistic economic outlook for 2022, what’s misunderstood and where it could be wrong. ----- Transcript ----- Andrew Sheets Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, Chief Cross Asset Strategist for Morgan Stanley Research. Seth Carpenter And I'm Seth Carpenter. I'm Morgan Stanley's Chief Global Economist. Andrew Sheets And on part two of the special episode of Thoughts on the Market, Seth and I will be continuing our discussion on the 2022 outlook for the global economy and how that outlook could impact markets in the coming year. It's Friday, November 19th at 5:00 p.m. in London. Seth Carpenter And if it's five pm in London, it's noon in New York. Andrew Sheets Seth, you speak to a wide variety of clients, and this topic of the supply chain, you know, keeps coming up in a variety of formats. It comes up in our financial discussions. It comes up in the popular press. Is there a part of this story that you think is poorly understood or maybe misunderstood, you know, amidst all this focus of supply chain stress? Seth Carpenter I think I'd point to two key areas where maybe there could be a little bit more attention focused. The first one, and I was sort of talking in these terms before, is the difference between the price level and inflation. Now, if I am at the store and I'm looking at milk on the shelf, all I care about is the price level itself: is milk more expensive than it was before? Is the price high? When the central bank, when investors look at prices, they're actually measuring inflation, the rate of growth of those prices. And I think that key distinction is one of the big parts here. If supply chains stop getting worse, then it seems like in general, at some point the price level should stop going up. It'd still be a high price and it'd still be unpleasant for consumers. But the inflation on that would end up being zero. And I think that difference between growth rates and price levels is one thing that probably deserves a little bit more scrutiny. Seth Carpenter And I think the second part is-- I'm going to use an economics type term here-- how non-linear some of these effects are. And so what do I mean there? If you think about the auto industry, which has been in the news a lot for having a shortage of microchips, for example. But suppose you had a car that had 95% of the parts already assembled, 5% were missing. That's not a car. That's spare parts. Suppose you had a hundred cars that were 95% done. In a linear version of the world, 95% of one hundred is 95 cars. But you still really just have a pile of spare parts at that point. And so it's not as though you get proportional reduction in output. You can get all of the output disrupted for one of just a few parts. I'm curious to see how it resolves on the other side. Does it turn out then that all of a sudden, we're faced with a glut of extra products because those few missing parts are now delivered and so all of a sudden that final assembly can get done and we have a lot. I don't know what the answer is. We've assumed that it's much smoother than that when things unwind, but there really is a lot of uncertainty here. Andrew Sheets So, Seth, the last 18 months have been really hard. But you know, you could maybe argue that for the Fed, its decisions have been somewhat easy. And we've seen the Fed and other central banks take extraordinary action. But, you know, now the Fed, the European Central Bank, you know, a lot of these central banks are now coming under a lot more pressure on the one side to say, you know, inflation's now picking up, you're making a mistake to, you know, the economy still not normal. It still needs a lot of support. How do you see those debates playing out? And how do you think some of that ultimately resolves itself next year? Seth Carpenter I mean, debate is exactly the right word, and I love to note to clients that my job used to be to argue over what should happen with policy but now my job is just to think about what's likely to happen. And there I turn to the policymakers themselves, and so when I think about Chair Powell, I think about the fact that they announced a tapering of their asset purchases, and he said he expects that to run through the middle of next year. He also said that he expects inflation to come down, but he doesn't expect it to materially come down until Q2 or Q3 of next year. In that context, that to me says he's probably waiting for a while to see how the data resolve themselves. Seth Carpenter What I've also heard Chair Powell say is that their conditions for raising short term interest rates is both having inflation doing what they want it to do, but also full employment. And he's tried to give a few different measures of full employment means to them. It's not just the measured unemployment rate, but it's also people getting jobs. It's also people who have left the labor market coming back into the labor market. And so in the forecast that the US economics team has, inflation is coming down over the course of 2022, labor supply measured by the labor force participation rate in their forecast is going up. And so when the US economics team puts those two together and thinks about how Chair Powell has characterized the Fed's decision making process, they come to the conclusion that it seems natural to think that he's going to want them to wait at least through the end of 2022 and right at the beginning of 2023 before starting to raise short term interest rates. Now you're our cross asset strategist and so you know for a fact that markets have been pricing lots of other things. Andrew Sheets And Seth, it's fair to say that's probably one of our more controversial assumptions for next year, this idea that the Federal Reserve doesn't end up raising interest rates in 2022, even though that is, as you mentioned, what the market's currently expecting. Seth Carpenter Correct. It's definitely a place where we are out of consensus. And I think as we got the recent consumer price index report that showed still quite high inflation. And as markets start to look for, you know, the next couple of months where there's inflation prints go, I think the market is expecting inflation to stay high for sufficiently long that Chair Powell and the Fed change their minds. And that clearly could happen. Andrew Sheets Seth, the thing I wanted to close with was, you know, a real central part of our research process at Morgan Stanley-- and this is true in strategy and economics down to our stock analysts-- is to not just try to think about a likely base case, but also think about a bull and a bear case around it. Kind of realistic, good and bad scenarios that could happen over the next 12 months. So let's get the bad news out of the way. If you think about a realistic bad case for the global economy next year, what does it look like and what gets us there? Seth Carpenter Wow. So this is where I have to admit, being my first time in this outlook process, I may have tipped the apple cart over just a little bit because I threw the team a curveball and I said there are actually two key ways that I could be disappointed in the global economy. And the first one is a worse outcome for the supply side. That is our assumption that supply chains get better over time. That might not happen, right? That might stay bad for longer, we might have more frictions in the labor market than we expect. In that version of the world, we likely get both weaker economic growth than we think and higher inflation than we forecast because the supply disruptions would feed into sustained inflationary pressures that keep those price prices rising and rising and rising over time as supply chains get worse. And at the same time, we could easily see, under those circumstances, central banks globally shifting towards tighter monetary policy. If we get much higher inflationary outcomes than we currently forecast we're just going to see more tightening. And so you get that double whammy of less production, less economic activity because supply disruptions and also tighter financial conditions. And so that's an outcome that we can't rule out. And that's troubling. Seth Carpenter On the other hand, we could be wrong about the lack of a fiscal drag in the United States. We could be wrong about how much fiscal support there is going to be in Europe, for example. We could be wrong about how the Chinese economy recovers from the recent slowdown. And so we could have a demand side bear case, a demand side worse outcome. In that case, though, the world looks a little bit more normal the way, you know, markets and economists would have thought about these things pre-pandemic, i.e. slower growth, lower inflation. In that version of the world though central banks tend to sit back, I think, and wait to see how things turn out. But that, I think, is a really good illustration of just how much uncertainty there is right now. There's a version of the world where we have worse growth and higher inflation. There's a version of the world where we have worse growth and lower inflation. And I have to admit I spent some time wringing my hands, worrying about each of them. Andrew Sheets And finally, Seth, to end on a high note, what's the most realistic, positive case for the global economy next year and how could we get there? Seth Carpenter Andrew, you know, I'm an economist, which means that I'm uncomfortable being cheerful, but I'll give it a shot. So those global supply disruptions, the sort of inability of consumer goods to sort of flow to market as fast as people want to buy them, the restrictions on commodity production that have led to the really high prices. I have to believe there's a version of the world where that all gets resolved much more quickly. Right? Where all of those partially produced goods that only need one or two extra spare parts, that ship arrives, those spare parts come in, and then all of a sudden, we've got a glut of supply instead of a shortage of supply. I think in that version of the world, we have a really virtuous cycle. A couple of things happen. One, inflation starts to come down much more quickly because there's much more availability of all those goods that people are looking to buy. Second, there's a lot more availability of all those goods that people are willing to buy. And so as a result, you can have that economic activity picking up. I think at the same time, in the same spirit of a better supply outlook, the labor supply could fix itself more quickly. In which case wage pressures start to ease a little bit, people feel more comfortable coming back to the labor market. Maybe that's because of the increasing vaccinations, especially among children. Maybe it's because we get past the winter and we have a milder winter when it comes to the to the pandemic. All of those sort of supply things, both physical goods and greater supply and more labor supply-- if those happened together than we should have faster growth. But as it turns out, a bit less in the way of inflationary pressures. And so that really would be sort of a fantastic outcome. Andrew Sheets We'll have to stay tuned. Seth, thanks for taking the time to talk. Seth Carpenter I have to say, Andrew, it's always my pleasure to get to talk to you. Andrew Sheets Thanks for listening. If you enjoy thoughts on the market, please take a moment to rate and review us on the Apple Podcast app. It helps more people find the show.
2022 Global Economic Outlook, Pt. 1: Optimism in the New Year
Andrew Sheets speaks with Chief Global Economist Seth Carpenter on Morgan Stanley’s more optimistic economic outlook for 2022 and how consumer spending, labor, and inflation contribute to that story. ----- Transcript ----- Andrew Sheets Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, Chief Cross Asset Strategist for Morgan Stanley Research. Seth Carpenter And I'm Seth Carpenter. I'm Morgan Stanley's Chief Global Economist. Andrew Sheets And on part one of this special episode of Thoughts on the market, we'll be discussing the 2022 outlook for the global economy and how that outlook could impact markets in the coming year. It's Thursday, November 18th at 5:00 p.m. in London. Seth Carpenter And that makes it noon in New York City. Andrew Sheets So, Seth, welcome to Thoughts on the Market. You are Morgan Stanley's new chief global economist and, while we've just sat down to work on our year ahead outlook and we're going to discuss that, I was hoping you could just give listeners a little background around yourself and what brings you to this role? Seth Carpenter Thanks, Andrew. This has been a great experience for me working on the outlook as my introduction to Morgan Stanley. I guess I've been here just a few months now. Before coming to Morgan Stanley, I was at another big sell-side bank for a few years, spent a little time on the buy-side. But most of my career, I have to say, I spent in Washington DC. I spent 15 years of my career at the Federal Reserve working on all sorts of aspects about monetary policy. And then I spent two and a half years at the U.S. Treasury Department. So, I'm really, really a product of Washington more than I am Wall Street. Andrew Sheets Well, that's great. And so well, let's get right into it because, you know, this is a big collaborative process that you and I and a lot of our colleagues work on. And so let's start with that global economic picture. You know, as you step back and you think about our expectations, how good is the global economy going to be next year? Seth Carpenter Yeah, I have to say our economics team around the world is actually fairly optimistic-- call it bullish-- relative to consensus. When I think about the global economy, clearly the two biggest economies are the U.S. and China. And so starting with the U.S., Ellen Zentner, our chief U.S. economist, has an outlook that the U.S. economy is going to slow down next year, but boy, still be going kind of fast. Right around four and a half percent, which is, you know, slower than the growth rate that we're getting this year, but still a really, really solid growth for the for the year as a whole. And I think in that there's a lot of things going on. We're still getting lots of job gains and the more job gains we have, the more consumer spending we get. And of course, consumer spending, that's 70% of US GDP. I think as well, we're looking forward to there being a big restocking of inventories. I think everyone has heard about the global supply chain issue and inventories in the United States in particular are very, very lean. And so we're looking for a bit of an extra boost to the economy coming from that inventory restocking. So it's a pretty optimistic case; slower than this year, to be sure, but still a pretty optimistic outlook. Andrew Sheets And Seth, what about that other big driver of the global economy, China? How do you think its economy looks next year? Seth Carpenter Robin Xing is our chief China economist, and he is also similarly a bit optimistic relative to consensus. Deceleration, to be sure, from where we were before COVID. But five and a half percent growth is still going to put our forecast, you know, higher than most other people making these sorts of forecasts. And there, when I talked to Robin, what he tells me is, you know, there was a slowdown in the Chinese economy this year in Q3, but a lot of that was policy induced as the policymakers in Beijing are trying to take another step in reorienting the Chinese economy. And because the slowdown was policy induced, we're going to get a recovery that's also policy induced. And so, he's actually pretty constructive about how growth for next year is going to turn out. Andrew Sheets So Seth, one question about the economy next year is, well, in 2021, we had all of this fiscal support, all this government support for growth and that's not going to be there in the same way. And you hear a lot about this concept of the fiscal cliff of the government support that was there falling away and even reversing and being a drag on growth. How do you square that with what seemed like pretty optimistic economic projections from our side? Seth Carpenter So here's how the US team would talk about it. When we think about what drove the fiscal policy this year, what drove the high deficit this year, a lot of it was income replacement. Many people had lost their jobs, many people were out of work and government transfers were replacing a fair amount of that income. And so as we move into next year, we're already seeing many of those jobs coming back, to be sure, not all of them yet. But in the forecast, jobs keep coming back and with it, labor income. And so what the government support had been doing, in part, was providing income to allow spending to go on in 2021. Next year in the forecast, it's labor income that allows the same type of spending to go on. And so as a result, there's no discrete step down that's coming from that removal of fiscal policy. And moreover, I think one thing that avid readers of economic data will know is that the saving rate i.e. how much of current income is being spent versus being saved. The saving rate is actually quite elevated. And part of that is this government transfer of income, not all of it being spent in the current period. Well, the US team says we're going to take some of that excess savings and assume that a portion of it actually gets spent in 2022. So that's another factor that's going to reduce the likelihood of us having a fiscal drag the way other forecasters probably have in their numbers. Andrew Sheets Seth, another concern that comes up a lot in these conversations is around the i-word: inflation. You know, you and I and some of our colleagues just did a large webcast for many of our investment clients. And I think without exaggeration, maybe 80% of the questions were in in some way related to inflationary risks and the inflationary backdrop. So, you know, we think growth is going to be good next year-- it might be better than expected-- but what does that imply for the inflation outlook and, how big of a risk is it that inflation is eating away at the spending power of the consumer and other parts of the economy? Seth Carpenter No question that inflation is sort of the key question in macro these days and into next year. And I think there is a real risk that high prices end up eating into purchasing power. It's clear that people who are on fixed income, people who are at the lower end of the income distribution, when the price of gasoline is going up, when the price is food is going up, that's very, very real for those people and it can affect how much extra discretionary spending they have. So I think that that clearly matters a lot. And I think one of the challenges between being an economist, thinking in terms of the technical data side of things, versus communicating to a broader audience is that inflation is about the rate of change of those prices, as opposed to what regular people see every day, which is the level of those prices. So in our-- in the forecast the US team has there are a lot of those prices that actually stay high, but the rate at which they go up in the forecast actually peaks at the beginning of 2022 and then starts to come down. It starts to come down for a few reasons. First: oil. If we look at the futures curve, looks as if oil prices should probably peak around December and then gradually come down over the course of next year. I think in addition to that, everyone has been talking about the global supply chain sort of bottlenecks in terms of consumer goods getting to consumers being a real challenge now takes time. It's proven to be quite durable so far. The maintained assumption that the economics team around the world had was the following: that those supply chain frictions-- be it the Port of Los Angeles and shipping containers, be it semiconductor production in East Asia, the whole kit and caboodle-- goes back to something that looks like normal at the end of 2022. But what that means in the forecast is things are about at their worst now, start to get better at the beginning of the year, and then take the whole year to get better. But if that's the case, then the easier access to the consumer goods should mean that prices on those consumer goods that have been going up so dramatically should probably stop going up sometime around the beginning of the year. And in fact, maybe start to go back towards more normal levels over time. So that's what's in the forecast. Andrew Sheets Seth, another thing I was hoping to ask you about as it relates to inflation is, you know, how much of this with your global hat on is a global phenomenon versus, you know, some more specific, idiosyncratic things related to the U.S. economy. You know, when you when you look across some different regions, some other major markets, are they having similar inflationary dynamics? Is it different? And importantly, could we see more divergence in the inflation picture going forward into next year? Seth Carpenter Oh, absolutely. So, looking across different countries, there's unquestionably a global component to this inflationary surge. I think what can differ, though, is how that inflationary impulse is transmitted to to different economies over time. So, you know, we've talked through our views on what happens in the United States. And in countries where you tend to have more of a history of high and variable inflation, it's easier for those sort of pricing pressures to spread to other components. Add to that in countries where if it's a small, open economy with a floating exchange rate, you can easily imagine that country's currency could decline a bit in value, which means all of their imported goods are more expensive as well, which then leads to more inflation. So clearly a common shock. The net effect across economies, though, can be quite different. I'd say one component that's a bit different in the United States than others is the structure of our of our labor market. In a lot of European countries, there was a mechanism put in place, a policy put in place to essentially try to freeze people in place attached to their employer; in the U.K. they call it 'the furlough scheme.' In the United States there was no similar specific plan that was covering the entire country. That friction in the labor market is quite difficult to overcome. And we're seeing some of that show through by, in some cases, businesses needing to pay more to attract new workers. And so, like I said, a clear common global shock, but the transmission varies by country. Andrew Sheets Thanks for listening. We'll be back in your feed soon for part two of my conversation with Seth Carpenter on the outlook for the global economy in 2022. Andrew Sheets And as a reminder, if you enjoy thoughts on the market, please take a moment to rate and review us on the Apple Podcast app. It helps more people find the show.
Michael Zezas: A New Normal for U.S./China Relations
This week’s meeting between President Biden and President Xi was not a return to an earlier phase of relations between their two countries. Instead, it suggested the normalization of a sort of ‘competitive confrontation’ that investors and markets may have mixed feelings about. ----- Transcript ----- Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Head of Public Policy Research and Municipal Strategy for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the intersection between U.S. public policy and financial markets. It's Wednesday, November 17th at 11:00 a.m. in New York. Earlier this week, U.S. President Biden and China President Xi met virtually to discuss the relationship between their two countries. A broad array of security and economic issues were discussed, and the readouts from both countries following the meeting were generally respectful. In many ways, this was a marked contrast from the rancor between the two parties for the last few years. Yet investors expressed to us disappointment with the outcome. They were looking for tariff rollbacks and other signs of a reversion to the US/China relationship that preceded the Trump administration. To those investors, our message is that there's a new normal to embrace for the US and China. And it's neither wholly positive, or negative, for markets and the economy. In short, investors should get comfortable with the US/China relationship as one of intense competition, rather than the laissez faire economic competition that the U.S. engages in with its allies. In fact, we call the US/China dynamic a 'competitive confrontation'. That means both sides are urgently trying to enact policies that preserve their economic and national security ambitions, without creating chaos through wholesale de-linking of their intertwined economies or direct military confrontation. In short, it's complicated. But the motivation is high to follow this path. In the U.S., for example, there's still a bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should be pursuing tougher China policies, and that impulse likely only gets stronger in 2022 - a midterm election year. So if you know this dynamic, it becomes easier to understand why the U.S. hasn't moved to reduce tariffs on China, even if that could ease inflation pressures. Even if the Biden administration would prefer those tariffs didn't exist, they may view reducing them now as short sighted, particularly when they need more time to develop more precise non-tariff tools, and since China continues to fall short on its commitments under the phase 1 trade deal. So those looking to the US/China dynamic to ease inflation pressures and perhaps reduce bond yields, we think will continue to be disappointed. As will those looking for an easing of export restrictions and other non-tariff barriers that have crimped key equity sectors, like semiconductors. But it's not all challenges here. Over time, we think the U.S. and China can get to a dynamic we call ‘constructive competition.’ Both sides will have developed rules of engagement they think preserve their security goals, minimizing trade disruptions and allowing the reduction of blunt force tools like tariffs. At this point, of course, inflation may have already eased, but the impact could be a clearer pathway for international expansion for equity sectors which are increasingly using sensitive technologies, like automobiles. We'll be tracking the transition here and report to you as opportunities emerge. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy the show, please share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show.
Special Episode: The Low-Income Real Estate Story
The housing market has seen record home price growth this year. But who does this boom benefit and who gets left behind? ----- Transcript ----- Jim Egan Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm James Egan, co-head of U.S. Securitized Products Research from Morgan Stanley, Sarah Wolfe and I'm Sarah Wolfe from the US economics team, focused on the U.S. consumer. Jim Egan And on this edition of the podcast, we'll be talking about the impact of the housing boom on America's low-income households. It's Tuesday, November 16th, 10:00 a.m. in New York. Jim Egan Regular listeners of the podcast have probably heard me talking with my colleague Jay Bacow about the record level of home price growth that we've seen this year. And we've talked about it from a number of different angles: how high can home price appreciation actually climb? How sustainable is this current level of growth? What's the aftermath going to be? But today, Sarah, you and I are going to be approaching this from a slightly different angle, and we're going to talk about the impact of rising home values on low-income households. So, what were some of the big questions behind your recent research, Sarah? Sarah Wolfe So there's been a lot of discussion this year, as you mentioned, around rising home prices, rising rents and the extremely healthy housing environment. So, we wanted to look at what this meant for households all across the income distribution and, in particular, what it meant for low-income households. There's been a lot of focus on how low-income households are going to fare as we move off of fiscal stimulus - I'm talking about the unemployment insurance benefits, the economic impact payments - and so we wanted to explore real estate wealth as a potential source of equity for this group in order to make the transition away from government stimulus into a more recovery part of the economy easier or not. And so that's really the focus of this report. Jim Egan All right. Now you've spent a lot of time talking about the low-income consumer. We've got the kind of excess savings narrative across the consumer in aggregate. I know that that is appearing in the low-income consumer a little bit, but maybe not as much as further up the spectrum. Can you dig into that for us a little bit? How is the low-income consumer performing right now? Sarah Wolfe So overall, the low-income consumer over the last year and a half has performed very well, and that's because we've seen an unprecedent amount of fiscal stimulus. We've also seen strong job growth among low-income industries, including retail trade, leisure and hospitality. These are where the jobs are coming back. And we're also seeing pretty strong wage growth for low-income workers. And then at the same time, there was a pretty significant pullback in spending like dining out and other services. So together we got this buildup of excess savings and, low-income households had savings as well, and there was excess savings held all across the income distribution. While this is really significant, it's important to know that the dollar amount of excess savings held among lower income households is not that significant. And they also have a higher marginal propensity to consume out of their savings. So, while the savings is there, it likely will not last long. And so, it's not going to be a longer-term source of wealth, and that's why we decided to turn our attention to real estate wealth. Will this be a potential long-term source of wealth and significant for this group of consumers? Jim Egan OK. So, when you looked into housing wealth and particularly for low-income consumers, what did you find? Sarah Wolfe Well, low-income homeowners have actually seen their real estate wealth increased by roughly $18,000 per household. That's from the end of 2019 through mid-2021. Now, in dollar terms, that's less than the rise in real estate for higher income groups. But in percentage change, it's a 19% increase in real estate wealth among low-income homeowners. And that's the largest percentage increase across the entire income distribution when it comes to real estate wealth. Sarah Wolfe So, there's clearly been a substantial amount of real estate wealth for homeowners, but it leads me to ask the question, can they actually access that wealth? Jim Egan That is probably the question we get asked most frequently. The record rise we've seen in home prices has brought equity in the U.S. housing market to levels we haven't seen. We have data going back over 26 years. We've never had more equity in the housing market than we do right now. Part of that's because this rise in home prices just was not accompanied by the rise in mortgage debt that we saw in the early 2000s, the last time home price growth was really anywhere close to where it is right now. So, the question we get from investors pretty frequently is, well are borrowers going to access this? How can borrowers access this? Are we going to see that same sort of mortgage equity withdrawal, that sort of cash out activity that we saw during the last cycle. And look, the high-level answer is it's difficult to say, given the lack of comprehensive data that we see there. Now, we do have some form of data from the GSEs, we have it from Ginnie Mae, that can show us how cash out activity is evolving, and we are seeing cash out activity really pick up in 2021. It wasn't the case in 2020. Falling rates in 2020 meant that a larger percentage of refinancings were more just straight rate-and-term refinances. They didn't have a cash out component. But we are starting to see cash out refinance activity pick up in 2021 from where it was in 2020. Sarah Wolfe And how does mortgage credit availability play into all of this? Jim Egan We do think that's playing a pretty big role. Now we've talked about how mortgage credit availability is running at pretty tight levels. We actually undid six years’ worth of easing lending standards in the six months following COVID, but we have started to see lending standards plateau and they've started to ease from here. Now, how of those tight lending standards manifested themselves in terms of cash out activity? We're actually seeing the dollar amount that is being cashed out, it's lower today than it was in 2019 in terms of absolute dollar amount. If we talk about the amount of equity, the rising home prices we've seen, that means as a percentage of the property value, in 2019, we were seeing cash out refi’s remove roughly about 18% of value from the house. That's down to just 13% today. So people are able to access that equity, but tighter credit standards might be contributing to that dollar amount being lower. And it certainly means that the borrowers who are more likely to be able to access that are probably borrowers that are further up the credit quality spectrum, higher credit scores, for instance, perhaps higher income levels as well. So we do think that tight credit availability plays a role. But Sarah, turning this back to you. Jim Egan Once we get past the borrower's ability to actually remove cash from their home or the borrower's ability to tap that equity in their home. What are you seeing households use that money for? Sarah Wolfe Well, a bulk of the equity goes back into the home in the form of home improvement and repairs. There is a smaller amount that goes towards non-housing expenditures like education and apparel. Also, some of it goes towards paying down debt. But the large majority is back into the house in terms of home repairs and improvements. Jim Egan OK, I want to switch gears from homeowners to renters. Rents have been racing higher in recent months. That doesn't seem great for low-income consumers who don't own their homes. But what are you seeing there? Sarah Wolfe That's true. Home price appreciation is great for those who own a home, but only half of the bottom 20% are homeowners. This compares to 80% homeownership among the top 20%. And so while we've seen a rise in home price appreciation, it's coincided with escalating rents for non-homeowners. To put some numbers around it, CPI inflation-- this is consumer price index-- showed that rents rose 0.4% in October and 0.5% in September. And while that might not seem like a big number, that's the largest two month increase in rent inflation since 1992. We also find that low-income renters spend 63% of their income paying rent nationally, which is quite elevated. And we're forecasting that rent prices are just going to keep going up and up in the coming years, making it harder for Low-Income non-homeowners to afford having a home and leaving them at the mercy of rising rents. Jim Egan Now we've done a lot of work on inequal access to homeownership among minorities. How does this factor into the rising burden of rent? Sarah Wolfe Well, on top of the income disparity in homeownership, the racial disparity adds another dimension to the divide between low-income homeowners and renters. Our ESG strategies find that on average, the gap in homeownership between White and Black and Hispanic households is widest for low to moderate income families. This really limits the benefits of home price appreciation for minorities and further exacerbates racial inequalities. Jim Egan All right, so the record level of home price growth, which has led to a record level of equity in U.S. households, does appear to have increased wealth across the income spectrum. But when we look a little bit closer, that's not necessarily the case for lower income households the same way it is for higher income households. And, across the board, the ability of these different households to tap that equity is still a question. Sarah Wolfe That's correct. But I think that it's important to keep in mind that the picture is not all bad. The low-income household is still healthy, and we have the substantial amount of labor market income coming from lower wage jobs like retail trade, leisure and hospitality, transportation, combined with strong wage growth, all helping and supporting income growth longer term for this group. Jim Egan Sarah, always great speaking with you. Sarah Wolfe Great talking with you, Jim. Jim Egan As a reminder, if you enjoy Thoughts on the Market, please take a moment to rate and review us on the Apple Podcasts app. It helps more people to find the show.
Mike Wilson: In 2022, Stock Picking May Lead
Coming out of a year marked by greater uncertainty and volatility, 2022 is poised to be a year which favors single stock investing over a focus on style and sector. ----- Transcript ----- Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Mike Wilson, Chief Investment Officer and Chief U.S. Equity Strategist for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the latest trends in the financial marketplace. It's Monday, November 15th at 11:30 a.m. in New York. So let's get after it. 2021 has been another very good year for U.S. equity indices. What's been different in 2021 is the higher volatility under the surface with greater dispersion of returns between individual stocks. This fits very nicely with our overall mid-cycle transition narrative, with one major exception - valuations. Typically, by this stage of an economic recovery from recession equity valuations would have normalized, particularly with the earnings recovery being even more dramatic than usual. In short, while our sector and style preferences in stock picking was strong in 2021, our S&P 500 price target proved to be too low - in other words, wrong. We think this is more about timing rather than an outright rejection of our fundamental framework or narrative. With financial conditions now tightening and earnings growth slowing, the 12-month risk/reward for the broad indices looks unattractive at current prices. More specifically, we expect solid earnings growth again in 2022 offset by lower valuations. However, strong nominal GDP growth should continue to provide plenty of good investment opportunities at the stock level. In our view, the economic and political environment has been permanently altered from its pre-COVID days, although the changes are not necessarily due to the pandemic itself. What that means from an investment standpoint is higher nominal GDP growth led by higher inflation, which is the only way out from our over indebtedness in the longer term. Such an outcome should lead to greater investment and higher productivity, but it will take years for that to play out. In the meantime, we will have to deal with the excesses created by the extreme nature of this recession and recovery. That breeds higher uncertainty and dispersion, making stock picking more important than ever in the year ahead. While our primary theme for 2022 is to focus more on stocks than sectors and styles, one can't ignore them either. We go into the year-end favoring earnings stability and stocks with undemanding valuations, given our view for a tougher operating environment and higher long term interest rates. This puts us overweight Healthcare, Real Estate, Financials and reasonably priced Software stocks. We are also more constructive on Consumer and Business Services. With our expectation for payback in demand from this year's overconsumption, we are underweight Consumer Discretionary Goods, Tech Hardware and commodity-oriented Semiconductors that are prone to double ordering and cancelations. Small cap stocks have done better recently on the back of newly proposed tax legislation that is much less onerous to smaller domestic companies. However, that is simply the removal of a negative rather than an additional positive for earnings and cash flow. It does nothing to ease the burden of what may be one of the most difficult operating environments for small businesses in decades. In short, we favor large caps over small, especially after the nice seasonal run in a smaller cohort. Finally, the obsession over value versus growth should fade as there is no clear winner, in our view, over the next year, but rather trading opportunities like during 2021. Value and growth have each had periods during which they have done considerably better than the other over the past year. But year-to-date they are neck and neck. We do have a slight bias for value over growth for the rest of the year as interest rates move higher, but this is more of a trading position rather than an aggressive investment view we had coming out of the recession in 2020. Expect our bias to flip flop in 2022 like this year, as macro uncertainty reigns. Although strategy is a macro endeavor, with stock dispersion remaining high due to uncertainty around inflation, supply chains and policy, we will focus even more on specific relative value ideas, rather than the index, over the next year. We wish you all good fortune in 2022. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague today.
About the podcast Thoughts on the Market
Short, thoughtful and regular takes on recent events in the markets from a variety of perspectives and voices within Morgan Stanley.