The US Federal Reserve has offered conflicting messages on interest rates ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting next week. Ron Rimkus, CFA, tries to make sense of the noise and offers a wrap-up of other key issues affecting global markets for fundamental investors.
Standout stories from the last month include the latest entry in the Alpha Wounds series by Jason Voss, CFA, in which he analyzes the lack of independent judgment among active managers; Matthew Borin's examination of the recent Brexit vote and its fallout; and Ron Surz's piece explaining how successful advisers are like successful waiters.
However bad you think a given development is, it is worth remembering that the productive step is to put your focus in a positive place. Real businesses were built during the Great Depression. People made money during the financial crisis. Despite myriad predictions to the contrary, the sun still rises every day in the east.
Infrastructure is seen as an attractive proposition, not only because of its (in some sectors) double-digit returns in a low-yield environment but also because it offers diversification opportunities coupled with reliable earnings and consistent cash flows. Infrastructure can also be used for liability matching and inflation hedging (given that inflation tends to be built into the revenue stream of projects).
Every year at this time, we reflect back on the events of the last 12 months and take inventory. Last year I remarked that the status quo is shifting, meaning the policy-driven, post-2008 crisis world had reached an important turning point and was in transition from one set of norms to another. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this year's retrospective is that it is awfully similar to last year's. In other words, 2015 remained a period of transition.
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