Fed Fallout…Not Great
- Investors took a day to digest the Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates at zero percent, and evidently it left a bad taste in their mouths: U.S. stocks plummeted on Friday to end the week slightly down. Financials, which would have benefited from a rate increase, led the decline, dropping nearly 2 percent.
- It wasn’t just the U.S. feeling the pain: European and even Japanese stocks all tanked out of economic sympathy.
- U.S. government yields fell again on Friday to record their biggest two-day drop of the year, continuing their expected response as investors course-corrected after anticipating interest rates to rise.
- Last (but not least): commodities. Oil refused to take a breather, dropping nearly 5 percent, while gold rallied to a three-week high.
Winners and Losers
The Fed holding rates near zero had investors in a tizzy: everyone rushed to dissect meaning from this historic non-action. For their part, Fed members wasted no time giving their thoughts: St. Louis Fed president James Bullard disagreed with the decision, claiming that the economy was plenty strong to justify increased rates, while San Francisco Fed president John Williams called it was a “close call.”
The Brew takes a quick stab:
- High-dividend paying stocks. With rates still super-low, investors looking for consistent cash flows won’t find much to like in bond yields, leaving dividend-paying stocks as the last resort.
- Bonds. As bond prices go up, yields go down—and with the benchmark yield (the one the Fed controls) remaining low, bond prices across the spectrum will benefit.
- Financials. Essentially, the Fed not raising rates keeps the so-called “yield curve” flat (meaning the spread between short- and long-term rates, through which banks profit the difference, remains small).
- Clarity. Over the summer, everyone thought the Fed was going to raise rates. Then people changed their minds. Now, no one knows what’s going to happen the rest of the year.
Fool Me Once…
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…Greece sure has an interesting view on this one:
- Let’s recap. Alexis Tsipras led a heated eight month debate with European leaders earlier this year to avoid economic austerity. That failed, and Tsipras resigned as Prime Minister in August.
- Tsipras and his left-leaning Syriza party still wanted back in, and the Greek citizens backed him up. Tsipras won back his position with an unexpectedly dominant 35 percent of the vote, well above the right-leaning New Democracy, which received 27 percent.
- Tsipras or not, Greece has very little wiggle room with its policy formation if the debt-ridden country wants to keep its bailout plan, pay off its extensive outstanding debts and jumpstart its economy.
Volkswagen’s Massive No-No
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of evading air pollution rules on over half a million cars. How’d they do it? By installing software that reduces the effectiveness of emission controls—leading to cars emitting nitrogen oxide 40 times greater than the legal limit. Endangering public health and clean air standards cannot be good for Volkswagen’s brand—not to mention its wallet: the company faces financial penalties of up to $18 billion ($37,500 per car).
- Monday: Existing Home Sales
- Tuesday: AutoZone/Carnival/General Mills Earnings
- Wednesday: Manufacturing Index
- Thursday: Durable Goods, New Home Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims, Janet Yellen Speech, Nike/Bed Bath Earnings
- Friday: Consumer Confidence, 2Q GDP Revision #3
EUROPE IS EXPENSIVE
Instagram might give you the impression that every college student in America has studied abroad. The truth? Only 1 percent of college students study abroad each year. Let’s take a closer look at the 300,000 lucky U.S. students:
- Studying abroad isn’t cheap: students at Brown pay over $24,000 for a semester to study in places like London or Japan. This doesn’t include health insurance, travel costs, housing or food.
- Western European countries are typically the most expensive on the list. Developing countries, such as Peru, are a much more affordable alternative.
- Some have gone to such lengths as to withdraw from their current university temporarily and enroll directly in a foreign university.
- Still want to go to Paris but don’t want to go that far? It may be possible: many colleges offer financial aid for study abroad programs to those who receive aid at home.
INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY
Why are soda cans tapered at the top and bottom? (Answer)
BUSINESS TERM OF THE DAY
Churning — Excessive trading by a broker in a customer’s account for the purpose of increasing commissions rather than honoring their client’s interests.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
8 minutes, 29 seconds: the total amount of speaking time Wisconsin governor Scott Walker had during the GOP debate, which lasted over three hours in total. Perhaps that’s why the once-formidable candidate has fallen to 0 percent in a recent CNN poll. Ouch.