Six Comments on This Market

by: David Merkel, CFA

Here’s my take on a large part of what is going on it the markets now.

1. Bond market implied volatility is low. Tony Crescenzi comments about that on the Treasury market, but it is also true of the agency and swap markets. Less true of corporates, because rumored LBOs are making market players jumpy, but spreads are still pretty tight. People are too complacent…

2. What did well in the first four quarters of this year? Borrowing from Merrill Lynch, in terms of sectors, it would be utilities and materials, follow by healthcare and energy. In terms of quality, low quality continues to win, which is a function of tight credit spreads. Growth strategies are working — low PEG ratios, small caps, and high ROE are doing well so far in 2007.

3. China may take the global economy over the edge. Between tightening interest rates and raising deposit requirements, they are moving to slow their economy. One thing that fights against them is the currency; much stimulus comes from keeping the yuan low.

4.One factor that helps to keep oil prices high is the inefficiency of the average state-owned oil company. Venezuela, Iran, and Indonesia are great examples of the damage that can be done by negligent government-sponsored companies tha don’t reinvest enough in their businesses.

5. Fascinating to see copper and gold up, Baltic freight up and timber prices down. US housing is damaging timber, but demand outside of the US is driving the rest at the margin.

6. Even more amazing is the foreign buying of Treasuries, which proceeds unabated to recycle the shrinking current account deficit.

More to come....