Investors Face A World Where Stocks No Longer Reign
The age-old mantra of ‘there is no alternative’ to stocks gets a stiff test as market losses mount, inflation accelerates and interest rates rise.
The age-old mantra of ‘there is no alternative’ to stocks gets a stiff test as market losses mount, inflation accelerates and interest rates rise.
For years after the 2008-09 financial crisis, interest rates were so low that many investors argued that to get a decent return, you had to put a hefty chunk of your portfolio in the stock market. That conviction was so popular that Wall Street gave it a name: TINA, short for “there is no alternative” to stocks. Sure, the stock market was riskier than, say, government bonds that are guaranteed to pay out coupons every year. But returns on stocks were so much better than practically everything else in the markets that investors saw few viable alternatives for where to put their money.
The Federal Reserve has turned that dynamic on its head. The central bank, determined to rein in inflation, has begun what could be its most aggressive campaign of interest-rate increases since the 1980s. Investors expect the Fed to bring rates to around 3% by early 2023 from near zero at the start of 2022. Once-loved stocks, as a result, have tumbled to multiyear lows.
The shift is inflicting pain on markets and investors of all stripes as losses mount for hedge funds, day traders and the funds that manage more than $4.5 trillion in retirement savings for U.S. firefighters, police officers, teachers and other public workers. It is hurting startups that just a year ago had found an easy way to raise money. A growing list of companies trying to go public through SPACs, or special-purpose acquisition companies, have cancelled their plans, citing market volatility. And traders of cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, have also taken a drubbing this year as the Fed’s policy shift dented the allure of once-highflying risky investments.
Investors are moving their money out of stocks and into ultrasafe assets that had largely been unloved for the past decade—such as cash, Treasury bills, certificates of deposit and money-market funds. Investors put $51.4 billion in global money-market funds in the week through April 27, the most for a week since October, according to Refinitiv Lipper. During the entire month of April they yanked $19.2 billion out of stock exchange-traded funds—the biggest outflows since 2019, according to Morningstar Inc. Meanwhile, 47% of global fund managers surveyed by Bank of America Corp. in April said they had larger than average cash positions in their portfolios—the highest level since April 2020.
The good news for some of these investors is that conservative bets are now starting to provide more bang for their buck. Three-month Treasury bills are now offering a yield of around 0.97%, up from near zero for most of the last two years. Capital One Financial Corp. is giving holders of five-year certificates of deposit an annual percentage yield of 2.25%, and the Treasury Department’s inflation-adjusted I Bonds are making interest payments of 9.62% to investors for the next six months.
“There’s a lot of sitting on hands,” said Jason Draho, head of asset allocation Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management. Many UBS private-wealth clients are holding cash instead of trying to identify the market bottom, he added.
If stocks were still rising the way they did the past several years, these alternatives would likely be of little interest to investors. After all, the S&P 500 delivered annualized returns of 17% over the past decade. But between investor worries about tightening monetary policy, inflation, and Covid-19 lockdowns and supply-chain disruptions slowing global growth, the stock market has had an indisputably grim year.
The S&P 500 is now down 16% in 2022—on course to deliver its worst return since 2008. Even bonds, which have been hit by their own brutal selloff, have managed to beat the stock market so far this year. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, which includes Treasurys, mortgage-backed securities and investment-grade corporate debt, has returned negative 9.4% in 2022.
“Before, people were saying ‘I don’t want to own bonds anymore because they yield too little, I’ll buy stocks instead.’ Today, they’re saying, ‘I don’t want to buy stocks because they’re falling,’” said Andy Kapyrin, co-chief investment officer at RegentAtlantic, which manages roughly $6 billion in assets.
What’s unusual about investors’ reactions is that, in the past decade, money managers typically were quick to swoop in after selloffs to pick up discounted shares—or in Wall Street parlance, to “buy the dip.” That helped keep stock drawdowns relatively short.
This time around, the market hasn’t gotten the same lift. The S&P 500 posted its sixth consecutive week of losses Friday, a streak last matched in length during the height of the 2011 European debt crisis. Many investors see the tumult as the consequence of the Fed finally winding down easy money policies that sent shares soaring and encouraged people to keep putting money into the stock market because they felt they had no other palatable choices.
One reason why stocks have struggled to make a comeback, investors say, is simple math. The S&P 500 has a dividend yield of around 1.5%. Amid this year’s tumult, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is around 2.9%. The argument for holding stocks becomes less attractive when investors have an essentially risk-free alternative on their hands, Mr. Draho said.
Stock investors faced with rising interest rates and falling stocks have historically been rewarded by sticking it out in the market. For instance, the Fed raised interest rates in 1986 and 1987 to try to fight inflation. After stocks careened on Black Monday, the central bank immediately lowered rates again, helping stocks go on to produce double-digit percentage returns the following two years.
More recently, stocks fell in 2018 after the Fed raised rates and indicated it would continue to do so the following year. The central bank then wound up cutting rates three times—effectively taking away its 2018 rate increases—to try to give the U.S. economy a buffer from the trade war and slowing global growth. The S&P 500 once again rallied, rewarding investors with double-digit percentage returns in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Returns on cash and cash-like investments trailed well behind stocks over that period.
What’s given investors pause is the feeling that this time, the Fed may approach things differently. Many believe there is little chance of the central bank reversing course on its monetary policy tightening anytime soon, even if the market rout deepens substantially from here. That is likely to keep the TINA effect at bay for some time.
The Fed has indicated its top priority at the moment is to rein in price pressures. Data released last month showed the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the personal-consumption expenditures price index, rose in March at its fastest pace since 1982. Prices for everything from cars to groceries to gasoline have soared over the past few months, leading President Joe Biden to declare inflation the economy’s biggest challenge in a speech Tuesday.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell himself said restoring price stability would be “absolutely essential” at a panel hosted by the International Monetary Fund in April. “Economies don’t work without price stability,” he added.
The question many investors have: How long will it take for the Fed to get inflation under control? And how will markets fare in the meantime?
Wall Street analysts have sketched out a few ways the rest of the year could go.
In one scenario, the Fed pulls off what’s called a soft landing: cooling down the economy enough to get inflation back near its 2% target, but avoiding actually tipping the economy into a recession. That might help make stocks attractive again since corporate profits would remain strong, something that should encourage investors to place bets on publicly traded companies.
In a less upbeat scenario, the Fed’s interest-rate increases wind up putting the economy at the risk of recession. Bond yields should then fall, since they typically go down when investors are less optimistic about the economy and go up when they see higher growth and inflation in the future.
Would that revive the TINA effect?
Probably not immediately, say Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts led by chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin. For starters, corporate earnings would likely suffer. Going back to 1949, the median per-share earnings decline during a U.S. recession has been 13%, the team wrote in a research note. Stock prices would then likely fall further. The S&P 500 has had a median fall of 24% from peak to trough during past recessions, the team found.
The not-so-nice takeaway for investors may be that, after a long and unusually strong period for the markets, simply parking money in stocks likely won’t deliver the type of returns they got used to over the past decade.
RegentAtlantic’s Mr. Kapyrin is advising his clients to limit their exposure to bonds with long durations, which tend to be more sensitive to rate increases than Treasury bills, which have shorter maturities, ranging from just a few days to a year. He’s also recommending that, within the stock market, clients look past technology stocks and toward consumer staples companies, which have the potential to deliver steady earnings even in a volatile environment.
“When the Fed goes through this kind of process, there are very few places to hide,” Mr. Kapyrin said. “It’s no longer the market’s friend.”
Following the devastation of recent flooding, experts are urging government intervention to drive the cessation of building in areas at risk.
An expansive waterfront property with global designer flair.
It’s bold to refer to any property in absolutes, but here Portovenere Estate represents Clontarf’s grandest waterfront statement and its most coveted residence.
Designed in the 1960s, the two-storey, 7-bedroom, 8-bathroom and 5-car parking pile is set on an impressive 3015sqm waterfront plot. Since its inception, the home has had no expense spared in its contemporary reimagining.
Within, the home sees a global interpretation of design elevated by bespoke luxurious finishes from all over the world at every turn.
It starts from before you enter the front door — here an imported Ghizzi and Benatti fixtures from Italy. Once inside, one notices the heated marble and Savadi timber flooring that sweeps through the multiple living and entertaining zones including the family room, formal and casual dining.
Here in these living zones is a combination of designer furnishings and chandeliers from Fendi, Versace and Articolo and a made-to-order Ravens 11 ping-pong table — all of which is available as an option when purchasing the home.
Elsewhere the home’s kitchen is replete with Manhattan calacatta marble and is fitted with Gaggenau appliances and Sub-Zero refrigerators. The butler’s pantry is almost equally luxurious with Miele commercial appliances found here.
Further, the home’s multiple bathrooms are, too, fitted with Ceraba mosaic tiles and Gessi luxury tapware and shower systems.
Throughout the home’s many bedrooms, each is fitted with a timber veneer bedhead design, while the master bedroom sees a Madrona Burl veneer back panel and is complete by its own expansive ensuite (with a spa) and walk-in robe.
Both levels of the home feature outdoor space built to entertain fitted with outdoor BBQ appliances, pizza oven and Janus et Cie furnishing. Further outdoor amenities include the L.A Lakers half-court basketball court, mini soccer field and elevated podium pool.
Back inside, the home is fitted with a number of mod-cons including a poker table, in-home cinema, wine cellar, gym, salon and study with home automation and security managed by a Savant smart system.
A sandstone adorned rooftop entertaining terrace tops off the heady list of amenities that this residence holds, offering stunning views across the waterside suburb and beyond. All levels are accessed via a KONE lift.
The home is also privy to completely contained staff quarters suitable for an in-house au pair.
The property is listed with Monika Tu (+61 409 898 888) of Black Diamondz Property Concierge with a price guide of $35m -$38m; blackdiamondz.com.au
The city-fringe locale continues to boom with its prized mansions and natural amenities
From stately historic mansions to expensive new builds with underground garage space for 20 cars, Medindie, the exclusive inner northern suburb of Adelaide, has always been a well-heeled location with buyers lining up to own property bearing the blue-ribbon address.
Many keen buyers and investors are prepared to wait years for a grand Victorian mansion or a more contemporary sprawling home to come on the market in the area. Such properties tend to move fast. Stunning mansions with impressive facades, sweeping lawns, manicured gardens, tennis courts and swimming pools are located on expansive 1-acre landholdings that cannot be developed or subdivided, making them even more attractive to buyers.
The suburb is home to many historic dwellings including Willyama, built in 1883 by prospecter Charles Rasp, who discovered the rich ore deposits at Broken Hill in New South Wales, and The Briars, built in 1856 for George Hawker, which became a hospital.
Robe Terrace is the suburb’s star attraction, lined with attractive mansions including The Elysian, a modern residence which smashed the state’s residential sales record after selling in excess of $10 million last year. Pretty Victorian villas, contemporary terraces, townhouses and cottages are also sought after, but it’s those grand mansions that are the drawing card.
Medindie offers quality inventory at all levels and attracts families looking for a long-term hold and professionals after a “lock and leave” lifestyle seeking a comfortable base while in Adelaide.
It appeals to medical professionals wanting to be close to major hospitals as well as farmers based in the north of the state wanting a weekender close to the CBD, North Adelaide and Adelaide Oval, a sports and entertainment venue
Nature lovers and fitness fans enjoy the Adelaide Park Lands, known as Australia’s biggest backyard, while the River Torrens Linear Park Trail is a spectacular 30-kilometer nature walk.
It is also on the doorstep of vibrant cosmopolitan precincts including Prospect Road, Walkerville Terrace and O’Connell Street, which showcase charm and convenience.
There is direct access into the city centre, Adelaide Zoo and the Botanical Gardens, plus it’s an easy walk into Rundle Street precinct for shopping.
Adelaide real estate agent Stephanie Williams of Williams Luxury Real Estate said Medindie exudes glamour and prestige with some jaw-dropping homes.
“As well as stunning properties, there are some new properties with show off features such as underground accommodation for 15 to 20 cars and mind-blowing cellars,” she said.
The suburb is a 10-minute drive north from the city center and a 20-minute drive to Adelaide International Airport.
Medindie is adjacent to the Adelaide Park Lands, north of North Adelaide, and is bounded by Robe Terrace to the south, Northcote Terrace to the east, Nottage Terrace to the north and Main North Road to the northwest. It is close to Adelaide’s central business district and surrounded by parklands.
According to Kaytlin Ezzy, CoreLogic research analyst, Medindie houses recorded a median value as of April of A$2 million with top-tier values ranging from $2.38 million to $3.47 million. Compared to the nearby Prospect-Walkerville, Medindie’s median value is 62.6% higher, equivalent to a value gap of approximately $771,863, and nearly double (91%) the median value of the greater Adelaide region ($1.05 million).
Ms. Ezzy said the trend in Medindie’s house values has been positive over the past few years, rising 30.1% over the year to April and 57.2% over the past five years. This has resulted in the median value rising from $1.27 million in April 2017 to $1.54 million in 2021 before rising $463,644 over the past year resulting in a current median value of just over $2 million.
Medindie continues to be one of South Australia’s most prestigious suburbs and is home to generations of families who have resided there for centuries as well as newly wealthy buyers, according to Ms. Williams.
“Once they buy there, they remain, as it is an extremely tightly held location, offering unsurpassable exclusivity and prestige—significant mansions and luxurious estates and properties with prominent land holdings have encouraged affluent families to invest in this area for generations,” she said.
There is a very pronounced short supply of luxury properties on the market in Medindie, where there is a variety of architecture from historic Victorian styles to modern contemporary housing.
There are attractive villas, terraces, townhouses and cottages that are also sought after.
Ms. Williams said lifestyle estates and family homes always sell within their scheduled sales campaigns whether via expressions of interest, auction, or private treaty.
“Covid has changed the buying patterns of the luxury market in particular with wealthy clients changing their priorities to more home-based activities, with health and wellness being a major priority,” Ms. Williams said. “The desire for swimming pools, tennis courts, beautiful established gardens, wellness retreats and home offices being more popular than ever before. Luxury homes have never been in greater demand.”
Statistics show Medindie has 394 residential homes for sale compared to the nearby suburbs of Norwood, which has 1,901 residential homes on the market, and St. Peters, which has 870 residential homes for sale.
Buyers are attracted to Medindie for the magnificent adjacent parklands, its proximity to central Adelaide and larger-than-average block sizes.
It is also the only suburb within a short stroll of the exclusive girls-only Wilderness School.
Medindie is surrounded by shopping locales, including the Rundle Mall and Rundle Street in the city, which offer a wide range of luxury boutiques, including the David Jones department store. It is also very close to fashion-forward Melbourne Street and cosmopolitan O’Connell Street, the North Adelaide Shopping Village, and the shops along super-trendy Prospect Road.
Grocery stores in North Adelaide include Cibo Espresso, The Flying Fig, Coffee Gods Café, Romeo’s Foodland and The North Adelaide Village.
Top restaurants include The Lion Hotel, a South Australian icon that is directly across the Parklands, and North Adelaide has the Gin Long Canteen, Ruby Red Flamingo and Marrakech. The nearby Adelaide CBD has a vast range of excellent restaurants including Soi 38 known for its Thai cuisine, Italio-American inspired Fugazzi Bar and Dining Room, Osteria Oggi, Japanese-inspired Erato Teppanyaki, Arkhe on The Parade where chef Jake Kellie from Michelin star Burnt Ends in Singapore stars, and Orso on Kensington Road that has a following for its seafood and pasta.
Private schools include the Wilderness School, St. Peters College, Prince Alfred College and St. Andrews School. Nearby public schools include the new Adelaide Botanic High School, North Adelaide Primary School, Walkerville Primary School and Prospect Primary School.
Property tycoons, farmers, bankers, medical specialists, successful IT professionals and socialites all call Medindie home.
Ms. Williams said the market in Medindie continues to be incredibly strong, with buyer demand for this esteemed suburb at an all-time high and showing no signs of slowing down.
“We are continuing to experience a very high level of buyer inquiry for homes for sale in the area and some homes are selling off-market without reaching the paper or any online platforms,” she said.
“The suburb has always performed extremely well from a capital growth perspective and consistently features in the top 10 performing suburbs in South Australia. The average house price in Medindie over the past 12 months is A$2.68 million, which is an incredible growth of 82.4% during this time.”
Ms. Essy said while still reporting strong quarterly growth compared to the national trend (5.6%), capital appreciation across the Adelaide house market has started to ease.
“With the cash rate starting to rise and consumer confidence continuing to trending downwards, it’s likely the housing market is inching toward a downswing, with the higher end of the market typically showing more volatility both in the upwards and downwards phase of the cycle,” she said.
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 18, 2022.
In the year to May, an additional 497 markets joined the million-dollar club.
A record number of Australians spent $1 million or more to purchase a home in the past 12 months according to CoreLogic’s annual Million Dollar Markets report.
Over the year to March 2022, CoreLogic collected 596,733 sales nationally up 19.8% from the 497,923 recorded over the previous year. Of those sold this year, 23.8% sold for $1 million or more.
In the year to May, an additional 497 markets 450 houses and 37 unit markets) joined the million-dollar club bringing the total markets to 1367 or 30.4% of house and unit markets analysed in May to a median value of $1 million or more.
“High consumer sentiment, tight advertised supply, and low-interest rates fuelled strong home value growth throughout 2021, resulting in a new record high annual growth rate of 22.4% over the 12 months to January,” said CoreLogic Research Analyst Kaytlin Ezzy.
“Despite values having risen across all capital cities and rest of state areas annually, we have seen a divergence in growth conditions across markets over the year to date.
“Since January, dwelling values across Sydney and Melbourne have started to decline, while values have continued to rise across South Australia and Queensland. More recently, Canberra, which had previously recorded many months of consecutive growth, recorded its first falls in dwelling values in some years in May.”
Sydney suburbs made up 26.3% of the new million-dollar markets with more than half of all Sydney sales over the 123 months to May transacting at or above $1 million.
In Sydney, 448 house and 104 unit markets have a current median value of $1 million dollars or higher, an increase of 26.6% from the previous year. The new million-dollar markets are largely concentrated in the city’s South West (30) and Outer South West (15) as well as the Central Coast region (20).
In the year to May, 51.9% of transactions in Sydney sold for $1 million or more. Bellevue Hill in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs is the most expensive house market, both across Sydney and nationally, with a current median value of $8,024,682.
Elsewhere, in Melbourne 212 house and 11 unit markets had a median value at or above $1 million in May majority of which are located in Melbourne’s Inner (39), Inner South (42), Inner East (30) and Outer East (30).