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Thoughts on the Market

Author: Morgan Stanley

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Short, thoughtful and regular takes on recent events in the markets from a variety of perspectives and voices within Morgan Stanley.

878 Episodes
Optimistic investors have pushed stocks and bond yields to the high end of the recent range. But inflation, banks and the debt ceiling status are still raising questions that have gone unanswered.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, Chief Cross-Asset Strategist for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about trends across the global investment landscape and how we put those ideas together. It's Friday, May 26th at 2 p.m. in London. A hot topic of conversation at the moment is that three big questions that have loitered over the market since January still look unresolved. The first of these is whether inflation is actually coming down. Surprisingly, high inflation was a dominant story last year and a major driver of the market's weakness. A number of low inflation readings in January gave a lot of hope that inflation would now start to fall rapidly, as supply chains normalized and the effect of central bank policy tightening took effect. Yet the data since then has been stubbornly mixed. Headline inflation is coming down, but core inflation, which excludes food and energy, has moderated a lot less. In the U.S., the annualized rate of core consumer price inflation over the last three, six and 12 months is all about 5%. Today's reading of Core PCE, the Fed's preferred inflation measure, came in above expectations. And in both the UK and the Eurozone, core inflation has also been coming in higher than expected. We still think inflation moderates as policy tightening hits and growth slows, but the improvement here has been slow. One reason our economists think that would take quite a bit of economic weakness to push the Fed, the European Central Bank or the Bank of England, to cut rates this year. That ties nicely into the second issue. Over the last two months, there's been a lot more excitement that the Federal Reserve may now be done raising interest rates, thanks to all of the tightening they've already done and the potential effect of recent U.S. bank stress. But with still high core inflation and the lowest U.S. unemployment rate since 1968, this issue is looking much less resolved. Indeed, in just the last two weeks, markets have moved to price in an additional rate hike from the Fed over the summer. Third and more immediate is the U.S. debt ceiling. Risks around the debt ceiling have been on investors' radar since January, but as U.S. stocks have risen this month and volatility has been low, we've sensed more optimism, that a resolution here is close and that markets can move on to other things. But like inflation or Fed rate increases, the U.S. debt ceiling still looks like another key debate with a lot of questions. U.S. Treasury bills or the cost of insuring U.S. debt, have shown more stress, not less, over the last week. As of this morning, a one month U.S. Treasury bill is yielding over 6%. Optimism that inflation is now falling, the Fed has done hiking and the debt ceiling will get resolved, have helped push both stocks and bond yields to the high end of the recent range. But with these issues still raising a lot of questions, we think that may be as far as they go for the time being, presenting an opportunity to rotate out of stocks and into the aggregate bond index. 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.
While Japan's equities have continued to rally, a roster of sector leading companies and a weak Yen could signal this bullish story is only just beginning.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Jonathan Garner, Chief Asia and Emerging Market Equity Strategist at Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be sharing why Japan Equities could be a key part of the bullish story in Asia this year. It's Thursday, May the 25th at 10 a.m. in New York. Japan equities have rallied substantially during the current earnings season and we think further gains are increasingly likely. The theme of return on equity improvement, driven by productive CapEx and better balance sheet management, is clearly finding traction with a wide group of international investors. We first introduced this theme in our 2018 Blue Paper on Japan, where we described a journey from laggard to leader, which we felt was starting to take place due to a confluence of structural reforms such as the Corporate Governance Code and Institutional Investor Stewardship Code, as well as changes in company board composition and outside activist investor pressure. Japan has a formidable roster of world class firms, which we have identified as productivity and innovation leaders in areas such as semiconductor equipment, optical, healthcare, medtech, robotics and traditional heavy industrial automotive, agricultural and commodities trading, specialty chemicals. As well as more recent additions in Internet and E-commerce, many of which sell products far beyond Japan's borders. For the market overall, listed equities ROE has more than doubled in the last ten years, and it's now set to approach our medium term target of 11 to 12% by 2025. Company buybacks are analyzing at a record pace and total shareholder return, that is the sum of dividends and buybacks, is running at 3.6% of market capitalization. Yet Japan equities are still trading on only around 13 times forward price to earnings. And Japanese firms have a low cost of capital, given the country's status as a high income sovereign, with membership of the G7, as highlighted by Premier Kishida hosting its recent summit in his home town of Hiroshima. An additional near-term catalyst for Japan equities is that the yen is tracking significantly weaker year to date at around 135 to the U.S. dollar than company modeling, which was for around 125. Given the export earnings skew of the market, this is a positive.All in all, Japan equities are set, we think, to more than hold their own versus global peers and be a key part of a bullish story in Asian equities this year. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and recommend Thoughts on the Market to a friend or colleague today.
Discussions at the recent Group of Seven Nations meeting point to the continued development of a multipolar world, as supply chains become less global and more local. Investors should watch for opportunities in this disruption.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Global Head of Fixed Income Research for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the recent G7 meetings and its implications for markets. It's Wednesday, May 24th at 9 a.m. in New York. Over the weekend, President Biden traveled to Japan for a meeting of the Group of Seven Nations, or G7. G7 meetings typically involve countries discussing and seeking consensus on a wide range of economic and geopolitical issues. And the consensus they achieved on several principles underscores one of our big three secular investment themes for 2023, the transition to a multipolar world. Consider some of the following language from the G7 communique. First, there's discussion of efforts to make our supply chains more resilient, sustainable and reliable. Second, they discuss, quote, "Preventing the cutting edge technologies we develop from being used to further military capabilities that threaten international peace and security." Finally, there's also discussion of the, quote, "importance of cooperation on export controls, on critical and emerging technologies to address the misuse of such technologies by malicious actors and inappropriate transfers of such technologies."So that all may sound like the U.S. is drawing up hard barriers to commerce, particularly with places like China. But importantly, the communique also states an important nuance that's been core to our multipolar world thesis. They say, quote, "We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.". So to understand the practical implications of that nuance, we've been conducting a ton of research across different industries. My colleagues Ben Uglow and Shawn Kim have highlighted that the global manufacturing and tech sectors are very exposed to disruption from this theme. But their work also shows that capital equipment and automation companies will benefit from the global spend to set up more robust supply chains.So bottom line, the multipolar world theme continues to progress, but the disruption it creates should also create opportunities.  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. 
As the confidence level of homebuilders building new homes is increasing, will home sales go along with it? Jim Egan and Jay Bacow, Co-Heads of U.S. Securitized Products Research discuss.----- Transcript -----Jim Egan: Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Jim Egan, Co-Head of U.S. Securitized Products Research here at Morgan Stanley. Jay Bacow: And I'm Jay Bacow, the other Co-Head of U.S. Securitized Products Research. Jim Egan: And on this episode of the podcast, we'll be discussing the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. It's Tuesday, May 23rd at 2 p.m. in New York. Jay Bacow: It's been a while since we talked about the state of the U.S. housing market. And it seems like if I look at least some portions of the data, things are getting better. In particular, the NAHB confidence just showed for the fifth consecutive month that homebuilders are feeling better about building a house, and we're now finally at the point where they say it is a good time to build a house. When you take a step back and just look at the state of the housing market, do you agree? Jim Egan: I think it's a great question. Housing statistics are going in a whole number of different directions right now. So, yeah, let me take a step back. We've talked a lot about affordability on this podcast and it's still challenging. We've talked a lot about supply and it remains very tight, and all of this has really fueled that bifurcation narrative that we've talked about, protected home prices, weaker activity. But if we think about how the lock in effect and that's the fact that all of these current homeowners who have mortgages well below the prevailing mortgage rate just are not going to be incentivized to list their home for sale, then kind of a logical next step from a housing statistics perspective is that new home sales are probably going to increase as a percentage of total home sales. And that's exactly what we're seeing, new home sales in the first quarter of this year, they were roughly 20% of the total single unit sales volumes. That's the largest share of transactions in any quarter since 2006. And this dynamic was actually quoted by the National Association of Homebuilders when describing the increase in homebuilder confidence that you quoted Jay.    Jay Bacow: Okay, but when I think about that percentage, aren't building volumes in aggregate coming down? Jim Egan: They are, though, as a caveat, I would say that if we look at that seasonally adjusted annualized rate, it did increase sequentially a little bit, month-over-month in April. What I would point to here is that from the peak in single unit housing starts, and we think the peak in the cycle was April of 2022, those starts are down 22%. Now, that's finally started to make a dent in the backlog of homes under construction. Now, as a reminder, again, this is something we've talked about here, there are a number of factors from supply chain issues to labor shortages, that we're really serving to elongate, build timelines in the months and years after the onset of COVID. And all of those things caused a real backlog in the number of homes under construction, so homes were getting started, but they weren't really getting finished. We see the number of single unit homes under construction is now down 130,000 units from that peak. Now, don't get me wrong, that number is still elevated versus where we'd expected to be, given the sheer number of housing starts that we've seen over the past year. But this is a first step towards turning more positive on housing starts. And again, homebuilder confidence Jay, as you said, it's climbed higher every single month this year. Jay Bacow: Okay, but you said this is a first step in turning more positive on housing starts. We get the start, we get the unit under construction, we get a completion and then eventually we get a home sale, so what does this mean for sales volumes? Jim Egan: We would think that it's probably likely for new home sales to continue making up a larger than normal share of monthly volumes, but we don't think that sales are about to really inflect materially higher here. Purchase applications so far in May, they're still down 26% year-over-year versus the same month in 2022. Now, that's the best year-over-year number since August of last year, but it's not exactly something that screams sales are about to inflect higher. Similarly, pending home sales just printed their weakest March in the history of the index, and it's the sixth consecutive month that they've printed their weakest month in index history. So it was their weakest February, their weakest January, and so on and so forth, so we think all of this is kind of emblematic of a housing market, specifically housing sales that are finding a bottom, but not necessarily about to move much higher. Jay Bacow: Okay. Now, Jim, in the past, when you've talked about your outlook for home prices, you mentioned your four pillars. There is supply, demand, affordability and credit availability. We've talked about the first three of these, we haven't really talked about credit availability yet. Jim Egan: Right. And that's another one of the reasons why we don't necessarily see a real move higher in sales volumes because of the whole new regime for bank assets that we've talked about a lot. Jay, you've talked about how much it's going to impact things like the mortgage market, so what do we mean when we talk about a new regime for bank assets? Jay Bacow: Fundamentally, when you think about the business model of a bank, if you're going to simplify it, it's they get deposits in and then they either make loans or buy securities with those deposits and they try to match up their assets to liabilities. Now, in a world where there's a lot more deposit outflows and happening more frequently, banks are going to have to have shorter assets to match that. And as they have shorter assets, that means they're going to have tighter lending conditions, and that tighter lending conditions is presumably going to play into the credit availability that you're looking for in your space. Jim Egan: And when we combine that with affordability that's no longer deteriorating, but still challenged, supply that's no longer setting record lows each month, but still very tight. All of that is a world in which we don't think you're going to see significant increases in transaction volumes. I will say one thing on the home price front month-over-month increases are back. We've seen some seasonality from a home price perspective, but we still think that that year over year number is going to soften going forward. It remains positive in the cycle, but we think it will turn negative  in the next few months for the first time since the first quarter of 2012. We don't think those year-over-year drops will be too substantial. Our base case forecast for the end of the year is down 4%, we think it will be a little bit stronger than that down 4% number, but we think it will be negative. Jay Bacow: Okay. But I like things to be a little bit stronger. And with that, Jim, always great talking to you. Jim Egan: Great talking to you, too, Jay. Jay Bacow: And thank you for listening. If you enjoy Thoughts on the Market, please leave us a review on the Apple Podcasts app and share the podcast with a friend or colleague today.
Though the current market narrative has turned bullish, it may not withstand a downturn in earnings.----- 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, May 22nd at 11a.m in New York. So let's get after it. For the past six months, the S&P 500 has been trading in a narrow range with strong rotations under the surface. When we turned tactically bullish on the index last October at 3500, we did so because the price had reached an attractive level and we believed rates and the dollar were topping. When we exited that trade at 4100 in early December, the price was no longer attractive, given our view that 2023 earnings estimates were materially too high. Fast forward to today and the index is showing some signs that it wants to break higher, even though our concerns remain. The primary difference from the early December highs is that we now have dramatically different leadership. Back then the leaders were energy, materials, financials and industrials, while technology was the big laggard. Small caps were also doing much better and market breadth was strong. The bullish narrative centered around China's reopening, which would put a floor in for global growth. Today, breadth is very weak. Technology, communication services and consumer discretionary are the only sectors up on the year, and even those sectors are exhibiting narrow breadth. Yet investors are more bullish than in early December, or at least far less bearish. The bullish narrative today focuses on technology, specifically on artificial intelligence. While we believe artificial intelligence is for real and will likely lead to some great efficiency to help fight inflation, it's unlikely to prevent the deep earnings recession we forecast for this year. Last week's price action showed frenzied buying by investors who cannot afford to miss the next bull market. We believe this will prove to be a head fake, like last summer for many reasons. First, valuations are not attractive, and it's not just the top ten or 20 stocks that are expensive. The median price earnings multiple is  18 times, which is near the top decile the past 20 years. Second, a very healthy reacceleration is baked in the second half consensus earnings estimates. This flies directly in the face of our forecasts, which continue to point materially lower. We remain highly confident in our model, given how accurate it's been over time and recently. We first started talking about the oncoming earnings recession a year ago and received very strong pushback, just like today. However, our model proved to be quite prescient based on the results and is now projecting 20% lower estimates than consensus, for 2023.  Third, the markets are pricing in 2 to 3 Fed cuts before year end without any material implications for growth. We think such an outcome is very unlikely. Instead, we think the Fed will only cut rates if we definitively enter into a recession or if credit markets deteriorate significantly. 
While the U.S. economy looks to be on track for a soft landing in 2023, even the smallest of setbacks could spell trouble for the end of the year.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Ellen Zentner, Morgan Stanley's Chief U.S. Economist. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll discuss our view around the soft landing for the U.S. economy. It's Friday, May 19th, at 10 a.m. in New York. Last year, we presented our outlook that 2023 would see a soft landing for the U.S. economy. This out of consensus view continues to be our base case expectation. And we looked at several key data points as evidence to support it, including the U.S. housing cycle, income and spending dynamics, the labor market and inflation. To start, economists have long said, "As goes housing, so goes the business cycle." And housing is a very important factor in our outlook for a soft landing. While the decline in housing activity has been record breaking from a national perspective, Morgan Stanley's housing strategists believe the cycle is bottoming. In our forecast, the big drag on economic growth from the housing correction should turn neutral by the third quarter of 2023, providing some cushion against the growth slowdown elsewhere. Second, the incoming data on U.S. income and consumer spending also support our expectation that the economy is slowing but not falling off a cliff. On the one hand, discretionary consumer spending is softening. On the other hand, income is the predominant driver of consumer spending, and even as wage growth continues to slow, our forecasted path for inflation suggests that real wages will finally turn positive in the middle of this year. Third, we look to labor market dynamics, and the April U.S. employment report provides ample evidence that the labor market is slowing but is also not headed for a cliff. The steady decline in job postings with still low unemployment rates since the middle of last year supports our soft landing view. And finally, we closely monitor inflation. The most recent April data suggests that core inflation continues to slowly recede, tracking in line with our forecasts, as well as the Fed's March projections. We think the incoming data continue to support a Fed pause at the June meeting, and after June we can see a wide range of potential outcomes for the policy rate. We expect a gradual slowing in core inflation that keeps the Fed on hold until March 2024, when it begins to normalize policy with quarter percent rate cuts every three months.   To be sure, the possibility of a recession remains a concern this year amid banking pressures with unknown spillovers to the economy from tighter credit. Should credit growth slow more than expected, it would bring larger spillovers to investment, consumption and labor. Against this backdrop, we expect the U.S. economy to experience a sharp slowdown in the middle two quarters of the year, so even small hiccups could push us into a recession. We'll continue to keep you abreast of any new developments. 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. 
Although markets remain calm for now, incoming developments across the debt ceiling, inflation and monetary policy could quite quickly turn the tide.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, Chief Cross-Asset Strategist for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about trends across the global investment landscape and how we put those ideas together. It's Thursday, May 18th at 2 p.m. in London. A notable aspect of the current market is its serenity. Over the last 30 days, U.S. stocks have seen the least day-to-day volatility since December of 2021. It's a similar story for stocks in Europe or the movement of major currencies. Across key markets, things have been calm and investors have become more relaxed, with expectations of future volatility also in decline. But why is this happening? After all, major uncertainties around the path of inflation and central bank policy still exist. And the United States, the world's largest economy and most important borrower, still hasn't reached an agreement to keep borrowing by raising the debt ceiling, raising the risk, according to the U.S. Treasury secretary, of running out of money in less than a month. Well, we think a few things are going on. With the debt ceiling, we think this is a great example that real world investors genuinely struggle with pricing a binary, uncertain outcome. It's very challenging to put precise odds on what is ultimately a political decision and hard to quantify its impact. And further complicating matters, the conventional wisdom generally appears to be that any debt ceiling deal would only get done at the last possible moment. In short, investors are struggling, making big changes to their portfolio in the face of what is little better than a political guess and are finding it easier to wait, and hoping that more clarity emerges. I’d note we saw something very similar before the near-miss on the debt ceiling in 2011. Despite being extremely aware of the deadline back then, stocks moved sideways until the last possible moment in August of 2011, afraid of leaning too heavily in one direction before the event. Other factors are also in limbo. We're nearing the end of what was a reasonably solid first quarter earnings season and don't see larger disappointments arriving, potentially, until later in the year. And on our forecasts, the Federal Reserve just made its last rate hike of the cycle and is now on hold for the remainder of 2023. And volatility does have the tendency to be self-reinforcing. Low volatility often begets low volatility, and in turn drags down expectations of what future movements will look like. But importantly, this doesn't represent some form of clairvoyance, expectations about future levels of market volatility often deviate from what actually happens, in both directions. For now, markets remain calm. But don't assume that means investors have some special insight around the debt ceiling, inflation or monetary policy. Incoming developments across all of these areas can change the picture rather quickly. 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. 
According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, small businesses may be the most vulnerable to banks tightening their lending standards.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I am Vishy Tirupattur, Morgan Stanley's Chief Fixed Income Strategist. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the takeaways from the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey. It's Wednesday, May 17th at 10 a.m. in New York. We've talked a lot about the effects of the turmoil in the regional banks on credit formation, on this podcast. We thought the ongoing liquidity pressures in the regional banking sector may lead to tighter lending standards, which will eventually translate into lower credit formation. The Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, conducted quarterly by the Federal Reserve, provides a window on bank lending practices, including the standards and terms for banks to make loans, as well as the demand for bank loans to businesses and households. The survey results published last week, reflect conditions during the first quarter of 2023 and provide a first glimpse on the effect of the regional banking turmoil on banks outlook for lending over the remainder of 2023. The survey showed that banks expect to tighten standards across all loan categories. Banks cited an expected deterioration in the credit quality of their loan portfolios, customer collateral values, a reduction in risk tolerance, concerns about bank funding costs, banks liquidity position and deposit outflows, as reasons for expecting to tighten lending standards over the rest of 2023. While standards for commercial and industrial, the so-called C&I loans, tightened only marginally, the demand for C&I loans fell to levels not seen since the great financial crisis. Even though lending standards only tightened marginally, the tightening came from some loan officers tightening standards considerably. Further, banks reported changes to their modalities of their lending quite substantially. For example, the spread on loans or their cost of funding broke above the pandemic period and entered levels last seen during the great financial crisis. Loan officers also changed credit lines to small businesses drastically, especially regarding the size and cost. They reduced the maximum size and maturity of credit lines, as well as increased collateral requirements and the cost of credit lines. For small businesses in the U.S., such credit tightening comes at a very difficult time. Small business optimism and the outlook for business conditions already deteriorated significantly over the past year, and small businesses acknowledge that the environment isn't conducive for expansion or CapEx. Why does this matter? As small businesses have continued to lower expectations of sales, there were also moderated plans to raise prices in the near term. We see this dynamic raising the risks of downside surprises to upcoming inflation data. Also worth noting that fewer small businesses describe inflation as their number one concern, in fact, more describe interest rates as the number one concern. One of the special questions in this quarter's survey pertained to commercial real estate, so-called CRE. Banks tightened lending standards across all categories of CRE loans. Action cited included, widening loan spreads, reducing loan to value, raising debt service covers ratios and reducing maximum loan sizes. These survey results are consistent with what we had been predicting. Volatility in the regional banking sector has resulted in lower credit formation, due to both lingering liquidity stress and regulatory changes to come. The former is already playing out and the latter is likely to weigh on economic growth over the long term. 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. 
As investors attempt to find opportunities in an uncertain stock market, earnings disappointments and an ongoing debt ceiling debate loom overhead.----- 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 Tuesday, May 16th, at 1 p.m. in New York. So let's get after it. Having spent the last few weeks on the road engaging with clients from around the world, I figured it would be useful to share some thoughts from our meetings and to touch on the most often asked questions, concerns and pushback to our views. First, conviction levels are low, given broadly elevated valuations and a challenging macro backdrop. While many individual longs and shorts have worked well in the context of a buoyant S&P 500, the most favorite trades have largely played out and clients are having trouble finding the next opportunity. Small cap and low quality stocks have underperformed and we continue to see crowding into mega-cap tech and consumer staples stocks as safe havens in a deteriorating growth environment.Second, there isn't much interest in the S&P 500 as either a long or a short anymore. Most clients we speak with have given up on the idea of a big breakdown of the index level. Conversely, there are few who think the S&P 500 can trade much above 4200, which has proven to be a key resistance since the October lows. What has changed is that the floor has been raised, with the large majority of investors thinking 3800 is now unlikely to be broken to the downside. In short, the consensus believes the bear market ended in October, at least for the high quality S&P 500 and NASDAQ. Third, there is little appetite to dive back into the areas of the market that have significantly underperformed like regional banks, small caps and energy. Other deep cyclicals are also out of favor due to either extended valuation and high earnings expectations In the case of industrials, and recession risk in the case of materials. Instead, most clients we spoke with remained comfortably long, large cap tech stocks, especially given the group's recent outperformance. While consumer staples and other defensives have outperformed strongly since March, there's less confidence this outperformance can continue. Our take remains the same. The market is speaking loudly under the surface, with its classic late cycle leadership and extreme narrowness, it is bracing for further macro and earnings disappointments. However, it is not yet pricing these outcomes at the index level. Such is the typical pattern exhibited by equity markets until clearer evidence of an economic recession arrives, or the risks of one are fully extinguished. With our economist forecasting close to 0% growth this year for real GDP and just modest growth next year, valuations at full levels and several other risks in front of us, we suspect 4200 will hold to the upside as most clients suggest. However, we continue to hold a more bearish tactical view than most clients in terms of the downside risk given our earnings forecast. The majority of our fundamental debate with clients has been over earnings. More specifically, there is broad pushback to our view that margins have not yet bottomed. In addition, many clients do not think revenue growth can fall towards zero or go negative given the still elevated inflation across the economy. Our take is that while many companies have taken decisive cost action, including layoffs, they have not yet cut cost nearly enough for a zero-to-negative revenue growth backdrop. But the odds of such an outcome increasing, in our view, we find it notable that many investors are more sanguine today on the earnings backdrop than they were five months ago. Meanwhile, many clients are worried about the debt ceiling. Most believe it will get resolved, but not without some near-term volatility. However, the discussion has evolved, with many clients framing this event as a lose-lose for markets. Assuming the debt ceiling is not resolved before the Treasury runs out of money, market volatility is likely to pick up meaningfully. Conversely, if the debt ceiling is lifted before the Treasury runs out of money, it will likely come with some concessions on the spending front, which could be a headwind for growth. Secondarily, such an outcome will lead to significant, pent up issuance from the Treasury to pay its bills and rebuild its reserves. This issuance from Treasury, could approach $1 trillion in the six months immediately after the ceiling is lifted, and potentially present a materially tightening to liquidity that could tip the S&P 500 back to the downside. To summarize, clients are less bearish on earnings than we are, although most are still fundamentally cautious on growth in the economic backdrop. Given the resilience in the large cap indices and leadership from perennially favored companies this year, many investors are now convicted that the equity market can look through a mild economic or earnings recession at this point. We think this is a very challenging tactical setup should growth or liquidity deteriorate as we expect over the next few weeks and months. We maintain our well below consensus earnings estimates for this year and believe narrow breadth and defensive leadership support our view that this bear market is yet to be completed, especially at the index level. Defensively oriented companies with a focus on operational efficiency should continue to outperform, especially if they exhibit true pricing power. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy Thoughts on the Market, please take a moment to rate the review us on the Apple Podcasts app. It helps more people to find the show.
Original Release on April 20th, 2023: "Smart chemotherapy" could change the way that cancer is treated, potentially opening up a $140 billion market over the next 15 years.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Mark Purcell, Head of Morgan Stanley's European Pharmaceuticals Team. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll talk about the concept of Smart Chemotherapy. It's Thursday, the 20th of April at 2 p.m. in London. Cancer is still the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for approximately 10 million deaths worldwide in 2020. Despite recent advances in areas like immuno-oncology, we still rely heavily on chemotherapy as the mainstay in the treatment of many cancers. Chemotherapy originated in the early 1900s when German chemist Paul Ehrlich attempted to develop "Magic Bullets", these are chemicals that would kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues. The 1960s saw the development of chemotherapy based on Ehrlich's work, and this approach, now known as traditional chemotherapy, has been in wide use since then. Nowadays, it accounts for more than 37% of cancer prescriptions and more than half of patients with colorectal, pancreatic, ovarian and stomach cancers are still treated with traditional chemo. But traditional chemo has many drawbacks and some significant limitations. So here's where "Smart Chemotherapy" comes in. Targeted therapies including antibodies to treat cancer were first developed in the late 1990s. These innovative approaches offer a safer, more effective solution that can be used earlier in treatment and in combination with other cancer medicines. "Smart Chemo" uses antibodies as the guidance system to find the cancer, and once the target is reached, releases chemotherapy inside the cancer cells. Think of it as a marriage of biology and chemistry called an antibody drug conjugate, an ADC. It's essentially a biological missile that hones in on the cancer and avoids collateral damage to the healthy tissues.  The first ADC drug was approved for a form of leukemia in the year 2000, but it's taken about 20 years to perfect this "biological missile" to target solid tumors, which are far more complex and harder to infiltrate into. We're now at a major inflection point with 87 new ADC drugs entering development in the past two years alone. We believe smart chemotherapy could open up a $140 billion market over the next 15 years or so, up from a $5 billion sales base in 2022. This would make ADCs one of the biggest growth areas across Global Biopharma, led by colorectal, lung and breast cancer. Large biopharma companies are increasingly aware of the enormous potential of ADC drugs and are more actively deploying capital towards smart chemotherapy. It's important to note, though, that while a smart chemotherapy revolution is well underway in breast and bladder cancer, the focus is now shifting to earlier lines of treatment and combination approaches. The potential to replace traditional chemotherapy in other solid tumors is completely untapped. A year from now, we expect ADC drugs to deliver major advances in the treatment of lung cancer and bladder cancer, as well as really important proof of concept data for colorectal cancer, which is arguably one of the biggest unmet needs out there. Given vastly improved outcomes for cancer patients, we believe that "Smart Chemotherapy" is well on the way to replacing traditional chemotherapy, and we expect the market to start pricing this in over the coming months. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy this show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and share Thoughts on the Market with a friend or colleague today. 
With technology evolving rapidly in education, investors are taking a closer look at how it will financially impact the global education market. Stephen Byrd and Josh Baer discuss.----- Transcript -----Stephen Byrd: Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Stephen Byrd, Morgan Stanley's Global Head of Sustainability Research. Josh Baer: And I'm Josh Baer from the U.S. Software Team. Stephen Byrd: On the special episode of the podcast will discuss the global education market. It's Friday, May 12th at 10 a.m. in New York. Stephen Byrd: Education is one of the most fragmented sectors globally, and right now it's in the midst of significant tech disruption and transformation. Add to this, a number of dynamically shifting regulatory and policy regimes and you have a complex set up. I wanted to sit down with my colleague Josh to delve into the intersection of the EdTech and the sustainability side of this multi-layered story. Stephen Byrd: So, Josh, let's start by giving a snapshot of global education technology, particularly in this post-COVID and rather uncertain macro context we're dealing with. What are some of the biggest challenges and key debates that you're following? Josh Baer: Thanks, Stephen. One way that I think about the different EdTech players in the market is through the markets that they serve. So in the context of education, that means early learning, K-12, higher ed, corporate skilling and lifelong learning. The key debates here come down to what it usually comes down to for equities, growth and margins. So on the growth side, there's several conversations that we're constantly having with investors. Some business models are exposed to academic enrollments as a driver. To what extent would a weaker macro with higher unemployment lead to stronger enrollments given their historical countercyclical trends? And enrollments have been pressured as current or potential students were attracted to the job market. And on the margin side, some of the companies that we follow in the EdTech space, they're the ones that were experiencing very rapid growth during COVID and investment mode to really capture that opportunity. And so investors debate the unit economics of some of these business models and really the trajectory of margins and free cash flow looking ahead. One other more topical debate, the impact of generative A.I. on education, and maybe we'll hit on that topic later. Josh Baer: Stephen, why do these debates matter from the point of view of ESG, environmental, social and governance perspective? Why should investors view global education through a sustainability lens? Stephen Byrd: Yeah Josh I'd say among sustainability focused investors, typically the number one topic that comes up within the education sector is inequality. So higher education is a key pillar of economic development, but social and economic problems can arise from limited access. Unequal access to education can perpetuate all forms of socioeconomic inequality. It can limit social mobility, and it can also exacerbate health and income disparities among demographic groups. It can also restrict the potential talent pool and diversity of backgrounds and ideas in different academic fields, leading to all kinds of negative economic implications for both growth and innovation. While progress has been made in increasing enrollment among underrepresented students, significant disparities remain in admission and graduation rates. For investors and public equities, I think one of the more useful tools in our note is a proprietary framework that measures sustainability impact. Now that tool is really primarily rooted in the United Nations Sustainable Development goal number four, which lays out targets in education. This framework is rooted in the premise that I mentioned earlier. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated multiple challenges in education. So when we think about business models that we really like, we're focused on models that can improve the quality of student learning, enhance institutions' operations and increase access and affordability. And we think our stocks that we selected really do meet those objectives quite well. Stephen Byrd: Josh, what is the current size of the EdTech and education services markets and why invest now? Josh Baer: First, on the size of the market, we see global education spend of 6 trillion today going to 8 trillion in 2030. So that's a CAGR below the growth of GDP, but we do see faster growth in EdTech. So there's really compelling opportunities for consolidation in the fragmented education market broadly and for EdTech growing at a double digit CAGR, so much faster than the overall education market. Why invest in EdTech? Well, as just mentioned, EdTech addresses these very large markets. It's increasing its share of education spend because it's aligned to several secular trends. So I'm thinking about digital transformation of the entire education industry. The shift from in-person instructor led training to really more efficient or economic online or digital learning. And positives from this shift, as you mentioned, include better scalability, affordability, global access to really high quality education. These EdTech companies are aligned to corporate skilling, which are aligned to companies, strategic goals, digital transformation initiatives. And then from a stock perspective, there's really low investor sentiment broadly and of course, the exposure to ESG trends around inclusion, skilling, education, access. Josh Baer: And Stephen, what is the regulatory landscape around global education and EdTech, both in the U.S. and in other regions? Stephen Byrd: So education policy is not really featured heavily in recent sessions of Congress in the U.S., as it tends to develop at more local levels of government than really at the federal level. The federal government in the United States provides less than 10% of funding for K through 12 education, leaving most of regulation and funding to state and local governments. Now, that said, there have been a few large education policy focused bills enacted into law since the establishment of the U.S. Department of Education in the second half of the 20th century. The most recent was in 2015, when President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which granted more autonomy to states to set standards for education that vary based on local needs. In Brazil, there's some really interesting developments that we're very focused on. The Ministry of Education began loosening the rules for distance learning in 2017 to compensate for the lack of public funding and affordability. This was a new modality that didn't depend on campuses and was much cheaper for students. So companies saw this as the next growth opportunity and started investing in digital expansion, especially after COVID-19 lockdowns forced the closure of campuses. Distance learning grew rapidly and surpassed the number of on campus enrollments in 2021. Despite the increase in addressable market, this potential cannibalizes is part of the demand for in-person learning and reduces average prices in the sector. Lastly, in Europe, the European Union has set seven key education targets that it is hoping to achieve by 2025. And by 2030 on education and training. Let me just walk through a couple of the big targets here. By 2025, the goal is to have at least 60% of recent graduates from vocational education and training, that should benefit from exposure to work based learning during their vocational education and training. By 2030, the goal is for less than 15% of 15 year olds to be low achievers in reading, mathematics and science, as well as less than 15% of eighth graders should be low achievers in computer and information literacy. Stephen Byrd: Josh, how are emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality disrupting the education space, both in the classroom and in cyberspace? How do you assess their impact and what catalysts should investors watch closely? Josh Baer: Great question. Investors are hyper focused on all the generative A.I. hype, all the risks and opportunities for EdTech. And it's important to remember that all EdTech companies serve different markets and they have different business models and they provide varying services and value to all those different markets. And so there's a wide spectrum from risk to opportunity, and in actuality, I think many businesses will actually have both headwinds and tailwinds from A.I.  At the core, the question is not, will generative A.I. change education and learning, but how will it change? And from the way it may change, from the way education content is created and consumed, to the experience of learning and teaching and testing and studying. And on one end of the spectrum, investors should also look for signs of disruption, disruption to the publisher model or tutoring services or solutions, look for signs of students that may meet their learning needs or studying needs with generative A.I. instead of existing solutions. But from an innovation perspective, I think investors should look for new entrants and incumbents to leverage generative A.I. to really enhance the future of education, from personalized and efficient content creation to more adaptive assessments and testing, to more customized learning experiences. And these existing platforms, they're the ones that own vast datasets, really rich taxonomies of learning and skills. And I think those are the ones that are well-positioned to use A.I. technology to vastly improve their capabilities and the education market. Investors can also look for a more direct revenue opportunities, as the EdTech platforms are the platforms that will be teaching and reskilling and upskilling the whole world on how to use these innovative technologies, today and in the future. Stephen Byrd: Josh, thanks for taking the time to talk. Josh Baer: Great speaking with you, Stephen. Stephen Byrd: An
While personal computer sales were on the decline before the pandemic, signs are pointing to an upcoming boost. ----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Erik Woodring. Morgan Stanley's U.S. IT Hardware Analyst. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll discuss why we're getting bullish on the personal computer space. It's Thursday, May 11th, at 10 a.m. in New York. PC purchases soared during COVID, but PCs have since gone through a once in a three decades type of down cycle following the pandemic boom. Starting in the second half of 2021, record pandemic driven demand reversed, and this impacted both consumer and commercial PC shipments. Consequently, the PC total addressable market has contracted sharply, marking two consecutive double digit year-over-year declines for the first time since at least 1995. But after a challenging 18 months or so, we believe it's time to be more bullish on PCs. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter as it looks like the PC market bottomed in the first quarter of 2023. Before I get into our outlook, it's important to note that PCs have historically been a low growth or no growth category. In fact, if you go back to 2014, there was only one year before the pandemic when PCs actually grew year-over-year, and that was 2019, at just 3%. Despite PCs' low growth track record and the recent demand reversal, our analysis suggests the PC addressable market can be structurally higher post-COVID. So at face value, we're making a bit of a contrarian bullish call. This more structural call is based on two key points. First, we estimate that the PC installed base, or the number of pieces that are active today, is about 15% larger than pre-COVID, even excluding low end consumer devices that were added during the early days of the pandemic that are less likely to be upgraded going forward. Second, if you assume that users replace their PCs every four years, which is the five year pre-COVID average, that about 65% of the current PC installed base or roughly 760 million units is going to be due for a refresh in 2024 and 2025. This should coincide with the Windows 10 End of Life Catalyst expected in October 25 and the 1 to 3 year anniversary of generative A.I. entering the mainstream, both which have the potential to unlock replacement demand for more powerful machines. Combining these factors, we estimate that PC shipments can grow at a 4% compound annual growth rate over the next three years. Again, in the three years prior to COVID, that growth rate was about 1%. So we think that PCs can grow faster than pre-COVID and that the annual run rate of PC shipments will be larger than pre-COVID. Importantly though, what drives our bullish outlook is not the consumer, as consumers have a fairly irregular upgrade pattern, especially post-pandemic. We think the replacements and upgrades in 2024 and 2025, will come from the commercial market with 70% of our 2024 PC shipment growth coming from commercial entities. Commercial entities are much more regular when it comes to upgrades and they need greater memory capacity and compute power to handle their ever expanding workloads, especially as we think about the potential for A.I. workloads at the edge. To sum up, we're making a somewhat contrarian call on the PC market rebound today, arguing that one key was the bottom and that PC companies should outperform in the next 12 months following this bottom. But then beyond 2023, we are making a largely commercial PC call, not necessarily a consumer PC call, and believe that PCs have brighter days ahead, relative to the three years prior to the pandemic. 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.
With the debt ceiling debate seemingly making little headway, it may be critical for investors to track market developments in the near future.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Global Head of Fixed Income and Thematic Research for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the debt ceiling and its impact on markets. It's Wednesday, May 10th at 10 a.m. in New York. Congressional leaders met at the White House on Tuesday to hammer out a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a government bond default. Reports following the meeting suggest little progress was made. That news shouldn't necessarily be surprising or discouraging. Initial rounds of legislative negotiations are often just a venue for each side to state their position. It often takes the urgency of a nearby deadline to catalyze compromise. While this isn't the first debt ceiling challenge for markets, it may be the most critical one, at least since 2011. As we said before, investors need to take seriously the idea that we do something that hasn't been done before, cross the X-date, the date after which Treasury doesn't have enough cash on hand to meet all obligations as they come due. So it's useful to quickly revisit what that would mean. In short, it puts a bunch of options on the table, but most are not good options, suggesting some markets may have to price in greater downside, at least for a time. A benign and plausible outcome would be that if the X-date is crossed, the resulting concern among policymakers, voters and business leaders around missed debt, Social Security, infrastructure and other payments, creates enough pressure on Congress to quickly force a compromise. Other outcomes are less friendly. The White House could choose to avoid default by ignoring the debt ceiling, citing authority under the 14th Amendment, but that could just shift uncertainty from the legislative process to the judicial one, as courts could ultimately decide if the U.S. defaults. The White House could also choose to prioritize payments to bondholders over other government obligations, but this could interrupt payments into the economy that support a substantial amount of consumption and GDP. And, of course, default would be a possibility, but given its far more considerable economic and political downside relative to the other options, this outcome would not be our base case expectation. So how could markets react? Here's what to watch for. The Treasury bills curve could invert further, with shorter maturity yields rising more relative to longer maturity yields. In equity markets, volatility should pick up considerably, and any resolution that crimps economic growth further would underscore the cautious stance of our equity strategy team. So developments over the next couple of weeks will be critical to track. 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.
As oil data in 2023 shows that second-half tightening is less likely, it may be time to alter the narrative around the expected market for the remainder of the year.Important note regarding economic sanctions. This recording references country/ies which are generally the subject of selective sanctions programs administered or enforced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), the European Union and/or by other countries and multi-national bodies. Any references in this recording to entities, debt or equity instruments, projects or persons that may be covered by such sanctions are strictly incidental to general coverage of the issuing entity/sector as germane to its overall financial outlook, and should not be read as recommending or advising as to any investment activities in relation to such entities, instruments or projects. Users of this recording are solely responsible for ensuring that their investment activities in relation to any sanctioned country/ies are carried out in compliance with applicable sanctions.----- Transcription -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Martijn Rats, Morgan Stanley's Global Commodity Strategist. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll discuss how the 2023 global oil market story is changing. It's Tuesday, May the 9th at 4 p.m. in London. Over the last several months, the dominant narrative in the oil market was one of expected tightening in the second half. Although supply outstripped demand in the first quarter, the assumption was that the market would start to tighten from the second quarter onwards and be in deficit once again by the second half, which would lead to a rise in price. At the start of the year, this was also our thesis for how 2023 would play out. However, as of early May, it seems this narrative needs to change. The expectation of second half tightness was largely based on two key assumptions. One, that China's reopening would boost demand, and two, the Russian oil production would  start to decline. By now, however, it seems that these assumptions have run their course and are in fact behind us. On China, both the country's crude imports and its refinery runs were already back at all time highs in March, leaving little room for further improvement. On Russia, oil production has fallen from recent peaks, but probably only about 400,000 barrels a day. From here, we would argue that it's becoming increasingly unlikely it will fall much further. The EU's crude and product embargoes have been in place for some time now. Russian oil that flows now will probably continue to flow. That raises the question whether the second half tightening thesis can still be sustained. After OPEC announced production cuts at the start of April, we argued that OPEC was mostly responding to a weakening in the supply demand outlook. Perhaps counterintuitive, but we lowered oil price forecasts already significantly at the time those cuts were announced. Still, with those cuts, we thought that the second half balances would be about 600,000 barrels per day undersupplied, and that that would be enough to keep Brent in the mid-to-upper $80 per barrel range. New data from this past month, however, has further chiseled away at this deficit, which we now project at just 300,000 barrels a day. This is in effect getting very close to a balanced market, and that limits upside to oil prices, at least in the near term. Even this modest undersupply now mostly depends on seasonality in demand and OPEC production cuts. However, when the second half arrives, oil prices will start to reflect expected balances for early 2024. In the first half of '24, seasonality may turn the other way and OPEC production cuts are scheduled to come to an end. Our initial estimate of 2024 balances showed the market in a small surplus, especially in the first half. Looking beyond the next 12 months, oil prices still have long term supportive factors. Demand is likely to continue to grow over the rest of the decade, while investment levels have been low for some time now. However, the structural and the cyclical don't always align, and this is one of those moments. The second half tightness thesis does not appear to be playing out, and we don't see much tightness in the period just beyond that either. We expect Brent oil prices to stay in their recent $75 to $85 per barrel range, probably skewed towards the bottom end of that range later this year when the market enters a period of seasonal softness again and OPEC's voluntary cuts come to an end. 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.
With all the volatility surrounding the banking sector, the Fed raising rates and the continued debt ceiling debate, are consumers finally pulling back on spending? ----- 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 a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the latest trends in the financial marketplace. It's Monday, May 8th, at 11 a.m. in New York. So let's get after it. In this week's podcast, I will discuss three major topics on investors' minds. First quarter Earnings results, the Fed's decision to raise rates last week, and how the consumer is holding up in the face of a debt ceiling debate with no easy solutions. First, on earnings, the first quarter earnings per share beat consensus expectations by 6 to 7%. Furthermore, second quarter guidance is held up better than we expected coming into the quarter. That said, it's important to provide some context. First quarter estimates came down 16% over the past year, double the 20 year average decline over equivalent periods and a more manageable hurdle for companies to clear. Furthermore, the macro data improved in January and February as seasonal adjustments and easy comparisons, with the early 2022 break out of Omicron flattered the growth rate. Nevertheless, this improvement also helped earnings results on a year-over-year basis and provided a boost to company confidence about where we are in the cycle. Unfortunately, many of the leading macro data we track have fallen and are now pointing to a similar reacceleration in earnings per share growth that the consensus expects. Ironically, this comes as many companies position 2023 growth recoveries as being contingent on a solid macro backdrop. If one is to believe our leading indicators that point pointed downward trends in earnings per share surprise and margins over the coming months, stocks will likely follow that negative path lower. With regards to the Fed, Chair Powell pushed back on the likelihood of interest rate cuts that are now priced in the bond markets. While bonds and stocks faded after these comments, they closed the week on a strong note. We believe the equity market continues to expect the best of both worlds, interest rate cuts and durable growth. We view the likelihood of reacceleration in growth in conjunction with interest rate cuts is very low. Instead, we believe another chapter of our fire and ice narrative is possible. In other words, a tighter Fed even as growth slows towards recession. This would be a difficult environment for stocks. So what are consumers telling us? Today, we published our latest AlphaWise Consumer Survey. Consumers continue to expect a pullback in spending for most categories over the next six months. Consumers still plan to spend more on essentials like groceries and household supplies. However, they are looking to pull back on discretionary goods spending categories with the most negative net spending intentions are consumer electronics, leisure activities, home appliances and food away from home. Grocery is the only category where low and middle income consumers said they’re planning to spend incrementally more over the next six months. They are not planning to spend more on any services categories. For high income consumers, travel is the only services category where spending intentions are positive and grocery is the only goods category where spending intentions are positive. Interestingly, the high income group indicated negative spending intentions for food away from home and leisure services. Bottom line, the consumer looks to finally be pulling back from an incredible two year run of spending. That was always unsustainable in our view. Some of this may be due to inflation and dwindling savings, but also the very public debate around the debt ceiling, which does not appear to have any easy solution. This is just another wildcard risk for stocks as we head into the summer. 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 for people to find the show. 
The Federal Reserve pausing on hiking interest rates has historically been good for markets. But given current conditions, history may not repeat itself.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Andrew Sheets, Chief Cross-Assets Strategist for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about trends across the global investment landscape and how we put those ideas together. It's Friday, May 5th at 2 p.m. in London. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates 25 basis points this week and have now raised their benchmark policy rate 5% over the last 14 months. That's the fastest increase in over 40 years, and for now we think it's enough. Morgan Stanley's economist forecasts the Fed won't make additional rate hikes or cuts for the rest of this year. In market parlance, the Fed will now pause. The question, of course, is whether the so-called pause is good for markets. In 1985, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2018, buying stocks once the Fed was done raising rates resulted in good returns over the following 6 to 12 months. And this result does make some intuitive sense. If the Fed is no longer increasing rates and actively tightening policy, isn't that one less challenge for the stock market? Our concern, however, is that current conditions look different to these past instances, where the last rate hike was a good time to be more optimistic. Today, current levels of industrial production and leading economic indicators are weaker, inflation is higher, bank credit is tighter, and the yield curve is more inverted than any of these prior instances since 1985, where a pause boosted markets. In short, current data suggest higher inflation and a sharper slowdown than past instances where the last Fed hike was a good time to buy. And for these reasons, we worry about lumping current conditions in with those prior examples. So far, I've focused on performance following a pause in Fed rate hikes from the perspective of equity markets. Yet the picture for bonds is somewhat different. Whereas future performance for stocks is quite dependent on the growth outlook, U.S. Treasury bonds have historically done well after the last Fed rate hike under a variety of growth scenarios, whether good or poor. For now, we continue to favor high grade bonds over equities, even if we think the Fed may now be done with its rate hikes. We think that's consistent with the current data looking weaker than prior instances. In turn, stronger growth and lower inflation than we forecast would make conditions start to look a little bit more similar to instances where the last rate hike was a buy signal and would make us more optimistic. 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.
The banking sector appears stronger in Europe than it does in the U.S., but some other European sectors may be at risk of lower profitability.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Graham Secker, Head of Morgan Stanley's European Equity Strategy Team. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about our latest thoughts on European equities. It's Thursday, May the 4th at 3 p.m. in London. Over the last couple of months, we have seen global technology stocks significantly outperform global financial stocks, aided by lower bond yields and concerns around the health of the U.S. regional banking sector. Historically, when we have seen tech outperform financials in the past, it has usually been accompanied by material underperformance from European equities. However, this time the region has proved much more resilient. Part of this reflects the benefits of lower valuation and lower investor positioning. However, we also see two broader macro supports for Europe just here. First, we see less downside risk to the European economy than that of the U.S., where many of the traditional economic leading indicators are down at recessionary levels. In contrast, similar metrics for Europe, such as consumer confidence and purchasing managers indices, have actually been rising recently. In addition, a healthier and more resilient banking sector over here in Europe suggests there is potentially less risk of a credit crunch developing here than we see in the U.S.. Second, we think Europe is also seen as an alternative way to get exposure to an economic recovery in China, given that the region has stronger economic ties and greater stock market exposure than most of its developed market peers. While this is not necessarily manifesting itself in overall aggregate inflows into European equity funds at this time, we can clearly see the theme benefiting certain sectors, such as luxury goods, which has arguably become one of the most popular ways to express a positive view on China globally. Notwithstanding these relative advantages, we do expect some near-term weakness in European stocks over the next quarter, with negative risks from the U.S. potentially outweighing positive risks from China and Asia. While first quarter results season has started strongly, we believe earnings disappointment will gradually build as we move through 2023 and our own forecasts remain close to 10% below consensus. Catalysts for this disappointment include slower economic growth, from the second quarter onwards, continued falls in profit margins and building FX headwinds given a strengthening euro. Our negative view on the outlook for corporate profitability often prompts the question as to which companies are over-earning and hence potentially most at risk from any mean reversion. To help answer this question, we ranked European sectors across five different profitability metrics where we compared their current levels to their ten year history. This analysis suggests that the European sectors who are currently over-earning, and hence most at risk of future disappointment include transport, semiconductors, construction materials, energy and autos. In contrast, sectors where profitability does not look particularly elevated at this time include retailing, diversified financials, media, chemicals, real estate and software.   More broadly, we believe this analysis supports our cautious view on cyclical stocks within Europe just here, particularly for the likes of energy and autos, where profits are already falling year on year and where we see more downgrades ahead. Instead, we maintain a preference for stocks with higher quality and growth characteristics. We think these should be relative outperformers against the backdrop of economic weakness, falling bond yields and better relative earnings trends. 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. 
Congress is finally set to begin debt ceiling negotiations. What are some possible outcomes and how might the negotiations affect economic growth?----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Global Head of Fixed Income and Thematic Research for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the debt ceiling and its impact on markets. It's Wednesday, May 3rd at 9 a.m. in New York. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department informed Congress that at the start of June, it could run out of money to pay government obligations as they come due. This X-date appears much earlier than most forecasters expected, catching markets by surprise. Some investors even expressed to us disbelief, pushing the idea that the real X-date would be later, and Treasury is just trying to stir negotiations in Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Here's our take. The X-date is likely a moving target due the complex interplay of the timing of incoming tax receipts, government outlays and maturing debt securities. So, while it's possible the date ends up being sometime later this summer, the government might not be able to forecast that with a high degree of certainty. In that case, negotiations have to start now to avoid a situation where the X-date sneaks up on Congress, leaving little time to deliberate and risking default. And that seems to have prompted negotiations, with a May 9th meeting at the White House set to kick things off. But we emphasize that an early resolution remains uncertain. Both parties remain far apart on how they'd like to deal with the debt ceiling and in some ways haven't formed consensus within their own parties on the issue either. So the negotiating dynamic is likely to be tricky. That in turn means a range of policy solutions are plausible here, including a temporary suspension of the debt ceiling, unilateral measures by the administration to avoid default, a budget austerity package in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, or perhaps a clean debt ceiling raise. Of course, that level of uncertainty is generally not something markets like. Not surprisingly, we're seeing further inversion of the yield curve for Treasury bills, with notes maturing in June rising to around 5.3%. However, it does dovetail with our general preference for bonds over equities in developed markets this year. If the negotiation lingers too long, investors could become more concerned about the impact of the economic growth outlook, either because payment prioritization puts government transfer payments at risk or budget austerity reduces the trajectory of net government spending. In that case, equity markets could come under pressure, but longer maturity bonds could benefit. 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. 
With the trend toward a multipolar world accelerating, companies are finding that investing in productivity may help protect margins. Ravi Shanker and Diego Anzoategui discuss.----- Transcript -----Ravi Shanker: Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Ravi Shanker, Morgan Stanley's North American Freight Transportation Analyst. Diego Anzoategui: And I'm Diego Anzoategui from the U.S. Economics Team. Ravi Shanker: And on this special episode of the podcast, we discuss what we see as The Great Productivity Race, that's poised to accelerate. It's Tuesday, May 2nd at 10 a.m. in New York. Ravi Shanker: The transition away from globalization to a decentralized multipolar world means companies' ability to source labor globally is contracting. This narrowing of geographical options for companies is making cheap labor, particularly for skilled manufacturing, harder to find. But there is a potential positive, a rebound in productivity which has been anemic for more than a decade. Ravi Shanker: So Diego, what's the connection that you see between the slowing or even reversal of globalization and productivity trends? Diego Anzoategui: If you think about it, the decision to upgrade technologies and increase productivity is like any other type of capital investment. Firms decide to improve their production technologies, either to deal with scarce  factors of production or to meet increasing demand. COVID 19 was a negative shock to the labor supply in the U.S., and there is still a long road ahead to reach pre-pandemic levels. On top of that, we think that slowing globalization trends will likely limit labor supply further, causing real wages to increase, and keeping firms under pressure to improve productivity to protect margins. But we think firms will boost productivity investment in the medium term once business sentiment picks up again. And we are past the slowdown in economic activity that we expect in 2023 and into 2024. Expectations are key because the decision to innovate is forward looking, adopting new technologies takes time and the benefits of innovation come with a lag. Diego Anzoategui: Ravi, as a result of COVID and the geopolitical uncertainties from the war in Ukraine, companies have been dealing with a number of significant challenges recently, from supply chain disruptions to worker shortages and energy security. How are companies addressing these hurdles and what kinds of investments do they need to make in order to boost productivity? Ravi Shanker: Look, it's a good question and certainly a focus area for virtually every company anywhere in the world. The last five years have been very challenging and a lot of those challenges have revolved around labor availability and labor cost in particular. So I think companies are approaching this with two broad buckets or two broad focus areas. One is, I think they are trying to reinvest in their labor force. I think for too long companies' labor force was viewed as sort of a source of free money, if you will, an area to cut costs and gain efficiency. But I think companies have realized that, hey, we need to reinvest in our workforce, we need to raise their wages, improve their benefits, give them better working conditions, and make them a true resource that will obviously contribute to the success of the company over time. And the second bucket they're looking at is just broader long term investments in things like automation and productivity technologies, because many of these labor trends are structural, that are demographic issues, that are geopolitical issues, that are not going to reverse anytime soon. So you do need to look for an alternative, particularly in areas where, you know, jobs that people don't want to take on or where the value added from a labor is not as good as automating it. That's where companies are highly focused on the next generation of tools, whether that's automation or A.I. and machine learning. Diego Anzoategui: It seems that A.I. technology holds great promise when it comes to raising productivity growth. In fact, our analysts here at Morgan Stanley believe that A.I. focused productivity revolution could be more global than the PC revolution. What is your thinking around this? Ravi Shanker: Look, I think it's still too early to tell what impact A.I. will have on labor productivity as a whole and the impact of labor at corporations around the world. Take, for example, my sector of freight transportation. We don't make anything, but we move everybody else's stuff. And so by nature of freight transportation, is a very process driven industry and process driven industries by nature kind of iterate to find more efficiency and better ways of doing things, and that's where a lot of these new productivity tools can be very helpful. At the same time, it is also a very labor intensive industry that has some significant demographic challenges, whether it's a truck driver shortage, the inability to find rail workers, warehouse workers on the airline side of the house, the inability to find pilots and so the training and the desire of people to do this job over time may be changing. And that's where something like, you know, automation or A.I. tools can be very, very helpful going forward. However, I think this is still very early innings and we will see how this evolves in the coming years. Ravi Shanker: So finally, Diego, what is your outlook for the US labor market and wages over the next 5 to 10 years and how persistent do you think this productivity race is going to be? Diego Anzoategui: We think that a persistently lower labor supply should gradually boost wages. So far nominal wages have increased less than inflation, but we believe the modest increase in nominal wages is simply evidence of typically sluggish response of wages to price shocks. We expect real wages to pick up ahead and regain lost ground, and without this catch up in wages we leave firms to raise prices rather than upgrade their technologies. Evidence of strong price passthrough in the U.S. is limited and structural changes have made wage price spirals less relevant. Ravi Shanker: Diego, thanks so much for taking the time to talk. Diego Anzoategui: Great speaking with you Ravi.
As the banking sector is in the news again, investors wonder about an increase in borrowing from the Fed and possible restrictions on the horizon.----- Transcript -----Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Vishy Tirupattur, Morgan Stanley's Chief Fixed Income Strategist. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of  perspectives, I'll be talking about the ongoing tensions in the regional banking sector. It's Monday, May 1st at 2 p.m. in New York. At the outset, I would note that the news we woke up to this morning about JP Morgan's acquisition of First Republic is an important development. As Betsy Graseck, our large cap banks equity analyst noted, as part of this transaction JP Morgan will assume all $92 billion remaining deposits at First Republic, including the $30 billion of large bank deposits which will be repaid in full post consolidation. We believe that this is credit positive for the large cap bank group, as investors have been concerned that large banks would have to take losses against their $30 billion in deposits in the event First Republic was put into FDIC receivership. That said, we will be watching closely a key metric of demand for liquidity in the system, the borrowings from the Fed by the banks. The last two weeks saw consecutive increases in the borrowings from the Fed facilities by the banks, the discount window and the Bank Term Funding Program. That the banking system needed to continue to borrow at such high and increasing levels suggested that liquidity pressures remained and may have actually been increasing over the past two weeks. In light of the developments over the weekend, it will be useful to see how these borrowings from the Fed change when this week's data are released on Thursday. Last Friday, the Federal Reserve Board announced the results from the review of the supervision and regulation of the Silicon Valley Bank, led by Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr. The regulatory changes proposed are broadly in line with our expectations. The most important highlights from a macro perspective include the emphasis on banks management of interest rate risk and liquidity risk. Further, the report calls for a review of stress testing requirements. The Fed is now proposing to extend the rules that already apply to large banks now to smaller banks, banks with $100 billion to $700 billion in assets. These changes will be proposed, debated, reviewed and these changes will not be effective for a few years because of the standard notice and common periods in the rulemaking process. What are the market implications? We think that the recent events in the regional banking sector will cause banks to shorten assumptions on deposit durations, while potential regulatory changes would likely impact the amount of duration banks can take on their asset side. This is a steepener for rates, negative for longer duration securities such as agency mortgage backed securities and a dampener for the bank demand for senior tranches of securitized credit. While the implementation of these rules will take time, markets would be proactive. In the near-term, the challenges in the regional banks sector will likely result in lower credit formation and raise the risk of a sharper economic contraction.  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.
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