Perspectives Blog

Gaps, not growth

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | February 25, 2014

Monetary policy is primarily about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se. Despite concerns over cyclical weakness in labor force participation, the unemployment rate is sending similar signals as most other output gap proxies. The output gap improved despite a relatively slow expansion, suggesting weak potential growth. While it’s far too soon to revise any medium…

Bond yields are too low somewhere

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | July 14, 2014

Long-maturity bond yields are determined at a global level. Abnormally low forward rates are not just a U.S. phenomenon: there’s been a similar shift in the relationship between rates and growth across developed markets. If global rates remain persistently low, financial conditions will eventually need to tighten in other ways to offset this unexpected stimulus. The big surprise in bond markets this year has been the low level of long-maturity…

Emerging Markets: Waiting on exports

Anwiti Bahuguna, Ph.D., Senior Portfolio Manager | March 31, 2014

Exports by emerging market economies are the most important factor in explaining long-term growth. EM exports have remained sluggish for the past three years due in part to the subpar nature of global growth. As emerging markets struggle to overcome the challenges to their growth story, the EM landscape will likely face significant challenges ahead. Equity markets in the developed world did very well in 2013 while the picture was far more mixe…

Harvesting a New Moderation in Asia

Soo Nam Ng, Head of Asian Equities | June 23, 2014

Companies with competitive strengths still intact should have positive profit growth once adaptive change gets underway. The ability to control cost is essential to surviving the growth slowdown in Asia Pacific ex Japan. We do not just need companies to be adapted; we also need them to be positioned for adapting. A New Moderation in Asia In my previous article, I argued that conditions are in place for the slowdown in Asia to evolve into a sus…

Neutral funds rate going up?

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | May 16, 2014

The idea of low neutral funds rate has surprising currency, but could erode with more evidence of solid growth. We believe incoming information suggests the neutral funds rate would be moving higher, not lower. We see neutral funds rate at 3.75-4.00%, which implies an overvalued Treasury market. The hottest topic in the bond market at the moment is the idea that the “neutral funds rate”—where the Fed will rest short-term interest rates when th…

Why GDP deserves less attention

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | August 12, 2013

In our view, gross domestic product (GDP) data are deeply flawed. To form a more accurate assessment of the economy, investors should include other measurements, such as gross domestic income. Official GDP growth was relatively soft in the first half of this year, but the broader set of activity data suggests the U.S. economy is doing just fine. Before joining Columbia Management I worked for several years as an economist at a few of the large…

U.S. rates — play for growth

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | December 10, 2013

More signs that U.S. growth is accelerating; with 7% unemployment rate, look for qualitative communication changes at next FOMC meeting. Higher odds of December taper but we still think January is more likely (with possible hint in December press conference). We wonder whether front-end rates can remain anchored as growth picks up. The November employment report brought more positive news on U.S. activity, with a healthy gain in nonfarm payrol…