Long-held strategies such as evaluating company fundamentals have gone out the window in favor of momentum. War has broken out between professionals losing billions and the individual investors jeering at them on social media. Meanwhile, the frenzy of activity is stirring regulatory and legal concerns, as well as the attention of the Biden administration. The White House press secretary said on Wednesday that its economic team, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, is monitoring the situation.
The newbie investors are gathering on platforms such as Reddit, Discord, Facebook and Twitter . They are encouraging each other to pile into stocks, bragging about their gains and, at times, intentionally banding together to intensify losses among professional traders, who protest that social-media hordes are conspiring to move stock prices.
Author(s): Gunjan Banerji, Juliet Chung and Caitlin McCabe
Publication Date: 27 January 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal
The US is running up debt like never before, and one of the reasons Washington can get away with it is because interest rates are hovering around their lowest levels ever. This raises the question—should the Treasury lock in these rates for 50 years? How about a century?
Government borrowing is under renewed scrutiny as politicians consider their third mega-spending package to support the US economy, adding to more than $3 trillion already earmarked since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Federal debt owned by the public is expected to ramp up from 81% of GDP this year to nearly 100% in 2030, the highest ratio since 1946, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections in December. That ratio could hit 180% by 2050, by far the highest debt burden the US has ever had.
Debt levels are high, but the government’s borrowing cost is low. In March, 10-year Treasury bond yields fell below 1% for the first time and they’ve only ticked up modestly since, rising to about 1.1%. That helps explain why the US has amassed so much debt and, yet, is spending less on interest expense than it did in the 1980s and 1990s. The worry is that the unprecedented mountain of debt could have to be refinanced at higher yields down the road.
Author(s): John Detrixhe
Publication Date: 27 January 2021
Publication Site: Quartz
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen convened a meeting with the nation’s top regulators Thursday, who are continuing to review whether recent volatility in popular, so-called meme stocks, and brokers’ responses to it, “are consistent with investor protection and fair and efficient markets,” according to a Treasury Department statement.
Yellen met with the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Commodity Futures Trading Commission to discuss the functioning of financial markets and practices of both investors and brokers in recent weeks.
“The regulators believe the core infrastructure was resilient during high volatility and heavy trading volume, and agree on the importance of the SEC releasing a timely study of the events,” according to the statement. “Secretary Yellen believes it is imperative to uphold the integrity of these markets and ensure investor protection.”
Author(s): Chris Matthews
Publication Date: 4 February 2021
Publication Site: Marketwatch
While the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact present the most pressing challenges, Democratic control of Congress and the White House could also spur action on issues ranging from climate change to scrutiny of private equity practices.
Mr. Neal’s first bill introduced in the new 117th Congress addresses the multiemployer pension crisis that he said “has only worsened” in the COVID-19 economic downturn. A similar proposal was introduced by members of the House Education and Labor Committee, whose chairman, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Va., said the pandemic could cause as many as 180 more multiemployer plans to become insolvent, adding up to 300 plans facing failure. Both leaders are urging that the proposed Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 be attached to a COVID-19 relief measure now before Congress.
Potential legislation is expected to build on the panel’s climate action plan calling for clean energy tax credits and jobs initiatives, investments in water infrastructure and research into land and ocean climate solutions, among other ideas.
Author: Hazel Bradford
Publication Date: 25 January 2021
Publication Site: Pensions & Investments