Alternatives Update 1st Quarter 2020
All charts shown herein are for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any investment. The performance illustrations exclude the effects of taxes and brokerage commissions or other expenses incurred when investing. Past performance is not indicative of future results and there can be no assurance past trends will continue in the future. An investor cannot invest directly in an index. See last page for definitions of asset class indexes and other terms discussed herein.  It was nearly three years ago that then Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she did not believe there would likely be another financial crisis in her lifetime due to banking reforms and actions taken by the Federal Reserve to enhance financial stability. Unfortunately, that statement seems a touch hubristic given recent events. The first quarter of 2020 was a jarring experience for several generations of investors. What began as a continuation of the longest bull market in U.S. history, ended with the fastest descent into a bear market ever. The catalyst was the now infamous COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As markets frayed, the Federal Reserve's balance sheet exploded (see Figure 1). There were a multitude of unprecedented events firing off in succession. The opening salvo was a preemptive rate cut on March 3 of 50 basis points (bps) prior to the scheduled Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on March 17-18. On March 15, the Federal Reserve (Fed) dropped rates 100 bps to near zero and cancelled the regularly scheduled meeting. Congress initiated multiple stimulus packages including the largest ever passed. There were liquidity blowouts requiring Federal Reserve intervention in high-yield bonds, municipal bonds, and mortgages. Liquidity injections of never seen before levels by the Fed included buying corporate bond ETFs, and widespread talk of a $2 trillion infrastructure package with more possibly to come.

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Posted on Friday, April 24, 2020 @ 8:53 AM

These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.