This Central Bank Owns $80 Billion Worth Of U.S. Stocks


May 16, 2017, 4:00pm EST               Invest Alongside Billionaires For $297/Qtr


BR caricatureThe noise surrounding the Trump administration continues by the day, as the media tries desperately to prosecute the elected President at daily briefings.The chaos and dysfunction message is loud, but markets aren’t hearing it.  The real story is very different. Stocks continue to surge. Stock market volatility continues to sit 10-year (pre-crisis) lows. The interest rate market is much higher than it was before the election, but now quiet and stable.  Gold, the fear-of-the-unknown trade, is relatively quiet.  This all looks very much like a world that believes a real economic expansion is underway, and that a long-term sustainable global economic recovery has supplanted the shaky post-crisis (central bank-driven) recovery that was teetering back toward recession.

Why is the messaging so different?  Remember, the financial media and Wall Street are easily distractible. Not only do they have short attention spans, but they’ve been trained throughout their careers to find new stories to obsess about. They need to interpret, pontificate, strategize to feel valued. Approaching their jobs with the idea that a slow moving dominant theme is at work is just too boring.

This is the disconnect between markets and the narrative.  We have major central banks around the world that continue to print money.  These central banks buy assets with that freshly printed money.  That means, stocks, bonds, commodities go higher.  And now we have everyone’s fate (the global economy) tied to the outcome of new policies from the leading economy in the world – efforts to restore sustainable growth through structural reform and fiscal stimulus. That hopeful outlook does nothing but underpin the rise in asset prices (stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate).

​Yesterday we got a look under the hood of the portfolios of the biggest money managers in the world, via their 13F filings (required quarterly portfolio disclosures to the SEC).  It’s been clear that the biggest and best, embrace this big theme, and have been aggressively positioning to take advantage of the very bullish proposed policy tailwinds for stocks, which are: 1) a corporate tax rate cut, which will go right to the bottom line for profitable companies.  Not surprisingly, which stocks have been leading the way in the climb in the indicies?  The one’s that make a lot of money (Apple, Microsoft, Google).  2) a repatriation tax holiday that will bring back trillions of dollars onshore, to be paid back to shareholders and put to work in the economy through investment and projects.  3) a trillion dollar infrastructure spend that, regardless of how difficult it may be to legislate, should happen in one form or another.

​Among the reports on portfolio holdings yesterday, we heard from the Swiss National Bank.  As I said above, don’t forget there are still central banks deeply entrenched in QE and, beyond local government bonds, are buying foreign assets (in large amounts).  Switzerland’s central bank has more freshly printed money to put to work every quarter, and has been increasing their allocation to equities dramatically – $80 billion of which is now (as of the end of Q1) in U.S. stocks!  That’s a 29% bigger stake than they had at the end of 2016.  The SNB is the world’s eighth biggest public investor.

So keep this big theme in mind:  Central banks remain involved, but the baton has been passed, from a central bank-driven recovery to a fiscal stimulus-driven recovery.  And everyone needs it to work.


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