Today we’re at the Big Picture Conference, a day-long event put on by Ritholtz Wealth Management.
Ritholtz’s Josh Brown just closed up a group of panelists (all Chief Strategists at their respective firms) with this question — what are investors missing from the big market narrative right now?
According to Brown, here’s what we think we know: Investors look around and see that Japan is quiet, the Fed race is still undecided but policy is unlikely to change, Europe seems out of the worst, the United States is crawling along.
That’s the picture, he said, but again, “what are we missing?”
On deck to answer the question were Art Hogan, Chief Strategist at Lazard Capital, Dan Greenhaus, Chief Strategist at BTIG, and Jeffrey Kleintop Chief Strategist at LPL Financial.
Hogan went first, and said simply that the American investor is missing what’s going on outside the U.S. This is, in part, because there’s so much noise.
Throughout this discussion, all these strategists, especially Greenhaus, talked about the news as mere noise for money managers. This ties into Hogan’s point. Americans, being so wrapped up in headlines about the Fed and our own government’s issues at home, have forgotten about what opportunities are out there.
Or even worse, when investors see headlines talking doom in Europe and Japan, they’re scared of what’s out there.
All three strategists agreed that getting away from the noise can require some effort. That’s where Jeff Kleintop of LPL Financial jumped in — the biggest thing we’re missing, he said, is active management.
In this Big Picture crowd, those are fighting words. The debate between active and passive management has been raging between money managers since the financial crisis and the subsequent, steady rise of the stock market made fools of almost every investor.
“So many people have gone the passive route,” said Kleintop, “but there are so many opportunities outside the United States,” and they’re hard to get to without an active money manager.
“I get that active management hasn’t worked in a while,” he continued, “but I think so many investors are going to be behind the curve on this… in bonds and equities.”
Last up was BTIG’s Dan Greenhaus. His point was about the Federal Reserve — and Central Banks around the world — unwinding QE.
“People at the Fed and other central banks will say that ‘we got this unwinding’, Greenhaus said.
But it may not be as simple as we think. No matter who the Fed Chairman is (and Greenhaus doesn’t think it matters) we are in an unprecedented situation here.
“It’s easy to lose site of the fact that you’re going to have to reverse… you’re going to have to do some of this somehow… and I don’t know how.”
No one does. And since no one knows, it’s definitely missing.