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Economy & Markets Insights

By Richard "Crit" Thomas, CFA, CAIA
Economy & Markets
winding bridge under skyscrapers

In this section, we include charts and concepts that are not necessarily thematic in nature and may, at times, even be in contrast to our own views. Some of these charts are sourced from our sub-advisors who allow for differentiated insight into a variety of asset classes on a global scale. Others we have sourced ourselves as we find them compelling and may reflect views that are somewhat unique and may not be emphasized by the financial media.

Phase Shift

This cycle is unique and difficult to characterize. It has also moved at a very rapid pace. We use a number of economic signals to help gauge where we are in the cycle, and today, those signals cover the gambit, from very early cycle, to late cycle, and many in between. Our Economic Cycle Model suggests we have moved into the late cycle. Signs such as an inverted yield curve and that the stock market has fallen into a bear market, seem to indicate we may be entering a recession.

S&P 500® Index Full Bull Market* Total Return Allocation by Quartile Since 1935

The Search for Yield

When trying to understand current low Treasury yields, we explored a number of different fundamental Treasury models. The Model below has been historically robust. It is important to recognize that the unique circumstances surrounding the pandemic could mean this historically derived Model is currently less informative. Our bond yield model has moved up with 2-year Treasury yields and inflation. It appears the 10-year bond yield may have peaked, as our model has begun to roll over.

10-Year Treasury Bond Yield Model

We had been suggesting that investors move out the risk spectrum to pick up additional yield. But with higher investment grade yields, the Fed pushing on the brakes, and signs of late cycle conditions, we are now putting more emphasis on higher quality credit.

Yield to Worst

Active Versus Passive

While the S&P 500® Index has outperformed the MSCI EAFE® and Emerging Markets indexes over the last cycle, international stocks still represent a healthy hunting ground for active managers given the consistently high representation in the top 100 performing stocks.

The weight of the top 10 stocks in the S&P 500® Index reached a new high in September of 2020, representing 34% of the Index’s market cap. With the top 10 stocks accounting for all of the performance year-to-date, it is not surprising that their weight in the index has increased.

Active versus Passive Charts

Valuations Around the World

As a reference, we provide valuation measures for various domestic and international indexes. The valuation range dates back to 1996. 

Price to Trailing 10-Year EPS

The Mid-Cap Gap

Mid cap earnings are rapidly coming back relative to large cap, but they have yet to pull relative prices up with them. It is important to note that this relative underperformance year-to-date is simply a function of the strength of the top stocks in the S&P 500®. Mid cap performance has been in line with the equal weighted S&P 500® Index. Historically, the Russell Midcap® Index has seen both earnings and price outperformance during the early stages of an economic recovery. The mid-cap index earnings have been mainly helped by less international exposure. 

Russell Midcap® Index / S&P 500® Index

Small and Mid-Cap Valuations

Small and Mid-Cap valuations appear very attractive versus history based on the S&P Indexes.

Small and Mid-Cap Valuations Charts

Glossary of Investment Terms and Index Definitions

This commentary is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security. There is no guarantee that the information is complete or timely. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing in an index is not possible. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal and fluctuation of value. Please visit touchstoneinvestments.com for performance information current to the most recent month-end.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the fund carefully before investing. The prospectus and the summary prospectus contain this and other information about the Fund. To obtain a prospectus or a summary prospectus, contact your financial professional or download and/or request one on the resources section or call Touchstone at 800-638-8194. Please read the prospectus and/or summary prospectus carefully before investing.

Touchstone Funds are distributed by Touchstone Securities, Inc.*
*A registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.

Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value

crit thomas global market strategist

Richard "Crit" Thomas, CFA, CAIA

Global Market Strategist
Crit is responsible for examining and evaluating economic conditions, generating insights and providing a sharpened perspective on investment strategies for enriched portfolio construction.

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