As we saw on Friday, the current financial crisis has investors all over the world living in fear now. And this time, it’s the government who is helping businesses to bring down what is crippling markets – the credit crunch precipitated by the U.S. housing collapse.
Governments in North America, Europe and Asia have provided bailouts to troubled financial institutions, liquidity to money markets and guarantees to banking systems. And all of this is in addition to drastic interest rate cuts. Fortunately, there are some very encouraging signs that these initiatives finally are starting to work.
Some Good News For A Change
Indications that credit is starting to flow
- The rate at which banks lend to one another known as the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR) decreased from a peak of 6.88% earlier this month to less than 1.3%.
- The spread between 3-month LIBOR and U.S. Treasuries (the risk-free rate) decreased from a record high 4.65% earlier this month to 2.7% on Friday. A narrower spread means that banks are more willing to lend to each other.
Good news for U.S. housing
- U.S. fixed-mortgage rates decreased helping more borrowers qualify
- Variable rates continue to decrease due to Fed rate cuts
- Oil and gas price declines result in more affordable heating costs for homeowners as we head into the colder months
- Data from August and September shows reduced inventory of U.S. homes. The 10.6 months supply of homes in August slipped to 9.9 months supply in September
- The FDIC and the U.S. Treasury are working on a proposed plan to prevent avoidable foreclosures by offering guarantees to lenders and companies that service mortgages
Despite these encouraging signs, we will continue to see volatility as investors react (or is that overreact?) to every new piece of information released.
Facts About Stocks and Recessions
There’s a lot a worry about the recession now. But what’s important to remember is that equity markets tend to be leading indicators of the economy.
Looking back through history, equity markets have typically retraced prior to, and in the early stages, of recessions. Once equities have reached their lows, they tended to rise quickly preceding the broader economic recovery.
So, make sure you don’t let yourself fall into the mob mentality or you may find yourself missing the upturn in equities.
We don’t know exactly when the recovery will commence, but over the long-term equities has still been the top-performing asset class. And out of all the equities, the dividend growers have been the most stable.