Is 2016 Another 2008?

We’ve received some questions recently about whether the financial market gyrations that have thus far characterized 2016 are the early signs of another 2008. We strongly believe the answer is no, as this period of market volatility is being driven by very different, and much less systemic, factors. We would argue the year-to-date selloff in global risk assets has been driven by economic growth concerns, mainly in China and other commodity dependent emerging economies. The plunge in the price of crude oil from $100 to $30 per barrel hasn’t helped either. Couple these events with the Federal Reserve moving away from its ultra-loose monetary policy stance by raising the Fed Funds Rate, and what we’ve seen thus far starts to make a bit of sense. However, the main reason we think this situation differs from 2008 is that the banking system here in the U.S. is dramatically stronger than it was then. Capital levels are more robust, leverage is lower and bank loan portfolios are performing nicely. In addition, the causes of this market selloff are not centered on the U.S. financial system, whereas those of the subprime mortgage crisis were. North American bank loan portfolios are well insulated from China, and loans directly tied to the energy industry represent only 5% of banks’ total loans outstanding. So, could economic growth continue to be sluggish and could China continue to be a source of market angst?  Absolutely. But is this a period in which we’ll see the financial system nearing collapse? Extremely doubtful. All of the recent market volatility is creating another nice environment for bond investors, as evidenced by the positive year-to-date returns across all of our strategies.    

Source: Bloomberg