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Economic Insights

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What can investors expect from the Federal Reserve, the economy, and financial markets in 2015?

Transcript

What is the outlook for the U.S. and global economies in 2015?

Milton Ezrati:  I can start abroad.  Europe and Japan each have major fundamental problems.  They’re not going to go away anytime soon.  So I think the best we can look for there is either recession or something that is only technically different from recession. 
In the United States, many of the factors that have kept this recovery slow remain in place, so we’re expecting a sluggish recovery.  Now the fourth quarter may benefit, the consumer may benefit, from the drop in oil prices.  And there was a chance of a slight acceleration because one of those factors is the memory of the 2008/2009 recession, keeping people cautious.  That may be dissipating over time, but I think the best probability is to look for continued sluggish recovery in the United States, about 2 1/2 percent real growth.

What about potential changes in Federal Reserve policy—and interest rates—in the coming year?

Zane Brown:  We’d expect the Fed to be able to raise rates in 2015, but probably be less aggressive than what they would hope for, and less aggressive than what many investors expect.  If we look at Fed dot plot projections, they’d expect to be at 1 to 1 1/2 percent at the end of 2015.  We think economic growth will probably support maybe 50 to 75 basis points.
Jobs growth has been encouraging, but it’s at 225,000 to 230,000, not 300,000.  Same thing with bank lending, that’s been very encouraging.  We’ve seen more bank lending in 2014 but we just don’t have individuals and companies lining up to borrow money, to take advantage of economic opportunities that they think they just can’t miss. 
And oil will help out growth as well.  But the combination of lower oil prices, bank lending, and jobs growth, just is not going to be enough to push us to a 3 to 3 1/2 percent growth rate.  And in a 2 1/2 percent growth rate context, we would expect the Fed to be able to raise 50 to 75 basis points, primarily because the Fed is a more cautious Fed; it’s a more dovish Fed.  They are more dovish because they’re losing the two most hawkish members at the end of this year, and their primary concern is to avoid 1937.  Recall in 1937 that we ended up having the Fed tighten too aggressively, pushing the economy back into recession, that’s what the Fed cannot afford.
So, as a conclusion, we’d suggest that in 2015, individual investors will look for the Fed to evaluate every move that they make, scrutinize every word that they say, but in the final analysis, the rates are likely to be rather muted, and we’re likely to end the year with 50 to 75 basis points in Fed funds.

Against this backdrop, how should investors view the equity market in 2015?

Milton Ezrati:  Well, I think that the most important thing to realize for equities, looking into 2015, is that there is still value in this market.  It’s not as impressive as it was a year ago or two years ago, but there is still value, the market pricing still looks attractive.  And that means that even in a slow growing economy, we could probably get pretty good gains in the equity market.  They look attractive on a historic basis, certainly relative to bonds and cash.  We would see the equity market doing reasonably well in the coming year, perhaps not as strong as 2013, but reasonably well.

What should fixed-income investors focus on in 2015?

Zane Brown: Economic growth in 2015 is likely to favor economically sensitive areas of fixed income such as high yield, and the lower quality tiers of investment grade.  At the same time, some movement on the part of the Fed, even if it’s only 50 to 75 basis points, will likely have more of an adverse impact on high quality securities than it will on high yield.  Add together those two events with a stronger dollar, and you find that U.S. investments in general ought to do quite well.  That does present a problem for non U.S. denominated securities, and to the extent that you can take advantage of good securities selection and maybe dollar denominated foreign investments.  That might be a way to diversify out of the United States.
So together, the combination of economic growth, some movement on the Fed, and a strong U.S. currency, these factors are what are likely to drive investment opportunities in fixed income in 2015.

For more views on the economy and markets, please visit Lordabbett.com or download our Perspectives app from the Apple App Store.

This has been Lord Abbett’s Investment Perspectives.  Thanks for watching. 

Sources:
U.S. Treasury Yield and Dividend Yield data is Bloomberg.

Glossary

Basis Point is a financial unit of measurement that is 1/100th of 1%.

Yield is the annual interest received from a bond and is typically expressed as a percentage of the bond's market price. Dividend yield is equal to the dividend divided by the stock price. Dividend yield is one measure of a stock's value. A high dividend yield may indicate that a stock is relatively inexpensive.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):  The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.  

Fed Funds Rate is the interest rate at which a depository institution lends immediately available funds (balances at the Federal Reserve) to another depository institution overnight.

Risks to Consider
The value of investments in fixed-income securities will change as interest rates fluctuate and in response to market movements. Generally, when interest rates rise, the prices of debt securities fall, and when interest rates fall, prices generally rise. Bonds may also be subject to other types of risk, such as call, credit, liquidity, interest-rate, and general market risks. High-yield securities, sometimes called junk bonds, carry increased risks of price volatility, illiquidity, and the possibility of default in the timely payment of interest and principal. Moreover, the specific collateral used to secure a loan may decline in value or become illiquid, which would adversely affect the loan’s value. Longer-term debt securities are usually more sensitive to interest-rate changes; the longer the maturity of a security, the greater the effect a change in interest rates is likely to have on its price. Lower-rated bonds may be subject to greater risk than higher-rated bonds. Foreign investments generally pose greater risks than domestic investments, including greater price fluctuations and higher transaction costs. Special risks are inherent in international investing, including those related to currency fluctuations and foreign, political, and economic events. Further, investing in the securities of issuers located in certain emerging countries may present a greater risk of loss resulting from problems in security registration and custody or substantial economic or political disruptions. The value of investments in equity securities will fluctuate in response to general economic conditions and to changes in the prospects of particular companies and/or sectors in the economy. No investing strategy can overcome all market volatility or guarantee future results.

This broadcast serves as reference material for information purposes only; does not constitute an offer to acquire, solicitation for an offer to acquire, an offer to sell or solicitation for an offer to buy, any securities, nor is intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research, or investment advice on any securities, and cannot be used for any of the foregoing.

The views and opinions expressed by the Lord Abbett speaker are those of the speaker as of the date of the broadcast, and do not necessarily represent the views of the firm as a whole. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and Lord Abbett disclaims any responsibility to update such views. Neither Lord Abbett nor the Lord Abbett speaker can be responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered. 

The value of investments and any income from them is not guaranteed and may fall as well as rise, and an investor may not get back the amount originally invested. Please consult your investment professional for additional information concerning your specific situation.
This broadcast is the copyright © 2015 of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC. All Rights Reserved.   This recording may not be reproduced in whole or in part or any form without the permission of Lord Abbett. Lord Abbett mutual funds are distributed by Lord Abbett Distributor LLC.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY LORD ABBETT FUNDS, CONTACT YOUR INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL OR LORD ABBETT DISTRIBUTOR LLC AT 888-522-2388, OR VISIT US  AT LORDABBETT.COM FOR A PROSPECTUS  WHICH CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT A FUND'S INVESTMENT GOALS, SALES CHARGES, EXPENSES AND RISKS THAT AN INVESTOR SHOULD CONSIDER AND READ CAREFULLY BEFORE INVESTING.

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