Here’s how billionaire investor Howard Marks is telling clients to ride out coronavirus volatility

Here’s how billionaire investor Howard Marks is telling clients to ride out coronavirus volatility

After the Federal Reserve’s damned-if-they-did, damned-if-they-didn’t interest rate cut, it seems Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is getting some credit for what looks like a stock rebound on Wednesday.

The former Vice President’s comeback-kid performance in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries has put him in a good position against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race to take on President Donald Trump in November. But given the likelihood of a Democrat hiking taxes on big earners, Biden doesn’t exactly check all the boxes for a Wall Street hero, say some.

“The reason for the squeeze higher is most likely that it is a squeeze, the job now has turned to squeezing pockets of buyers and sellers in what is become a rangy and very volatile market,” Nordea’s senior macro strategist Sébastien Galy told clients. Others are, well, skeptical too.

It is a welcome respite from coronavirus angst at least, though that will undoubtedly return. That brings us to our call of the day from billionaire investor and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, Howard Marks. In reference to these market ups and downs, he said “no one can tell you this is the time to buy” stocks because “nobody knows.”

He thinks “some buying” right now isn’t a bad idea ”because things are cheaper. But there is no logical argument for spending all your cash, given that we have no idea how negative future events will be,” Marks said in a memo. “What I would do is figure out how much you’ll want to have invested by the time the bottom is reached — whenever that is — and spend part of it today.”

He said if stocks move up, then investors will be happy they picked up some, or if they keep falling, investors will have some money left and maybe the nerve to buy more. What’s key is accepting that the future is a bit uncertain right now.

Marks noted that major “stress events” of the last 25 years — Asian Contagion of 1997, the 2008-09 financial crisis, etc. — were all “gut-wrenching,” but “followed by recoveries that produced significant gains for stalwart investors.”

While a guess, the manager tried to cheer up worried clients by saying that ultimately, the coronavirus seems “unlikely to fundamentally and permanently change life as we know it.”

The market


DJIA, -2.94%,


SPX, -2.81%

 and Nasdaq

COMP, -2.99%

futures are surging, taking European stocks

SXXP, +1.40%

along for the ride, while Asian markets ticked mostly higher. China’s services purchasing manager data was horrendous. The yield

TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.26%

 on the 10-year government bond is under 1%.

The chart

The coronavirus crisis isn’t hurting coffee futures, which are having their best week in years thanks to rainy Brazil. Here’s that chart from The Daily Shot.

And farmers are also pretty upbeat these days:

The tweet

Toilet-paper economics thread:

The buzz

JPMorgan Chase

JPM, -3.75%

 has reportedly asked thousands of employees to test out working from home as companies gear up for coronavirus contingency planning. Meanwhile, an Amazon

AMZN, -2.30%

 worker in Seattle has tested positive for the coronavirus. A bipartisan deal to provide $7.5 billion in emergency U.S. funds against the virus is getting close.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE, -2.33%

 shares are dropping after the technology giant’s revenue disappointed and it warned of no revenue growth in fiscal year 2020, partly due to the coronavirus.

Ahead of Friday’s jobs data, the U.S. added 183,000 private-sector jobs in February, followed by the Markit services purchasing managers index, the Institute for Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing index and the Fed’s beige book of economic conditions.

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