Where Investors Put Their Money in 2018
For most investors, 2018 was both an eventful and frustrating year.
Between the looming threat of trade wars and growing geopolitical uncertainty, the market also skipped a beat. Volatility took center stage, and the S&P 500 finished in negative territory for the first time in 10 years.
Although many asset classes finished in negative territory, a look at fund flows – essentially where investors put their money – helps paint a more intricate picture of the year for investors.
Visualizing 2018 Fund Flows
Today’s infographic comes to us from New York Life Investments, and it visualizes the flows in and out of U.S. funds for 2018.
It not only shows when investors poured money into mutual funds or ETFs, but it also breaks down these funds by various categorizations. For example, when did people buy funds that held U.S. equities, and when did they buy funds that primarily held money market securities?
Let’s dive into the data, to take a deeper look.
Mutual Funds vs. ETFs
For another year in a row, ETFs gained ground on mutual funds:
|Type of Fund||2018 Fund Flows||Total Assets (End of Year)|
|ETFs||+$238.4 billion||$3.4 trillion (17.2%)|
|Mutual Funds||-$91.3 billion||$16.3 trillion (82.8%)|
However, despite growing for another year, ETFs still make up a smaller part of the overall fund universe.
Flows by Asset Class Group
Every fund gets classified by Morningstar based on the types of assets it holds.
For example, a fund that focuses on holding fast-growing, large tech companies in the U.S. would be classified broadly as “U.S. Equity”, and more specifically as “U.S. Equity – Large Growth”.
Here’s how flows went, within these broader groups:
|Fund Category Group||Total Assets ($mm)||Growth in 2018|
|International Equity||$ 2,787,400||3.1%|
|Money Market||$ 2,879,510||6.2%|
|Municipal Bonds||$ 795,132||0.9%|
|Sector Equity||$ 816,149||-3.7%|
|Taxable Bonds||$ 3,747,268||3.5%|
|U.S. Equity||$ 7,173,902||0.0%|
Investors pulled money from Allocation, Alternative, and Sector Equity funds, while rotating into Money Market and Taxable Bonds categories. These latter assets are considered safer, and this shift is not surprising considering the market volatility towards the end of the year.
Also interesting here is that U.S. Equity – the biggest category overall by total assets – saw equal amounts of inflows and outflows, ending with a 0.0% change on the year.
U.S. Equity: A Closer Look
U.S. Equity ended the year with zero change, but it’s also the biggest and broadest category.
Let’s break it down further – first, we’ll look at what happened to flows by market capitalization (small, mid, and large cap stocks):
|Market Capitalization||Assets||Growth (2018)|
|Large Caps||$5.6 trillion||0.2%|
|Mid Caps||$884 billion||-2.5%|
|Small Caps||$672 billion||1.7%|
Investment in funds that held large cap stocks increased by 0.2%, while the money allocated to small caps rose by 1.7% over 2018. Interestingly, investors pulled money out of mid caps (-2.5%).
Now, let’s look at U.S. Equity by type of strategy:
|Fund Strategy||Assets||Growth (2018)|
According to these flows, investors pulled money from funds focused solely on value or growth, while instead preferring funds that were a blend of the two strategies.
Finally, let’s see the types of international funds that investors bought and sold over 2018.
|Diversified Emerging Markets||4.9%|
Investors eschewed funds that had a primary focus on European, Indian, and Japanese markets, while piling into funds that held Chinese equities. Meanwhile, Latin America and emerging markets also got some love from investors.
While 2018 was an eventful year for markets, this recap shows that investors are adjusting their portfolios accordingly.
Where will investors put their money in 2019?
Here’s How Much the Top CEOs of S&P 500 Companies Get Paid
Does high pay for CEOs translate into company performance? See for yourself in this visualization featuring the top CEOs of companies on the S&P 500.
How Much the Top CEOs of S&P 500 Companies Get Paid
How much do the CEOs from some of the world’s most important companies get paid, and do these top CEOs deliver commensurate returns to shareholders?
Today’s infographic comes to us from HowMuch.net and it visualizes data on S&P 500 companies to see if there is any relationship between CEO pay and stock performance.
For Richer or Poorer
To begin, let’s look at the highest and lowest paid CEOs on the S&P 500, and their associated performance levels. Data here comes from a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Below are the five CEOs with the most pay in 2018:
|Rank||CEO||Company||Pay (2018)||Shareholder Return|
|#1||David Zaslav||Discovery, Inc.||$129.4 million||10.5%|
|#2||Stephen Angel||Linde||$66.1 million||3.1%|
|#3||Bob Iger||Disney||$65.6 million||20.4%|
|#4||Richard Handler||Jefferies||$44.7 million||-14.9%|
|#5||Stephen MacMillan||Hologic||$42.0 million||11.7%|
Last year, David Zaslav led top CEOs by taking home $129.4 million from Discovery, Inc., the parent company of various TV properties such as the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network, and other non-fiction focused programming. He delivered a 10.4% shareholder return, when the S&P 500 itself finished in negative territory in 2018.
Of the mix of highest-paid CEOs, Bob Iger of Disney may be able to claim the biggest impact. He helped close a $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, while also leading Disney’s efforts to launch a streaming service to compete with Netflix. The market rewarded Disney with a 20.4% shareholder return, while Iger received a paycheck of $65.6 million.
Now, let’s look at the lowest paid CEOs in 2018:
|Rank||CEO||Company||Pay (2018)||Shareholder Return|
|#3||A. Jayson Adair||Copart||$203,000||82.2%|
|#4||Warren Buffett||Berkshire Hathaway||$398,000||3.0%|
|#5||Valentin Gapontsev||IPG Photonics||$1.7 million||-47.1%|
On the list of lowest paid CEOs, we see two tech titans (Larry Page and Jack Dorsey) that have each opted for $1 salaries. Of course, they are both billionaires that own large amounts of shares in their respective companies, so they are not particularly worried about annual paychecks.
Also appearing here is Warren Buffett, who is technically paid $100,000 per year by Berkshire Hathaway plus an amount of “other compensation” that fluctuates annually. While this is indeed a modest salary, the Warren Buffett Empire is anything but modest in size – and the legendary value investor currently holds a net worth of $84.3 billion.
Finally, it’s worth noting that while J. Jayson Adair of Copart was one of the lowest paid CEOs at $203,000 in 2018, the company had the best return on the S&P 500 at 82.2%. Today, the company’s stock price still sits near all-time highs.
Finally, let’s take a peek at the CEOs that received the highest shareholder returns, and if they seem to correlate with compensation at all.
|Rank||CEO||Company||Pay (2018)||Shareholder Return|
|#1||A. Jayson Adair||Copart||$203,000||82.2%|
|#2||Lisa Su||AMD||$13.4 million||79.6%|
|#3||François Locoh-Donou||F5 Networks||$6.9 million||65.4%|
|#4||Sanjay Mehrotra||Micron Technology||$14.2 million||64.3%|
|#5||Ken Xie||Fortinet||$6.8 million||61.2%|
Interestingly, three of highest performing CEOs – in terms of shareholder returns – actually took home smaller amounts than the median S&P 500 annual paycheck of $12.4 million. This includes the aforementioned A. Jayson Adair, who raked in only $203,000 in 2018.
That said, there is a good counterpoint to this as well.
Of the five CEOs who had the worst returns, four of them made less than the median value of $12.4 million, while one remaining CEO took home slightly more. In other words, both the best and worst performing CEOs skew towards lower-than-average pay to some degree.
Which Countries Own the Most U.S. Debt?
More than $6 trillion of U.S. debt is owned by foreign governments such as China or Japan. See how it all breaks down, and what it means.
The Foreign Countries Holding the Most U.S. Debt
In the international finance system, U.S. debt can be bought and held by virtually anyone.
In fact, if you hold a U.S. Treasury bond or a T-Bill in your portfolio right now, you are already a creditor to the United States government.
And as you can see in today’s chart from HowMuch.net, foreign countries like China and Japan can also accumulate large positions in U.S. Treasurys, making them significant players in the overall United States debt pie.
U.S. Debt: The Big Picture
The United States federal debt currently sits at $22 trillion, and it’s held by a range of domestic and foreign investors.
|Entity||Debt Holdings||Share of Total|
|U.S. Government and Federal Reserve||$8.1 trillion||36.8%|
|Foreign and international||$6.3 trillion||28.5%|
|Mutual funds||$2.06 trillion||9.4%|
|Pension funds||$0.92 trillion||4.2%|
|State and local governments||$0.69 trillion||3.1%|
|Other investors||$3.18 trillion||14.5%|
As you can see, about $8.1 trillion of debt is held by departments of the U.S. government or the Federal Reserve. This number would include securities sitting in retirement accounts of federal employees, social security trust funds, or any of the Treasurys sitting on the Fed’s balance sheet.
Next, another $7.6 trillion of debt is held by domestic investors. These are marketable securities held by banks, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and other investors.
While debt held domestically is mostly uninteresting, a bigger question mark is the $6.3 trillion of debt that is owned by foreign countries. After all, couldn’t a country like China “weaponize” its large holdings of Treasury securities as a form of retaliation in the ongoing trade war?
Foreign Owners of the Debt
Internationally, the biggest owners of debt include China and Japan, each with over $1 trillion.
|Rank||Country||U.S. Debt Holdings||Percentage of Foreign U.S. Debt Held (%)|
|#1||🇨🇳 China||$1.11 trillion||17.3%|
|#2||🇯🇵 Japan||$1.06 trillion||16.5%|
|#3||🇧🇷 Brazil||$307 billion||4.8%|
|#4||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$301 billion||4.7%|
|#5||🇮🇪 Ireland||$270 billion||4.2%|
|#6||🇨🇭 Switzerland||$227 billion||3.5%|
|#7||🇱🇺 Luxembourg||$224 billion||3.5%|
|#8||🇰🇾 Cayman Islands||$217 billion||3.4%|
|#9||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$206 billion||3.2%|
|#10||🇧🇪 Belgium||$180 billion||2.8%|
|#11||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||$177 billion||2.8%|
|#12||🇹🇼 Taiwan||$171 billion||2.7%|
Why does China hold so much of the foreign-owned U.S. debt?
China has accumulated Treasury securities over decades, as part of its strategy to keep its domestic currency from strengthening. Interestingly, the export-heavy nation has reduced its swath of Treasurys in recent months, selling off close to $200 billion of them.
Although China has $1.11 trillion of Treasurys left in reserve, the general consensus is that dumping all of them at once would destabilize the global financial system, having an equally negative effect on China as well.
That said, with foreign nations holding U.S. debt, such a risk will always exist.
While it’s not surprising to see countries like China, Japan, or Brazil on the list of top foreign debt holders, what are places like the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, or Ireland doing on the list?
Two simple facts help to explain these anomalies.
Firstly, despite having a population of just 60,000 people, the Cayman Islands is a hedge fund capital with over 10,000 funds domiciled there. Luxembourg makes the list for similar reasons, given that it is the European-based tax shelter equivalent.
Ireland, on the other hand, is the overseas headquarters for many U.S.-based tech giants like Facebook or Alphabet. Apparently, these corporations like to hold their overseas profits in highly-liquid Treasurys, rather than paying a repatriation tax to bring the cash back to American soil.
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