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Where Investors Put Their Money in 2019

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Fund Flows 2019

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Where Investors Put Their Money in 2019

While a strong 2019 closed off an entire decade free of recessions, celebrations have been short. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has tapped the brakes on the global economy, has led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to declare a global recession.

So what were investors doing before the outbreak? To figure that out, today’s infographic from New York Life Investments visualizes where investors allocated their money in 2019.

Broad Comparisons

Virtually every asset class ended 2019 in the green, with U.S. equities among the highest gainers. In spite of this, investors appeared to be quite risk-averse. Even as the S&P 500 climbed 29% over the year, money was pulled away from equities and placed in safer assets such as money market securities and precious metals.

Let’s examine the data in more detail. In the tables below, net flows represents the difference between total inflows and total outflows.

Mutual Funds VS ETFs

Investors continued to invest in ETFs, but the interesting news is surrounding mutual fund activity. In a dramatic reversal from last year’s net outflows of $91B, mutual funds attracted $574B throughout 2019.

Type of Vehicle2018 Net Flows2018 Total Assets2019 Net Flows2019 Total Assets*
ETFs+$238B$3,385B+$281B$4,408B
Mutual Funds-$91B$16,345B+$574B$19,727B

*2019 total assets also include asset appreciation as a result of market movements.

ETFs once again grew their share of total invested assets, from 17.2% in 2018, to 18.3% in 2019.

Flows by Asset Class Group

To get more specific, investment vehicles are classified based on the type of assets they hold.

For example, a fund that holds a variety of American company stocks would be broadly classified as “U.S. Equity,” while a fund that targets specific industries would be classified as “Sector Equity.” Here are the flows each asset class experienced throughout 2019, starting with the largest net inflows:

Asset Class Group2019 Net Flows 2019 Total Assets 
Money Market+$522B$3,483B
Taxable Bonds+$413B$4,433B
Municipal Bonds+$106B$952B
International Equity+$11B$3,416B
Commodities+$8B$110B
Alternatives-$7B$212B
Sector Equity-$33B$995B
Asset Allocation-$38B$1,343B
U.S. Equity-$72B$9,162B

Investors pulled money from asset allocation funds, as well as alternatives, sector equity, and U.S. equity vehicles. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which have had a material impact on both countries’ economies, may have been a reason for this conservatism. Other likely factors include the Hong Kong protests and the culmination of Brexit.

In the face of these worrying developments, fixed income vehicles were in high demand, even as the Fed cut rates on three separate occasions. Money market funds had a massive year, and were responsible for much of the investor capital diverted to mutual funds in 2019.

In fact, with a Q3 net inflow of $224B, money market funds saw their strongest quarterly inflows since the global financial crisis.

Deeper Dive: Commodities

One of the most compelling flow trends of 2019 lies in commodities, which we can break down into five subcategories:

Commodities Subcategory2019 Net Flows 
Precious Metals+$11.4B
Industrial Metals-$0.1B
Energy-$0.2B
Broad Basket-$0.8B
Agriculture-$2.2B

Precious metals, which include safe-haven assets like gold and silver, were the only subcategory to see positive net flows in 2019. Likely driven by the fear of inflation, investors flocked to precious metals from June to October.

Gold and silver are often referred to as “safe-haven” assets because they outperform during periods of uncertainty.

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It’s interesting to note that investors pulled money out of precious metals in November and December—perhaps a sign of growing confidence in the economy.

2020 and Beyond

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, volatility has returned to global markets.

While the conservative asset allocation decisions made in 2019 may have given investors some shelter from this turmoil, it’s likely they paid a penalty for missing out on a robust year for equity markets.

In uncertain times like these, it’s important for every long-term investor to keep a cool head. After all, history has shown us that markets will eventually recover.

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Visualized: Three Investment Opportunities for the Future

Here are three investment opportunities to consider as the U.S. government proposes a record $6 trillion in budget initiatives.

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Investment Opportunities

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Visualized: Three Investment Opportunities for the Future

With proposed government spending initiatives set to reach $6 trillion, the U.S. could be entering a new era of economic potential.

Sweeping measures have been proposed to support the economy—reaching levels of sustained spending not seen since WWII. These include a $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

But how will this affect financial markets, and what investment opportunities does this present? As we look ahead, this infographic from New York Life Investments explores three potential areas of growth.

Three Investment Opportunities

Here are key trends that could shape the future—creating new opportunities for investors—as government spending increases:

1. The Strategic Role of Debt

In 2021, corporate debt sits at roughly 50% of U.S. GDP.

Importantly, COVID-19 relief packages helped offset a wave of defaults. Yet at the same time, a record $1.7 trillion in corporate debt was issued by nonfinancial companies in 2020—$600 billion higher than the previous peak. This rise in debt may offer potential investment opportunities.

In a low-interest rate environment, debt is relatively less expensive for companies to hold than during periods of high interest rates. This means they can invest in their business, make acquisitions, and gain greater market share.

Companies with investment-grade debt, which have stronger ratings from credit agencies, will likely be better positioned to make strategic business moves and mitigate the potential of future default.

2. Digital Infrastructure

There are several core components that underpin technology today:

Semiconductor chips: Key components in electronics such as smartphones, computers, refrigerators, and cars. As electronics proliferate, semiconductor companies may provide windows of opportunity. By 2030, electronics are projected to make up 45% of a car’s cost, up from 18% in 2000.

Broadband: Infrastructure required for internet access, including in rural and remote areas. Across OECD countries, broadband subscriptions per 100 people is just 33.3, illustrating a gap in access to high-speed internet. 5G, fiber optic cable, and internet infrastructure companies could offer the essentials that are needed.

Hyperscale cloud providers: Enable vast amounts of data and computing power to operate on cloud-based platforms, often in real time. With average gross margins of 57% and net debt to equity of 4%, cloud computing vendors could be poised for growth as data expands exponentially.

3. Emerging Markets’ Growing Middle Class

In the last two decades, emerging market (EM) income per capita has doubled. As disposable incomes rise, the consumer landscape is shifting towards more sustainable products.

Willingness to Pay a Premium for the Following Attributes% of Respondents
Contains organic/all-natural ingredients41%
Contains environmentally friendly/sustainable materials38%
Offers/does something no other product on the market provides37%
Delivers on social responsibility claims30%

Source: Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey conducted with Nielsen. Data as at June, 2020.

Notably, the plant-based meat market in Asia is projected to grow 15.9% annually by 2026. In fact, global consumer searches for sustainable products have grown 71% since 2016.

Forces of Change

At this critical juncture in spending lies new investment opportunities. While it’s impossible to predict the future, strong underlying trends provide clues for how investors can think about positioning their portfolio.

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The 5 Fastest Growing Industries of the Next Decade

We reveal the five fastest growing industries of the future, within broader sectors such as healthcare and technology. Which industry will be number one?

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Fastest Growing Industries

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The Fastest Growing Industries of the Future

Today, the U.S. economy looks very different than it did hundreds of ago. While railroad stocks dominated in the 19th century, industries within technology and healthcare have grown substantially in recent years. As dynamics continue to shift, what will be the fastest growing industries of the future?

In this infographic from New York Life Investments, we uncover the industries projected to see the fastest growth rates over the next decade.

What Are the Fastest Growing Industries?

The U.S. economy is growing. From 2019 to 2029, total industry output is expected to rise by more than 20%.

Output is the value of final goods and services, as well as intermediary sales that are not typically included in GDP. In this case, output is based on chained 2012 dollars, which is a method of adjusting real dollar amounts for inflation over time using 2012 as a base year.

Below, we count down the fastest growing industries from 2019 to 2029, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

#5: Outpatient Care Centers

This industry is defined as facilities where the patient is not required to stay overnight, such as:

  • Mental health and substance abuse centers
  • Family planning clinics
  • Dialysis clinics
  • Multidisciplinary clinics

As patients demand more convenient and less expensive care, the popularity of outpatient care centers has grown. Advances in medical technology, such as minimally invasive surgeries, also allow for same day release. Here is what projected growth looks like for the industry.

Compound Annual Growth Rate3.2%
2019 Output$122B
2029 Output$168B

However, investors may want to consider that health care leaders say implementing information technology (IT) is their greatest challenge.

#4: Computer System Design & Related Services

Companies that primarily provide IT expertise fall within this industry. Here are some examples:

  • IT consultants
  • Programming services
  • Video design
  • Web page development
    • The growth of e-commerce and digital marketing will likely contribute to the industry’s success. For instance, U.S. e-commerce climbed by 32% in 2020. Buoyed by these trends, computer systems design companies are expected to have a compound annual growth rate exceeding 3%.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate3.2%
      2019 Output$518B
      2029 Output$712B

      On the other hand, investors may want to watch for the high capital costs some IT companies could incur to upgrade outdated platforms.

      #3: Oil & Gas Extraction

      This industry includes companies involved in the preparation of oil & gas, up to the point of shipment from the producing property. Some examples are:

      • Integrated oil & gas companies
      • Drilling contractors
      • Exploration & production companies

      As inflation rises, extraction companies may benefit from higher prices and wider profit margins. The industry is expected to have the third highest growth rate over the next decade.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate3.4%
      2019 Output$474B
      2029 Output$660B

      However, investors may want to consider the growing traction of sustainable investments. While oil demand isn’t projected to peak until 2035, the shift to clean energy may cause long-term challenges for the industry.

      #2: Information Services

      Businesses that supply, search for, or publish information fall within this industry. Some examples are:

      • News syndicates
      • Internet publishing
      • Broadcasting
      • Web search portals

      Consumption of trusted news brands is growing, and paid subscriptions are increasing in richer Western countries. In addition, Google has committed at least $1 billion to license content from publishers for its News Showcase product. Here’s what potential growth looks like for information services companies.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate4.2%
      2019 Output$243B
      2029 Output$365B

      On the other hand, ad revenue is falling in some segments. Investors researching this industry may want to consider platforms that are diversifying their revenue streams.

      #1: Software Publishers

      Topping the list of the fastest growing industries is companies that design, install, and provide post-purchase support for software. Some examples are:

      • Cybersecurity
      • Graphic design
      • Operating systems
      • Customer relationship management

      Amid remote work and e-commerce growth, software enables companies to connect with employees and customers. The industry is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of almost 5% from 2019 to 2029.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate4.8%
      2019 Output$236B
      2029 Output$378B

      At the same time, the industry has relatively low barriers to entry. Investors may want to watch for competitors, which can pop up anytime and threaten existing companies’ market share.

      Industries of the Future

      Investors with a long-term view can consider investments in these high potential areas. Propelled by market trends, the fastest growing industries fall within three broader sectors:

      By looking to the future, investors may be able to capitalize on industries poised for growth.

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