Wednesday, November 14, 2018

State and U.S. jobless rates fall to 

record lows in September

By Allen Jones, TEXPERS Communications Manager

A key economic indicator, the unemployment rate, continues to fall in the U.S. and Texas is among states showing continued job growth in September.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in September, down from 3.9 percent in August, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. The September unemployment rate is the lowest in four decades.

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The state added 15,600 nonfarm jobs in September, helping to continue boosting Texas’ annual employment growth streak. Nonfarm is the compiled name for goods, construction, and manufacturing companies in the U.S. and it doesn’t include farm workers, private household employees, or nonprofit organizational employees. Texas’ annual employment growth was 3.3 percent in September, resulting in 27 consecutive months of year-over-year job growth.

“Texas employers continue to contribute to our state’s success with private-sector employers adding 16,700 jobs in September and accounting for an impressive 402,500 jobs over the year,” said Ruth Ruggero Hughs, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission. “Texas’ continued addition of jobs over a 27-month period demonstrates the competitive advantage and market opportunities available to our Texas employers and world-class workforce.”

The Texas Workforce Commission, the state agency charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job seekers, also notes in its Oct. 19 unemployment report, that the construction industry added 3,000 jobs since August. Other high-growth industries included manufacturing with 2,800 positions. The mining and logging industry added 2,600 jobs since August.

According to the agency, the Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area had the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s economic geographical regions. The Midland area had an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent, followed by the Amarillo MSA and the Odessa MSA which had the second lowest with a rate of 2.7 percent. The Austin-Round Rock and College Station-Bryan MSAs recorded the third lowest rate of 2.9 percent for the month.
Much of the U.S. is experiencing decreases in unemployment. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in September. The national unemployment rate declined by .2 percent from August to 6 million people in September, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

That is its lowest level since the Vietnam War, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, in which Andrew Chamberlain, the chief economist at recruiting site Glassdoor, called it “the best job market in a generation or more.”

A highlight among September’s national unemployment rate: The unemployment rate for women in the U.S. is the lowest it has been in more than six decades, according to a September jobs report released last month by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The unemployment rate for women was 3.6 percent, the lowest in 65 years,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in a prepared statement.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 134,000 jobs and was spurred by job gains in professional and business services, health care, transportation and warehousing. Jobless rates haven’t been that low since 1969, according to labor department data.

Last year, the unemployment rate for September was 4.2 percent, according to the labor department’s online database.


Lofty policy issues could shift 

lawmakers' focus off of public pensions 


The November 2018 general election is over and Texas is now readying for the 86th legislative session, which starts Jan. 8. Legislators have some lofty policy issues to address and may not have local public employee pensions at the forefront as was the case during the 85th legislative session in 2017.

Pre-filing for the 86th regular session of the Texas legislature began Nov. 12. Although pensions aren’t expected to be the focus of the legislative session, a few bills are looking to strengthen benefits for retired educators.

As of Nov. 14, House Bill 56 by Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, would establish cost-of-living adjustments on pensions for retired teachers. Also, Senate Bills 92, 93 and 94, all authored by Sen. Jose Menéndez, D-San Antonio, would add a supplemental “13th payment” for retirees and otherwise shore up the Teacher Retirement System, according to an update provided by TEXPERS’ lobbying firm, HillCo Partners.

By end of day Nov. 12, legislators filed more than 400 bills. A sampling of the legislation propose raising wages, strengthening workplace benefits, expanding health care and improving access to higher education. Several measures address the problem of sexual harassment. Capital insiders see costs related to Hurricane Harvey and disaster recovery, school safety, local property taxes, mental health, and public school funding among the session’s top priorities, however.

The general election brought about transition at the Congressional level and the Texas legislature. Nationally, Democrats took control of the House in Congress turning at least 25 seats from Republican to Democrat but lost a few seats in the Senate. The outcome from an unprecedented voter turnout in a midterm election resulted in a split Congress. In the Texas legislature, the Senate saw two incumbents lose their seats bringing the 31-member Senate to 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The Texas House will have 12 new Democrats bringing the 150-member body to a 67 Democrat and 83 Republican membership (at the time of this writing).

At the federal level, several races and candidates received voter and media attention rare for a midterm election cycle. The race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke captured national attention and created voter enthusiasm in Texas. Ultimately, Senator Cruz defeated his Democratic challenger by 3 points.

Along with the national dialogue, the Cruz-O’Rourke race was a cause for the projection of a larger voter turnout than in prior midterm elections. Two Republican held Congressional seats, Congressional District 7 from the Houston area and Congressional District 32 in suburban northeastern Dallas, switched to Democrat.

Going into the general election, the Texas Legislature had 94 contested House races and 13 contested Senate seats. After votes were counted on election night, 12 House Republican seats went Democrat, with 2 seats in the Texas Senate being won by the Democratic candidate.

Bill Miller, co-founding partner of HillCo Partners, made this statement prior to Tuesday’s general election regarding the House contests, “Among state House races, it is uncertain how many Democrats will win competitive elections, but it is virtually certain more Democrats will be added to the House.”

“The net result for pensions,” he says, “is less pressure from the conservative Republican wing to change the status quo.”

Republicans still maintain control of the Texas Senate and House. However, the gain by Democrats in the House provided an appreciable impact to the most critical function that occurred the first day the 86th Texas House convened: electing a speaker. With Speaker Straus announcing his resignation, the speaker’s office became an “open seat,” something that has not occurred in over a decade. Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, received enough support from House members to become the next speaker.

When legislators convene in January, several policy issues will need addressing, which may shift their focus from local public employee pensions.

“Public pension issues may not have the focus the likes of which were on the table during the 85th session,” says Eddie Solis, who represents TEXPERS as a lobbyist with HillCo Partners in Austin.

During the 85th interim, House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over pensions received updates regarding the pension reform legislation passed last session and the state’s Pension Review Board has continued discussing remedies local plans are proposing as required by Funding Soundness Restoration Plans to resolve issues identified by both the pension system and respective sponsoring entities. The PRB continues to research how local plans are working with their respective cities to address funding issues.

TEXPERS continues to track political happenings that could impact pensions at the state and federal level. Members may log in to their member portals at for legislative updates throughout the 2019 session.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Benchmarking your retirement plan

By Marianne Marvez, Guest Columnist

Benchmarking the fees and services provided to retirement plans by their recordkeepers is not only a prudent practice, it is a fiduciary obligation. 

Why should you benchmark your plan?
  • Fulfill your fiduciary obligation to monitor your current service providers by gathering information required to review the quality of the services and assess the cost of those services to determine if they are reasonable.
  • Compare your current service provider against the competition to determine if the current provider is still a good fit for your plan.
  • Potential cost savings for both the plan sponsor and participants in the form of lower recordkeeping and investment costs.  
  • Refresh your plan design. It is prudent to review your objectives for offering a retirement plan. Have those goals changed, and if they have, what service enhancements might you consider adding to facilitate participant engagement, add value to the company and improve your ability to attract and retain talent?

There are no set industry standards that mandate how often a plan sponsor should benchmark their plan. Many industry experts suggest benchmarking recordkeeping fees every three to five years. Some plans may have pre-determined benchmarking frequency requirements written in their plan document or policy statement.

There are several different ways to benchmark a retirement plan. One method specifically designed to gather data on recordkeeping fees and services is a Request for Information “RFI”.  The RFI is customized with your plan’s information including demographic and cash flow data, and specific plan design and service requirements you wish to review.  The documentation is prepared and the RFI is sent to several recordkeeping firms which have experience with your size and type of plan. Each firm is asked to prepare a pricing proposal using only the specific customized plan data provided, to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison.    

This benchmarking method provides insight as to what other recordkeeping providers are willing to charge to service your plan and helps verify whether or not your current provider’s fees are deemed reasonable.  Having this plan-specific fee data gives you the information necessary to determine that your current fees are either reasonable and compare favorably with the fees of similar recordkeeping firms, or allows you to weigh the value of staying with your current provider against making a recordkeeper change. Changing providers can be costly in time, lost account history and stressful. It may be reasonable to pay a higher fee if the quality of service and measurable outcomes align with the purpose for offering the plan. 
The regulatory guidance on what constitutes “reasonable” is a bit gray, and nowhere does it say a plan sponsor has to choose the least expensive service provider.  However, it is clear that as part of a prudent process, employers must be able to justify their choices and maintain documentation to validate their decisions.  The majority of lawsuits brought against plan sponsors in the past ten years have not only centered on fees, but also the failure to monitor

The landscape of retirement plans has changed dramatically in recent years, especially in the way recordkeeping fees are paid.  Due to the consolidation of providers, the increased use of technology, the move away from funds that share revenue, and the fear of litigation, recordkeeping firms have seen their fees decline. If your plan has been with the same recordkeeper for several years and you have not discussed renegotiating your Fee and Services Agreement, now would be an appropriate time to benchmark the plan to ensure you are monitoring the quality of your recordkeeper and collecting the information to determine that their fees are reasonable for the services provided.
The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of Innovest or TEXPERS. 

Marianne Marvez
About the Authors:
Marianne Marvez is a vice president at Innovest. She has more than 30 years of experience in the retirement plan sector. She is a member of Innovest’s Retirement Plan Practice Group, a specialized team that identifies best practices and implements process improvements to maximize efficiencies for our retirement plan clients. Marianne holds a Retirement Plan Associate designation from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and she is also pursuing the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist designation. She is also holds the Series 65 License Registered Investment Adviser Representative though FINRA. Prior to joining Innovest, Marianne was a director with Empower Retirement, a senior consultant at Strategies, LLC, a vice president and senior relationship manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and spent 15 years with Invesco Retirement Plan Services as an associate partner and senior client relationship Manager. Marvez graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts in law and society and a certificate in conflict management studies. In addition, she is a board member of the Denver Chapter of the Western Pension and Benefits Council, a 28-year member of the Board of Directors for the Denver Santa Claus Shop, a member of Mile High United Way’s Women United, and a Junior Achievement volunteer. Marvez also volunteers at Arrupe Jesuit High School and actively participates in various charity fundraising events in the metropolitan Denver community. Marvez is a Denver native. She and her husband Ed have four grown children and enjoy traveling, skiing, hiking and kayaking.

As global stocks diverge, 

valuation comes into sharp focus

By Gregory Kolb & George Maglares, Guest Columnists

Despite the recent sell-off, U.S. equities have clearly separated from the rest of the global pack based on strong underlying economic fundamentals aided by stimulus from tax reform and assorted deregulation. From that place of relative strength, U.S. leadership is actively seeking concessions from trade partners, including both traditional allies (NAFTA, Europe) and strategic competitors (China). These measures, in and of themselves, are increasing tensions and uncertainty around the globe, and it would seem that equity markets are contemplating various adverse impacts. For example, several major markets in Europe – such as the UK and Germany – as well as Hong Kong are down meaningfully on a year-to-date basis, which is a stark contrast to performance in the U.S.

U.S. Outperformance
There are likely multiple explanations for this bifurcation in performance. First, investors may be anticipating that the U.S. is likelier to emerge victorious amid these various trade disputes given that its economy is larger, stronger and relatively less dependent on exports than partners. Second, underlying U.S. economic conditions are accelerating with improving GDP, low unemployment and contained inflation. 

Third, a variety of headwinds are challenging other major economies. The Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union appear increasingly disorganized and chaotic with each side entrenched in its own negotiating position before a firm March 2019 deadline. In Italy, the new government has proposed fiscal measures that are increasingly in conflict with EU and European Central Bank rules, threatening a potential debt crisis. 

Fourth, emerging market currencies continue to decline in countries such as Turkey, Argentina, Brazil and India. This currency depreciation increases the risks for those countries to meet debt obligations, attract capital and sustain growth. 

Lastly, China’s ability to sustain its own debt-fueled growth becomes more challenging in the face of massive U.S. tariffs.

Potential Downside Risks
And yet through all this elevated concern, stock market valuations in the U.S. remain near all-time highs, with multiples close to levels only previously eclipsed right before the dot-com bubble collapsed. As tensions escalate, it appears that the U.S. is serving as a “safe haven” for many investors and attracting further capital. 

Still, it is important to consider downside risks in such scenarios. Stimulus measures eventually run their course and have diminishing marginal impact. We also observe that a strengthening dollar invested in markets outside the U.S. generally buys significantly greater earnings than it would in the U.S.

Staying Focused on Valuation
Given the current environment, we encourage investors to explore areas that are out of favor and where negative sentiment weighs on the valuations of businesses with competitive strengths and financial resources to endure near-term challenges. 

Today, this often means focusing on opportunities outside of the U.S. where multiples appear more attractive. It might also include stocks that traditionally fall into the “value” bucket and tend to be cyclical in nature, including automotive, media, building products, materials and chemicals. We believe gradually shifting into these types of equities could mitigate downside risks. In our opinion, when market performance diverges, deploying capital into such areas could deliver stronger relative returns in periods of elevated market stress.

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of Perkins Investment Management or its parent organization, Janus Capital Group, or TEXPERS. 

George Maglares
About the Authors:
George Maglares is a Portfolio Manager for Perkins Investment Management LLC and is responsible for co-managing the Perkins Global Value and International Value strategies, a position he has held since 2016. Since 2013, he has also been a research analyst covering non-U.S. securities with a focus on the industrials and consumer sectors. Prior to joining Perkins, Maglares was a senior analyst with RoundKeep Capital Advisors, an event-driven hedge fund. His experience also includes serving as an associate with Frontenac Co., a middle market private equity firm, and as an analyst with Lazard Frères & Co. LLC. Maglares received his bachelor's degree in ethics, politics and economics from Yale University. He holds an MBA with concentrations in finance, accounting and entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, where he graduated with high honors. He has 14 years of financial industry experience.

Gregory Kolb
Gregory Kolb is chief investment officer for Perkins Investment Management LLC, a position he has held since 2015. He is also a portfolio manager of the Perkins Global Value and International Value strategies. Kolb transitioned to the Perkins investment team from Janus in 2010. He joined the Janus investment team as a research analyst in 2001, became co-portfolio manager of Perkins Global Value strategy in 2005, and was named sole portfolio manager in 2009. Mr. Kolb has served as co-portfolio manager of the Perkins International Value strategy since its inception in 2013. His previous work experience includes roles as an associate director in UBS Warburg’s Financial Institutions Investment Banking Group and as an analyst for Lehman Brothers’ global mergers and acquisitions group. Kolb received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Miami University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Kolb holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and has 19 years of financial industry experience.

Market rout may spur rotation from growth to value

By Charles Roth, Guest Columnist

The early-October 2018 selloff in stocks has fueled speculation about an incipient rotation from growth to value. After a decade of growth stocks beating asset-heavy, stable earners and cyclical industrials, perhaps it’s time for a rebound in value. Recent exchange-traded fund flows and value vs. growth index returns suggest a shift in investor sentiment.

Since 2008, the S&P 500 Index has returned an annualized 14%, driven largely by large-cap growth. Corrections should be expected and welcomed. They create better price values for risk assets. Value can be assessed at the individual security or index levels, though we think it’s easier at the security level. Correctly timing index mean reversions is extraordinarily hard. It can look easy in hindsight, but head-fakes abound.

Take the Russell 1000 Value Index (RLV) relative to the Russell 1000 Growth Index (RLG), and the inverse RLG/RLV ratio. The mean reversions appear clear: as the Federal funds rate and the 10-year Treasury yield zig-zagged down from 1981 to 2008, value outperformed growth point-to-point. Over those nearly three decades, though, value outperformed in the first 10 years, then mostly lagged in the prelude to the Tech bubble. After that burst, value resumed beating growth until just before the Financial Crisis.

From the bottom of the Financial Crisis, growth then shifted into overdrive. It was fueled partly by unprecedented monetary policy: a ground-level benchmark rate and central bank asset purchases, which kept long-term rates at lowly levels for years to come. Until, perhaps, this fall, when the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield jumped about 40 basis points to around 3.20%. From September 11 to October 10, 2018, the Russell 1000 Value and S&P 500 Value indices both beat their growth counterparts by well over three percentage points.

Click chart to see enlarged image.

So declining Treasury yields combined with falling household savings created tailwinds for expanding consumption that boosted industrials, staples and infrastructure companies. But the Financial Crisis then induced consumer deleveraging. And tech’s intangible assets—intellectual property and patents—in many ways became more valuable than the fixed assets of old economy companies.
That’s reflected in index restructurings. The S&P Dow Jones and MSCI recently replaced the old telecommunications sector with a new “Communications Services” sector.

A quarter-century ago, the telecommunications sector was 9% of the S&P 500 Index, but by the end of August it had dwindled to less than 2%. Meanwhile, information technology’s weighting went from 6% to 26%, not including tech giants Amazon and Netflix, which were classified as consumer discretionary. Tech behemoths are now divided into three separate sectors. Big firms that own telecom and cable “pipes” are trying to leverage them with more valuable media and content offerings. The new communications services sector is 10% of the index.

Now, as rates rise valuations matter more. Whether growth or value stocks, if a company’s share price significantly diverges from its business fundamentals, opportunities to buy or sell are created. We think these are easier to spot than true index mean reversions.

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of Thornburg Investment Management or TEXPERS.

Charles Roth
About the Author:

Charles Roth is global markets editor for Thornburg Investment Management. Prior to joining Thornburg in 2013, he was an assistant managing editor at Dow Jones Newswires, the Wall Street Journal’s real-time financial news and analysis division, where he oversaw its bureaus in Latin America as well as the New York–based emerging markets group. He previously served as a senior writer in the emerging markets group, bureau chief in Venezuela, and staff reporter in Malaysia. Roth earned a bachelor's degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an masters' degree from the Instituto Universitario de Desarrollo y Cooperación at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali.

Public funds and the investment return assumption


By Tony Kay, Guest Columnist

Many public funds are facing increased scrutiny regarding their actuarial assumptions, none more openly than their investment return assumption. 

This projection, sometimes referred to as the actuarial assumed rate of return, is used to document the long-term investment return expectations of a pension plan. It is used in part to determine the level of funding by plan sponsors and members required to support benefits. As with all actuarial assumptions, the goal of the investment return assumption is to project the most likely picture of the plan’s operation over the long term. Some outside parties believe that the assumptions used by various Texas plans no longer represent an accurate long-term depiction of future experience and, as a result, are understating the costs of pensions. 

The call to reduce the investment return assumption is routinely rooted in the belief that future investment returns will not meet historical levels for many of the most commonly held asset classes. Interest rates in the U.S. are low, but generally rising, creating an environment where income from U.S. bonds is low and the possibility of negative returns is elevated.  U.S. equities have performed well since 2008, but valuations have increased.  Furthermore, the current economic expansion is one of the longest in U.S. history. Many other asset classes face challenges as well.

Facing the decision to change the investment return assumption is difficult for many boards.  Even small changes can have a big impact on a plan’s amortization period, the contribution rate of members and plan sponsors and potentially even future benefits. How is a board to know if it is making the right decision? 

To start, it’s important to know how pensions are funded. Knowledge of the following equation will help trustees understand the impact of changes to plan assumptions on other areas of the plan: Benefits + Expenses = Contributions + Investment Earnings

It’s also important to get clear and understandable guidance from the professionals you engage. Your actuary can help you understand your current assumptions and how they differ from actual plan experience. All assumptions, including the investment return assumption, should be reviewed periodically and adjusted as needed. 

Your investment consultant can help you understand the historical return for your plan and how changes to your asset allocation will impact the risk and expected return of your portfolio. For example, what should you expect if you increase your exposure to stocks by 5% or add a new allocation to global infrastructure? There are an almost unlimited number of asset allocation scenarios that can be modeled for consideration.

Finally, it’s important to be transparent and inclusive. As you gather information and seek guidance, share what you are doing with interested parties. Being proactive with this communication will help to calm the noise of those that seem determined to attack and/or eliminate retirement programs that work if administered well. 

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of AndCo Consulting or TEXPERS. 

Tony Kay
About the Author:

Tony Kay is a consultant at AndCo and is based in the firm's Dallas office. He has 13 years of financial industry experience and currently advises more than $3 billion of institutional assets. Kay currently provides consulting for a diverse client base including public and private pensions, defined contribution, and foundation clients. His work includes both strategic and tactical asset allocation, process development and oversight, and policy documentation. Kay concentrates his efforts on client consulting, capital markets, manager research, and portfolio monitoring. He leads and assists with investment research projects and manager analysis for our clients. He has also assisted in research covering opportunistic and non-traditional assets, including core real estate, non-core real estate, private equity, distressed debt, and energy infrastructure assets such as Master Limited Partnerships. Kay was recently invited to speak at TLFFRA about meeting investment return expectations. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration, finance, from University of Tulsa. 

Europe: 5 scenarios for investors to watch

Photo: Pexels/Slon_Dot_Pics

By Arnab Das, Guest Columnist

The future of the euro and that of the European Union are inextricably tied. The big question is how could today’s political landscape impact the region in the coming months and years – and what does that mean for investors?

The rise of populism – The European political landscape is pockmarked with populism as anti-globalization and anti-European sentiment continue to rise. Driven by issues such as mass migration, cultural liberalization, and national sovereignty, populist sentiment is, as we note, making Europe’s political battleground “hot” and harder to navigate.
North versus South: The spirit of populism differs vastly in Northern and Southern Europe. Northern populists in countries like the Netherlands tend to be right-leaning and populists in southern countries, like Italy and Greece, lean left. This north-south divide adds further fragmentation at a time when centrists are pushing for consensus in Europe. Could different forms of populism torpedo all hopes of cooperation?
Weakening ties with U.S.: With a big U.S. focus on “America First”, the risk of U.S.-EU trade war is real and could see Germany — with its huge trade surplus with the U.S. — hit the hardest of all. At the same time, we see such tensions giving rise to the very real possibility that Europe’s key defense guarantee might be hollowed out. No fan of NATO, Trump has characterized the EU as free-riding on U.S. support.
The rise of Russia: Russia is creating more instability in the region — President Vladimir Putin continues to promote Russian interests and to expand its sphere of influence, often at the expense of European interests. With NATO becoming increasingly fragile, the political rebalancing taking place between Europe and the U.S. will no doubt rattle Germany. The country’s high trade surplus and its overtly export-oriented economy has fueled discontent among allies, particularly the U.S. with whom its trade surplus topped €66 billion in 2017.
Energy and military strength:  Germany is also reliant on imported energy. In 2016, 32% of its coal and almost 40% of its oil came from Russia. We point out that Germany’s energy dependence underlines how frail its bargaining power is in a Europe facing disintegration and diminished security in the face of a weakened NATO. France could emerge a winner, with its strong military and a more favorable trade surplus with the U.S. Energy-wise, it’s also heavily reliant on its own network of reactors which are majority owned by the government.
Implications for investors – These developments will certainly impact markets and the euro but the extent of that impact depends on which way Europe evolves. Serious progress between countries and further integration is likely to lead to significant and sustained compression of country risk premia across bonds, credit and equity. However, should Europe move to disintegration, then that is likely to permanently widen some country risk premia.
The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of Invesco Fixed Income or TEXPERS. 

Arnab Das
About the Author:
Arnab Das is head of Europe, Middle East and Africa and Emerging Macro Research at Invesco Fixed Income.  He joined Invesco in 2015 and is based in London. Das began his career in finance in 1992. He has served as co-head of research at Roubini Global Economics; co-head of global economics and strategy, head of foreign exchange and emerging markets research at Dresdner Kleinwort; and head of Europe, Middle East and Africa research at JP Morgan. He has also been a private consultant in global and emerging markets, and previously consulted with Trusted Sources, a specialist EM research boutique in London. Das studied macroeconomics, economic history and international relations. He earned a BA degree from Princeton University in 1986, and completed his postgraduate degree and doctoral work at the London School of Economics from 1987 to 1992.