Weekly Market Update

CONFIDENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION CONTINUES TO FALL

Thursday, October 11, 2018

According to an analysis released Tuesday by Gallup, confidence in higher education among US adults is continuing to decline, with 48% of respondents saying they had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the sector, down from 57% in 2015. The 2018 results showed a notable partisan divide which has widened since 2015. Republicans' confidence fell 17% during the three-year period while Democrats and Independents showed declines of 6% and 4%, respectively. Gallup suggested the steep decline among Republicans is related to a belief that colleges promote a liberal agenda. Higher education ranked fourth among 15 institutions, in terms of Americans' confidence. The military (74%), small business (67%) and the police (54%) topped the list while Congress (11%) ranked last.

In Other News

  • Yale University has allocated a part of its sizable endowment to invest in cryptocurrency assets. David Swensen, chief investment officer for Yale's $29.4 billion endowment fund, selected Paradigm, a blockchain venture fund, and Andreessen Horowitz's $300-million cryptocurrency fund.
  • Washington and Lee University has decided to rename some campus buildings in response to concerns expressed by students and faculty. The board of trustees announced that, among other changes, it will rename Robinson Hall as Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States.
  • According to IRS estimates, annual private activity bond ("PAB") issuance is expected to decrease, dropping from 3,043 PAB issues in 2017 to 2,200 in 2025. In 2017, borrowers rushed to close deals out of fear Congress would eliminate the tax break, resulting in record number of new issues.
  • Major municipal bond investors, such as Blackrock, UBS Wealth Management, and McDonnell Investment Management, are shifting focus from short-term securities to intermediate-maturity securities, saying the middle part of the yield curve has been providing "meaningful" additional yield compared to short-term debt. These higher yields are, in part, due to less demand from corporate buyers following tax law changes.
  • MassMutual Life Insurance Co. has given a $5 million gift to the University of Vermont, the largest donation the school has ever received from a corporation. The gift will bolster the university's data science focused Complex Systems Center. MassMutual has previously supported data science with gifts to Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and UMass Amherst in an effort to understand "the physical and financial determinants of wellness in the United States."