25 results found.
The Absolute Return Letter - First Mover Advantage
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the eurozone crisis has always been a banking crisis. It only morphed into a sovereign crisis because of political incompetence. Given the rather stubborn approach of the German government to its beleaguered eurozone partners, the crisis is rapidly moving towards some sort of crescendo. It is only a question of time before one of the Southern European countries come to realise that they might be better off outside the eurozone, particularly if they are the first mover.
Dont Fight the Last War Lessons from the Battlefields of Risk Management
Investors often behave as if they operate in a world of logic and certainty even when that is not the case. For that reason, history is littered with investors who have failed miserably. In this month's Absolute Return Letter we look at many of the pitfalls facing risk managers and we take a stab at where the next big crisis is going to surface. Our conclusion may surprise a few readers.
You Cant Handle the Truth
The UK may not be facing the same set of challenges as many other European countries but that does not mean that the next few years will be plain sailing for the British. Households are overextended, banks are highly leveraged and the pension model is deeply flawed. Meanwhile, the British government, obsessed with keeping the coveted AAA rating, is pursuing a fiscal policy which is well intended but entirely inappropriate.
The Protein Bomb
Population will grow from 7-8.3 billion people over the next decade. Meanwhile, arable land across the world will shrink and living standards will continue to rise, with the OECD projecting 3 billion new middle class consumers over the next 20 years. Many of these people will change their diets in favor of more animal protein. Livestock is quite inefficient in terms of converting grain to energy, so the pressure on farmers to deliver more will be immense. We conclude that agriculture should be represented in every long-term portfolio, but farm land has already risen a lot in value.
The Unlikely Bull Market
Europe is going from crisis to crisis at the same time as stock markets climb higher. Meanwhile, investors are left confused. The key to understanding the apparent disconnect between stock market behavior and economic fundamentals is the aggressive policy being pursued by the ECB which has eased credit conditions in the crisis-stricken European banking industry. With more QE from the ECB in the pipeline, we expect equity prices to benefit.
Ignore Egan-Jones at Your Peril
The ink on the Greek rescue agreement has barely dried, and the feeling in financial markets is sombre yet again. However, investors have changed their focus away from Greece towards Italy - a change which could prove disastrous for the eurozone given the size of the Italian bond market. In this edition of The Absolute Return Letter we take a closer look at Italy's refinancing needs and suggest corporate bonds as an alternative to government bonds.
Point of Maximum Pessimism?
The current level of pessimism is quite overwhelming, in particular in Europe where the eurozone crisis has taken its toll on investor confidence. This has led to valuation levels we haven't seen since the dark days of 1981-82, just before we embarked on the 1982-2000 bull market - the biggest of all time. It is our view that investors will be amply rewarded if they begin to buy European equities at current levels, although it is a strategy that shall require both a solid stomach and some patience.
If Carlsberg Did Mortgages
The old world is drowning in debt. Governments are responding with austerity programmes and near zero interest rates but neither will work. Economic growth will be required to get the escalating debt under control, but policy makers need to dig deep into the tool box for different ideas as to how to create this growth. In this month's Absolute Return Letter we focus on one particular idea which will greatly benefit economic growth at no cost to the tax payer - reform the mortgage finance system across the world, using the model developed by the Danes over the past 200 years.
Why US of AA Matters
So what does it mean? Near term, other U.S. financial institutions (Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? JP Morgan?) will be downgraded as a result - perhaps as early as today or tomorrow. Following that, if Standard & Poors wants to maintain whatever credibility it has left, it will probably have to downgrade a few sovereigns as well. France springs to mind; it is not far behind the US as far as profligacy is concerned, and it may prove difficult for Standard and Poors to justify the AAA rating it currently assigns to France.
What Happens Next?
If Portugal and Ireland, and eventually also Spain and Italy, increasingly get dragged into this crisis ? and everything I see on the horizon suggest they will ? the ?400 billion the ECB has pumped into the banking sector in those countries so far will be pocket money compared to what will be required going forward. At some point the creditor countries will say enough is enough. And if the politicians don?t know when to say no, the electorate will do the job for them. The ECB?s strategy for now seems to be one of buying time.
Five Misconceptions Squashed
DSK is not the only one in need of a bailout! As the sovereign crisis intensifies - and it will - bond yields in some countries will go higher. But they won?t go higher everywhere. Demographic as well as technical factors (e.g. Solvency II) will drive ever more money towards bonds, and that money will have to go somewhere. Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia are probably the safest bets in terms of where sovereign bond yields could fall further. You should also expect high quality corporate bond yields to trade through sovereign yields in many countries. The trend has already begun.
The Case for Human Ingenuity
This month we take a closer look at oil and reach what many of our readers will probabaly find a surprising conclusion: We believe that we are approaching the end of the oil era and that oil prices will undergo a substantial correction over the next several years. But we cannot be very precise on timing, as there are too many variables at this stage. Our conclusion is based on 3 observations.
Confessions of an Investor
Woody Brock is advocating a regime change. Throw away the generally accepted approach of two generations of investment ?experts? and start again, is Woody?s recommendation. As a practitioner, I certainly recognise the limitations of MPT and I agree that, in the wrong hands, it can be a dangerous tool, but there is also a discipline embedded in MPT which carries a great deal of value. And, in fairness to Woody, he does in fact agree that you can take the best from MPT and mix it with a good dose of ?common sense? and actually end up with a pretty robust investment methodology.
The Absolute Return Letter
Two remarkable events unfolded during the month of February. One cleared the front pages all over the world. The other one barely got a mention - outside of its home country that is. Both have the ability to derail the economic recovery currently unfolding. The first one is not surprisingly the uprising in the Middle East and North Africa. The other one is perhaps less obvious; we are referring to the Irish elections. We take a closer look at both of those events and what the implications may be for financial markets.
Feb 2011 Absolute Return Letter
We celebrate the Chinese New Year - the year of the rabbit - by taking a closer look at what is now the second largest economy in the world. We embrace the longer-term opportunities which present themselves, but we also discuss some of the near term challenges, which include uncomfortably high inflation combined with surprisingly weak economic growth towards the end of 2010. Enjoy the read!
The Dirty Dozen
In the following I list a number of risk factors which I believe investors should give serious consideration, but I do not for one second pretend for that list to be exhaustive. Neither should you read anything into the order of which those risk factors are listed. If you want my assessment of how to rank the various factors, you need to take a look at the risk scatter chart at the end of the letter.
Four Rather Sick Patients
The world is in an unprecedented situation in which all four major trading currencies (EUR, GBP, JPY and USD) face serious challenges. Not all four major currencies, however, can fall at the same time. Currencies are unique in the sense that they are relative as opposed to absolute trading objects. You don't just buy dollars. You buy dollars against some other currency. The scaremongers may have their day in the sun, but ultimately common sense will prevail and currency traders will have to go back to focus on housing starts again.
On 1st January 2013, Solvency II, a new directive governing capital adequacy rules in the European insurance and life insurance industry, will come into effect. Going forward, European insurers will have to be able to pass a 1-in-200 years' event stress test, which has been designed to give the industry enough of a cushion to withstand even the most severe of bear markets without being forced to sell. Risky asset classes such as equities, commodities and other alternative investments will be assigned much higher reserve requirements than less risky asset classes such as bonds.
Beggar Thy Neighbor
Austerity hurts domestic economic growth, and all those countries facing harsh austerity programs over the next several years will thus realize that the only way out of the current predicament is through higher exports and/or lower imports. We cannot all export our way out of our problems, however. Somebody will have to do the imports. Lower economic activity will again lead to lower tax revenues for the public sector; it is a very unfortunate and rather vicious spiral which is also very deflationary.
The Art of Outperformance
This month's letter is different. Our usual ramblings about the dire outlook for the global economy have been put aside for a while. Instead we focus on a couple of ideas for equity investors who have grown frustrated trying to beat the market - which is very difficult indeed. We do make some rather unflattering comments about active managers, but please note that these are specific to the equity space. In other, less efficient, asset classes, active managers often do much better than is the case in the equity world.
The European Disease
It should be blatantly clear that Greece is by no means the only country at risk of falling into the much dreaded debt trap. The United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Spain, France, Portugal and Australia are all in dangerous territory and Ireland is in very deep trouble on this account. This cross-European contagion risk threatens the very existence of our banking system, and it is this risk that French and German leaders are thinking about when they say that Greece will not be allowed to go down.
The Commodities Con
Investor allocation to commodities has grown dramatically in recent years - to the point where commodities have become a mainstream asset class. Commodity prices have thus at least partly been driven not by fundamental demand but by demand from financial investors eager to diversify their equity risk and attracted to the seemingly high probability of generating uncorrelated returns. What these investors do not seem to understand, however, is that now that traders themselves determine market prices, the promised land of uncorrelated returns is little more than wishful thinking.
When the Facts Change
An echo bubble is upon us. Echo bubbles are the children of primary asset bubbles, and emerge when monetary authorities respond to the bursting of a primary asset bubble by slashing policy rates. Extraordinarily low interest rates are currently encouraging another bout of excessive risk taking. If policymakers raised rates now, however, they would almost certainly kill the fledgling recovery. The pressure is therefore on monetary authorities to keep rates low and feed the new bubble. Investors should steer toward assets that benefit from high volatility.
The Retirement Lottery
Aggressive advertising feeds us the fallacy that as long as we invest for the long term, equities will always provide us with solid returns. This may be true if your investment horizon is 30 or 40 years, but most people do not start saving for retirement until they are in their 40s. Hundreds of millions of baby boomers are now chasing whatever returns they can to ensure that they can retire in relative comfort. Jensen also examines the relationship between net private savings, foreign capital inflows and government debt.
25 results found.