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12 September 2017

Interesting times for central bankers.

If growth is picking up, why are bond yields still so low?

It appears the low volatility/high valuation regime in equity and credit markets is continuing into the autumn. This is despite an important and imminent US Fed balance sheet reduction announcement. Furthermore, October brings details of the ECB’s plans to reduce the net purchases of its own QE program. While central bankers are quick to claim credit for any improvement in economic conditions, the decline in long-term bond yields over the summer questions the durability of the expansion as the yield curve flattens. It also remains to be seen if investors will re-appraise the low level of risk premia in global markets as QE is withdrawn.

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31 May 2016

Beware of buy and hold.

The last few decades of the 20th century represented a golden era for equity investment with an average compound annual return, including dividends, of 14% pa in the period 1973-2000 for the US, UK and Europe. In this century to date, the annualised rate of return has fallen to 5%.

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17 March 2016

Was there a “plaza” accord after all?.

Yesterday’s FOMC statement and Yellen’s press comments were unequivocally more dovish than the markets and we were expecting. Going into the meeting there was a reasonable case for preparing the markets for a rate increase in early summer, given declining unemployment and increasing US core CPI. As it turned out, external factors – perhaps a euphemism for undesirable moves in global markets and the US dollar – were in contrast almost overplayed. For us, “Peak fear” was last month’s story, so why bring it up now?

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10 March 2016

ECB - Using the bazooka.

With survey data pointing to a marked slowdown in the eurozone manufacturing sector, Exhibit 1; forward inflation expectations at 1.4% significantly lower than at December’s meeting; and a cut in the ECB’s projections for economic growth from 1.7% to 1.4% for 2016, anything other than a forceful response would have been received very poorly by markets. This would in our view also have been tantamount to a policy error. But unlike December, this time markets got what they wished for – an increase in the size and composition of eurozone QE.

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RSS - Strategic Insight
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*Multiple Sectors
30/05/2019
Equity strategy and market outlook - May 2019

In this month’s strategy piece, Alastair notes that the much-anticipated resolution to the US/China trade dispute has failed to materialise. Furthermore, the likelihood of any resolution in the near term appears modest at best. His earlier more positive views on equities for 2019 were contingent on a US/China trade resolution by mid-year and his outlook has therefore become more cautious. A downward turn in survey data and consensus earnings forecasts has been re-established and ebbing global earnings momentum during the past four weeks consistent with softer PMI indices and slowing trade data. Short- and long-term bond yields have fallen in recent weeks, reflecting market expectations of a slowdown. A steady build-up of debt in the corporate sector of China and the US will become a greater issue if the economy slows. Therefore, he believes investors should now focus on balance sheet quality in equity investments at this point in the cycle. He moves to a cautious view on global equities from neutral. Given the still significant rally since the year-end, there is time to reposition portfolios and he believes investors should focus on specific companies with lower than average exposure to cyclical factors and trade headwinds, given the cautious outlook.

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