Published in CityA.M.
The global recovery does not fully account for the rise in markets, and the growth that would justify these elevated price levels is not guaranteed. (more…)
Gemma Godfrey, Chairman of the Investment Committee and Head of Research at Credo Capital, and John Authers of the Financial Times on CNBC’s European Closing Bell. Discussing how you should invest your money.
Join Guy Johnson and Louisa Bojesen for a fast-paced, dynamic wrap up to the trading day. “European Closing Bell” gives an in-depth analysis of the day’s market action and includes expert analysis from the major players in the European business and financial world.
“United we stand; divided we fall” Aesop (Ancient Greek Fabulist and Author of a collection of Greek fables. 620 BC-560 BC)
The problem with the “EU” banner is that it links together economies that are quite different from each other. Much press has been dedicated to the fate of the PIIGS – Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain but it is interesting to compare journalistic exposure with economic impact. Greece Ireland and Portugal account for less than 5% of EU GDP. To save you shifting through pages of research – here are the key pertinent points for each economy… The structure follows that of my earlier assessment of the futility of EU bailout mechanisms–
Although not within the PIIGS acronym – it is important nonetheless to mention this economy at this point and a great example of the potential impacts to investment. It’s a case that highlights the Government can’t win – if it decides that instead of implementing austerity programs eliciting social unrest, it will instead employ more crowd-pleasing reforms, it will get punished nonetheless….
Just to contast these economies with the one seeming to be driving force behind the union – Germany’s deficit could potentially fall to the 3% EU limit next year
INVESTMENT INSIGHT: When investing in the EU – differentiate between countries!
“We cannot forget how in 1997-98 American hedge funds destroyed the economies of poor countries by manipulating their national currencies.” – Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, (former Prime Minister of Malaysia, during the emerging market crisis).
The Hedge Fund industry has come under major scrutiny in the past few years. Blamed for stock market crashes, manipulating the markets and threatened with a ban on short selling, if a scapegoat was needed, they were ‘shortly’ targeted (!). Chargers of high fees and notoriously opaque – people naturally fear the unknown, and an expensive unknown even more so. Nevertheless, as Richard Wilson pointed out in his blog – back in 2007 the head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said that:
“hedge funds were not the catalysts or drivers of (that) summer’s events.”
Hedge funds trading in the financial markets can increase liquidity and aid price formation. Jed Emerson wrote a great piece at the end of last year taking he argument away from a debate between “good” and “evil” and instead concluding:
“fundamental fund of hedge fund investment strategies, when managed appropriately, may represent an emerging though as yet not realised opportunity for investors to pursue both full, commercial rate returns and affirm relevant aspects of Sustainable investment practice.”
Although I question the assertion the fund of hedge funds industry is emerging – since in some cases it seems to be retracting, I agree they offer an opportunity for returns and the claim of affirming sustainable investment practice balances the opposition’s argument.
What seems to be a rarely discussed topic is the value the industry provides the wider economy, outside the financial markets. Below I highlight some impressive information, sourced from a great article by Open Europe….
BOTTOM LINE: Job and tax contributions should not be under-estimated.
Benefits of PE / HF Industry to EU Economy
Benefits to UK Economy
The ageing of the populations within, for example, the US and UK is a structural limitation to the growth of the economy. (See “isn’t the consumer dead?” for an insight into the amount of the country’s net wealth this part of the population account for and the degree to which they are ill-prepared financially for retirement).
Within the UK, the percentage of the population aged over 65 (retirement age) increased from 15% to 16% from 1984 to 2009, over the same time span going forward this is to increase from 16% to 23% by 2034. This is a substantial decrease in the percentage of the nation generating an income, spending and boosting the economy and instead increasing the proportion of the populace reliant on healthcare, a state pension and other costs to the government.
INVESTMENT INSIGHT: to exploit this long term secular trend, invest in specific healthcare companies, nursing homes etc. Be wary that they may underperform a raging bull market due to their “defensive” nature but as a long-term play they may “pay dividends” (excuse the pun!)
The search for yield is becoming an ever tougher quest for investors, especially the more cautious amongst us. Arguably, the easy money has already been made within the fixed income space; cash offers little as an investment vehicle and many question what the growth drivers will be behind many developed market economies and stock markets. Thus we are left asking, where should one invest?
We also need to question the type of environment we are investing in. Government action will be highly influential as it exits from its policy of Monetary Easing. Timing will be crucial but almost impossible to get right. Too early and we risk dipping back into recession and experiencing the destructive forces of deflation; too late and the threat of rampant inflation rears its head. The consensus is that the government will favour the latter option as the lesser of two evils. Either way, any recovery the world sees may be a volatile one and clarity may remain elusive. Concerns over debt are still acute and here in the UK the Government predicts expenditure, revenues and debt are to get worse before getting better.
Thus I highlight the importance of an active management approach to investing, where the manager has the ability to react quickly to the changing environment and provide protection on the downside. Focus is also on being selective within each asset class. Although no longer a broad-based trade, opportunities remain within fixed income, with quality paramount and the focus on being name specific. Equities are looking more interesting. Nevertheless, with the potential for corrections in the markets in the near-term, investing with long / short managers, who have a proven track record of navigating the choppy markets of the last few years successfully and who are well-positioned to exploit opportunities both on the upside and downside, is attractive.
Emphasis is on being pro-active rather than reactive and continuing to monitor the changing economic and market environments closely.
ALLOCATE TO EQUITIES
ANTICIPATE A MARKET PULLBACK (i.e. invest via long/short managers able to protect on the downside)