Having defined and explained various management styles in equity management in part 1, we will now have a look at the specific styles and their return/risk ratio over time.
A clear sense of style is not only important in fashion, but more and more so in equity management as well. But what does “style” mean in equity management? Do stylistic preferences change over time, like in fashion? If so, what triggers those changes? Questions upon questions, but before we go into detail in part 2 of this series, let us first clarify what we mean by style(s):
Have you ever been to a Californian beach? If you have, you may have noticed the hoards of “searching”, elderly people. They would usually be holding a metal rod that beeps, looking for valuables that no-one else has found. And sometimes somebody finds a lost golden watch on the beach. But most of the time the things that turn up are only worthless beer caps.
Football has two strategies. Some prefer focusing on the defensive so as not to concede a goal – i.e. they try to maintain the status quo. Other teams favour the offensive and actively engage in a fight for victory – i.e. they take risks. The strategies on the bond markets are similar. Credit-safe government bonds are preferably used to protect one’s wealth, whereas risky corporate bonds are chosen to produce surplus gains.
Investing for the long or the short term? This is the question bond investors ask. In this blog, we will have a look at German government bonds with a remaining time to maturity of two years (2Y; short) and ten years (10Y; long). More specifically, we are interested in the yield differential between the long- and the short-term interest rates. The technical term here is the “slope of the yield curve”.
USA, the land of unlimited possibilities, the Grand Canyon, and the Big Mac. Here, everything is bigger, better, and higher. But is this also true for interest rates?
Have you ever been to the Monte Carlo F! Grand Prix? If so, you may have witnessed the problem of turning into a curve too late. The race car hits the crasher barrier faster than the driver can react, and a lot of money has to be thrown at the repair job.
Equities, bonds affected by default risk, commodities, and emerging markets currencies are currently subject to corrections, which, noticeably, have now gone beyond the purview of emerging markets: while the emerging markets equity index declined by almost 6% (Performance-Data Source: Bloomberg, MSCI) last week, the index for developed markets lost 5.3% (Performance-Data Source: Bloomberg, MSCI). The fear that the economic weakening in the emerging markets might come with significant spill-over effects for the industrialised countries has increased. This prompts the question whether a phase of profound corrections is upon us in the risky asset classes. The question alone has caused the risk aversion of investors to rise. The liquidity is temporarily parked in safe havens such as US Treasury bonds, the euro, and the Japanese yen.
Eurozone government bonds have ensured very good performance returns in the past years. The asset class has benefited from the zero interest rate policy and the very expansive monetary policy of the European Central Bank.
In recent weeks the prices of bonds from Eurozone countries have gone through a correction, above all German government bonds. The reasons for the specific timing of the correction are numerous and cannot easily be pinned down. In spite of slight improvements, we do not expect an interest rate reversal for the Eurozone at this point in time. The fundamentals for such a scenario are not in place.
Euro government bonds are an important component of a portfolio. From both risk and return considerations, a diversification across a broad spectrum of assets makes sense (e.g. by adding high-yield bonds, emerging markets bonds or equities).
Bond investors are faced with a difficult environment. Do corporate bonds offer the chance of a halfway decent yield?
Stampfl: The statement that bond investors are faced with a difficult environment is actually an erroneous one. A balanced portfolio consisting of bonds from the peripheral countries and the core countries across all sectors would have seen a very good risk-adjusted performance in the past weeks and months. Also, complementing the BB segment with corporate bonds generates a certain degree of surplus yield, which in funds like Reserve Corporate causes is used to boost the development. That is like switching from winter tyres to summer tyres in spring. It facilitates a smoother running and lower fuel consumption. Or, translating it to the case of the fund, it results in a surplus yield at lower volatility.