Imagine a fairy that grants you three wishes. What would you wish for? The answer would be very easy for me. I would just like to know if the economy is caught up in a recession of has embarked on an expansionary phase a year from now. And whether the central bank will be pursuing an expansive or restrictive policy. If I got these two wishes granted, I would even forego the third one. Or, as a good fund manager, I might engage in risk management and save up for bad times. Growth and monetary policy are of significant relevance to the return of almost all asset classes.
The recovery from the slump on the equity markets we saw at the beginning of the year is coming to an end. The rally is losing steam. The search for new supporting factors in addition to the expansive central bank policies is difficult. In line with the general strategy “sell on highs”, we took the recovery profits generated by the neutral weighting and reduced the equity allocation by about a third.
The price declines on the equity markets at the beginning of the year suggest a decline in investor confidence. Is this justified? Please find a few hypotheses for 2016 in the following:
We have experienced an increased degree of jitters on the financial markets at the beginning of the new year. The triggers of this situation are based in China. Chinese equities have incurred a slump, and the Chinese currency has depreciated relative to the US dollar. Given that at 17% the share of the Chinese economy of the global GDP on the basis of purchase power parities had already exceeded that of the USA (16%) these developments of course come with global effects.
Earlier this year the president of the ECB said we would have to get used to elevated levels of volatility. And it is true, the market environment has changed. The years 2009 to 2014 were subject to an asset price reflation regime. High rates of return were coupled with low volatility. This relationship has now reversed. The asset classes are now pricing in the moderate recovery in the industrialised economies, with low expected return amid elevated fluctuation as a rule.
Last Sunday, the Greek people decided with a clear majority to follow the proposal of their government. With 61.3%, the No camp rejected the conditions of the expired adjustment program. Thereby, Greece is one step closer to an exit from the Eurozone and the European Union.
The most important central bank in the world, i.e. the US Fed, made an announcement yesterday that attracted a large deal of attention from investors. The bank withdrew its assurance to remain “patient” before the Fed funds rate would be increased. This paved the way for a possible abandonment of the zero interest rate policy, if economic need be. The new formula goes like this: the Fed funds rate will be raised once the labour market has improved more and the FOMC is optimistic about inflation rising towards the medium-term target of two percent.