Quick View on What’s on Investors Mind and in their Portfolios

Source: Pixabay

Merrill issued its latest Fund Manager Survey last week, right after the sell-off in equity markets. The message to take out is: don’t buy on dips (well my view is that you always have to think long term, understand the fundamentals of any asset class and have a view on valuation, otherwise, don’t invest at all – but that’s not the point here, I think this survey is useful to gauge market sentiment).

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Are We on The Verge of Final Melt-Up Before the Next Krach ? Jeremy Grantham Thinks So

According to Investopedia a « melt-up » is a « A dramatic and unexpected improvement in the investment performance of an asset class driven partly by a stampede of investors who don’t want to miss out on its rise rather than by fundamental improvements in the economy. »

This is exactly what could happen to financial markets, according to veteran value investor Jeremy Grantham. Continuer la lecture de « Are We on The Verge of Final Melt-Up Before the Next Krach ? Jeremy Grantham Thinks So »

Long Term Expected Returns Have Just Gone Lower – Morgan Stanley

Getting a decent return from a diversified portfolio is getting more difficult by the year. According to Morgan Stanley’s calculations, « a traditional 60/40 equity/bond USD portfolio will see 4.2% per annum over the next decade, while the same in EUR fares only slightly better at 4.7%, and GBP at 4.9%; only the JPY 60/40 portfolio sees above-average expected returns, driven by elevated equity risk premiums. »

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Low Vol Regime In Perspective

Volatility is the most disturbing factor in financial markets and it’s something people should always keep an eye on. Measured by popular metrics like VIX or VSTOXX, it’s assimilated to the « fear indicator » of investors.

Looking at the long past of the US equity market (S&P 500 in chart below), you can see that volatility goes in regimes that can change widely but rely mainly on macro environment (expansion/recession) and it’s impact on the psychology of investor (P/E or valuation).

Volatility in equity market in perspective

Source: Goldman Sachs

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FOMO

Better growth, low inflation. It’s the perfect backdrop for risky assets. But in a late cycle environment, one of the driver of financial markets people should always be fearful about is the « fear of missing out », especially when the rise in stock market accelerates and relies more on multiple expansion than fundamental improvement.

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French Elections: Macron Wins. It’s All Good?

SocGen’s view on Macron’s win last night, in a nutshell:

« What next? Newly elected President Macron is set to shortly appoint a PM and an interim government. Attention will now turn to the legislative election on 11 and 18 June.

Rates: EGB spreads are collapsing, more because of a desperate search for yield with few near-term risks, rather than any election relief per se. Bunds are exposed as tail risk falls.

FX: We see limited upside just now for EUR/USD, given the overshooting vs rates and the risk of profit taking. EUR/JPY should gain, HUF and PLN should gain more.

Credit: Markets may tighten still after the final vote of the French presidential election. Nonetheless, thoughts should quickly turn to whether CSPP can end soon.

Equity: Macron winning the election was expected and so mostly priced in. Eurozone markets should outperform: we favour our long-term calls on Italy (FTSE MIB) and Banks (SX7E).

Equity derivatives: Equity vol collapsed after the first round, and we see little scope for lower moves. The focus should shift quickly to the general elections and then to the German election.

Technicals: CAC40 on the verge of confirming a paradigm shift. »

Eurozone Equities Favored Despite French Election

Investors hold firm to their Eurozone equities despite growing worries about the outcome of the French presidential election, according to the latest poll on investor positioning published by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Investors consider a « Le Pen Win » might produce a 5-10% market correction, but the real risk would be a Europe disintegration in the case of « Frexit », which would have deeper and far more negative implications.

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« Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy » – Buffett Most Important Quote

Picked up in a BofAML’s note. The figures in the following quote should have investors reflect on Buffett’s mantra: « Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful. »

« The Fed’s bull market: March 9th 2009…VIX 50, HY spread 1873, SPX 676, BKX 20; March 8th 2017…VIX 11, HY spread 373bps, SPX 2363, BKX 97; the bull market catalyst…extraordinary, unprecedented central bank policies. »

Facts make Buffett’s mantra right to the point.

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Chart of the Day – Cross Asset Correlation is VERY Low

Source: Morgan Stanley

Per MS’s report dated Jan 3rd 2017:

« 2016 saw the 3rd best annual performance for US High Yield on record. Commodities posted their best year of returns since 2009, a feat all the more impressive given early losses. It was a surprisingly ho-hum year for performance in global equities (+8.5% in MSCI ACWI), global rates, and the USD (+4.3%), with those numbers masking big divergences by region, style, and the 1st-versus-2nd half of the year. We also note that global correlations have plunged, driven largely by the breakdown in rates correlation to risk assets and regional correlations within equities. »

Risk Appetite Needs Growth – Goldman Sachs

Source: Goldman Sachs

Per today’s report:

« As equities rallied and bonds sold off, our measure of risk appetite reached a new post-crisis high, but it has started to retreat more recently. Near-term, we think growth optimism will persist and keep risk appetite strong. We are long US equity near-term as it should be a direct beneficiary of growth optimism, but expect optimism to moderate eventually. Later in 2017 we are looking to rotate from S&P 500 to EM (specifically EM-ex-China) where risk appetite has lagged and we expect the growth picture to be more supportive. We also like Europe and Japan on a 12-month horizon in our asset allocation. Both of these lagged global equities in 2016, but should continue to be beneficiaries of reflation and have supportive monetary policy backdrops. »

On a 12 month horizon, GS is overweight Equities, with a bias towards Europe and Japan, but underweight US equities and Neutral on Asia ex-Japan.

The bank underweights Government bonds and is Neutral on credit (yet with a preference for US High Yield and Euro High Yield).

It’s also Overweight Commodities and Cash.