High quality stocks, US/EU credit, EM debt are most crowded trades

The latest survey of global fund managers by Merrill Lynch continues to reveal high levels of cash in asset allocation, neutral stance on equities (1% net overweight vs 9% a month ago), yet on the backdrop of positive sentiment towards economic and profit growth…

Interestingly, most investors explain that high cash levels in allocation (net 5.4%) reflect « bearish views on markets »…

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Another interesting indicator in the survey is about the « most crowded trades » based on investors’ views.

From Merrill’s note:

« Most crowded trades are all « NIRP-winners »: long High Quality stocks; long US/EU Corporate bonds; long EM debt. Sept FMS shows first meaningful reduction in bond proxy exposure (staples, utilities, telcos – Exhibit 1), as well as reduction in « high growth » US market. But both REITs & tech remain big stubborn longs, and EM equity OW highest in 3.5 years. All vulnerable should Fed and especially BoJ fail to reduce bond vol in Sept. »

When you think about the increasing interest in EM debt, or the sustaining impact of QE on « low vol », « bond proxies », « high visibility/quality » stocks, you get a sense markets are probably ripe for a correction…

From ‘Expansion’ to ‘Downturn’ – Morgan Stanley

One of the latest publication on X-asset strategy comes from Morgan Stanley and the message is pretty grim:

« Our cycle indicators across DM have stalled, pointing to rising risks of a shift from ‘expansion’ to ‘downturn’. The dilemma is that this peak has characteristics of both ‘true’ and ‘false’ turns. We explore our cycle checklist. »

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Should you have gold in your portfolio ?

Jason Zweig from the WSJ published a column titled « Gold is still a pet rock » and its a great read (and obviously JZ is not ‘a moron’ as he calls himself)… He reminds us that if gold is a good « insurance against chaos », its value fluctuates so much it’s a poor protection of purchasing power for short periods of time. Lire la suite

Goldman’s strategy after Brexit

From GOAL report dated June 26:

« Brexit has driven a sharp drawdown in equities
The UK vote to ‘leave’ the EU has triggered a sharp drawdown in European and global equities. We have long argued that equities are stuck in a ‘Fat & Flat’ range given both elevated valuations and a lack of growth. The impact of Brexit on confidence and the ERP, as well as on European growth, increases the risk that we move downward in this trading range. We have highlighted risks of a correction in our recent GOAL – Global Strategy Paper No. 19 and strategies to mitigate this risk. A key concern remains the lack of diversification or availability of ‘hedges’ for equities as most safe assets, in particular bonds, remain expensive alongside equities.

Potential for further weakness & volatility in global equities We think equities will remain volatile and stay defensively positioned in our asset allocation (neutral equities over 3- and 12 -months, overweight cash over 3 months). While we think investors have been lightly positioned into the drawdown, we feel that due to policy uncertainty and lack of growth, risk appetite might remain low in the near term. However, a combination of further declines in valuations and positive growth/policy surprises are needed to stabilise equities within their ‘Fat & Flat’ range.

Lowdown on the drawdown
Comparing the current EURO STOXX 50 drawdown to history indicates that it might continue (most drawdowns have lasted more than a month), valuations might have to drop further and bonds have been less good hedges for equities. Gold and Yen performed best as ‘risk off’ hedges. »

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What to worry about – JPMorgan View

« The uncertainties that made us cut our risk OWs to small have not gone away and merit hedging. The biggest one comes from an early end to the cycle caused by the lack of productivity growth. Inflation will be the warning sign and should be hedged. »

Another good read from Jan Loeys and team at JPMorgan…  Lire la suite

New Tactical Navigator Tool from Nomura Says: « De-Risk »

Nomura recently issued a new tool called « Tactical Navigator » to help investor decide how much risk they should put in/redraw from their allocation. Currently, the message is: go hide yourself. Incidently, recent moves in financial markets says the same thing. YTD (only 10 days) performance for various asset classes show: MSCI World down 0.9%, 10Y Treasuries yield -24bp to 1.95% (!), gold up 2.7% to 1,216$/ounce and € down 2.1% against US$. Lire la suite

Is Europe the Next Japan ? (from Goldman)

Well, this question is far from new. Actually it was raised soon after the first tention in EZ sovereign bond market in 2010. As already mentioned on this blog, the theme of a balance sheet recession is rooted deep down the EZ economy. Unfortunatelly, the public and governments don’t seem to properly grasp the issu. But some people do, especially in Japan…  Lire la suite