Who would have thought it was possible. To comeback and win the Presidency of Brazil with a margin of barely 2%. Markets are calm. Investors are happy. But how will Lula's new Presidency affect the Brazil Equity and Debt markets?
3Q22 Global Outlook Season is BoomingAsset Allocation
It's that time of the year that global financial market outlooks fill our research feeds. They are popular throughout the entire business cycle. But this time around clicks have gone through the roof.
We only can conclude that investors are feeling pain in their portfolios. And are looking for the right medicine to soothe their dry throats. And as the bear market firmly takes hold, the 60-40 portfolio has stopped working, and the economy heads towards recession, they are clearly looking for new ideas.
What Happens When Liquidity Dries Up?Economics
As central bankers raise rates across the globe in their fight against inflation, institutional investors are turning their attention to liquidity. In this new chapter of global political economy, a world drained of liquidity is a world where assets are no longer priced on fundamentals.
Being short liquidity means sellers of assets will by necessity take what they can get in order to meet their commitments. Or put differently, being long liquidity facilitates the purchase of quality assets at deep discounts to intrinsic value.
This presents a dichotomy for institutional investors:
An ALM driven investor will be guided by a series of strategic asset allocation benchmarks and associated risk budgets. Which empirically provide a confidence level that their assets will generate enough returns to cover their current and future obligations. So the tendency is to sit out the storm.
But there are hard core investors who see the removal of liquidity from the global economic system, as an opportunity to pounce. Their research inside RFPnetworks is crossing all asset classes. Searching each of the 11 feeds for terms such as "cheap", "intrinsic value", "discount", and "distressed".
We see danger ahead. Markets are still too high, and protection is expensive in an increasingly nervous world; common sense suggests one should invest conservatively, and in safe assets. In a world where people find themselves without the ability to pay commitments as they arise, forced selling drives prices. Among risky assets like equities, one of the counter-intuitive things in a liquidity crisis is that securities perceived as safest and most liquid go down sharply, because investors are forced to sell what they can, not what they want to. We therefore regard plentiful liquidity in the portfolio as overwhelmingly attractive; it allows us to make the most of the opportunities that arise in the aftermath of a crisis. But first we have to get through the storm.
Capital Market Assumptions Have Changed. What Now?Asset Allocation
Given the amount of clicks for long term risk premia estimates across all asset classes, we can only assume that Chief Investment Officers and Strategists are refreshing their portfolio assumptions. There's a lot happening on the macroeconomic front as inflation and rates rise, and global growth is continuously revised downwards. This type of research trend on RFPnetworks has historically preceded significant portfolio rebalancing by our clients.
60-40 portfolios may struggle.
Is Inflation Headed Higher or Are We At Peak?Economics
As the official rhetoric has moved from transitory, to permanent, to all-time-highs, the focus on protecting portfolios from inflation is traversing all asset classes. The search query 'Inflation Protection' brings back hundreds of new research results every week. So whilst this topic is at number 10 in terms of clicks, in terms of sheer volume of impressions it would be firmly at number one.
What is happening is lots of institutional scrolling, and headline reading. Institutions seem to be searching for the ultimate solution to inflation protection. It does not exist. But there is always hope. In the meantime, the novel ideas and in-depth analysis of the conundrum by asset managers, is being well received.
The thought that central bankers can do much to change the broad sweep of inflation is, in my view, far-fetched. Lowering interest rates and keeping them down ensured that, in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, the world escaped a dislocative deflationary recession, and experienced instead a reprieve from deflation. Their actions, however, had an inevitable consequence: the onset of a virulent inflation. This was perfectly predictable at the time, and, indeed, we predicted it.
There was, however, no money to be made from the insight that money had lost stability post-2008 – the car would swerve maybe towards deflation, maybe towards inflation, but the final result would certainly be inflationary, because the authorities’ obsession was (and is) to avoid deflation. The game changer was to be rightly prepared for inflation, and for the last ten years, we have been. To call it too early is, in our book, to call it on time.
What is the ECB Transmission Protection Instrument (TPI) all about?Economics
The main focus of research in our fixed income feed was the ECB's new Transmission Protection Instrument (TPI). Most research was positive on this anti-fragmentation tool and it's clear objective - an unlimited bond buying backstop to facilitate the transmission of monetary policy across the EU. However, details on how it would work in practice with respect to peripheral countries, and particularly Italy, remain less clear.
Related to this theme was the ECB's decision to raise rates last week by 50 basis points. Almost all managers expected 25 basis points based on the forward guidance. As such, many managers are now questioning the credibility of forward guidance in an inflationary world.
Lots of questions remain.
Why Is Stock-Bond Correlation in 2022 Different?Asset Allocation
What has led to the breakdown in stock-bond correlations in 2022? Inflation? A changed macroeconomic environment? Will the 60-40 portfolio ever work again? Or should it be recalibrated back to reflect the covariances of a different decade.
Questions such as these are at the forefront of portfolio design today. The classic long equity volatility and bond duration portfolio is not working, and is causing a conundrum for asset allocators.
Depending on which economist, strategist, equity or fixed income portfolio manager you follow, the view that we are now in stagflation varies. But that difference in opinion is not the interesting thing. What is more interesting is the variation in the underlying models and analysis they point to, in order to draw their conclusions. The lack of consensus is notable.
What is obscured is causality.
Unlike in Japan, the UK, US and now the EU are in all rates lift-off mode. With reluctance, Central Bankers have implicitly admitted their previous policy error of not raising rates sooner. But was this mistake deliberate? Or unpredictable? Last week, Asset allocators were searching for answers to these two questions in our Multi-Asset feed.