Picking up where he left off last week, when Bill Gross told Bloomberg that U.S. markets are at their highest risk levels since before the 2008 financial crisis “because investors are paying a high price for the chances they’re taking”, in his latest monthly investment outlook, the Janus Henderson bond manager says that investors should be wary as low interest rates, aging populations and global warming which inhibit real economic growth and intensify headwinds facing financial markets:
Excessive debt/aging populations/trade-restrictive government policies and the increasing use of machines (robots) instead of people, create a counterforce to creative capitalism in the real economy, which worked quite well until the beginning of the 21st century. Investors in the real economy (not only large corporations but small businesses and startups) sense future headwinds that will thwart historic consumer demand and they therefore slow down investment.
Lamenting the onset of the new normal era, Gross says that “because of the secular headwinds facing global economies, currently labeled as the “New Normal” or “Secular Stagnation”, investors have resorted to “making money with money” as opposed to old-fashioned capitalism when money and profits were made with capital investment in the real economy”
Two weeks ago we asked a question: maybe behind all the rhetoric and constant (ab)use of sophisticated terms like “gamma”, “vega”, CTAs, risk-parity, vol-neutral, central bank vol-suppression, (inverse) VIX ETFs and so forth to explain why despite the surging political uncertainty in recent years, and especially since the US election…
… global equity volatility, both implied and realized, has tumbled to record lows, sliding below levels not even seen before the 2008 financial crisis, there was a far simpler reason for the plunge in vol: trading was slowly grinding to a halt.
That’s what Goldman Sachs found when looking at 13F filings in Q1, when it emerged that the gross portfolio turnover of hedge funds had retreated to a record low of just 28%. In other words, few if any of the “smart money” was actually trading in size.
In recent weeks it has been Japanese demand (and notable premia) that has driven the exponential rise in Bitcoin, but recently, as CoinTelegraph reports, it has been South Korea. Overenight saw Bitcoin prices explode once again, smashing through $2500, $2600, and $2700 for the first time…
As CoinTelegraph.com reports, South Korean Bitcoin traders are facing asking prices of $4,500 as the virtual currency’s price continues to surge.
Order books from domestic exchange Coinone list a current price of 4,254,000 won ($3805), with a 24-hour high of 5,025,000 ($4494).
Mark your calendars China watchers.
MSCI will on June 20 announce whether it would finally include China’s domestic A-shares in its global indices.
The US index provider last June delayed for a third straight year the A-shares’ inclusion into its benchmark $1.5tn emerging markets stock index, citing regulation worries and accessibility for global investors.
Ahead of this year’s decision, China has embarked on a series of new actions aimed at addressing these concerns. Its banking regulator has launched a “regulatory windstorm” while the central bank has made the first move to ease capital controls, providing much needed liquidity to the offshore renminbi market.
Meanwhile, BlackRock has for the first time publicly backed the inclusion of onshore stocks in MSCI’s indices and Chinese officials have even criticised dividend-dodging companies, dubbed “iron cockerels”, and promised extra scrutiny.
With the Fed contemplating whether to hike again next month and start “normalizing ” its balance sheet before the end of 2017, the two other major central banks are facing far bigger problems.
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Two months after the BOJ quietly started tapering its QE program, when it also hinted it may purchase 18% less bonds than planned…
… Governor Haruhiko Kuroda admitted last week that the Bank of Japan’s bond holdings are currently growing at an annualized pace of only ¥60 trillion ($527 billion), 25% below the bottom-end of its policy range, and confirming that without making any formal announcement, the BOJ has quietly followed the ECB in aggressively tapering its bond buying program.
- Moon Jae-in was elected president of South Korea
- Philippine President Duterte named Nestor Espenilla as central bank governor
- Nigerian President Buhari traveled to London for a follow-up to the initial medical visit earlier this year
- Market expectations for 2018 inflation in Brazil rose for the first time in more than a year
- Peru’s central bank unexpectedly started the easing cycle with a 25 bp cut to 4.0%
Two weeks ago Bank of America caused a stir when it calculated that central banks (mostly the ECB & BoJ) have bought $1 trillion of financial assets just in the first four months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, “the largest CB buying on record.”
- Reserve Bank of India surprised markets with the start of the tightening cycle.
- The Czech National Bank (CNB) ended the EUR/CZK floor.
- Israeli central bank said it won’t hike rates until Q2 2018.
- Both S&P and Fitch cut South Africa’s rating one notch to sub-investment grade BB+.
- Moody’s put South Africa’s Baa2 rating on review for a downgrade
- S&P upgraded Argentina one notch to B with stable outlook.
- Brazil’s government will water down its pension reform plan
- Brazil’s central bank corrected some errors in its inflation report.
In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, the Philippines (+3.8%), Chile (+3.5%), and Poland (+3.4%) have outperformed this week, while Korea (-0.7%), Turkey (-0.6%), and Peru (-0.5%) have underperformed. To put this in better context, MSCI EM rose 0.3% this week while MSCI DM fell -0.5%.
Reserve Bank of India surprised markets with the start of the tightening cycle. It hiked the reverse repo rate 25 bp to 6.0% but left the repo rate steady at 6.25%. The decision was unanimous, and we expect further tightening as the year progresses.
Thailand reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 1.30% y/y vs. 1.44% in February. If so, this would be moving closer to the bottom of the 1-4% target range. BOT just left rates steady at 1.5% last week. We expect inflation to pick up again, and so BOT should tilt more hawkish as the year progresses. Next policy meeting is May 24, and we expect steady rates again.