Today's slowdown is truly global, with economies everywhere contributing to it. We witness "disappointing" growth, quarter by quarter, year after year. The consensus pays too much attention to China as the cause. So what really is behind all this?
The case for and against illiquid assets is hotly debated. Indeed, other than fees, the battle between industry funds and retail super funds has been heavily fought around significantly differing levels of exposures to the main illiquid asset classes.
Since Angela Merkel singlehandedly opened Germany's borders to refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and any other nomads, the continent has been plunged into chaos. It threatens to wreck the European Union - or, at least turn it into an entirely different organisation.
To harness the full potential of India's growth story, investors should seek exposure to India's mid and small cap companies, rather than just the large, liquid companies with significant global revenue bases which dominate benchmark allocations.
In Putin's third presidential term, dissidents are routinely dubbed deviants, fifth columnists, and traitors, as the regime leads a drive for national unity based on religion, tradition, and paranoid rhetoric. For the moment, Putinism is the only game in town.
According to a Harvard Business School study, the percentage of US GDP attributable to the financial industry tripled from 1950 to the 2000s. Has any of this increase improved the services rendered by the financial services industry to the real economy?
The idea that financial markets are too focused on the short term is gaining ground in the media, academics and now, politicians. Upon closer inspection, the supposed negative consequences of investor short-termism appear not to be happening at all.
With interest rates at record lows, it is a really good time to revisit how we build debt portfolios. A three box approach can really help in making and communicating investment decisions for the secure part of their portfolio in the new, low interest rate environment.
Yellen has confirmed what should have been obvious all along - the Fed is not indifferent to international financial stress and its risk-management approach remains strongly biased in favour of "lower for longer". But four things about US monetary policy are frequently misunderstood.
In all of '87, '98, '05 and '15, the US economy was close to full employment, inflation was tame, commodity prices low, EMs were under financial strain, volatility roiled financial markets, the US dollar was strong, and US monetary policy excessively generous. What followed?
The Australian residential property market is stretched. But about to crash, triggering a recession? It's nuts and you can clearly see it's nuts.
The progress we have seen in European markets in 2015 is sustainable over the next 12 months. But, investors should temper return expectations and anticipate continued market volatility.
Real return investing isn't too real at all, with big targets like CPI+5%. It is an objective that is not strongly linked to the reality of investment markets - so prepare for another investment approach aligned with disappointment.
PortfolioConstruction Forum Strategies Conference 2015 featured a carefully selected faculty of more than 35 international and local portfolio construction experts offering their best high conviction ideas about critical portfolio "crossroads". Here are the highlights.
This week's market correction is long overdue. It is also not over because the true underlying problems are much more serious than the commonly cited causes. And, at last, markets are teaching Xi and Li who in fact is the boss.
Our eclectic Panel - a politician, a pastor, a professor, a portfolio manager, a practitioner, a provocateur, and a 'preneur, moderated by our Publisher - addresses Conference 2015 delegates' questions about key Crossroads, Dilemmas and Decisions.
Going forward, there are headwinds for equity and fixed income markets, however the outlook for alpha generation from many alternative strategies remains robust. Now is an attractive point in the cycle to add, or increase exposure to alternative strategies.
The smooth sailing of Australian equities over the last few years has developed complacency among investors. But rougher seas ahead will require a more active approach. It’s time to ensure that you engage a truly active manager.
As volatility in bond markets becomes more pronounced, and asset bubbles develop, investors will need to reassess their approach to the asset class. Unconstrained bond investors can exploit opportunities across relative value, yield curve and fixed income volatility.
EM policymakers have wasted their commodity-fueled Goldilocks Era and are sitting at a crossroads. Without a dramatic policy shift, EM are a value trap, if not an outright bubble.
It's been almost 24 years since Australia's last recession. It could be said Australia is “due for one”. While it would be foolish to say that the chances of a recession in Australia are zero, it's also wrong to say that they are over 50%.
Special one-off factors have underpinned Australia's record expansion. The key to forecasting the next Australian recession lies in forecasting the end of cheap money – if correct, then clearly a major investment crossroad for all Australian residents and investors.
With traditional asset classes expensive and historically low yields on bonds compromising their role as a diversifier, investors are at a crossroads. Investors should be looking for alternative sources of return and genuine diversification.
Recent stock market volatility demonstrates that asset price growth expectations can’t be taken for granted in China, despite intervention from policymakers. The bursting of China’s property bubble poses a major risk to the stability of China and the global economy – and a critical dilemma for investors.
QE has driven a search for yield globally, resulting in a unique Australian experience that has seen the major ASX indices become increasingly concentrated. We are at the crossroads for active Australian equity management.
The US Federal Reserve is (reluctantly) ending a long period of abnormally low rates. Investors should consider flexible benchmark unaware approaches in their fixed income portfolios, to potentially mitigate adverse market conditions going forward.
Consumers and the energy industry are at a crossroad. Customer choices are impacting different parts of the energy supply chain, but energy networks themselves are insulated from emerging technologies.
The diverse range of quality small cap companies with recurring earnings and growing dividend yields offer investors essential risk diversification and should be incorporated into portfolios.
Our panel debated the contrasting views of the two presenters who addressed this "crossroad" - that rates are likely to go higher than most expect over the next three years vs that markets will go on tolerating lower interest rates for far longer.
Six years into a bull market, Australian equity values are beginning to look stretched. But large divergences in valuations across sectors are creating great opportunities for truly active managers.
Infrastructure has gained greater focus in recent years, with investors drawn to its defensive characteristics. But infrastructure investing requires a tight definition to deliver the defensive attributes that investors are targeting.
The increasing concentration of the Australian stock market indices is mirrored by the concentration of the Australian funds management industry. What does this mean for alpha generation?
There are three escapes the Fed had to make in order to declare its mission a success - escape from a liquidity trap, escape from quantitative easing, and, escape from the zero bound. Only the last remains. Will it achieve its great escape? Probably.
As we have just witnessed, it took an enormous effort to keep Greece in the eurozone. In the end, Europe could deal with the problem. For other members, such propping up will not always be possible. What happens next in France, Spain and Italy may well turn out to be more worrying than anything we have seen around Athens so far.
This week, Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen has repeatedly said it is likely the Fed will lift its policy rate at its September meeting. It will be a minor adjustment but a momentous event. In short, I expect the first 100 basis points of Fed normalisation will have relatively little effect on long-term rates - with a critical caveat.
Will alpha eventually go to zero for every imaginable investment strategy, as suggested by Swedroe & Berkin's The Incredible Shrinking Alpha? The idea of financial singularity may seem inspiring, but real world markets are nowhere close to it.
We should acknowledge the Greek crisis for what it is - the death-knell for the European dream of empire. The growing reality is the return of borders, national preferences, and opt-outs. The euro has become a structurally weak currency and European bonds are likely to underperform those of other, nonshrinking, empires.
Will low interest rates be with us for decades? Or are higher rates ahead? Our Academy panel argues the case for "lower for longer" versus "back to higher" - and the implications for portfolios.
PortfolioConstruction Forum Academy challenges and advances portfolio construction knowledge and wisdom. Open to a select group of just 80 senior, experienced portfolio construction practitioners each year, Academy will enable you to continuously develop, test, and validate your portfolio construction philosophy and decision-making framework.
The surprising result of a recent study is that the "conventional" view that earnings rise steadily (above inflation) throughout our careers is not accurate. Good spending habits established early on can make an astounding difference to wealth over a lifetime.
Divergences in global economic and policy outcomes have important implications for markets around the world. This policy divergence has directly influenced asset prices across the globe with implications for stocks, bonds and currency markets.
China now has to deal with a massive excess supply of property… This is unlikely to be “just another property cycle” in China. The bursting of China’s property bubble poses a major risk to both the country’s stability and the global economy.
In this environment, what’s very important is capital preservation. The problem investors have is that there are very few places to hide. So, while cash may not be king, I think it could end up being a very handsome prince.
Each of our Symposium 2015 DDF presenters gave a 2-minute overview of their high conviction portfolio construction strategy idea.
Rather than large, liquid companies with significant global revenue bases which dominate benchmark allocations, investors should seek exposure to India’s surging local demand…
uilding NZ fixed interest portfolios is harder than it has ever been… Portfolios need to be constructed for the specific needs of clients, which will typically be a combination of liquidity, income, quality, and diversification
Investors will need to hunt out alternative sources of yield to meet their investment objectives. All is not lost. Yield can be preserved in a low yield world but investors need to be aware of the risks and trade-offs.
Each panelist outlined which high conviction markets idea from Symposium 2015 day one they agreed with most, and which one they agreed with least.
As we all brace for lift-off in the key US Federal funds rate, a robust, top-down macro perspective will be even more critical to the success of portfolios than ever.
Our Symposium 2015 debated their high conviction ideas on the drivers of, and medium-term outlook for, the New Zealand economy.
Our Symposium 2015 Faculty debated their high conviction ideas on the drivers of, and medium-term (two to three year) outlook for the markets.
Despite a genuine desire to invest in New Zealand on behalf of a substantial Australian superannuation fund, after several years of trying, no money has been invested.
World-wide low interest rates are not a temporary phenomenon. The world has changed and it is highly likely that the current low rate environment will be with us for decades. Getting used to low rates will be a critical adjustment for all investors to make in the coming years.
Slow growth is an old story. The new story is that world is finally beginning to re-balance - a process that unfortunately will take another 20 years. Well-intended policies are causing bubbles and distortions to asset prices.
PortfolioConstruction Forum Publisher and Symposium NZ 2015 Moderator, Graham Rich, opened Symposium NZ 2015 in his usual thought-provoking (and entertaining) way, highlighting key issues to consider over the jam-packed, marathon program.
With NZ fixed interest portfolios arguably harder to build than ever before, this paper introduces a framework for practitioners to build fixed interest portfolios for to meet the needs of individual clients.
We are reminded daily that the US stock market has achieved record highs between 2009 and today. But the true bull market covers 35 years. What does an understanding it tell us about the future? The answer is: a lot.
This paper by Rob Arnott and Denis Chaves looks the effects of different age cohorts on GDP and asset class returns.
Markets Summit 2015 - Cyclical? Structural? Secular? - featured 19 international and local investment experts debating their best ideas on the key cyclical, structural and secular issues driving the medium-term outlook for markets - and, of course, the implications for portfolios. This Resources Kit is a deluge of videos, podcasts, and papers for all sessions of the jam-packed program so you can "attend" even if you weren't there.
The world was shocked by the oil price collapse. Anuraag Shah, who made a fortune betting on a falling oil price, summarised the astonishment - "It's nuts!". Actually, it isn't.
In this not-to-be-missed session of a not-to-be-missed program few prisoners were taken in debating the moot "overweight int'l equities, underweight Au equities.
In this simulated investment board meeting, our day's 17 international and local Faculty members debated and voted on whether to overweight international equities and underweight Australian equities in portfolios on a two- to three-year view.
In 2014, we witnessed the return of market volatility. With potentially significant market return and volatility, investors should consider portfolio positioning before the fact.
The fourth D confronting investors - the disruptions wrought by technological change. Cash cows, thoroughbred stocks and roll-ups are best placed in a world challenged by the four Ds.
While demographics will still dominate into the future, energy and automation are quickly rising to be just as important with significant implications for portfolios.
As its capital markets develop, the macro picture improves, inflation comes under control, and the economy grows, India's credit and rates markets present a compelling opportunity.
One of the most important events of 2014 for investors was the dramatic collapse in the oil price. Overall, investment portfolios must be repositioned for increased volatility.
Lower 'neutral' monetary policy rates across the developed world will continue to serve as an important anchor for the secular valuation of all asset classes.
Emerging markets will face a more challenging economic and financial outlook over the next few years - but systemic risk across the emerging world is lower than before the Asian crisis.
Differentiation is key for emerging markets. Secularly, countries enjoying the rise of consumerism are expected to drive local company earnings above the global norm.
The US secondary corporate bond market is in a time of significant upheaval. Changes to regulations has caused a new, insidious liquidity risk.