Still on our way in May, watching for winners

Investing is a curious mixture of art and science. It is a world of phenomenally fast algorithmic trading, supplemented with old-fashioned sayings and adages concocted decades ago. Behavioural finance studies draw attention to the importance of ‘heuristics’. These are mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that ease the cognitive load in decision-making. The saying “sell … Continue reading “Still on our way in May, watching for winners”

Why Emerging Market Debt’s positive start to 2019 can continue

After a challenging 2018 in which emerging market debt (EMD) logged negative total returns, 2019 has begun with an eye-catching recovery. In the case of EMD sovereigns, all the losses of 2018 were erased by January 2019, and most EMD asset classes have added to or held onto their gains since then. So what next? … Continue reading “Why Emerging Market Debt’s positive start to 2019 can continue”

Panning for gold in murky waters

In 2018, international investors pulled out more than €50 billion from European equities in response to weakening Eurozone economic data, uncertainty over Brexit and concerns about Italian banks. Today, investors’ positioning in Europe is as underweight as it has been since the Eurozone crisis. It is understandable that investors are wary of a potential economic … Continue reading “Panning for gold in murky waters”

A good start to the year – where next?

As we move into March, global stocks have enjoyed the best start to the year in almost three decades. Does this bode well for the rest of 2019? History suggests it does. Since 1928, a good January/February has led to a positive calendar year over 80% of the time. However, history does not always rhyme … Continue reading “A good start to the year – where next?”

Embracing change in European real estate

Real estate is typically a slow mover in the investment world. It tends not to be affected by the day-to-day rumblings in the equity and bond markets. Nevertheless, change is still afoot in real estate, with both short- and long-term trends affecting how we use properties and how we invest. Real estate is now at … Continue reading “Embracing change in European real estate”

No time to be pig-headed

The trade war is dominating headlines and shaking investor confidence in China. But as we enter Year of the Pig, it’s worth remembering this is a long-term growth story. No sooner have the Christmas decorations come down than new ones have gone up to mark the Lunar New Year, which starts on February 5. It’s … Continue reading “No time to be pig-headed”

Davos: world leaders miss out on the personal touch

In some ways Davos looks much the same as in previous years. The world’s great and good from politics, academia, business and the media have once again descended on Switzerland. The combination of all of these companies and leaders from around the world in an otherwise quiet and rural backwater is as incongruous as ever. … Continue reading “Davos: world leaders miss out on the personal touch”

Is the US technology industry being defanged?

Paypal founder Peter Thiel predicted in his 2014 Wall Street Journal essay ‘Competition is for losers’ that Silicon Valley would become the centre of the global economy. He claimed that by operating under a set of rules that involve little competition or regulation, his own company, along with the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google … Continue reading “Is the US technology industry being defanged?”

G20 stare down does not de-escalate tensions

It would be easy to see last weekend’s G20 meeting a heralding a thaw in the US-China trade war. But it hasn’t. There are some positives. It looks increasingly likely that the US will not put in place a fresh 10-25% tariff hike in January on $250bn of Chinese exports, as most had thought. It … Continue reading “G20 stare down does not de-escalate tensions”

Fear not – volatility is normal

After the long period of rather calm markets in 2016-17, we predicted that from 2018 onwards, we would see a return towards more normal levels of market volatility. Swings up and down in share prices – even big moves – are normal behaviour for markets. The upside from investing in equity markets is the potential … Continue reading “Fear not – volatility is normal”

How to survive a zombie company apocalypse

Zombie companies do exist but are not staffed by people that behave like extras in the “Walking Dead”. Actually, a zombie company is a technical term for a business which, if it is not yet numbered among the undead, is only earning just enough cash to pay the interest on its borrowings. It does not … Continue reading “How to survive a zombie company apocalypse”

Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout

Once again, markets are roiling. As with so many sell-offs, this is a story of pressure building steadily until it must vent. Volatile markets are here to stay, but the next few weeks will tell us whether this episode is a sign of something more ominous to come or just another bump in the road. … Continue reading “Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout”

Europe’s struggle to break free

At the start of 2018, it looked likely that interest rates could start to rise across Europe, signalling the end of the necessary post-crisis readjustment in the financial sector. However, as is often the case, the themes that drive markets at the start of the year can often be forgotten by the end. As 2018 … Continue reading “Europe’s struggle to break free”

Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis

Ten years ago, the demise of Lehman Brothers marked the height of the financial crisis. At the time, I was an economist at one of the UK’s largest financial institutions. Working there gave me abundant insights into the psychological biases at play, both in that institution and in the companies that it supported. Many of … Continue reading “Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis”

Doom Loop

The most likely candidate for the next ‘Lehman moment’ is in Europe. In some ways the regulatory response that followed in the years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been a success. The days of racy balance sheets chasing outsized profits on wafer thin capital are largely over; replaced by a mantra of prudence … Continue reading “Doom Loop”