Last week I tumbled down the rabbit hole of quantitative finance, so this week I thought that I would take stock on some of the main themes. In addition, I am going on holiday soon, which means that you will have to survive without my mishaps for a couple of weeks. The continued woes of the greenback are probably the main story for markets at the moment. It is driven by a number of factors as far as I can see. Firstly, economic data in the U.S—in particular core inflation—have remained underwhelming, which have forced markets to roll back on their expectations for Fed rate hikes. September, which was a done deal only a few months ago, has now become a long shot. Secondly, just as the Fed's hiking cycle potentially has hit a snag, other central banks have stirred.Read More
We have had the first proper summer days in the north east of England this weekend, and they've been delivered just in time for the Hoppings. For those uninitiated in the folklore of Newcastle living, it does not get much better than that. It is tempting to extrapolate this state of affairs to the coming months, and hope for a warm summer lull. But experience suggests that would be complacent. Rain is forecast for next week. We should enjoy it while it lasts.
In markets, last week offered up another pinch of curve flattening across the pond. The Fed raised rates, as expected, and also signalled one more hike this year. The hawkish bias surprised some punters which had been looking for the Fed to climb down in light of recent underwhelming inflation prints. As far as I can see, though, the Fed didn't really veer off course. Central banks are like super tankers; they move slowly and persistently. The FOMC reiterated that it is in a three-hikes-a-year mode and that it continues to expect the labour market to tighten. If this is a traditional cycle, the Fed will stay the course until something breaks somewhere.Read More
The first quarter was a pleasant one for investors. It was difficult not to make money on the long side in equities, while it remained slim pickings for bears. Bonds and credit rallied too, albeit less vigorously, and commodities also pushed ahead. The USD-bull story, however, fell by the wayside. My two first charts put some numbers to this. The first shows the total return-to-date for the main asset classes, and the second adjusts for volatility. Equities did the heavy lifting—with EM on top and Japan trailing—but the 8.2% jump in gold is also interesting. Not many have really talked about this, but it has benefited the portfolio in an environment where its core equity positions has been left behind by roaring benchmark indices. High yield credit in the U.S. has also pushed higher without much ado, while commodities have trailed. U.S. govvies have underperformed although, the 10-year bond reasserted itself towards the end of the quarter. Finally, king dollar was demoted to Jester.Read More