Monthly Archives: January 2013

Those hoping for a “great rotation” from bonds to stocks might start by looking for smaller rotations within the equity market. James Mackintosh, investment editor, says the signs are far from uniformly supportive of the bigger rotation.

One extra chart, before the video: monthly total returns on the US benchmark 10-year Treasury bond per month. January saw a loss of 1.94 per cent, including coupon payments, which isn’t great. But it is slightly less than last March’s loss, or October 2011, and pales in comparison with some of the monthly losses in the past. As the chart shows, this is far from solid evidence of the bond bubble bursting. Read more

US GDP dropped in the fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time outside a recession since 1977, thanks to surprise cuts in defence spending. James Mackintosh, investment editor, finds some good signs in the data, but worries that if good news comes through on the economy would be bad news for investors.

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Japan is the natural home of the bear, but its bull market from 2003-2007 looks very like the current US bull market. James Mackintosh, investment editor, looks at the parallels and considers what’s needed to keep the bulls running.

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John Authers

Has the Great Rotation already started? A couple of startling data points from the last month, covering treasury yields and flows into equity funds, certainly suggest so. But the picture is maddeningly unclear under closer examination.

First, there is the treasury bond market, as discussed in last week’s video with Mike Mackenzie, before 10-year yields had risen above 2 per cent (they’re back below today). Significant rises in yields would be an obvious sign of a rotation. You can see that video, and Mike’s emphatic argument that if the equity rally makes any sense at all then the rotation out of bonds must be coming, here:

Note that even with the brief move above 2 per cent, there is still a way to go before the inexorable downward trend in yields that has now lasted more than a quarter of a century is breached.

The other obvious data to look at concerns flows into equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Until very recently, the trend to pull money from equities and transfer it to stocks has continued unabated. Stephane Deo of UBS discussed this with Ralph Atkins in the Note video available here:

Again there are signs of change, but not enough to make the call that the “Great Rotation” has already begun. Most startlingly, TrimTabs, which can publish flow data quickly because it uses algorithms to derive estimated flows from funds’ performance, found that inflows to all equity mutual funds and ETFs this month have already topped $55bn. That beats the previous monthly record, set ominously in February 2000 on the eve of the dotcom crash. Read more

James Mackintosh

Investors are desperately hoping for a return to normal markets, which would mean the end of the risk-on, risk-off paradigm. Risk-on, risk-off – which sees the price of pretty much all asset classes move together – has retreated a little, but is still a force in global markets.

One example is the global flow of money out of havens. Today’s video and column highlights one aspect of that: the rise in the US bond yield above that of neighbour Canada, as investors shift from the safety of US Treasuries to prefer the growth prospects further north. Rather than going away, this is typical of the risk-on phase of the risk-on, risk-off cycle. Read more

James Mackintosh

There’s been a lot of debate about the idea of a “great rotation” from bonds to equities, and every Wall Street strategist has a view (consensus: the equity bit will happen soon, but bond yields won’t rise yet as central banks keep on buying).

Alain Bokobza at SocGen has come up with a lovely chart to back up their view that money should be flowing into equity mutual funds, as indeed it has started to do. Read more

Just like Apple, companies are beating their low-balled earnings expectations, investors are lapping up equities but the growth outlook remains gloomy. James Mackintosh, investment editor, says eliminating extreme risks makes the lesser ones more palatable – for now.

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John Authers

Active investment still has some active defenders, at least in the UK, to judge by the reaction to a recent Long View on the subject. And digging into the reasons for active funds’ persistent problems, it is easy to see why. Despite the claims of the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) that it is impossible to beat the market other than by luck, it appears that an impressive number of managers do achieve the feat.

The problem is that they do not manage to beat the index by enough to be able to pay themselves and still pass on a decent performance to their clients. In other words, to quote Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard and the spiritual father of index investing, the case for passive investing rests on the CMH (Cost Matters Hypothesis), not the EMH. Read more

Today’s the deadline for European banks that want to repay early the emergency three-year loans from the European Central Bank. James Mackintosh, investment editor, consider the implications for the ECB and the currency wars.

FT investment editor James Mackintosh suggests the warnings of monetary policy hawks about central bank independence may be a little premature. He says Japan’s central bank has paid no more than lip service to the demands of new prime minister Shinzo Abe.