by Andrew Hardy, CFA
Not that there aren’t enough acronyms flying around the investment world already, but today I will reference a lesser known one – only to debunk it. TANSTAAFL: “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. The etymology is uncertain, but the principle is intuitive; there aren’t many things in life that come for free without some form of cost, be it direct or indirect, explicit or implicit. However, there is one (and only one) in finance – diversification. Most famously highlighted by Harry Markowitz, Nobel Laureate and pioneer of investment theory, this has underpinned several decades of progress towards building more sophisticated, more resilient approaches to portfolio management.
- Global reported cases of Covid-19 passes 10 million with over 500k deaths.
- IMF revise outlook on global economy: now forecast a -4.9% contraction vs -3.0% previously.
- Brent crude fell -2.8% ending the week at $41.0 a barrel
- Gold rose 1.6% ending the week at $1771.3 an ounce
The Great Disconnect?
by Stephen Nguyen, CFA
There are few certainties in markets and economies and with most countries globally facing what could be the worst economic collapse in the post-war era, it is surprising to see markets and most risk assets continue their remarkable rebound. The shape of the recovery in risky assets certainly looks V-shaped today, as most markets have posted gains of around 30% since bottoming near the end of March. Is this a true reflection of what is going on in the underlying economy or is there a big disconnect?
- Estimations now show that 24 of the 50 US states have a R value over 1
- Oil prices rose for the 7th week out of the last 8 as OPEC+ confirmed output cuts
- Brent crude rose 8.9% ending the week at $42.2 a barrel
- Gold rose 0.8% ending the week at $1743.9 an ounce
by Jackson Franks
For those of you that don’t know, this Friday is the mid-point of summer and as I have a Swedish partner this means there will be a celebration. Midsummer, or Midsommar in Swedish, is an annual celebration in Sweden which consists of a never-ending lunch party involving flowers in your hair, dancing around a pole and singing songs while drinking unsweetened, flavoured schnapps.
If that doesn’t sound fun enough you also get to down large quantities of pickled herring served with new potatoes, chives and sour cream, an acquired taste for sure. The Midsommar celebrations coincide with the middle of the year and I find it a great time to reflect on the prior six months and what the second 6 might bring. With COVID-19 impacting the way we have worked in the first half of the year let’s look forward at what the second half of the year may entail for the office sector.
- The US’s longest expansionary cycle in history (128 months) officially ended
- US stocks suffered their worst weekly decline in almost three months
- Brent crude fell 8.4% ending the week at $38.7 a barrel
- Gold rose 2.7% ending the week at $1730.8 an ounce
Playing the odds
by Robert White, CFA
While markets continue their remarkable rebound, the most important event for many people this month will be the return of the Premier League, something that cannot come soon enough for loyal fans (particularly Liverpool supporters). The resumption of top flight football provides a welcome distraction during these trying times as the German Bundesliga has already shown, even if the atmosphere is somewhat diminished by empty stadiums. The great thing about professional sport is that so much is captured by data, the quality and depth of which is extremely rich.
- Global equities rallied to post-lockdown highs
- Big upside surprise in US jobs data
- Brent crude rallied 19.7% ending the week at $42.3 a barrel
- Gold fell 2.6% ending the week at $1685.1 an ounce
The SpaceX Factor
by Alex Harvey, CFA
On Saturday night at 22:11 hours I was fortunate enough to see the International Space Station (ISS) blazing across the darkening London skyline at 17,000mph. For budding astronomers the Star Walk app points out where and when to look, and with it orbiting over 15 times per day you’ve plenty of opportunity to view it (the stunningly clear UK skies obviously help, as does the night sky to spot it reflecting the sun from above the horizon).
- Widespread protests and riots are taking place across the US
- Trump announced that Hong Kong would no longer receive a special trade status
- Brent crude rose 0.6% ending the week at $35.3 a barrel
- Gold fell 0.3% ending the week at $1730.3 an ounce
by James Klempster, CFA
There’s no two ways about it: size matters. We live in a society that admires big – The Angel of the North, the Great Wall – yet we also revere the precision of small – the microprocessor, automatic watches. When it comes to disadvantages, both large and small also can be found wanting. Needless to say, in the world of fund management things are equally nuanced.
- Several countries ease lockdown restrictions from today
- Risk assets continued to recover last week
- Brent crude rallied 17.1% last week to $31.0 a barrel
- Gold rose 0.1% to $1702.7 an ounce
Risks and opportunities in fixed income
by Andrew Hardy, CFA
Bonds, issued by both governments and corporates, will always have a significant role to play in multi-asset portfolios due to their inherent stability and reliable cash flows, which provide much needed balance for other riskier positions. However, recent developments spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis should prompt investors to consider deemphasising the focus on government bonds from this point and increasing allocations to corporate credit.
- Positive trial results for COVID-19 treatment and vaccine boosts sentiment
- European countries plan loosening of lockdown measures and partial reopening of economies
- Brent crude rose 23.3%, ending the week at $26.4 a barrel
- Gold fell 1.7% ending the week at $1700.4 an ounce
COVID-catalysed structural changes in global real estate?
by David Lashbrook CA (SA), CFA
As a landlord and investor in real estate, I am closely watching how the world adapts to the global lock down. In our case at Momentum Global Investment Management, the transition from office to homebound working has been seamless. I wonder if this is going to cause a structural change in the demand for office space over the medium term as companies renew their current lease commitments and review their ongoing office accommodation requirements.
- Weak earnings and oil market chaos hit equities
- April flash PMIs point to crippling impact of the pandemic
- Brent crude fell 23.6% ending the week at $21.4 a barrel
- Gold rose 2.8% ending the week at $1729.6 an ounce
Drop the top
by Richard Stutley, CFA
A lot has changed and at the same time many aspects of our lives and work go on much as before. We met last week for our regular round of asset allocation meetings just like we always do, only this time via video link rather than all sat around the desk. One area that looks interesting to us currently is convertible bonds, which in many cases are trading cheap relative to their component parts: the straight bond and the equity option. While convertible cars, or drop-tops, tend to dominate the drawdown phase of most people’s lives, convertible bonds have something to offer in the earlier accumulation phase.
- The global number of coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million last week
- China printed a 6.8% first quarter fall in their year-on-year GDP growth
- Brent crude fell by 10.8%, ending the week at $28.1 a barrel
- Gold fell 0.8% ending the week at $1682.8 an ounce
Some things never change
by Michael Clough
In many ways, life has changed so much in recent weeks. Our usual routines suddenly seem distant memories. In other ways though, some practices haven’t changed at all. The ongoing management of our portfolios and two key components which underpin this, asset allocation and manager research, have continued uninterrupted. Of course, the way we carry them out has changed.
- Global equities reverse some of the previous week’s gains, but relatively contained
- Global employment numbers and service sector PMIs plummet
- Brent crude surged 36.8%, ending the week at $34.1 a barrel
- Gold fell 0.5% ending the week at $1620.8 an ounce