In at least one respect, I can identify with Millennials: FOMO. The ‘fear of missing out’ on things such as Game of Thrones, tickets to FC Cologne vs Arsenal, that perfect powder run on my snowboard holiday or front row seats at my daughters’ nativity plays. But looking at markets at the moment, it’s pretty obvious I’m not the only one with FOMO!
How much of where equities are today has come from quantitative easing (QE)? For a long time the answer to this question has not really been that important to equity investors. But now, with central banks moving towards shrinking their balance sheets, it’s a question equity investors can no longer ignore. My view is that QE may not have contributed much to the equity rally and therefore its unwinding may not be a major concern either.
After eight bull market years and with strong macro data all round, recession and bear market memories must surely be fading. Still, signs of exuberance or great bullishness are difficult to find; at most there is cautious optimism. Why? One of the most common push-backs against an equity bull case is that equities are too expensive. I can see where this concern comes from, but believe it’s something to push back against. Here are my top 10 points on equity valuations.
Markets are grinding higher and many investors are looking to call the top of the market cycle. In this light we ask ourselves what causes bubbles and more importantly how do we spot them? Over time I have collected a range of indicators that seek to have some predictive value in spotting bubbles emerging. I modestly call this the Heiligenberg Index.
Going into 2017, the market consensus was one of a strong US dollar environment, with the expectation of the US engine firing on all cylinders, with support from fiscal policy, monetary policy and de-regulation. The engine has stuttered, the US dollar has been declining all year and not many US dollar bulls are left. We are taking stock.
Since Trump's election in November, financial markets have focused on the reflation trade. Inflation expectations and bond yields have risen, as have equities and commodities. Although the US dollar has strengthened by a little over 3% on a trade-weighted basis, this masks the individual currency winners and losers.