Equities

Strategy

Quantitative easing – no big deal for equities?

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.

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Strategy

Are equities too expensive?

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.

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Portfolio Thinking

How much sugar is in your sugar?

Soviet-era Polish cinematography is often a source of seemingly absurd catchphrases repeated for generations. “How much sugar is in your sugar” is a classic one from the quirky professor in the 1973 comedy Man-Woman Wanted. When we target particular factors within our equity exposures, I increasingly find myself taking on the role of the professor as I try to answer the question “How much factor is in my factor?”. It might seem like an odd question but we can answer this by relying on simple factor definitions and a holistic approach to combining factors. It’s only once we know what our true exposures are, that we can consider how we avoid any unintended secondary exposures that have the potential to sour the overall outcome.

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Strategy

Driving into uncertainty

A few weeks ago Emiel showed us a photo of his Panther Kalista classic car. Not to be outdone, I’m including a photo of my car, a Nissan Leaf. It may have less character, but if the Panther is a reminder of car history, the Leaf could provide a glimpse of the car future.

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Strategy

Show me the money

One thing is for sure, the US economy is closer to full employment than it was a year ago. More difficult to say is whether it is at full employment. So far we’re still lacking much evidence that US wage growth is picking up steam. However, much like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed a little too hard, wage growth can suddenly accelerate when labour markets are tight. So from an equity investor’s perspective it’s better to think about the potential impact of rising wages on profits before it actually happens.

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Strategy

Everything you need to know about: Q2 earnings

The Q2 US reporting season is upon us. It’s a busy time for equity investors, though earnings seasons rarely move the needle much from a macro perspective. Here is a quick-read primer of what to expect over the next few weeks and my two key top-down conclusions.

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Macrobites

The cajoler-in-chief

President Trump's approval ratings after his first 100 days in office make for grim reading. As markets question the ability of the White House to get its own way, we've seen a significant retracement in the "Trump trade" in both equities and fixed income. The President needs to become the cajoler, not just the commander, in chief to revive hopes of a large fiscal stimulus.

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