Insights

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

Japan's “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance - June 2015

We expect that profit margins will expand further in coming quarters, driven by a large corporate tax cut and continued industry rationalizations that further prove that Japan's structural profitability trend continues upward.

Does the price action of bunds signal an end to ultra low rates?

We do not expect the recent steepening of the bund yield curve to be the beginning of a sustained new trend. Moreover, Eurozone and German economic data, albeit improving, are not sufficient to support the higher bund yields on a sustained basis.

Did Asia's Central Banks Engage in the Global Currency War?

Since the Fed starting hinting at the normalization of interest rates a year ago, Asian central banks' foreign reserve accumulations - except for India and Hong Kong - have either incurred substantial losses or remained flat.

Recent yield rises don’t necessarily signal the end of bond market rally

With many markets having rallied from major support levels when they were in highly oversold positions, we believe that bond markets should stabilise or rally from current levels.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - May 2015

Yields of the US Treasuries (USTs) traded in a relatively tight range, eventually ending higher at month-end. At 2.03%, the 10-year point on the UST curve was up 11 basis points (bps) compared to the level at end-March.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - May 2015

The MSCI AC Asia ex-Japan returned 7.2% in April after shrugging off initial weakness and outperformed the MSCI AC World by 2.3% in April in USD terms.

The Japanese stock market has continued to rise, punctuated by the Nikkei 225 recently closing above 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years.

Japanese Overseas Equity Exposure Rising

We expect that Japanese pension funds will continue to shift their investments into risky assets in 2015.

Low oil prices: Saudi Arabia can afford to bide its time

Oil-producing countries have seen the largest drop in their foreign exchange (FX) holdings over the last year. In our view, Saudi Arabia can afford to handle oil prices at their current level for some time but ...

China's LGFV debt swap – Shining light on the Shadows

The importance of President Xi Jinping's strong leadership cannot be stressed enough. Under him China is undergoing dramatic changes. While the most thorough cleansing of state corruption is ongoing, elements of China's grand strategy are becoming more evident both domestically and on the global stage.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - April 2015

Prices of the US Treasuries (USTs) ended March higher, with 2-year and 10-year USTs yields closing the month 6 basis points (bps) and 7bps lower respectively.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - April 2015

The MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan returned -0.3% in March after shrugging off initial weakness and outperformed the MSCI AC World by 1.3% in March in USD terms.

Market isn't overheating even after Nikkei touched 20,000

The market isn't overheating even though the Nikkei stock average touched the 20,000 level, nor do we believe that overseas markets are overheating right now.

With the dollar/yen hovering around JPY120 to the U.S. dollar, Japanese stocks have recently been showing extraordinary strength, marked by the Nikkei 225 breaching the JPY20,000 level on April 10 for the first time in roughly 15 years – a level that it retook on 22 April and has stayed close to ever since.

Recent Defaults by Chinese Issuers

Defaults from Chinese companies have been on the headlines recently. First, the default of property developer Kaisa Group last Monday (20 April 2015) was expected given the challenges in the ongoing debt restructuring.

The New Governance Code – What impact will it have on Japanese companies?

Due to the developments described in this article, there is ample room for growth at Japanese firms and much opportunity for investment success.

Our View on the Crucial Chinese Property Market

Given the significant proportion of real estate investment as a percentage of GDP, as well as the proportion of local government revenue generated from land sales, the property market remains a crucial driver of the Chinese economy.

March Tankan Report Commentary

The March “tankan” survey results are not expected to lead to the BOJ's further acceleration of QE.

US Federal Reserve faces headwinds as it starts to raise rates

Interest rate and foreign exchange volatility has begun to increase as the market anticipates the time when the US Federal Reserve will start to reduce monetary accommodation and raise interest rates.

G-3 Economies Should Rebound Nicely

In sum, there certainly are some worrisome issues, as always, but we find none of them convincing enough to prevent moderate increases in equity prices.

China's Outlook and now Positive on Emerging Markets

Much as we expected, China's economy has continued to slow faster than consensus, but does not appear to be in a hard landing.

Central Bank, Inflation, Currency, Commodity and Bond Forecasts

Central Banks: Despite firm economic growth, we believe that a negative YoY CPI through September will steady the Fed's hand.

Regional Equity and Asset Class Forecasts

Coupled with our expectation for global bond yields to rise moderately, we maintain our overweight view on global equities vs. bonds.

Japanese Equity: Improved Export Data May Indicate Turning Point for Japan

The recovery in profits by Japanese export firms should continue to attract the attention of the markets in the first half of 2015.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - March 2015

Prices of the US Treasuries (USTs) weakened in February, with yields of the 10-year USTs higher by about 35 basis points (bps).

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - March 2015

The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan gained 3.71% but underperformed the MSCI World which gained 6.43% in SGD terms. The MSCI World’s strong performance was attributable to the supportive external backdrop with improving economic indicators out of Europe.

Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

John Vail updates his long-standing theme: Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance.

European Property: Does it Signal Global Deflation?

Through 2014, one of the largest asset classes in the world was virtually unnoticed as an indicator that Europe is not pushing the global economy into widespread deflation.

Will European QE deliver on Earnings expectations?

There are several credible reasons to expect that QE will boost corporate earnings in Europe, though by not as much as in the US. However the risk of disappointment relative to inflated expectations remains high.

Will deflation or inflation be the global focus for 2015?

In 2015, markets will be looking for any pick up in European and Japanese inflation as a result of their QE programmes. With growth picking up, we may start to see signs of a rise in US inflation.

Economic Disappointment in Japan? Key points to remember (again)

The disappointing economic data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.

Australia: Japanese and European QE likely to subdue bond yields and increase currency market tensions in 2015

The key theme of the past few years has been quantitative easing. Although the US has come to the end of its version of this experiment, QE programmes have begun or are about to begin in Japan and Europe.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - February 2015

US Treasuries (USTs) rallied in January, with the 10-year UST yield ending the month at 1.64% which was 53 basis points (bps) lower than end-December.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - February 2015

Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets outperformed its global peers, registering a return of 3.8% in SGD terms as compared to the MSCI World index which gained only 0.4% in SGD terms, primarily due to the stronger Greater China region and Indian markets which were the best performing markets in January.

According to the 2014 Labour Survey recently released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, total cash earnings – i.e., the total of contractual cash earnings (such as fixed monthly salaries) and other special cash earnings (such as bonuses) – of Japanese workers rose 0.8% in 2014, the first such rise in four years.

What will happen to US Treasuries if Japanese government bond yields go to zero?

In a pre-GFC and pre-QE world, zero or negative interest rates on a German, Japanese or US 10-year bond would have been considered highly implausible. However...

Preparing for the Next Phase of Global Evolution: More People and Bigger Cities

We expect the next phase of the global evolution to be driven by a growing global population, rapid urbanisation and for most of it to happen in emerging markets with increasing focus on "green" development.

Implications of the ECB's quantitative easing program for interest rates and currencies

ECB's QE: The major question is, will this program work given the European model of debt creation is via the banking system and not the bond markets?

Steel and Iron Ore Deflation to Continue

The steel industry and its underlying iron ore industry are witnessing excess production and deflationary forces that are similar to the global energy markets.

ECB Success but with Caveats

The QE announcement was a major step forward for Eurozone. It is not without dangers and questions about implementation, however, so markets should not get over-enthusiastic about it.

BOJ Indicates a Move Towards "True Core CPI" More Globally

Now that oil prices have declined, if a central bank targets its overall CPI at 2.0% for 2015, it would likely be labeled as being overly aggressive and perhaps attempting to unfairly weaken its currency.

Will China Provide Global Liquidity Soon?

As the Fed continues to unwind its stimulus, even amidst threats of global deflation, there are hopes that China will accelerate the liberalization of its capital account and take over the Fed's role as the global supplier of liquidity.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - January 2015

US Treasuries (UST) had a volatile trading month in December and ended the periodwith the 5- and 10-year UST yields 17 basis points (bps) and 0.7bps higher compared to November.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - January 2015

Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets did better than other emerging markets, posting a negative return of 2.1% in USD terms as compared to the latter which returned -4.6% in USD terms as it was dragged down by Russia.

Reasons for an Oil Price Rebound

We expect oil prices to rebound and for the time being, we will stick with our call for Brent to rebound to $72 by end-June 2015, although $65 is a more plausible goal.

Asian Credit Outlook 2015

Asia credit recovered strongly in 2014. Long duration bonds gained as the intermediates and long-end US Treasury (UST) yields fell in response to disappointing growth outcomes elsewhere in the world even as the shortend of the curve began adjusting to rate hike expectation in the US.

Multi-Asset Investment Themes 2015

It is that time of year again when those in the investment business (unfairly referred to as the ‘chattering class’) share their prognostications on the path of asset classes for 2015.

Market Commentary – Reasons for Oil Prices Rebound

Clearly, oil prices have fallen further than nearly everyone anticipated. When our Global Investment Committee met in December, Brent was trading at $66.

Market Commentary – Offshore RMB (CNH) Market Outlook 2015

The overall CNH bond market gained 3.02% in local terms in 2014. Both sovereigns and credits delivered positive returns of 2.6% and 3.14%, respectively.

Through the careful examination of historical data, it is possible to empirically affirm the existence of several anomalies in the stock market, even though there is not always a clear theory or explanation as to why they exist.

As of the end of September 2014, Japanese household financial assets totalled ¥1,654 trillion* (approx. US$15 trillion), representing an on-year increase of ¥44 trillion (approx. US$401 billion), or 2.7%, and surpassing the previous high of ¥1,645 trillion (approx. US$16 trillion**) recorded at the end of June 2014.

NZ market insights - Farmgate Milk Price Update

Supply-side shocks and market distortions have created a degree of uncertainty over the short to medium-term outlook for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Is Brazil in Crisis?

Brazil can no longer continue as “business as usual” and it is at an important crossroads as to whether it can exit the well-known “middle income country trap.” Domestic issues aside, EMs will continue to encounter major headwinds as an asset class in early 2015 due to negative stories from large countries, such as Brazil and Russia.

Finding Growth in Emerging Markets

These reforms coupled with strong balance sheets and demographics will support higher levels of global growth for decades to come.

Our Regional Equity and Asset Class Forecasts

The investment world is changing quickly and 2015 should prove to be a very interesting year, but we see no reason to change our long-held positive view on global equities.

Fed "Baby Steps" and "Sneaky Sovereign" ECB QE

Recently, two major voices in the "core Fed" (Fischer and Dudley) have indicated that despite low inflation, the Fed's main scenario is to begin hiking rates in mid 2015.

China's Re-stimulation and Emerging Market Divergence

China's economy likely slowed much more than the official statistics show; otherwise, the government would not have reversed course on its various crackdowns, especially on the property market.

G-3 Economies Should Surprise in 2015

Our Global Investment Committee always seems to meet in the middle of great volatility, and this time was no exception, with the investment world facing all sorts of new challenges.

Abenomics the Winner in Japan's Election

In our view, the LDP coalition's maintenance of a strong two-thirds majority in this election will greatly help Prime Minister Abe and his party's reform efforts, while likely bolstering Yen weakness to some degree.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - December 2014

US Treasuries (UST) ended the month stronger, trading within a relatively tight range for most of November. At month-end, 10-year UST was yielding at 2.16%, 18 basis points (bps) lower than October.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - December 2014

Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets were volatile in November, with the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index down 1.3%, dragged down by MSCI Australia Index which returned -6.3% in USD terms.

Identifying the key themes for tomorrow's Asia

Asia is evolving rapidly, which has implications for investors globally. It should no longer be viewed as just a cheap manufacturing hub, but a region with high value-added industries catering to an increasingly wealthy middle class.

Active management of credit more effective over the longer term than a target-seeking strategy

As we move further away from the turbulent period between 2007 and 2009, interest in credit has increased rapidly as investors globally search for extra return in a low yield environment.

Rate cuts down under?

If the RBA does cut interest rates, it is likely that they will make more than one cut, so we could see Australia's official cash rate at 2.00% by the second quarter of 2015.

Revisiting the age-old debate on value vs growth investing

Revisiting the age-old debate on value vs growth investing

Many empirical studies have shown that a value style approach to investing in Australian shares has consistently outperformed growth investing - and with less risk.

Recession in Japan? 3 Key points to remember (again)

The three main points from our prior report on this topic have not changed; however, there are a few more anomalies in the data this time.

The Japanese equity market for the most part maintained a strong tone in 2014, with the Nikkei Stock Average at one point in December rising intra-day above JPY18,000 - a level it had not seen since July 2007.

With a slowdown in consumer demand following the April consumption tax hike, a second straight quarter of negative GDP growth in July-September, and unseasonably cold weather resulting in an even further drag on consumption, Japan appears to be only halfway through to achieving its goals of putting an end to deflation and reviving the economy.

The Asian Credit Market

Growth continues to be a strong theme in Asia making the case for investing in the region a compelling one. The Asia ex-Japan (AxJ) region has more than doubled its share of the global economy since the Asian financial crisis.

Green Bonds Go Mainstream

2014 has become a landmark year for green bonds, having become one of the few sustainable investment instruments to reach a suitable scale and poised to enter the mainstream for global institutional investors.

Japan's Profitability: "Show Me the Money" Corporate Governance

Japan's Profitability: "Show Me the Money" Corporate Governance

Equity investors should not fret too much about weak macro data, as Japanese companies have been able to overcome such for nearly a decade through rationalization and improved corporate governance.

Point of View: On Moody's Japan Rating Downgrade

Moody's downgrade of Japan to A1 will likely have very little effect on bond yields, the economy or risk-asset psychology. The major reason why is due to its odd premise of predicting too much success of Abenomics, while most market observers are not so optimistic.

Recession in Japan? 3 Key points to remember

Three important things to know about the recently announced Japanese GDP statistics that indicated that the country was in a recession.

Debunking Demographics

We examined the relationship between a country's working age population and its listed company corporate earnings for ten nations, and found that the relationship is ambiguous at best, with correlations ranging from positive to strongly negative.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - November 2014

US Treasuries (UST) rallied in October – a month that saw dramatic movements across asset classes. The US Federal Reserve (Fed) ended its bond-buying program following the October policy meeting.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - November 2014

Asia ex-Japan markets bounced back towards the end of October returning 2% for the month in USD terms and outperforming the MSCI World index by 1.4%.

Amid the continued recovery in the U.S. economy and announcements of strong economic indicators, the Federal Reserve Board announced on 29 October its decision to discontinue its programme of asset purchasing and quantitative monetary easing.

Amid continued downward pressure on prices, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) decided to ratchet up its quantitative and qualitative easing program at its Monetary Policy Meeting on 31 October.

US mid-term elections: Republican control of Congress likely to lead to gridlock with President

Although there are potential flashpoints, there are some areas where the US President may be more willing to cooperate with the new Congress — such as being awarded the authority to fast track trade agreements, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Japan’s Key Factor: the Wealth Effect

We have long reported on the role of the wealth effect, as its importance is vastly underestimated by local and foreign investors. The 2Q data for net financial assets shows a QoQ increase to a new historical high.

Official Support for Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Theme?

Update on Japan’s “Show me the Money” corporate governance — the dividend paid by TOPIX continues to rise towards its historic high, but the payout ratio has been stagnant for the past few months, as earnings continue to rally equally well.

Changing of the guards in Asia

Is political democracy good for economic growth and ultimately, stock markets in Asia? Indisputably, sound political systems are crucial for economic development and progress.

Our View on the Recent Market Turbulence

Our house view is that non-economic factors played the largest role in the recent market turbulence. We discuss these below and forecast their future development.

Australian Fixed Income: Credit Commentary - October 2014

Physical credit spreads have remained at reasonably tight levels due to the ongoing search for yield — although global uncertainty in the Middle East, fears about Ebola, and re-emerging concerns about Europe have generated negative sentiment.

Australian Fixed Income: Market Commentary - October 2014

The Australian economy seems to be struggling to achieve traction as the mining boom transitions from a capital expenditure phase to a shipment phase.

No sovereign bond bubble but perhaps a new conundrum

Prior to the global financial crisis, nearly $17 trillion of developed nation bonds were rated AAA. Now there are less than $2 trillion. Not only has supply been restricted, but also diversity, with the number of AAA rated countries falling from 15 to 9.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - October 2014

In its September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a considerable time after its quantitative easing (QE) program ends in October.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - October 2014

Asia Pacific markets succumbed to profit-taking after registering seven consecutive months of positive USD based returns. The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index was down 7.2% for the month in USD terms as the strengthening dollar magnified the loss.

Since the start of October, the Japanese stock market has shown weak performance. Heightened concerns over the worsening economic climates in Europe and China and less bullish forecasts on the U.S. economic recovery drove stocks in Europe and the U.S. sharply down, with the Japanese market following suit.

The currency markets in September saw a sharp weakening of the yen and strengthening of the U.S. dollar, with the yen starting the month trading at about 104 to the dollar, but weakening to about 109 by the end of the month.

The Japanese stock market made large gains starting from the end of 2012, but concerns over geopolitical risk in Ukraine and potential debt default in Argentina led to market sentiment weakening from the beginning of 2014.

Australian Equity: Market Commentary - September 2014

A confluence of factors worked against the Australian market during the month. Regulatory concerns in the banking sector, lower commodity prices and a weaker Australian dollar were the key drivers of the market’s underperformance.

China Worries Continue

Much as we expected, China’s economy has continued to slow faster than consensus, but does not appear to be in a hard landing.

Australian Fixed Income: Credit Commentary - September 2014

In the Australian credit market, the relative lack of supply compared with demand continues to cause spreads to tighten in the physical market offsetting the risks of an unstable geopolitical environment.

Australian Fixed Income: Market Commentary - September 2014

Reasons for the recent weakness in the AUD include a fall in the iron ore price, the rally in the US dollar, weaker Chinese data, and indications that the Reserve Bank of Australia is considering macroprudential controls.

Japan's “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

Improving the number of independent directors and other governance issues are very important in the intermediate term for Japan, but it is crucial for investors to understand that much of the profitability message has already been understood by Japanese corporate for nearly a decade.

Super-Abenomics Key Performance Indicators - September 2014

Japan’s pipeline inflation, which we measure using the recently renamed Producer Price Index’s Finished Consumer Goods for Domestic Demand sub-component continued to be quite depressed in August.

Japan: CY14 GDP Should Exceed Consensus

Japan’s 2Q GDP growth, at -7.1% QoQ SAAR, was far below June’s consensus of -3.1% (and our -2.5% estimate) and we need to reduce our CY14 forecast, but not by much and we remain more optimistic than consensus.

Equity Markets - September 2014

Although not a Goldilocks scenario, our forecasted macro-backdrop is quite positive for global equities.

Bond and Currency Targets - September 2014

G-3 bond yields rose less than we predicted, mostly due to continued ECB aggressiveness, worries about the Chinese economy and the decline in oil prices.