John Vail updates his long-standing theme: Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance.
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.
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.
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.
The disappointing economic data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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?
The steel industry and its underlying iron ore industry are witnessing excess production and deflationary forces that are similar to the global energy markets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clearly, oil prices have fallen further than nearly everyone anticipated. When our Global Investment Committee met in December, Brent was trading at $66.
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.
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.
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.
These reforms coupled with strong balance sheets and demographics will support higher levels of global growth for decades to come.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Asia-Pacific region is evolving and reforming rapidly, both in terms of developing and developed countries. Over the course of the next 10 years, Asia-Pacific, including Japan, will become a default allocation in investor portfolios.
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.
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.
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.
Many empirical studies have shown that a value style approach to investing in Australian shares has consistently outperformed growth investing - and with less risk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The ultimate beneficiary of most of the manager's investment decisions is an individual investor with particular needs and requirements. This may sound obvious, but actually it often gets ignored.
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.
Three important things to know about the recently announced Japanese GDP statistics that indicated that the country was in a recession.
The argument within the investment community over which offers better results continues to rage. However, we think that a more important question is being missed—are investors getting what they expect from the two investment styles?