Two prominent Forstrong macro themes (over-loved U.S. equities and under-loved EM equities) forced us to take a closer look at the undercurrents. We saw a U.S. dollar index that was at a 15 year high and an equity market that had increased to over 60% of global market capitalization even though the U.S. share of global GDP had declined to less than 25%. Coincidently, we had witnessed EM equities steadily fall out of favour in spite of consensus projections that EM output would exceed developed market output by 2030.
We bought Chinese equities for our clients because undue and pervasive China bearishness had caused a broad-based and indiscriminate selloff. In other words, trade war risks were fully priced in.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, falling oil prices have never correctly predicted an economic downturn. On all recent occasions when the oil price has at least halved, faster global growth followed. Conversely, every global recession in the past 50 years has been preceded by a sharp increase in oil prices. This became more apparent as the positive impact on global consumption, investment and liquidity materialized over time (especially in countries who are net importers).
Combining negative investor sentiment with a rapidly falling oil price, led our investment team to purchase Indian equities. Why? Indian assets had sold off dramatically, the economy was recovering and, importantly, the country is a net commodity importer. For a nation that imports 100% of its oil demand, the dramatic fall in oil provided a near-term catalyst to boost the earnings of Indian stocks.
While our models were signaling deep vulnerabilities in the global financial system, the epicenter of risk was in the United States. In other words, the crisis was made in America. Conversely, Asian economies were seeing a secular rise in macroeconomic conditions, the quality of their growth and their perception as safe havens (especially compared to traditional shock absorbing assets like the Swiss Franc, US bonds, gold, etc.).
The problem with recessions and associated market selloffs is that correlations among different asset classes go to one. Where to hide? An often overlooked asset class is global currency. Correlations here tend to be stable both during normal and turbulent regimes and therefore provide some of the best diversification exposures for client portfolios. As such, we bought bonds denominated in the local currencies of select Asian countries (Japanese Yen, Chinese Renminbi, etc.) .
Forstrong Global employs a macro thematic approach that identifies significant long-term secular trends and their underlying influences on markets. Often contrary to the prevailing wisdom, these “undercurrents” signal important changes before they are readily recognizable.
By focusing on themes vs. stocks, we can generate returns that have a lower correlation to the overall market and provide a smart complement to traditional bottom up approaches.
Forstrong discretionary macro thematic strategies are turnkey diversification tools
More than ever, asset managers are struggling with the challenges of a more modern, interconnected and globalized world. New realities are emerging everywhere. That’s why investors can no longer ignore a top down global analysis of significant events and trends.
Conducting leading edge research on significant worldwide trends that influence capital markets is at the heart of Forstrong’s top-down active macro discipline. This research allows our investment team to track and curate what we call “super trends”. Although they are characteristically broad in nature, these trends are not inert and will change driven by behavioural and political shifts. Over time, Forstrong’s investment team will add, amend and update these super trends based on our ongoing proprietary research.
Forstrong’s investment team selects preferred investable themes that determine our universe of key building blocks. These are both opportunistic and defensive asset types that define each of our strategies.
Forstrong focuses on “asset types” rather than asset classes as defined by the core bonds, stocks or cash holdings. We define asset types as any asset with unique economic or market drivers and may include an industry sector, a geographical region, commodity or currency. Focusing on the sub-allocation level generates a much broader spectrum of actionable portfolio building blocks that will drive returns and manage portfolio risk.
Investors are not always rational. They have limits to self-control and, unknowingly, may be heavily influenced by their own biases. At times, entire societies leave behind common sense. Unsurprisingly, global markets regularly experience episodic manias, bubbles and busts. How to protect clients from such capricious trends?
Enter behavioural finance, the study of the influence of psychology on the behavior of investors and the subsequent effects on the markets. No portfolio strategy can be complete without an understanding of these trends and the tactics used to amplify return and protect against big portfolio mistakes.
Unwavering commitment to long-term preservation and growth of client assets
Uncommon talent with unique perspectives producing leading edge proprietary research
Consistent world class thematic strategies that complement traditional bottom-up approaches
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