These are tough times for investors. We have already commented some of the weird phenomena that we are living in the markets, but the first semester was not easy at all to find good performances. Instability comes from several fronts:
- EU: the ECB has no clue to solve the current troubles to make money and credit flow. Interest rates are negative, Euribor is also negative and the debt gives no return for investors. In the current unstable and volatile situation, investors prefer to pay instead of becoming profits from Treasury Bonds, specifically German ones. Finally, the black swan appeared: Brexit is there to stay.
- USA: the Fed shows doubtful and indecisive. Markets have become mad and Mrs. Yellen prefers to delay the more-than-once announced (in Fed gobbledygook) rate hike. The presidential election also opens a new possible black swan, because a victory of Trump could cause another turmoil in the exchanges. The poverty of returns in the US markets is very clear with a figure: S&P 500 has produced positive returns YTD since Easter and its peak was under 4%.
- Asia: China sets the pace in the continent, but there are hard signs that the economy doesn’t grow as before. Exchanges reflect this low confidence and Shanghai performed erratic since the crash last August. The performance fluctuation band was between -15% and -25% YTD. Japan is also deadlock, because no policy obtains a positive outcome to get over the long economic stagnation of the country. This continent is the weakest for investors.
- Latam: Although Brazil has experienced a great political crisis, investors acted more confident and the performance moves between 10% – 20% YTD. Mexico also shows a stable evolution in the markets, as the oil price has begun to rise.
This is the past and current situation, but where are the opportunities for the second half of the year? We do not publish forecast, but we can speak about trends.
Some days ago, BlackRock, the main ETF manager, decided to downgrade equities, because “stocks still face several obstacles”. Bank of America published a survey in which investors declared to bet higher for cash, peaking the highest allocation since 2001 in investment portfolios. Gold soared a 25% since January and volatility index VIX rallied this last month after a quiet quarter.
Times are hard to take investment decisions. The best one is no panic. Current volatility has to do with it and decisions under this pressure are usually wrong. Investors play for the long term. These are times to keep calm, avoid sudden changes and smart rebalance your portfolio.