Barclays have had a look at the reaction of various types of investor since markets started to move around with energy in April.
We find that positioning in bonds has been cut back considerably by asset allocation funds, bonds mutual funds and relative value hedge funds. However, hedge funds are overweight equities while equity mutual funds are underweight. In particular, positioning in European equities is once again extremely low. Finally, the surge in USDJPY has coincided with a surge in yen shorts back toward record levels.
Mark Schofield and his team of macro strategists at Citi have a new watchword: diversification. The bank has a major new paper on the matter (one of its occasional Citi GPS series), arguing that we’ve all been wrong to sit about expecting, at some point, a sudden rush for the exit in bond markets and a consequent rebalancing of equity allocations. Read more
In 2013, US mutual fund investors started moving money out of bonds and into equities. Some thought that this was the beginning of a “great rotation” in asset allocations that would undo the changes that have occurred since the crisis. That might happen eventually but the trend has gone into reverse this year.
Chart via CreditSights: Read more
Tech is down, Treasuries are up, stocks are flattish: whatever happened to asset rotation, great or otherwise?
For an answer, we turn to the flows as interpreted by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou and team at JP Morgan, who have found that the bond selling of late last year has reversed:
non-bank investors appear to be responsible for most of this year’s bond rally of which retail investors were one. Neither speculative investors, who appeared to have increased their US rate shorts by $110bn duration-weighted YTD, nor banks who, driven by FX managers, sold USTs this year, appear to have caused this year’s bond rally.
Remember how pension deficits were huge and insurmountable? Not so much, any more.
On its way to posing the question, will they be buyers of bonds?, JPMorgan‘s Flows & Liquidity team notes that the funding chasm is now more of a crack:
The funding gap of the 100 largest US corporate defined benefit pension plans peaked in July 2012 at –$546bn and had declined to -$140bn at the end of January. The deficit of UK defined benefit plans peaked at -£293bn in July 2012 and had declined to a low of -£28bn in December.
We could have sworn we were told that paying high-fee alternative asset managers was the only way pension funds stood a chance of meeting their liabilities, but it looks like stocks and moderately higher rates have put in the hard yards instead. Read more
A new year is a new country, so far as the investment prognostication world is concerned. What will people do with their clean slates, we wonder?
Buy equities is a strong contender. It appears to be what retail investors finally did last year after years of revealing their preference for bonds, and they aren’t done yet. If you don’t believe us, well, we have charts… Read more
So what have the retail investors been up to? Buying stocks! But, even with yields down low and no-where to go, they are yet to break the bond buying habit.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it — more than $100bn in investor money has sploshed over to the US stock market since the start of 2013, according to EPFR and BNP Paribas:
Thanks to reader Grumpy for mentioning this in the Long Room.
Remember this, from 2007? Read more
With all the excitement about ‘the great rotation’, it often feels that the debate focuses too much on analysing the recent flows, and less about the greed/fear dynamics driving them.
It’s been well documented that bond holders are increasingly frustrated by the miserable yields on offer in the fixed income markets, and are apparently flocking into the ‘cheap’ equity markets. We’ve already voiced our scepticism about the scale of this flocking. Yet what’s potentially also underestimated is the degree of skittishness by bond holders when the stock markets show signs of a wobble. After all, a lot of capital in fixed income got there after investors were burnt in the early 2000s. This loss aversion shouldn’t be underestimated. Read more