Tag Archives: Japan

Schroders Says Buy European Equities

he European economy will continue to be sluggish in 2015 leading to the potential for political unrest, said the experts at Schroders, the giant British asset manager. However, European equities should do well in spite of this.

Meanwhile, Japan should see benefits from a weaker yen, but this will hurt other Asian economies.

The 200-year old firm, which manages $448 billion in 27 countries, presented its market view to the press last week in London.

Keith Wade, Schroder’s chief economist, said falling commodity prices will drive inflation lower, and the declining euro will stop deflationary pressure in the euro zone.

Wade is bearish on the Chinese economy, but he doesn’t expect a hard landing. Meanwhile, emerging markets continue to struggle because of the Chinese slowdown.

“A lot of headwinds are being lifted in Europe and that should help growth,” said European economist Azad Zangana, pointing to the weaker euro. Still, he remains cautious.

Rory Bateman, head of European and U.K. equities, agreed Europe’s economy will be sluggish, but that equities will do well. A weaker euro should help corporations deliver earnings growth between 3% and 5%. Falling oil prices will also help earnings. Bateman expects European financials to post double-digit earnings growth.

Still, with high unemployment across the continent, there is high potential for political unrest. Zangana doesn’t expect major upheavals, but still enough to worry investors.

Bob Jolly, head of global macro, said the high unemployment is increasing the popularity of extreme political parties, with potential flashpoints in Spain, Ireland, Germany and Greece.

Steven Cordell, who manages European equity funds, blamed the European recession Ukraine and Russia. He expects a slow protracted recovery. The German economy is suffering from sanctions against Russian companies and the downturn in China, two major export partners. Cordell agreed that the European banking system is now healthy. He said banks can access cheap capital at a 0.05% marginal lending rate from the European Central Bank.

While the credit market reflects the banks’ improved fundamentals, equities don’t. Cordell said 61% of European companies have better dividend yields than bond yields. This tells him the problem is in bond valuations, not equities. He said it’s a good time to buy European stocks because dividends are at their peak yield in excess of bond yields.

Exporting Inflation

As for Asia, emerging markets economist Craig Botham said while Japan’s policy of devaluing the yen makes Japan’s exports cheaper, Japan is exporting inflation to other parts of the region, like South Korea and China. Botham added that Asia is one of the best-placed regions to benefit from a U.S. recovery, when U.S. consumers buy more electronics and consumer durables.

James Gautrey, portfolio manager for global equities, said that by the end of next year the number of people accessing the Internet from mobile devices in India and China will exceed 1 billion. The way to make money is buy telecoms in India and Internet companies in China.

“I think Alibaba is very underrecognized,” said Gautrey. “Its take rate is 2.3% compared with the 12% done by Amazon.”

Originally published in Investor’s Business Daily.

Roubini Says Commodity Super Cycle “Is Over,” but Optimistic on U.S.

For a man nicknamed “Dr. Doom,” economist Nouriel Roubini sounded almost giddy during a recent speech in which he said the reduced possibility of a euro zone breakup has lowered the risk in the global economy.

While the global economy is anemic and still fragile, he said over the next three years growth in the U.S. will be faster than Europe, Japan and China because “the fundamentals of the U.S. are much better in all technologies of the future.”

Roubini, a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, received the Dr. Doom moniker after he accurately predicted the 2007 bust in the housing market and the ensuing fiscal crisis in 2008.

But as he stood before a crowd of more than 100 at last month’s Inside Commodities conference, the chairman of Roubini Global Economics said while the U.S. economy remains weak, especially the housing sector, it will get stronger, albeit slowly. Nor does he expect a crash in the bond market.

“How can we create inflation without wage inflation?” he asked the crowd.

He expects the Federal Reserve Bank to begin tapering its policy of quantitative easing and begin raising interest rates by early 2014, which will lead to a gradual strengthening of the dollar. Quantitative easing, or QE3, is the name given to the Fed’s $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program now in its third round. Roubini said by the end of 2017 U.S. interest rates will be as high as 4%.

Yet for the audience of commodity investors, Roubini’s comments were decidedly bad news. He said high interest rates and the stronger dollar will have an inverse relationship to commodity prices.

“The party as we know it is over. The commodity super cycle is over,” said Roubini. “When the dollar gets stronger, everything else being equal, commodity prices begin to fall.” In addition, a slow down in China’s growth will reduce demand for commodities.

The economist said energy prices will gradually lower over time, with oil hitting $90 a barrel, and precious metals will fall too. He predicted the price of gold could fall to $1,000 an ounce by 2015. Rising interest rates and lowered global risk are big reasons for the drop in gold. He also thinks European countries may sell some of their gold stocks to reduce their public debt.

Even though the risk of the European Union splitting has declines, he pointed out that many of fundamental problems there are not resolved. Some countries remain in economic crisis, potential growth is low and the recovery will be “extremely anemic,” between 0% and 1%, which is lethal for the unemployed.

He said the loss of competitiveness in the Euro zone hasn’t been resolved and a fiscal drag remains. The recovery in the Euro zone “will be fragile and always be behind the curve.”

Another big unknown is whether China will have a soft or hard landing. Roubini said China’s growth is unsustainable and its leaders know it. He said the bubble from too much development, housing and investment will fall, along with consumption, and that will bring down growth. He said China’s growth rate at the end of this year will be 7%, sliding to 6% next year and less than 6% in 2015. While not a true hard landing, it will be worse than people expect.

The slowdown in China will cause a drop in demand for commodities which will hurt many emerging market economies. Countries with weakening fundamentals include Indonesia, India, Hungary and Ukraine.

While the prices for all commodities won’t fall for the same reasons, he says geopolitical factors, such as the lowering of tensions with Syria and Iran as reasons for the price of oil to fall. In addition, the balance of supply and demand, will be evened out and prices will decline with new discoveries of oil, as well as the rise of other forms of energy, such as shale. In addition, “the green economy will raise new energy and reduce demand for old energy.”

He recommended that investors be underweight in bonds and overweight in U.S. equities as the economic recovery become more robust and moves into cyclical stocks. He also believes Japan’s economy will succeed under Prime Minister Abe. He said investors should be overweight in advanced economies compared to emerging markets, and that the U.S. and Japan will do better than Europe and United Kingdom.

The Dangers of Buying on Disasters

Charles Wallace wrote an intersting story for Daily Finance about the risks of buying ETFs on disaster news. He specifically looked at ETFs that focused on the Japanese and Egyptian equity markets.

Wallace quotes me in the article saying you shouldn’t put a lot of money into these kinds of ETFs and to make sure you’re diversified. However, a lot of my insights from our interview didn’t make it into the article, especially about the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ) and the main Egypt ETF, the Market Vectors Egypt Index (EGPT). Shares of Egyptian stocks, and hence the Egypt ETF were driven down by protests against President Hosni Mubarak.

Wallace wrote “Trading in the EGPT was brisk in the U.S., and the ETF moved consistently higher even though the stock market in Egypt was closed for more than a month. When the Egyptian Exchange reopened on Tuesday, stocks dropped 10% and EGPT opened at $15.86, a decline of 17% from its March 9 high.”

Anytime an ETF tracks a foreign country, especially one whose market is closed during U.S. trading hours, it can move on news that occurs after the foreign market closes. This typically puts the ETF’s price at a premium or discount to the underlying stocks in the portfolio. However, nearly every time, the movement of the ETF correctly predicts the movement of the local market when it finally opens the next day. So, these premiums or discounts last less than 24 hours. While there is some risk in these kinds of trades, the ETFs usually seem to be doing the price discovery for the closed local market.

However, when a market is closed like the Egyptian market was for a month, then the ETF begins to trade like a closed-end fund. That’s because the arbitrage mechanism that balances out the creation and redemption of the ETF’s shares is unable to work. At that point, the price discovery mechanism is dismantled and the ETF shares can trade dramatically far from the actual value of the underlying stocks in the portfolio. Without the arbs there to keep the share price closely linked to the underlying portfolio, it ceases to trade on fundamentals and becomes pure speculation.

Conclusion, if the ETF can no longer buy the underlying shares of the market it tracks, stay away. You are playing with fire and bound to get burned.