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25.05.2020  

Global Investment Views - June 2020

Published May 25, 2020

> 10 minutes

> 10 minutes

THE ESSENTIAL


The great market detachment from reality

The dichotomy between the false market tranquillity and the high level of uncertainty about the length of the crisis and its long-term implications is striking. In our view, we are far from being out of the woods and investors should stay alert as current market levels are still pricing in a ‘too rosy too soon’ endgame. The race between the three cycles will continue. On the pandemic cycle, markets have been relying on the narrative that the worst may be behind us in Europe and the US, with rising expectations of contagion curve-flattening. If these hopes are not realised, market tensions will resurface. On the economic front, the huge fiscal and monetary measures are like an insurance policy for the next six months, but should the recession prove worse than expected, markets will need more and any disappointment will trigger a correction. ‘Credit’ is becoming addicted to CB action; market conditions have improved but not normalised. On the credit default cycle, critical in a world that will see even more debt after the Covid-19 crisis recedes, markets have already priced in a first round of defaults but not a second one for traditionally laggard assets. The battle between liquidity and solvency will continue and US commercial real estate is an area to monitor.

The disconnect between market hopes and economic and pandemic reality reinforces our conviction that now is a time to remain cautious: don’t chase the bulls, but gradually and selectively play investment themes better positioned towards a slow road to recovery. Reasons to be vigilant, on top of the uncertainties in the three cycles mentioned above, are: First, a resurgence of the US-China rivalry, amid the ‘blame for the virus’ game, was the main risk that re-escalated in May. Second, the outcome of US elections is uncertain. Third, EM are facing high idiosyncratic risks (Brazil). Finally, the long-term consequences (retreat in global trade, rebalancing of policies in favour of labour, transformation of business models, and acceleration of trends, i.e. smart working) of Covid-19 are complex and remain under scrutiny. During the unprecedented last 3 months, our focus has been: the dual objective of protecting investment capital from any permanent loss and having room to add to emerging investment opportunities.

 

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