From Ukraine to Gaza, geopolitical risks are weighing heavily on investors’ minds. But there are plenty more out there that may not be getting headlines.
The western world has placed many sanctions on Russia and its economy. However, Russia holds major leverage over Europe; it has oil and Europe needs it (and may just do a 'deal').
"The consensus narrative on market developments is set to implode," warns Steen Jakobsen, Saxo Bank's chief economist and chief investment officer. In his latest note, he explains precisely how to position ahead of the storm, with everything from calls on gold to German government bonds and more importantly, and their underlying rationale. As Jakobsen concludes, "Yes, the truth is often ugly, but often liberating too. We need to move away from chasing paper profit to investing in people, ideas and prospects. We should not fear the coming sell-off, but embrace and use it for creating a true mandate for change. It’s about time."
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
This is not "different times", the system's low volatility will be replaced by higher volatility, the zero bound leads to bubbles by definition unless you of course believe in eternity and most importantly, mean-reversion and compounding remains the two most powerful tools in finance. It feels like an eternity since the market last traded like a real market, but make no mistake, exactly when you think more of the same is destined to be your strategy, things do change despite the feeling of infinity.
"...so I think the low comes in economically in Q1 and Q2 in 2015. Every single macro indicator you can find will bottom at Q1/Q2. For the equity market, I think the top is 1900/1950. But you can't both predicted the level and the timing. And I’m more confident about the timing, not the level. So my timing I’m confident, and the timing I am confident on is the fact that the second half of this year is going to see a 30% correction from the top."
When 2014 started, expectations were sky high and as Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen notes, policymakers and their support organisations like the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were all quick to call the crisis over and project a true recovery. Now just five month into the year we have seen nothing but disappointing data both relatively speaking but certainly also in absolute terms. As the following presentation outlines, Jakobsen believes we will see new low yields in this cycle this year and that 2014 will also be the year of the low in terms of: inflation expectations, wage/salary, velocity of money, loan demand, lack of reform, and innovation reforms.
A lack of volatility in the markets is dangerous, according to Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, who says we need to know why the danger will be with us for some time. In this brief clip he warns, "...the world seems to think there is a stable permanent equilibrium which doesn't make sense if you think about it, unemployment is still rising, debt to GDPs are still rising, the Crimea situation is increasing in tension, not decreasing, The US still has a lot of stuff to do on social security and welfare spending…for two or three years down the road, with no activity, the world will fall into not only deflation, but also a recession." Jakobsen predicts that, year on year, world growth will actually be "a big fat zero" and therefore the markets are drifting into dangerous territory.
- Russia says expects answers on NATO troops in eastern Europe (Reuters)
- Dealers say GM customer anxiety rising, sales may take hit (Reuters)
- China Unveils Mini-Stimulus Measure (WSJ)
- Londoners Priced Out of Housing Blame Foreigners (BBG)
- New earthquake in Chile prompts tsunami alerts (Reuters)
- Ukrainian Billionaire Charged by U.S. With Bribe Scheme (BBG)
- Chinese Investments in U.S. Commercial Real Estate Surges (BBG)
- Old Math Casts Doubt on Accuracy of Oil Reserve Estimates (BBG)
- US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest (AP)
Saxo Bank's CEO Lars Seier Christensen has made it abundantly clear in the past that the EUR is a monumentally bad idea; he notes, the huge European bureaucracy and especially the political elite that feed off the EU will do all they can to prevent the EUR’s fall, at least until it becomes inevitable. This will be either due to pressure from voters (even if they are very rarely consulted in this post-democratic political structure) or from the markets, which eventually must reassume their role that has been perverted beyond recognition during the crisis: the true role of allocating capital and pricing money and assets rationally. But, Christensen explains, if we are stuck with this "Currency of Mass Destruction", shouldn’t we at least try to make some money from it?
"I think Bitcoin will face serious challenges in the long run, although I believe such digital currencies could have a place in the economy in more well thought-through structures with values better linked to real assets."
There was more good news for the UK economy this morning; the unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% during the three months to December - the biggest ever quarterly increase in employment. This follows the IMF this week raising its (admittedkly terrible track record-based) forecast for the UK economy; it now expects it to grow 2.4% this year which is faster than any other major European economy. Nick Beecroft, Chairman of Saxo Capital Markets UK, is “optimistic” about Britain’s recovery, but has three concerns...
One of the biggest mistakes we can make, Saxo Bank's CEO warns, is to assume that rationality will prevail, that just through superior economic performance, freedom will capture enough peoples' hearts in a democracy to win the day. In the last of his three-part series (part 1 and part 2), Lars Seier Christensen focuses on the broader relevance of Ayn Rand in society today, noting that she remains among the few that recognised with crystal clarity, that we will not win the battle through just proving that freedom and capitalism works. This, he warns, creates a major problem for those of us that like to argue rationally, rather than emotionally.
Although the probability of any one of the predictions coming true is low, they are deduced strategically by Saxo Bank analysts based on a feasible - if unlikely - series of market and political events. As Saxo's chief economist notes, "This isn't meant to be a pessimistic outlook. This is about critical events that could lead to change - hopefully for the better. After all, looking back through history, all changes, good or bad, are made after moments of crisis after a comprehensive failure of the old way of doing things. As things are now, global wealth and income distribution remain hugely lopsided which also has to mean that significant change is more likely than ever due to unsustainable imbalances. 2014 could and should be the year in which a mandate for change not only becomes necessary, but is also implemented."
The early effects of the reform program have triggered a surge in the Japanese stock market, accelerated by the anticipation of growth revival. So far, so good for the markets and traders. But how will Abenomics accommodate public debt of over 200% GDP, and will Abe’s radical policies inspire a long-term economic recovery in Japan? Saxo Capital Markets’ new infographic explores the efficacy of Japan's prime minister's dangerous experiment to stimulate economic growth.