As Jamie Dimon recently noted while discussing the perils of illiquid fixed income markets, the statistics around “tail events” can no longer be trusted.
In other words, 6, 7, or 8 standard deviation moves that in theory should only happen once every two or three billion years may now start to show up once every two to three months. Evidence of this can be found in October's Treasury flash crash, January's fantastic franc fuss, and last month's Bund VaR shock.
Why is this happening? Simple. There’s no liquidity left and the idea of efficient markets facilitating reliable price discovery is an anachronism.
Today’s broken, “mangled” (to use Citi’s descriptor) markets come courtesy of: 1) frontrunning, parasitic HFTs, 2) the post-crisis regulatory regime which, to the extent it’s well meaning, was conceived by people who never had any hope of evaluating the likely knock-on effects of their policies, and 3) central banks, who have commandeered sovereign debt markets, leaving a trail of illiquidity and shrunken repo in their wake.
Meanwhile, equity and fixed income bubbles continue to inflate on the back on central bank largesse and the only two options for rescuing a highly leveraged world are writedowns and/or inflating away the debt.
So what is a savvy investor to do in this powderkeg environment? Simple, says Fidelity’s Ian Spreadbury: own gold, silver, and physical cash.
Via The Telegraph:
The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.
Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.
“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.
The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash”, an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.
He pointed out that a saver was covered only up to £85,000 per bank under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme – which is effectively unfunded – and that the Government has said it will not rescue banks in future, hence his suggestion that some money should be held in physical cash.
He declined to predict the exact trigger but said it was more likely to happen in the next five years rather than 10. The current woes of Greece, which may crash out of the euro, already has many market watchers concerned..
Mr Spreadbury's views are timely, aside from Greece. A growing number of professional investors and commentators are expressing unease about what happens next..
“The problem is that people are struggling to work out how to diversify if QE programmes stop,” he said.
Mr Spreadbury added: “We have rock-bottom rates and QE is still going on – this is all experimental policy and means we are in uncharted territory.
“The message is diversification. Think about holding other assets. That could mean precious metals, it could mean physical currencies.”
As The Telegraph notes, this is "an unusual" piece of advice coming from "a mainstream strategist" and it suggests the "serious people" are starting to realize that a certain tin foil hat fringe blog — which can already count LIBOR manipulation and HFT proliferation as examples of conspiracy theories turned world-changing conspiracy facts — may be correct to warn that if the current state of affairs persists for much longer, the "market" may one day be halted and simply never reopen.