Everything depends on the slope of the yield curve
We see lots of commentary suggesting that the value style is going to outperform the growth style in Europe and the US. We also see this being used as a reason for rebalancing global equity portfolios away from the US and towards Europe. We disagree with both ideas and also with the big idea behind them, which is that government yield curves are going to shift higher and/or steepen at the same time. Indeed, the recent behaviour of US Financials suggests that investors are becoming concerned about the yield curve inverting over the medium term. We also think that the new emphasis on ESG guidelines makes the value/growth trade much more complex than it used to be.
But we don’t know when, why or how much
With very few exceptions, our main risk-appetite indicators are at or close to maximum risk-on. We see evidence of peaking behaviour in global equities vs global fixed income, in US Credit, and cyclicals vs defensives in the US, Japan and the UK. There is one indicator – Italian vs German government bonds – which is already past its peak. Most investors understand this and intend to use any correction as a buying opportunity. However, it still makes sense to take some risk off the table now, if only to put it back on at a lower price. We are also concerned that investors may be ignoring an uptick in geo-political risk.
Overweight defensives and high growth. Ignore the rest.
Equity investors have decided to revisit a strategy first utilised during the secular stagnation debate of 2015 and early 2016. In the US and Europe, they are buying low beta defensives in case there is a recession and paying a premium for stocks with strong secular growth, in case there isn’t. There is very little active weight in the rest of their portfolios. It’s a Barbell strategy, which works while we wait for clarity from the US results season.
US Industrials may give us a sign
We detect signs that the rally in global equities is losing momentum, but we could be wrong, so we are going to do nothing for the next week or two. There are signs of recovering risk appetite in EM Equities and in credit, but not in equity sector selection. Our global equity vs fixed income model is at a critical chart-point and we will look to US Industrials to provide confirmation of that message, whatever it is, whenever it comes.