How Rothschild Sees The Future

Rothschild has identified four different scenarios that, in their view, are the most likely to occur. The series of scenarios for GDP growth and inflation in the main western economies, Japan and China may guide investor thinking but their somewhat ominous conclusion is worth bearing in mind: “Further monetary ‘experiments’ are becoming less probable. However, significant imbalances and risks persist. This is the reason why we have left the size (probability) of our depression scenario unchanged.”

Notably, equities are not well supported by current valuations, while monetary policy is limited by high debt levels and interest rates that are already close to zero...exposing equities to a potentially sharp correction.”

Setting the scene

The scenarios presented here are intended to illustrate our economic outlook over the next few years.

What this is

A series of scenarios for GDP growth and inflation in the main western economies, Japan and China.

A simplification. The global economy is complex and multi-dimensional, and can be represented in many different ways. While narrowing in on just growth and inflation involves some simplification, we believe it is still worthwhile – most other economic variables and policy actions can be covered in relation to their impact on growth and inflation.

A guide to our thinking. The scenarios flow from our investment analysis. They are intended to illustrate the thinking that shapes the way we have built our clients’ portfolios. They can also help identify some of the main investment risks and opportunities.

What this isn’t

A series of detailed forecasts. In any exercise like this, there is always a danger of giving a false sense of certainty. We have kept our comments at a fairly high level, providing a sketch of what we see as the most likely outcomes.

Something set in stone. Our analysis evolves over time: the scenarios provide a snapshot of our outlook in 2014.

Something prescriptive. The scenarios are mainly a tool for communication. While they are valuable in our investment decisionmaking, they are not something we use rigidly.

What has changed?

Since we last published this report, the global economy has continued to recover, driven by the US. Although growth remains weak, conditions in the eurozone have also improved. Meanwhile, Japan appears to be making progress with efforts to stimulate its economy and China seems to have avoided a sharp slowdown.

Improving global economic data suggests to us that the world could begin to move away from the current situation of sluggish growth and loose monetary policies. Further monetary “experiments” are becoming less probable. However, significant imbalances and risks persist. This is the reason why we have left the size (probability) of our depression scenario unchanged.

Four main scenarios

We have identified four different scenarios that, in our view, are the most likely to occur.

For each scenario, the position of the bubble shows the combination of growth and inflation that we expect to see in the next one to three years.

The size of the bubble illustrates our view on the likelihood of this scenario occurring – this is subjective, and is intended just to illustrate our thinking.

Growth is expressed in relation to the potential for each country. For example, a growth rate of 4% would be low for China but very high for Europe. Similarly, inflation relates to a country’s individual inflation target.

We have adjusted the size of the bubbles to reflect our view that conditions in the global economy should continue to improve in 2014. We believe the world could begin to move away from our core “muddling through” scenario towards “economic renaissance” and that the “new monetary world” situation has become less likely.

(click image for huge legible version)

Implications for returns from asset classes

The table summarises the expected returns of the major asset classes under each of our four main scenarios.

The circles in the boxes show the expected return over the next three years, relative to the long-term expected returns*. Light green means higher than long-term expected returns*, while light red means lower.

These figures are an illustration of our thinking. They are based on an informed interpretation of our fundamental valuation models.

(click image for huge legible version)

Our conclusions

In most scenarios equities are the most attractive asset class. But valuation support is limited, exposing equities to a potentially sharp correction.

1. Continue to favour equities

We continue to favour equities despite their demanding valuations:

  • Abundant liquidity and repressed interest rates in our “muddling through” and “new monetary world” scenarios continue to support equities.
  • Improved earnings prospects in our economic renaissance” scenario should also boost equity prices despite the prospect of higher interest rates.
  • This pattern applies particularly to the US market. It is the most overvalued region but prices could continue to rise if the “economic renaissance” scenario becomes increasingly likely.

2. Remain cautious on bonds

  • We are avoiding long-maturity nominal bonds because they would be negatively affected by a normalisation of monetary policy in our “economic renaissance” scenario.
  • Within fixed income we continue to like shorter-maturity corporate bonds. This part of the market has two attractive features. First, there is still a decent yield advantage relative to government bonds. Second, the short maturity would offer some protection against rising interest rates, especially in our “economic renaissance” scenario.

3. Maintain exposure to real assets

  • The still sizeable probability of our “new monetary world” scenario lies behind our ongoing exposure to real assets such as gold, real estate and possibly inflation-linked bonds.
  • We are also confident that over an economic cycle equities continue to offer protection against inflation.
  • Additionally, we are focusing on hedge funds that have the flexibility to adjust to an unexpected increase in inflation.

4. Maintain our portfolio hedges

Although we believe the “depression” scenario is the least likely, its impact would be so disruptive that it must be considered within our investment strategy. Notably, equities are not well supported by current valuations, while monetary policy is limited by high debt levels and interest rates that are already close to zero.

Therefore, we include hedging strategies that can limit the potential losses from our portfolios:

  • We have a sizeable allocation to hedge funds that can provide significant protection in a bear market or which are not affected by movements in equity markets and therefore provide true diversification.
  • Additionally, we have direct equity hedges usually in the form of out-of-the-money put options on broad equity indices.

About the author

Related

We've been closely watching the Crypto Currency Market if you can call it that, with all the fake data, fraud, and related problems.  One thing stands out - it's not so different than FX, commodities, futures, or stocks.  Market dyn...

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies flash-crashed Saturday night, one day after the US Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) sent subpoenas four cryptocurrency exchanges in an ongoing probe into bitcoin manipulation that began in late July - following the launch of bitcoin futures on the CME, according to the Wall Street Journal
CME’s bitcoin futures derive their final value from prices at four bitcoin exchangesBitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and KrakenManipulative trading in those markets could skew the price of bitcoin futures that the government directly regulates.
In delay reaction, Bitcoin fell as much as $433 or 5.6% in Saturday night trading, with some noting that the flash crash happened shortly after a 90th ranked crypto exchange, Coinrail, had suffered a "cyber intrusion", and was likely the more relevant catalyst for the crypto price drop.
While major Cryptocurrencies were down from 4.5 - 5.5%, Bitcoin Cash dropped over 8.4%. 
The CTFC subpoenas were issued after several of the exchanges refused to voluntarily share trading data with the CME after being asked last December. Of note, the CFTC regulates the CTC. 
According to the WSJ, the CME, which launched bitcoin futures in December, asked the four exchanges to share reams of trading data after its first contract settled in January, people familiar with the matter said. But several of the exchanges declined to comply, arguing the request was intrusive. The exchanges ultimately provided some data, but only after CME limited its request to a few hours of activity, instead of a full day, and restricted to a few market participants, the people added.
What is curious, is that if there was indeed manipulation since the launch of bitcoin futures, it was to the downside, as the price of cryptos peaked around the time the crypto futures were launched, and are down well over 50% in the 6 months since.
Coinbase in particular has been under the watch government regulators. On February 23, Coinbase sent an official notice to around 13,000 customers to notify them they were legally required to turn over their information to the IRS
The IRS had initially asked Coinbase in July 2017 to hand over even more detailed information on every one of its then over 500,000 users in an attempt catch those cheating on their taxes. However, another court order in Nov. 2017 reduced this number to around 14,000 “high-transacting” users, which the platform now reports as 13,000, in what Coinbase calls a “partial, but still significant, victory for Coinbase and its customers.”
Coinbase told the around 13,000 affected customers that the company would be providing their taxpayer ID, name, birth date, address, and historical transaction records from 2013-2015 to the IRS within 21 days. Coinbase’s letter to these customers encourages them “to seek legal advice from an attorney promptly” if they have any questions. Their website also states that concerns may also be addressed on Coinbase’s Taxes FAQ. The ongoing legal battle between Coinbase and the US government dates back to November, 2016, when the IRS filed a “John Doe summons” in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
On Feb. 13, personal finance service Credit Karma released data showing that only 0.04 percent of their customers had reported cryptocurrencies on their federal tax returns. 
And in April, former New York Attorney General, Eric "we could rarely have sex without him beating me" Schneiderman, launched a probe of 13 major cryptocurrency exchanges according to the Wall Street Journal - claiming that investors dealing in the fast-growing markets often don’t have the basic facts needed to protect themselves.
Former AG Schneiderman’s office said the program, called Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative,  is part of its responsibility to protect consumers and ensure the integrity of financial markets, and its goal is to ensure that investors can have a better understanding of the risks and protections afforded them on these sites.
CFTC Commissioner: Crypto is a "modern miracle"
While the CFTC, IRS and New York Attorney General's office are all cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges, it seems to all be part of the government's embrace of virtual currencies.  Last week CFTC Commissioner Rostin Benham called cryptocurrencies a "modern miracleat the Blockchain For Impact Summit held at the UN in New York last week. 
But virtual currencies may – will – become part of the economic practices of any country, anywhere.  Let me repeat that:  these currencies are not going away and they will proliferate to every economy and every part of the planet.  Some places, small economies, may become dependent on virtual assets for survival.  And, these currencies will be outside traditional monetary intermediaries, like government, banks, investors, ministries, or international organizations.
We are witnessing a technological revolution.  Perhaps we are witnessing a modern miracle. -Rostin Benham
Rostin hinted at the upcoming legal action against the exchanges during his speech:
Under the CEA and Commission regulations and related guidance, exchanges have the responsibility to ensure that their Bitcoin futures products and their cash-settlement process are not readily susceptible to manipulation and the entity has sufficient capital to protect itself.  The CFTC has the authority to ensure compliance. In addition, the CFTC has legal authority over virtual currency derivatives in support of anti-fraud and manipulation including enforcement authority in the underlying markets.

Meanwhile, the official Bitcoin website removed references to Coinbase, Blockchain.com and Bitpay, according to Crypto News - only one of which, Coinbase, was subpoenaed. 
http://Bitcoin.org  just removed/censored the 2 largest US Bitcoin companies (@BitPay Payment processing and @coinbase Bitcoin Exchange). It’s a good move: Bitcoin Core is obviously no longer Bitcoin, and should ideally be removed from both @BitPay and @coinbase too.

The CFTC officially recognized bitcoin as a commodity in September of 2015 when it went after Coinflip for operating a platform for trading bitcoin options without the proper authorization. Since the agency effectively asserted its dominance over the bitcoin market with that decision, this is the first time it has given its blessing to an bitcoin options trading platform. Expect a burst of institutional trading activity to follow - especially since they approved institutional options trading in July
This post sponsored by Total Cryptos @ www.totalcryptos.com  

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