The new regulatory requirement of MiFID II has been in effect for six months and it appears to be working. This recent Bloomberg article really caught our attention as it highlights an astonishing +70% increase in the reported trading volumes for European ETFs.
There have been numerous academic studies on the economic benefits of hosting the World Cup. A few, out of a long list of studies, can be found here:
- The Economic Impact, Costs and Benefits of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games: Who Wins, Who Loses?
- Russia predicts World Cup will have $31 billion economic impact
- Economic Impacts of the FIFA World Cup in Developing Countries
Infrastructure spending, increased tourism (both short- and long-term), higher labor/civic morale, and increased profile of the host country are often cited as the benefits. On the other hand, the cost of building (and financing) the stadiums, crowding out of private investment, congestion, and the cost of security are some potential disadvantages.
But as international equity investors, we are more focused on the simple question:
what about the impact on equity prices?
This old chestnut is variably attributed to Henry Ford, John Wanamaker, J.C. Penny, William Hesketh Lever, amongst others. Each one is a great symbol of consumerism, but we’ll never know which or if any of them really said it.
In October, we wrote about the market opportunity in biosimilars, which are generic versions of biologic drugs, also known as biologics. Biologics are molecules made by living organisms such as humans, animals, and microorganisms, which mean they typically have a more complex molecular structure compared to conventional drugs. These drugs can treat a wide variety of diseases and potentially see greater efficacy versus other therapies.
To hedge or not to hedge currency risk, that age-old question for international equity investors just keeps popping up. Admittedly, for U.S. dollar (USD) investors allocating to international equities, this has been a futile exercise as prolonged USD weakness has provided a nice tailwind to returns. However, the period from 2014 through 2016 was a wake-up call for the unhedged investor; ignoring currency risk was no longer acceptable. While international stocks performed well at the local level, currency risk devasted those returns as they were exchanged back into USD.
Here is some potential good news and some potential bad news. The good news – international stocks are not expected to implode anytime soon. The bad news – a correction of 5-10% seems fairly likely. This increasing probability of a near-term correction is supported by the diverging relationship between stock prices and macroeconomic data.
Fund flows in 2017 massively favored passive investment strategies with a total of $692 billion flowing to passive funds. (Read our blog 2017 Fund Flows: Passive Trumps Active (Even In International Equity)). While international equity strategies saw positive inflows to tune of about $230 bn, actively managed funds only saw about $30 bn of positive inflows.
The market is paying close attention to a critical 3% level for U.S. 10-Year Treasury bonds, which has implications for both domestic and international securities. Excluding utilities, sectors traditionally seen as stable sources of yield have recently underperformed, including consumer staples, REITS, and telecom.
Are geopolitical risks beginning to impact stocks? While 2017 was marked by low volatility and little consideration for risk in general, the first quarter of 2018 feels different.
One of the more interesting developments in the oil markets is the fact that oil inventories have not had their seasonal build. We don’t blame you for not noticing. This news was likely drowned out by all the macro “noise” around trade wars, flattening of yield curves, rise in inflation, tax reform, new Fed Chair (hawkish or dovish?), spike in VIX, and volatility in FANG stocks. Admittedly, there is a lot of macro news to digest.