MacroScope

from Summit Notebook:

Is emerging Europe out of the woods yet?

A surge in portfolio inflows is flooding into emerging central Europe, although yield-hungry investors are picking solid HUNGARY IMF/MATOLCSYpolicy and higher growth over countries still struggling to put the crisis behind them.

After deep contractions across the region, a two-speed recovery is underway, with countries boasting better debt fundamentals like Poland and the Czech Republic for the moment ahead of those who depend on foreign lending.

Investors are also dipping into countries like Hungary, but struggles by the new centre-right Fidesz government to get its budget deficit under control mean it is lagging for now, along with fellow International Monetary Fund benefactor Romania.

"There has... been clear differentiation between the more robust and the weaker economies of the region," Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note on the region.

"We believe that the region's stronger economies -- namely, Poland, Turkey, Israel and the Czech Republic -- will be the first to see an acceleration in financial inflows both in debt and, increasingly, equity." Turkey and Israel are often grouped with emerging European markets.

from Jeremy Gaunt:

And the investor survey says…

Reuters asset allocation polls for August are out. They show very little change from July, which suggests investors are still cautious and uncertain about what is happening.

One big difference, month-on-month, was a large jump into investment grade corporate debt.  Andrew Milligan of Standard Life Investments reckons this  may in part  have been because  sovereign debt rallied so much over summer that returns from government bonds are now too meagre.

Here is the big picture:

Poll

from Global Investing:

What fund managers think

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's monthly poll of around 200 fund managers had a few nuggets in the June version, aside from the usual mood-taking.

Gold is too expensive.  A net 27 percent of respondent thought it overvalued, up from 13 percent in May. Then again, the respondents to this poll have reckoned gold is too pricey since September 2009.

The fall in the euro should be tailing off. A net 14 percent reckon the single currency is still overvalued, but that is way down from the net 45 percent who thought so in the May poll.

from Global Investing:

Time up for emerging markets?

Well, not in the long-run, no. You would be hard pressed to find an economist, investor or even politician who does not reckon the global shift in growth to Asia and Latin America is going to be the story of the coming decade, century etc.

But in the shorter term, strange things are happening. MSCI's benchmark emerging market stock index is barely in the black for the year. Even more surprising is that it is underperforming its developed market counterpart.

Many  economists and investment strategists are still beating the drum for emerging markets and a Reuters European Funds Summit in Luxembourg this week heard numerous cases of retail investors beginning to move into the sector, joining their institutional brethren.

from Global Investing:

Poor investor confidence – or is it?

The latest State Street investor confidence index bears some scrutiny. The overall index dropped in February which would seem to be in line with other sentiment indicators such as The Conference Board's consumer confidence index and the German Ifo on business thinking.

But the State Street  fall was entirely due to bearish Asian sentiment. There were gains in the North American and European regional calculations. Also the overall, North American and European indices all came in above 100 -- which means that sentiment remains on the bullish side.

It begs the question of whether Asia is a) lagging b) leading or c) just out there on its own.

Britain heading for rude awakening?

 UK_DFTEZ0110

 

There is a divisive election ahead for Britain, the threat of a ratings downgrade on its sovereign debt and a deficit that has ballooned into the largest by percentage of any major economy.  UK stocks, bonds and sterling, however, are trundling along as if all were well. What gives?

For a fuller discussion on the issue click here, but the gist is that all three asset classes  are being support by factors that may be masking the danger of a broad reversal. UK equities have been driven higher by the improving global economy, bonds held up by the Bank of England’s huge buying programme and sterling by valuation and the distress of others.

But with the Bank of England’s buying spree due to end soon and the possibility that UK voters won’t give a clear victory to either the Conservatives or Labour, meaning political stalemate, is this set to change?

The end of capitalism

Hard to imagine with financial markets still buoyant and newspapers full of tales of bonus greed, but there is still the possibility that captialism will end.  At least there is according to prestigious investment consultants Watson Wyatt in their latest study called “Extreme Risks“.

The firm listed the demise of the system of private ownership as one of 15 threats to investors and the global economy that probably won’t happen but which it reckons are worth worrying about anyway. The idea behind the report is that such things as climate change, the break up of the euro zone and war are always worth being included in an investment risk management process.

As for the future of capitalism:

In our view, the most likely scenario is moving along from one end of a spectrum where market is king (minimum regulation) towards the other end, where we could see more onerous regulations and government intervention in, and control of, the economy. The extreme risk, however, is the demise of the capitalist system and the end of the market as the primary means of resource allocation.

G20 dilemmas amongst the golf balls

Interesting dilemmas facing G20 countries as their finance ministers and central bankers get together on the golf ball strewn Scottish coast ( a meeting in St Andrews we will be Live Blogging on MacroScope, by the way).

First, you have the Brazilians who are worried about hot money and have already slapped a tax on foreign investments in domestic bonds and stocks in order to cool down capital inflows.  They want the G20 to take action against what their central bank chief calls “imbalance- and bubble-building”.

Next you have the Americans and other big economies who know that the huge amounts of stimulus they have put into the world economy have to be removed eventually. They are not ready to do it yet, but expect the G20 countries to discuss how they are going to “sequence” the great unwinding.

Vote here on Japan’s economy and its election

Britain’s Association of Investment Companies has UK investors who run Japanese equity funds whether they think the general election on Sunday will have a positive impact on the country, which is slowly emerging from recession.

Their answers can be found here, but the consensus was that the Democratic Party of Japan would defeat the ruling Liberal Democrat Party and that this would result in more consumer friendly policy or economic revival through higher living standards.

Managers were more divided on how long-lived any positive impact on stock market would be.

Investor sentiment roadmap

Investor sentiment goes through various phases in an economic cycle — from optimism, euphoria to panic and depression, back to hope and optimism.

James Thomson, investment manager of Rathbones global opportunities fund, discusses the current stage of investor morale.