Political risk, reform efforts and potential monetary policy shifts cloud the outlook for China, Europe and the U.S.
We think there are ample catalysts for ongoing corporate earnings growth. Growth appears to be broadening to more cyclical parts of the economy, such as manufacturing, as well as outside the U.S. The political climate – including the outcome of the remaining elections across Europe and President Donald Trump’s political agenda – is evolving. We think it will be difficult to predict Trump’s next move, but think tax reform is likely to remain on the agenda this year.
One of the most common questions that we’ve heard/received from clients over the past year has been our view on active versus passive management. Active management has come under significant pressure due to its underperformance relative to passive over the past few years, particularly in the very competitive US large cap space, as well as the broader theme of fee compression in the industry. This theme is well illustrated by mutual fund flows over the past couple of years. According to Morningstar, passive fund strategies in the U.S. experienced inflows of $505 billion in 2016, while active funds saw outflows of $340 billion. Will this trend continue, or will active management again have its day in the sun?
After an extremely rapid industrial transformation, China sits at a crossroads that presents both compelling opportunities and significant risks. However, investing success demands a deep understanding of China’s long-term plans, political landscape and key trends. Brian Beitner, Managing Partner of Chautauqua Capital Management, discusses China’s complexities and inherent investment opportunities.
Our global team of investment strategists warn that investor expectations have run ahead of market fundamentals in the global equity markets. They maintain a call for caution as inflated expectations for global growth and U.S. fiscal policy drive markets higher, despite looming global economic headwinds.
Recent months have been unusually eventful, characterized by a swing in the global political landscape, U.S. dollar strength, geopolitical flash points, demonetization in India and military coups in Turkey (among many others), all feeding into general market nervousness and a significant rise in volatility. This was certainly the case in emerging markets.
Since 1995 mid-cap stocks have outperformed large- and small-cap stocks. Investors that are under-allocated to the mid cap asset class are potentially accepting greater risk AND missing out on available return. Mid-cap companies often exhibit the nimbleness and growth potential of small caps with the stability of large caps while accepting, but potentially, reducing the risks of both.
One topic noticeably absent from the recent presidential election was the U.S. government debt. In fact, the topic seems to have fallen from public consciousness. In the medium term we do not expect current debt levels to cause a shock, but the longer-term effects could drag on growth, especially with an aging population and sluggish economic growth.
Investors have been drawn to real assets in general and to real estate in particular due to the comparative stability and attractiveness of their income returns and the prospects for growth.
The board’s expertise constitutes a valuable input into our investment process.