According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) statistics, inflation in the United States has jumped from near zero in 2015 to 2.5% in 2018, mainly because of strong consumer spending, employment figures, tax reform and trade tensions.
In its latest “viewpoints”, Newport Beach-headquartered fixed-income giant Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) reminds investors that “inflation surprises are not rare” and that “real assets” like commodities, US Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), sovereign Inflation-Linked Bonds (ILBs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) offer a resilience-building solution since “correlation between stock and bond markets tend to rise when inflation is elevated”.
Considering that “inflation will be higher than in the recent past” – in the 2.0%-2.5% range in 2019, mitigating the risk requires investors to reconsider the traditional 60/40 stock/bond portfolio which would likely lose 1.1% if inflation surprises by 1%, writes PIMCO.
In order to meet the challenge, you may invest in inflation-hedging solutions (see below) for late-cycle investing “while also enhancing diversification and boosting return potential.”
The fact that there could be bigger trouble ahead for developed economies is currently the main hypothesis about next year 2019 according to a growing number of market analysts.
Weaker trends here may indicate better trends over there, underlined Morgan Stanley (MS) whose research team emphasized in its Global Strategy Outlook report for 2019 that after a rough 2018 for stocks in Emerging Markets (EM), a turnaround could be just about to start.
As a result, MS has upgraded EM stocks from “underweight” to “overweight” for 2019, while it has downgraded US equities to “underweight”. Thanks to a rise in bond yields and very good figures in economic growth, US stock market accumulated much foreign capital over the last year, leading DJIA and S&P500 to unprecedented tops.
Since then however, mostly the rate hikes policy of the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the ongoing uncertainty around President Donald Trump’s trade feud with China and the European Union (EU) have led global markets into correction territory.
In the meantime, EM markets have gone into a contrarian move against developed markets with Chinese index going south, if not halving, since 2014, and political tensions drove Turkish and Argentinean currencies into hot waters. Now that the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has dropped by 16 percent YTD, MS expects it to rise 8 percent by December 2019, twice as much as the 4 percent forecast for both the S&P500 and MSCI Europe Index.
“We think the bear market is mostly complete for EM. (…) We are taking larger relative positions and adding to EM,” reads the Morgan Stanley report, putting its “overweight” focus on “value stocks” from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Peru, Poland and Thailand.
“Please, get out from Ukraine, Mr. Putin,” President Petro Poroshenko said days after Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crew members claiming they had entered Russian waters illegally. “The Russians will pay a huge price if they attack us,” Poroshenko added as NATO and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held special meetings while urging for restraint from both parties.
As Kyiv insisted on Moscow’s “act of aggression” that violated a 2003 treaty that stipulates free access to the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov played down tensions, pointing out “the need for the full and consistent implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures to reach a settlement in eastern Ukraine.”
Although the latest incident marks yet another degradation of bilateral relations after Russia backed a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, the economic consequences should be mostly local and mainly impact both countries’ economy.
Of course, another hot point on the map isn’t a good development for the global economy since it increases uncertainty however the Ukraine-Russia situation has been war-like for years, and the two protagonists are the ones who will likely suffer from it the most. Also, it will strain the US-Russia relationship a bit more.