What if we are right?

Implications of low return forecasts for Balanced Funds

The point of this note is to highlight the embedded shortfall risk in a typical fixed SAA investment strategy (e.g. the typical Australian balanced fund) should returns be low (and clustered) as we currently project.
Aggressive asset allocation within narrow ranges is also unlikely to solve the problem given the structural anchoring to equity market outcomes and the relatively narrow tactical ranges… this is an inherent structural flaw within the SAA model.
The practical implication is that this significantly limits the ability of managers of these types of portfolios to “turn the dial” sufficiently in an environment of compressed and clustered returns or where equity returns are moderate.

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Information overload

There’s too much information that properly processing and drawing meaningful conclusions is pretty difficult, if not damn near impossible and a lot of it is irrelevant. Unless you have a framework to process information and a set of beliefs that underpin this framework then you’ll likely drown in a mire of data and noise – the colour and movement that comes with the instantaneous “analysis” of news, tweets and “alternative facts”.

This is particularly relevant in the current context given the torrent of noise around the global economy and markets…

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The volatility paradox

It is widely acknowledged that the outlook for economies and investment markets is unusually uncertain, given the huge political changes that we are witnessing across the world. It is also widely acknowledged that most assets are expensive and most likely are priced to offer sub-normal prospective returns. Why then is volatility (the VIX) so low? History tells us that periods of crisis are often preceded by periods of abnormally low volatility and complacency about risk and valuations. Are we in one such period?

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