The January Absolute Return Letter is always about the pitholes one could fall into in the year to come and, lo and behold, financial markets are behaving as if we have already fallen into one. December was a most difficult month, and January hasn't exactly started with all guns blazing either.
A debt crisis is looming, but how will it manifest itself? Through inflation, defaults or ...? There are many possible outcomes. Even more interestingly, it could also mark the end of the current debt super-cycle, which has been in full swing since 1945. When debt super-cycles end, something dramatic always happens.
Electrification of all transportation and heating is already a trend in motion, and it is going to change everything. The arrival of fusion energy will only make those changes even more dramatic. Commercial banks may cease to exist, fossil fuel prices will fall dramatically - some may even go to zero - and OPEC may be replaced by OLEC - the Organisation of Lithium Exporting Countries.
One of the great conundrums in today’s world is why computers in general and the digital revolution in particular have had exactly the opposite effect on productivity than everybody expected. Why on earth is productivity growth slowing when we all expected it to rise and what can we do about it? That’s what this month’s Absolute Return Letter is about. Enjoy the read.
60% allocated to equities and 40% to bonds has been an extraordinarily successful investment strategy for most of the past 40 years, but I believe the show is now largely over. In this month's Absolute Return Letter, I focus on the 40%, and I argue that, although I don't expect 10-year government bonds to deliver more than 0-2% annual inflation-adjusted returns in the years to come, there are indeed things you can do to earn higher returns.
Italy suffers from a series of major structural problems that, even with the best of intentions, cannot be corrected anytime soon, and the new Italian government is about to find out that it has landed in the deep end of the pool.
There are three key drivers of financial markets - behavioural patterns, cyclical trends and structural trends. Because human attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, behavioural patterns affect financial markets more and more. That is a problem but also an opportunity set for the astute investor who is prepared to think outside-the-box.
Oil prices have been remarkably strong more recently, defying our (very) long-term prediction that fossil fuel prices will go to $0. In this month's Absolute Return Letter, we take a look at the reasons behind the recent strength and where oil prices are likely to go next.
BIS surprised many, when they back in 2015 concluded that ageing is actually inflationary. New research from Oxford Economics have come to precisely the opposite conclusion, which is why I have decided to do a deeper dive on the topic this month. Conclusion? BIS may have been correct in the past but, more recently, my vote would definitely go to the dis-inflationary camp.
Events of recent weeks suggest that we have now entered the final stage of the long-running bull market in equities, but what will happen next? An inflationary or a deflationary bust? We argue that, as we see things, the more likely end-game is an inflationary bust, but we do admit that the arguments in favour of a deflationary bust are quite pervasive. Regardless, a bust is next, and a bust is still a bust.