Superior investment results require that you deviate from the norm. In our monthly Absolute Return Letter we discuss key macro topics. Subscribers get it straight to their inbox about 1o times a year.
How to invest in a low growth world (Part 1 of 2)
A classic approach to economic theory suggests low GDP growth in the years to come. Why and what to do about it is what this month’s Absolute Return Letter is about. Next month, we’ll look at the impact of advanced robotics – why a rapidly ageing workforce might not be the problem it is often portrayed as. Could robots simply replace humans in the work process?
Is Ageing Inflationary? Really?
For years, economists have disagreed whether ageing is inflationary or dis-inflationary. Ever since IMF published a controversial paper in 2015, the debate has raged, but I have finally concluded that ageing is most definitely dis-inflationary (and perhaps even outright deflationary), and here is why.
Investors are not always told the full story before they invest. In this case, we are constantly told that electric vehicles offer the way forward, but evidence is mounting that they are actually polluting more than petrol or diesel cars. The penny just needs to drop as far as our political leadership is concerned.
The Cost of Rising Populism
25% of Europeans vote for a populist now, and rising populism has a devastating impact on GDP growth, as more and more capital is misallocated which is an economic term for capital being deployed unproductively. Rising populism is obviously not the only reason why more and more capital is misallocated, but it is nevertheless an important reason.
Addicted to Oil?
Apart from the 2014-15 supply shock, oil prices have proven to be extremely elastic more recently with only modest changes to either supply or demand having an outsized impact on oil prices. We look into the implications of that and find that oil prices could possibly rise a fair bit further this year even if they are already up 40% year-to-date.
Is Life Expectancy Falling? Really?
Life expectancy has started to decline in some of the world’s most prosperous countries, and there seems to be a powerful link between that and falling real wages. Come to think of it, there is even a link between austerity and falling life expectancy as the Greeks learned in 2010-2012. With ageing of the populace at large, tax revenues will decline in the years to come, which raises the big question: Will life expectancy continue to decline despite numerous medical advances, as society won’t be able to afford the latest, but also the most expensive, treatment forms?
More on the Productivity Conundrum
With the workforce starting to decline in many countries, we need brisk productivity growth for the economy to prosper, but exactly the opposite is happening. Why is that? In this month’s Absolute Return Letter, we take a closer look at a number of negative productivity agents that hold back GDP growth – factors such as excessive healthcare costs, a dysfunctional legal system and a poor infrastructure. Enjoy the read!
Another Zimbabwe in the Offing?
What will central banks do with all the bonds they have acquired through QE? Could it ultimately lead to (much) higher inflation? These and other questions to do with QE will be addressed in this month’s letter. The inflationary impact of QE is essentially, and as central bankers have learned over the years, a function of how various interest rates are managed – particularly short-term rates - which to a large degree define commercial banks’ profits when lending – vis-à-vis how much they earn in interest on their central bank reserves, but much more about that in the letter.