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Lukas Daalder

Volatility sticks to the script in September

Markets wake up from summer slumber

13-10-2016 | Insight | Lukas Daalder Sticking to the script, with the start of September, volatility returned to the financial markets. After mostly ignoring economic and political news for over two months, all of a sudden stocks and bonds showed an increased sensitivity to news ranging from Deutsche Bank and Trump, to the Brexit and the Bank of Japan.

Although all these developments are indeed important, the most striking one has been the Bank of Japan’s move to introduce yield curve targeting. Although there are some historical precedents (postwar US) for this, it is a relatively new measure, which means the central bank has neutralized the market pricing mechanism for the yield curve up to ten years. So much for free markets.

The return of volatility has not meant that markets have taken a new direction though. Looking at the returns of the broader asset classes, most of them stayed within a remarkably tight range of +/- 0.6%. Commodities (partly thanks to the OPEC deal) and real estate were the exceptions to this.

volatility-sticks-to-the-script-in-september-graph1.jpg
Volatility returns, direction does not. Source: Robeco

We remain cautious on asset classes

We remain cautious with respect to the various asset classes. We do not like government bonds (the short-term risk may be limited, but so are returns); we are worried about equities (the US market is expensive and earnings keep disappointing); and are not completely convinced about emerging markets. We are taking a wait-and-see approach.

volatility-sticks-to-the-script-in-september-graph2.jpg
The current positioning of Robeco Investment Solutions. Source: Robeco.
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