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We can be relatively short with respect to our look-back assessment of 2015: disappointing. No, the US economy did not accelerate; no, the emerging economies did not rebound; and no, we did not get a good return on most assets. Oil continued to suffer, which put a drag on US credit markets and raised doubts about the strength of the world economy as a whole, depressing equity markets.
Sure, there were positives out there as well – the exceptions to the rule. The Eurozone did not collapse, with the economy actually doing better than expected. Real estate managed to yield a solid return, or at least those whose values are calculated in euros without using a hedge, that is.
Good riddance. Or not? 2016 started with a bang, with Chinese stocks down by almost 12% for the year. This might sound pretty bad if this was a report written in February, but we have only had four trading days in the year, indicating that it has been a horrific start to 2016. As we saw last August, international stock markets reacted negatively to the sell-off, surrendering all of 2015’s gains in the first trading day, with further losses added during the week. Are we worried? Sure: every time markets correct in an aggressive fashion, you should be worried. However, China stock markets live a life of their own and offer poor longer-term guidance for financial markets overall. With the US service industry and labor market strong, we stick to our risk-on positioning for now.