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Whether you think the first quarter of 2016 was a horror story or rather an interesting experience mostly depends on two factors: on timing and on whether you were active in the bond markets. Let’s start with the latter. In the overview of returns over the quarter (see below), the difference between bonds and almost all other risky-assets was very significant.
If it hadn't been for the rebound in gold, fixed income would have led the top five best performing asset classes by an impressive margin, with even the very expensive Eurobonds yielding an attractive 3.4% absolute return in Q1. As for the second factor –timing, it is clear that the chart doesn’t really do justice to the underlying volatility seen during the quarter. Being overweight risky assets from 11 February onwards would have produced double digit returns for all of these assets. As we were overweight risky assets, it is clear that Q1 was a bumpy ride. But as we were willing to stay overweight, we recovered most of our losses.
Although we continue to expect risky assets to deliver better returns than the safe assets of the world, we think that high yield offers a better risk-return tradeoff than equities right now. Therefore, we have lowered our position in equities to neutral, in favor of an overweight in high yield.