- South Africa officially entered a recession in Q1 2017 and outlook remains poor.
- Weak domestic demand and stronger Rand have helped contain inflation.
- Improved inflation outlook opens the door for rate cuts in H2 2017.
- This will support South African equities and bonds, although further appreciation in the Rand from current levels does not appear sustainable.
The South African Rand (ZAR) is one of the most liquid emerging market currencies in the world, but is arguably also extremely volatile, particularly in recent years. This volatility is underpinned by the sentiment-driven ebb and flow of international capital flows and tends to make forecasting the currency a notorious challenge. As such, some investors may even suggest that it is impossible or hopeless task to try and forecast the currency
US oil production has recovered notably since bottoming in September 2016 at an average daily production rate of 8.5mn barrels per day (bpd). US oil production (excluding Natural Gas Liquids or NGLs) is now averaging around 9mn bpd, although still below its cyclical peak recorded in early 2015 at around 9.5mn bpd. Nevertheless, the rapid recovery in output in just six months coupled with the sharper rebound in the oil rig count (Baker Hughes data) as illustrated below, suggests that US oil production will continue to climb throughout 2017 and may eventually exceed its former cyclical production peak of 9.5mn bpd.
According to the latest quarterly report on Household Debt and Credit compiled by the New York Federal Reserve, US Household debt increased at a fairly robust pace in the final quarter of 2016, rising by 1.8% q/q or USD 226bn to USD 12.58trn. Despite the sharp increase in 2016, the total amount of household debt outstanding still remains some 0.8% below the prior cyclical peak of USD 12.68trn registered in Q3 2008. As such, growth in overall GDP and nominal disposable income has easily outstripped the growth in overall household indebtedness. When coupled with still very low financing rates, this has ensured that the overall household financial obligations ratio of household debt service payments as % of Disposable Personal Income remains at or near a multi-decade low.
The recent rise in US bond yields, coupled with the likelihood of a further 25bps increase in the Federal Reserve’s targeted policy rates in December, has changed the conversations regarding the long-term outlook for US interest rates. The embedded narrative in recent years has been one in which the US economy would never reach a sufficiently sustainable level of economic growth or ‘escape velocity’ in order to warrant an end to the so-called ‘zero interest-rate’ paradigm.
The 2016 US elections, Q&A with Blue Quadrant Capital ManagementDonald Trump has won the presidency of the United States and financial markets in general have not reacted well to this development. What are the implications of this surprise event for investors and specifically, global investors?
US GDP 2Q16
Cyclical Factors weigh on US GDP but the foundation is laid for a powerful acceleration going forward
US GDP grew at a disappointing 1.2% (q/q, annualised) in the second quarter of 2016, well below consensus forecasts of 2.6% (Reuters). The main negative contributors, as has been the case in recent quarters, were a continuing reduction in inventory levels and weak non-residential investment spending. The change in inventory levels during the second quarter, subtracted 1.2% from overall GDP, while non-residential fixed investment subtracted a further 0.3%.
The Italian Banking System and Bad Debt Issuance - Is It Systemic?
There has recently been renewed concern over the high level of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the Italian banking system and the potential for a systemic contagion. This is not a new risk and as the chart shows, the bulk of these NPLs are from loans to made to business enterprises. Most of these loans turned sour in the period between 2009 and 2013.
A Post-Brexit Q&A with Blue Quadrant Capital Management
The month of June saw some extreme volatility in financial markets, particularly following the surprise UK referendum result. How did the funds managed by Blue Quadrant perform?
Our funds are likely to report a drawdown of between 8% and 12% for the month of June in Rand terms. This was in part driven by the relative strength in the Rand, which despite the negative global developments, actually gained ground against most major currency crosses during the month. Our funds have between 50% and 90% invested in offshore markets, mainly in the US.
We also have a large weighting in US financials, which were disproportionately impacted by the Brexit vote and contagion fears stemming from the very large price declines in UK and European financials.