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A Rally or a New Bull Market?

Published on: Mar 21 2016
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Most investment assets hit bottoms around February 11 after dreadful starts to the year. Is everything okay now, or is this what’s known as a countertrend rally? This article from Ben Hunt of Salient Partners argues that it’s a temporary rally, what he calls an investable rally. Central banks are taking a break in their efforts to depreciate currencies in order to protect their domestic economies. It’s not an optimistic outlook, but he gives suggested actions in response.

So we’re in the early days of a perfectly investable rally, driven by a plausible Narrative of central bank cooperation on currencies. Reminds me for all the world of September 2007, right after every quant-oriented multi-strat fund in the world was gob-smacked in July and August (and if you’ve seen the returns for quant-oriented multi-strat funds this January and February you’ll get my point). We had a perfectly investable rally then, too, driven by the Bernanke Narrative that the sub-prime crisis was “contained” and that the real economy was just in a “mid-cycle slow-down”. All good, until Bear Stearns was taken out into the street and shot the following March. Which was itself followed by a perfectly investable rally from April to mid-summer 2008, under the pervasive Narrative that “systemic risk was off the table.” Until it wasn’t.

So forgive me if I call this a temporary truce, an investable rally before the next “shock” that no one sees coming. Forgive me if I note that yet another FT puff piece on the unappreciated genius of Mario Draghi is ultimately small comfort given that we are smack-dab in the middle of an endemic of political polarization and anti-liberal sentiment (that’s small-l liberalism, of course, the Adam Smith and John Locke sort), the sort of political plague that the world hasn’t seen since the 1930s.

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