‘Being right or making money’ is a key finding of a renowned US investment and research house. This hookline is the essence of investing. Unfortunately for many investors, it is not about getting it right; no one can see the future.
- Investing is more of an art than a science, because you regularly have to throw your convictions overboard. This is what many investors did last week. Hence, we explore other potential surprises for 2021 in this issue.
- Let us stay open-minded: we are raising cyclical exposure further
Rather, it is about making fewer mistakes than the pack. It is about changing views abruptly if the situation changes, and most importantly, it is about not looking back. This is also what makes investing more of an art than a science. It is ‘the last liberal art’, as some in Warren Buffett’s entourage say, since it involves a lot of input from the many wise sources available. Yet it is not a science in and of itself, since weighing the pros and cons is a judgement call almost all of the time. Last week is a case in point, as the surprising election outcome in Georgia was weighed against the political turmoil that ensued. Yet many investors took a U-turn by piling up on lagging assets in markets, such as cyclical and small-cap stocks.
What is next?
You may call us lucky, as we have been erring on the cyclical side of investments in our yearly outlook and even reconfirmed the stance here last week. So be it. Yet this is exactly about not being right and not looking back. So there is no claim to fame here. But the truly open-minded question is ‘What is next?’, and we think that lagging assets have further catching up to do in the weeks ahead. Therefore, we continue to upgrade cyclical stocks and our technical analysis team is biting the bullet by upgrading emerging market stocks.
As for the bigger picture, the question remains about what could surprise us most in the months ahead. We have undertaken a research-wide effort to frame these unexpected events and have come up with a list of eight possibilities – all of which would likely make us throw our earlier convictions overboard and, all the more, not make us look back:
- 2021 turns out to be a normal, boring year, defying highflying expectations and disappointing overall.
- A third wave of Covid-19 emerges.
- The USD drops by more than 20% and enters a bear market.
- Globalisation rebounds in a 2009-style manner, with a rebound of global trade volumes.
- Bond markets crash and yields spike.
- Broad-based emerging market crises flare up.
- Equity market ‘melt-up’ à la 1987 (before the crash).
- Large information technology firms get broken up.
What is going on in the markets? Julius Baer’s experts share their views.