Barclays Advises Investors to Continue Moving out the Risk Curve

Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:00am EST

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Barclays Advises Investors to Continue Moving out the Risk Curve

Global Outlook report recommends a continued shift in positioning from overvalued “safe” assets into somewhat riskier investments

Aggressive monetary policy measures are reducing the systemic risks and ensuing swings in investor positioning that have dominated markets since the start of the great recession, according to Barclays latest flagship quarterly research publication, Global Outlook: Moving away from risk on/risk off. However, significant fiscal tightening and associated business uncertainty across the major developed economies, as well as structural changes in Europe, will continue to hold back growth in early 2013.

“Upbeat financial market performance reflects the unprecedented commitment by major central banks to support asset prices and push risk free interest rates to record lows,” said Larry Kantor, Head of Research. “This is creating highly liquid market conditions and is forcing investors to move gradually out along the risk curve to achieve a reasonable return.”

During the past year, investor concern about systemic risks – from euro area dissolution, to China’s hard landing and a financial system collapse – has faded considerably. This is leading asset prices to be driven less by macro developments and more by asset-idiosyncratic considerations as well as return-seeking flows into the next not-too-risky asset class.

As these risks have been contained, a new one has emerged: fear of a significant market correction as a result of lack of progress on the US fiscal cliff. According to the Global Outlook, the most likely outcome will be another “kick the can down the road” agreement that will avoid massive near-term spending cuts and tax increases, but will not produce a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that would put the US on a fiscally sustainable path and be constructive for markets and growth.

For the first time since the crisis began, European policymakers have managed to get one step ahead, with European governments and institutions reconfirming their commitment to the Euro project and beginning to put in place aggressive policy measures. While Euro dissolution risks may well resurface down the road, they are not likely to be significant over the next several months.

China has successfully adjusted to a lower trend growth rate, and policymakers are driving a significant shift in income distribution towards households and away from businesses. While this means China will not play the same locomotive role globally, it will make Chinese expansion more politically as well as economically sustainable and the global economy less exciting but more stable.

Recommendations in Barclays Global Outlook include:

  • Underweight fixed income in developed markets
    • Favor high yield over investment grade credit and expect US financials to outperform industrials
  • Overweight equities in developed markets
    • Balance allocation to the relatively low-risk US with positions in Europe and Japan
  • Overweight emerging markets external and local debt
  • Do not overweight emerging markets equities generally, given limited prospects for growth acceleration and FX appreciation
  • Buy gold against the yen – gold is the one commodity which may receive some support from central bank actions and we expect the yen to depreciate by as much as 10% in response to easier monetary policy from the Bank of Japan

Barclays Global Outlook research report, published quarterly, provides an assessment of all major economies and outlines the likely implications for global financial markets, including commodities, credit, economics, emerging markets, equities, fixed income and foreign exchange.

Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, we operate in over 50 countries and employ over 140,000 people. We provide large corporate, government and institutional clients with a full spectrum of solutions to their strategic advisory, financing and risk management needs. Our clients also benefit from access to the breadth of expertise across Barclays. We’re one of the largest financial services providers in the world, and are also engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate banking, and wealth and investment management. Barclays offers premier investment banking products and services to its clients through Barclays Bank PLC. For more information, visit www.barclays.com

Barclays
Erica Chase, +1-212-412-6830
erica.chase@barclays.com