Alternative Markets Outlook H2 2019
The asset management industry experienced significant declines in 2018. Alternative assets achieved the best performance among non traditional long asset classes. The popularity of actively managed assets is decreasing for the last 15 years, while passive solutions and alternatives are gaining more attention, which is likely to continue. It is expected that the industry will experience more volatile markets, increased competition and more economic uncertainty. Especially the uncertainties will increase, for example how the US-Chinese trade war will develop, with the background of new elections in the US in 2020. Europe's uncertainty will peak on how Brexit is executed at the end of October.
Hedge funds remain strong in July after a very profitable H1 2019 and reached a new record level of market capitalization of $3.273tn. In July, hedge funds yielded positive results again. The aggregated average performance of hedge in the current year is at 7.67%, which is likely to continue. Figure 1 shows the performance of several hedge fund strategies. Noteworthy is that none of them generated negative return. The interest rate cut of the FED is likely to increase the attractiveness of hedge funds further.
Investors are currently moving cash from equity strategies to lower beta strategies, as equity markets have reached all-time highs. For H1 2019, targeted strategies were mostly credit multi-strategy and relative value arbitrage strategies. However, this shifted to macro, CTA, currency and commodity funds in July 2019 and is likely to continue during H2 2019. Despite the trade war between the US and China, the allocated capital from hedge funds in China increased further. This conflict is likely to shape the general performance of financial markets, especially in the hedge fund industry. Due to current and expected interest rate decisions from most central banks as well as the volatility of currencies, hedge funds are looking for safe havens. Gold is experiencing an increased demand, causing the price per ounce to rise to the highest level since 2016 and $1600 or even $2000 is forecasted from major US investment banks.
Macro and Political Outlook June 2019 MacroEagle
STONE MOUNTAIN CAPITAL RESEARCH PERSPECTIVE VOL.45
The new era of presidency in the U.S. is marked with significant changes, with the Treasury Secretary announcing tax reforms in the next six months and the FED ready to increase rates. Hedge funds have momentum and they extended their January gains into February, with CTAs posting the biggest returns according to HFRX index. Equity hedge, macro and event-driven strategies exhibited similar robust performance and proving that they overcame last year’s underperformance and they gaze into the future with confidence. A Preqin survey evidence a large increase in the number of alternative investors and the performance of alternative asset classes is encouraging for the future of the industry. In debt markets, the risk retention regime leads to lower volumes in CLO issuance and fewer deals. There is an increasing appetite for private debt strategies and the economic outlook may suggest a growth in commitments over the next two years. There are more funds focusing on European credit, which is indicative of the opportunities in the space amid a relatively uncertain political scenery. Private equity fundraising continues in solid pace, while competition for deals is increasing rapidly alongside the number of funds in the market. Adding hedge funds, that compete for similar deals, makes the identification of opportunities even harder. Both private debt and equity strategies focus on the mid-market spectrum as the opportunities there are more attractive. The same scenery prevails in real estate industry with high prices and increased competition being the main feature. The investment activity slowed down and the macro outlook with interest rate growth expectations and political uncertainty are the most significant drivers behind the slowdown.
STONE MOUNTAIN CAPITAL RESEARCH PERSPECTIVE VOL.43 JANUARY 2017
2016 was a landmark year for the financial world because of a series of events that shaped a new reality. Last year was marked by major geopolitical events such as, U.S. elections and rumours about Russia’s interference, Brexit, Italian referendum, the Turkish coup, missile tests from North Korea and terrorism. These events combined with the low-interest rates environment in major developed economies and the continuation of monetary policies created a volatile scenery. Amid this environment, hedge funds performed well for their investors. After a disappointing beginning in 2016, they managed to turnaround the situation. Hedge funds got hit hard in the first two months of 2016 by the uncertainty about Chinese and other emerging market economies and by the drop in oil prices. The slow economic activity continued in February as the Brexit talks were intensified amid an underperformance of emerging markets, which led to volatility and losses in equities. CTAs were the only strategies performing well, but in March a reversal of this scenery was witnessed. Emerging markets resurrected, oil and commodities recovered, while the U.S. dollar lost to all major currencies. The increase in implied volatility and the tightening of spreads led to gains for relative value strategies in April, which was the month of some of the biggest pension funds’ exodus from the asset class. After that, a whole discussion was initiated regarding hedge fund fees and performance, putting more pressure on managers. During May and June, hedge funds were continuing their positive trend, still trying to recover from the poor first two months of the year, with Bitcoin rallying and being the biggest winner in the currencies war. July was the month of Brexit and when Germany became the second G-7 nation to issue negative yielding bonds. August was a quiet month, but September found investors worried about the policies in US and Europe, as FED members appeared to have dichotomous views and ECB alongside BoE continuing their QE practices. October found event-driven hedge funds in the top of the table in terms of performance, while CTAs found themselves in negative territories and the rest of the industry was trying to restore investors’ confidence and maintain their assets. The outcome of the U.S. elections in November created a sentiment of economic growth and structured credit strategies revived in the anticipation of deregulation. This outcome also benefited bitcoin, which enjoyed a rally in November and finished 2016 in an emphatic way with an increase more than 115% in its price overall. Meanwhile, direct lending and distressed debt strategies were attracting more and more institutional money in the hunt for yield from investors. The truly uncorrelated alternative income strategies are the solution to the yield problem and investors shifted from traditional fixed income strategies to alternatives. Deloitte’s Alternative Lender tracker noticed an increase in the deal flow in the private credit space and the momentum in 2016 favoured private debt funds, with the biggest brands in private equity creating private debt departments. Hedge funds completed their full recovery in December posting gains in a challenging year. They are preparing for an exciting year for active investing during 2017. According to Preqin, private equity buyout deals fell in 2016, with most of them being in the U.S. and then Europe was following. Alternatives had an interesting and challenging year and boosted their popularity amongst institutional investors, who are targeting to increase their allocations over the years to come.