John Taylor, founder of the world’s largest currency-hedge fund, said the rally in higher-yielding assets is coming to an end with Europe’s sovereign debt crisis resurfacing, growth sluggish and banking systems unsteady.
“This is the end of the nice slow moving risk rally that has lulled us pleasantly to sleep since the first half of 2009,” Taylor, chairman of New York-based FX Concepts LLC, said in an interview. “This warning is worthy of a brass band and bright lights as the other side of this low volatility rally will most likely be a scary descent that will have a very negative impact on markets. Our statistical models say we are about at the end of the road for risk.”
Higher-risk assets, such as equities, the euro and emerging market currencies, have either peaked or will do so by end of July, according to Taylor, who manages about $8.5 billion and uses statistical models to help predict future movements in assets. Global investors have tempered their optimism about the U.S. and world economies and plan to put more of their money in cash and less in commodities over the next six months, a Bloomberg survey released today found.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index more than doubled since March 2009 as the Federal Reserve’s record low interest rates and over $2 trillion in debt purchases helped lift economic activity and corporate profits. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of commodities surged more than 50 percent during the same period.
The S&P 500 slid 1.1 percent since May 2 as commodities plunged the most since 2009 amid signs the pace of U.S. economy was slowing and speculation increased that hedge funds were exiting bets on growth.
FX Concepts, whose returns last year were the company’s best since 2006, reaped gains in the first half of 2010 betting on a slide in the euro against the dollar and then profited by its rise the rest of the year. At present, the fund is short the common currency, which means it will profit if it declines.
Taylor, who predicted several times since 2010 that the euro will eventually fall to parity versus the dollar, boosted returns by wagering on short term swings higher in the shared European currency. FX Concepts, in a Jan. 27 note, said the euro would move higher in a medium-term trend and in April predicted the currency was poised to reach a technical target of $1.4925.
The euro touched the lowest level against the dollar in more than six weeks, dropping to as low as $1.4124 in New York trading. The shared currency is down about 4 percent since reaching $1.494 on May 4.
European Central Bank officials have intensified their opposition to a restructuring or default of Greek debt. European finance chiefs held an unscheduled meeting in Luxembourg on May 6 and said Greece needs “a further adjustment program” on top of its existing 110 billion-euro ($156 billion) rescue package.
Given that some analysts predict a collapse of the Greek debt structure would be worse for the global financial system than the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., investors should prepare for an “outcome of that magnitude,” Taylor wrote in a note posted on FX Concepts’ website today.
“There is absolutely statistically no way that Greece can survive,” said Taylor, who just returned from France. “There is a one in 10,000 chance; if the Germans give Greece their money to pay back their debt then they’ll be fine. But there is no way Germany will do that.”
Greek government bonds fell today, pushing the two-year note yield to a record high of 26.77 percent, on persistent. The bonds have lost investors 11 percent.
“As the spread of Greek two-year debt goes absolutely crazy over German, it means that at some point we are going to have to have a crisis,” said Taylor, whose Global Currency fund gained 3.33 percent last month. “And I think it’s very soon.”
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