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Long-Term Investment Decisions Will Be Tricky for Years to Come

Long-Term Investment Decisions Will Be Tricky for Years to Come

Friday, 11 December 2015 11:02 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will (probably) decide to start the Fed monetary policy’s long way to “normalization” by increasing the Fed funds rate for the first time since October 2008 next week.

That decision will be one of those relatively rare global financial events that will initiate a new financial/economic era of “diverging” monetary policies, with all the knowns and unknowns that such a situation implies, between the Federal Reserve on the one side, for now at least, and all the other important central banks of the world on the other side.

As an investor, I wouldn’t expect that “happy days are here again.”

Making long-term investment decisions will become very difficult for years to come.

Substantial price corrections in various asset classes will most probably become part of the investment landscape.

As always, but now probably more than under normal circumstances (yes, global growth is at present performing thanks to “abnormal” stimuli like all these QEs in all these various places, but that can’t go on forever), long-term investors could do well by remaining patient, doing their (difficult) home-works realistically also when evaluation what they have now in dollar-terms, and certainly not succumb to “hypes” that will be out there as always.

For example, when looking at equity markets’ prices in practically all important places, we are not at risk of making an overstatement saying equities, for example in the U.S., but also in Europe and other places, are too richly priced, especially when we put them against them a continuously slow global growth.

When we look at the P/E (price/earnings) 12 month forward estimate of the Dow Industrial that now stands at 15.87, we can’t say this is an attractive level for making long-term investments (we don’t talk here about trading!) when the projected U.S. growth path over the next decade is pointing to the downside and according to the latest data of the Conference Board that expects U.S. to grow by 2.5 percent in 2015, by 2.4 percent in 2016, on average by 2.0 percent from 2016-2020 and by 1.6 percent from 2021-2025.

Another indication that we are living in an financially/economically abnormal world was when OPEC informed in its monthly report that its own production had risen unexpectedly by 230,100 barrels a day in November, to 31.695 million barrels, which put it at the highest level since April 2012, and which added to the oil glut that is already all over the place. It is also interesting to take notice OPEC is now producing about 900,000 barrels per day more than it anticipates will be needed in 2016.

As a result, oil prices tumbled and when look at the “monthly” crude oil prices for Brent and WTI we reached the lowest prices we haven’t seen since 2004 with WTI at $36.63 and Brent at $39.62  and "strangely" equities remained weak.

On the same subject, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated today the global oil surplus will persist at least until late 2016 as demand growth slows and OPEC shows “renewed determination” to maximize output.

All this results in cheaper fuels that puts more money in the pockets of consumers and again strangely consumption in the U.S. continues on its downward slope.

For having a better “realistic” view of what really goes on in various economies in the world it could be helpful checking data of some “official export credit agencies.”

One I use is the French COFACE (Compagnie Française d'Assurance pour le Commerce Extérieur), which is world leader in trade-credit information and protection and that has 160,000 clients in 93 countries.

In its just released “Sectorial risk assessment” covering North America, Europe and developing they qualify for North America the “retail sector” at “median risk” because retail sales in the U.S. are slowing, but remain nevertheless favorable, at least so far, but then more especially in Canada where consumption slowed to 1.7 percent on a yearly basis because of the dependency of its economy on oil and household debt.

It’s really interesting to see U.S. retail sales slowing when consumers have to spend less on fuels …

All this makes me wonder how a more or less “normalized” world will look like?

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a Belgian-born bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments. To read more of his articles, GO HERE NOW.

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All this makes me wonder how a more or less “normalized” world will look like?
economy, fed, rate, investors
Friday, 11 December 2015 11:02 AM
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