Volatility back in the spotlight

market analysis

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By

Paul Ashworth, Managing Partner
David Clark, Director Investment Management
Tristan Bowman, Manager


Posted 12 October 18

After nearly a decade of increasingly easy monetary policy, characterised by steadily declining central bank interest rates and quantitative easing – the printing of money to buy long-term bonds with the intent of reducing long-term yields – the major central banks around the world have started to tighten monetary policy. 

What is happening?

After nearly a decade of increasingly easy monetary policy, characterised by steadily declining central bank interest rates and quantitative easing (QE)– the printing of money to buy long-term bonds with the intent of reducing long-term yields - the major central banks around the world have started to tighten monetary policy. 

Since September 2017, the Federal Reserve has put a stop to QE and simultaneously increased the cash rate from 1.25% to 2.25%. If the purpose of QE was to reduce the cost of debt (bond yields) to stimulate corporate activity, then it should be expected that the reverse with place upward pressures on the 10-yr US bond yield, which has now increased from 2.33% to 3.17% in the last 12-months. 

As bond yields have fallen over the past decade, cheaper access to debt has seen the valuations of risk assets around the globe skyrocket (i.e. Australian Property). The reverse of this trend creates the possibility that risk assets will ‘re-rate’ to their prior valuation metrics, increasing the susceptibility of markets to sudden moves in bond yields. 

Twice in 2018, 10-year US bond yields have increased by over 30bps (0.3%) in a 5-week period, with each move followed by a pull-back in global equities (see shaded boxes below). Following the January sell-off, markets traded sideways as investors digested the implications of higher rates before continued strong corporate earnings drove the market to new highs. We expect the continued strength of the US economy to result in a similar outcome. 

S&P500 Index vs 10-year US Bond Yield

How to manage market volatility?... A Staggered Investment Program

Over the course of history, investment markets are proven to be prone to sudden and sharp falls in valuations. Though these occasions can be few and far between, they can have a significant impact on your wealth. A staggered investment program can be used to mitigate the negative impacts of a market downturn occurring during the early stages of investment by averaging out the cost base of the investments (see diagram below).

A staggered investment program is a key risk mitigation tool that we utilise for all new investments our investment strategies, and we further recommend this approach to all our new clients or clients that are making significant alterations to their asset allocations. It acts as an insurance policy against the risk that unfavourable early returns reduce the investment pool available for future years – a key risk that faces investors that are approaching retirement age.

Staggered Investment Program

Cameron Harrison delivers peace of mind investment journeys for the many different aspirations of our clients. We have 50 years of professional experience navigating the wealth journey individuals, business owners and family groups, giving us the skills and tools needed to manage wealth in all market conditions. For more information on our approach to investment strategy or any other inquiries, please contact us on +613 9655 5000.