Australia, Canada and Sweden: save the last dance for me

23/03/2018

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Jenna Barnard, Co-Head of Strategic Fixed Income at Janus Henderson Investors, explains the rationale for positioning around the team’s ‘divergent economies and monetary policies’ core theme. 


​The simultaneous sell-off in global government bond yields in January 2018 provided an opportunity to inject, in greater size, a core theme of ‘divergent economies and monetary policies’ into our portfolios. Specifically, we increased duration in our strategic bond portfolios via 10-year government bonds in three developed economies: Australia, Canada and Sweden from early February. In this note we set out the rationale for this positioning and how it may develop over time.

Private debt build up: classic late-cycle behaviour
The common feature of the Australian, Canadian and Swedish economies is how desynchronised they have been from the experience of consumer deleveraging seen in most developed economies in recent years. The resulting private sector debt build-up is stark (see chart 1) and piqued our interest some time ago, as it strongly suggests that these economies are in a late-cycle phase and as such are structurally more fragile to rising interest rates.

Chart 1: Private credit as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP)



Source: Bank for International Settlement (BIS), Janus Henderson Investors, quarterly data, March 1962 to September 2017.

The work of economist Steve Keen provided our initial introduction to this theme and links with the work of Richard Koo in Japan on the impact of excessive debt in the private sector in driving booms and busts. Fuelled by explosive growth in their domestic banking systems, the property cycles in these countries appear to have simultaneously peaked in 2017. In each country, the fate of the property market had become a political and financial stability issue resulting in blunt policy tools, such as restricting mortgage regulation and additional property taxes, aimed at slowing or halting its advance.

Other signs of excess come from the banking systems of these economies as Absolute Strategy Research points out. In these three economies, the banking sector has swelled in size and now accounts for approximately 20% of market capitalisation — typically a warning sign in other property market bubbles (see chart 2).

Chart 2: Quoted banks as a share of total local market


Source: Absolute Strategy Research (ASR Ltd), Thomson Reuters Datastream. As at 25 January 2018.

Needless to say, timing multi-year cycles and/or long-term themes is fraught with danger. However, the government bond markets of Australia, Canada and Sweden were attractive not simply because of a property price correction but also based on three other observations:

  1. It seemed clear that these economies were likely to suffer first, early and disproportionately, from a global rise in bond yields and interest rates (and hence mortgage rates)
  2. The financial stability risks had prompted the regulators and central banks to use macro prudential tools such as mortgage availability to slow the trend, lessening the need for interest rate rises, and
  3. These economies have low inflation and their governments are not participating in the kind of late cycle fiscal stimulus seen in the US.

Australia first, others later…
Australia has been the easiest of the three economies to pick for adding duration and we began in late 2016. This economy has been weighed down by below target inflation, stagnant wages and appears to have participated very little in the recent much-vaunted “synchronised global growth” of 2017. The front end of the yield curve has been remarkably stable and hence we have stuck with ‘four years and under’ government bonds throughout. This was vindicated in February when the central bank governor made a speech, in which he was keen to point out the differences in the Australian and US economies, as justification for why they would not blindly follow the US Federal Reserve in tightening monetary policy. At a portfolio level, we added 10-year exposure in February.

… and, in Canada…
The market’s perception of the rate hiking cycle in Canada seemed excessive with another 100 basis points (bp) of rate hikes priced in, in addition to 75bp of actual hikes over six months. Much tightening in financial conditions was already underway via a stronger currency, higher bond yields (mortgage rates) and a new mortgage regulation that came into effect on 1 January 2018.

… finally, Sweden the smallest of these economies
It has the same structural issues of household debt and a rampant property market, coupled with persistently below target inflation and wage inflation. The shape of the yield curve is relatively steep and the global sell-off in government bonds repriced Swedish bonds back to the top end of a yield range that has been in effect since 2015. Hedged back to sterling or the US dollar, this provided a more attractive yield given the interest rate differential.

Duration management: more about emotion than data
We have been on record as saying that, as bond investors, the opportunities around duration management are often driven by the emotion of investors (inflation or deflation hysteria) rather than actual changes in inflation or growth regimes, which are incredibly rare.

In this context we viewed the recent spike in government bond yields, driven by the US, as one such phenomenon in a classically late-cycle environment. Having used US interest rate futures (10- and 30-year) to reduce duration from the first week of January, by early February we shifted to lengthening the overall duration of the portfolios.

We view the likely uptick in US core inflation as a late-cycle cyclical phenomenon, rather than a structural move, and in other economies there are very few signs of any shift. In addition, the best of the global synchronised growth environment is now behind us as lead indicators, such as monetary aggregates, suggest a sharp slowdown in growth may well occur this year.

With that I’ll leave you with a chart of real M1 in the three economies discussed above courtesy of our Chief Economist, Simon Ward. This demonstrates the notable weakening of money supply in Canada and Australia and further strengthens our belief in the ‘divergent economies and monetary policies’ theme. As with all our themes, however, we monitor developments carefully and maintain a pragmatic approach as we seek to manage opportunities in the best interests of our investors.

Chart 3: Real money growth is particularly weak in Canada and Australia


Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream, monthly data, January 2010 to January 2018. Note: narrow money (M1) includes coins and notes in circulation and other money equivalents that are easily convertible into cash.




These are the portfolio manager’s views at the time of writing and may differ from those of other Janus Henderson portfolio managers. The information should not be construed as investment advice. Before entering into an investment agreement please consult a professional investment adviser.
 

These are the views of the author at the time of publication and may differ from the views of other individuals/teams at Janus Henderson Investors. Any securities, funds, sectors and indices mentioned within this article do not constitute or form part of any offer or solicitation to buy or sell them.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested.

The information in this article does not qualify as an investment recommendation.

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Please read the following important information regarding funds related to this article.

Janus Henderson Fixed Interest Monthly Income Fund

This document is intended solely for the use of professionals and is not for general public distribution.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • Some or all of the annual management charge is taken from capital. This may constrain potential for capital growth.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market instrument may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • Changes in currency exchange rates may cause the value of your investment and any income from it to rise or fall.
  • If the Fund or a specific share class of the Fund seeks to reduce risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or detrimental.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Preference & Bond Fund

This document is intended solely for the use of professionals and is not for general public distribution.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • Some or all of the annual management charge is taken from capital. This may constrain potential for capital growth.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market instrument may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • Changes in currency exchange rates may cause the value of your investment and any income from it to rise or fall.
  • If the Fund or a specific share class of the Fund seeks to reduce risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or detrimental.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Strategic Bond Fund

This document is intended solely for the use of professionals and is not for general public distribution.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • Some or all of the annual management charge is taken from capital. This may constrain potential for capital growth.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market instrument may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • If the Fund or a specific share class of the Fund seeks to reduce risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or detrimental.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

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