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The rebirth of emerging markets: Opalesque Hong Kong Roundtable

 

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Over the past few years, many hedge funds were struggling in Asia across many different strategies but 2017 has been a phenomenal year for Asian managers. Return dispersion has also been much wider. For example, in Chinese long/short equity the returns could be as low as 5% to 6% and as high as 100%, whereas in previous years dispersion was less and many managers reported negative numbers. On the company level, there are more earnings upgrades than downgrades in Asia.

Total hedge fund allocation across all Asian strategies is about 7% of an asset base of 2.5 trillion USD (Eurekahedge), while at the same time Asia likely contributes 60% of incremental Global GDP and attracts 45% of Global FDI. The weightage of Asia in the portfolio for global managers will have to increase by a significant number to reflect those developments.

The rebirth of emerging markets

Many emerging markets are beginning to have a life of their own. In the past, they have done well in good times, and then when there is a shake out, they experience a wobble. But this is changing now. For the first time, there is a fair amount of divergences or de-correlation within the different emerging markets which reflects the improved fundamentals of these markets. In the past, overnight events in CEEMEA or LatAm would have a large impact on Asia, whereas now that correlation is not there. Even within Asia, for example, Korean market developments are not able to drive China markets or for that matter China is not able to drive the rest of the markets as much as before as each of them have developed a life of their own.

The Opalesque Hong Kong Roundtable, sponsored by WTS, took place in Hong Kong with:

  1. Theodore Qi Shou, CFA, CAIA, Chief Investment Officer, Director at Skybound Capital
  2. Luca Parlamento, Quant Trader / PhD candidate in Machine Learning for Trading, Northwest Investment Management
  3. Thomas Hugger, CEO & Founder Asia Frontier Capital
  4. Vishweshwar Anantharam, Founder Partner, Vanhau Asset Management
  5. David Quah, Co-Managing Director Quantitative Investment Solutions, Value Partners Group
  6. Adam Tam, Portfolio Manager, China Everbright
The group also discussed:
  • Increased turnover of managers and shorter life span of new/emerging managers (page 8)
  • High crowdedness of managers (page 9) and factors for outperformance (page 10, 12)
  • Why demand for wealth management products and alternative assets from investors seeking yields is probably the largest in Asia (page 11)
  • Opportunity in Asia will be both on the long and short side (page 12-13)
  • Designer dispersion opportunities: To wait for and not timing the storm (page 13)
  • Two big Asian macro stories: The Manufacturing Trade and One Belt, One Road (page 13-14, 17-18)
  • Insiders' Insights on China (page 14, 16, 18, 20, 23-26)
  • Black Mondays: Why we might not really realize that the Black Monday is upon us even after the event has started (page 16), Risks of leveraged ETFs (page 16)
  • Outlook for Asian Macro (page 16-17, 25)
  • Evolution of the Asian financial markets and market infrastructure (page 24-27). The Pakistan story (page 13, 18, 22)
  • Why Asian fund managers should be in Asia and not in London or New York (page 24-25)

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