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What options do investors have as the “Greenspan Put” has run out? - Opalesque Zurich Roundtable

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In Switzerland, the money market interest rate is -0.75%. Investors, not only in Switzerland, have earning pressure with a 10-year which is at zero or below zero, 58% of German bonds are now at negative yields. And, from the other side, basis diversification between stocks and bonds, respectively the “Greenspan put”, has been running out.

We are now past a period of several years where you could have done very well without alternatives of any kind. But going forward, the basis diversification will not be the Holy Grail anymore, and the asset allocation of the investors will have to be adapted to the new situation. Investors have started to venture into assets they avoided just a short while ago as unsuitable. But the unanswered question is how some of these alternatives will do in a world of waning or even reversing global QE?

So, what should people look for? They should apparently look for independent cash flows, for which they should also have a clear understanding where those are coming from. Either they are a premium, or they represent a consistent source of value. And on top of it, if they diversify the main risk equity, that will definitely beneficial. One space investors are investigating and allocating to direct lending, and many also are getting deeper into the ILS space. Others are considering a come back of hedge funds.

With Alternative Beta, a sector that has been enjoying huge growth rates, investors have also diversified into new streams of returns which they typically used to see with hedge funds, but that are now offered through more beneficial structures and at lower fees.

Massive tail risk from disappearing liquidity

The managers of the Dacharan FX fund have a fairly good handle on liquidity in G10 FX, which is traditionally a pretty liquid area. They estimate that liquidity in G10 FX is down about 30% to 40% from last year. So, if you hit the market with a large order, there’s not a lot of balance sheet on the other side. This is a great concern in the investment community, and Dacharan points out they are not the first ones mentioning it. It’s a real issue, and the tail risks are massive. So, if you have a liquid fund and you have done well so far, that may not mean you won’t face issues going forward.

This Roundtable also discusses in depth which factors are driving this reduction of liquidity, and how these issues at the same time represent an opportunity for long-term investors.

The Opalesque 2016 Zurich Roundtable took place end of 2015 in Zurich with:

  1. Barry Thomas, PhD, Argentière Capital
  2. Bruno Wicki, CFA, Zürcher Kantonalbank
  3. David Beddington, Dacharan Capital
  4. Dr. Lars Jaeger, GAM
  5. Ian Hamilton, IDS
  6. Markus-Alexander Flesch, Eurex
  7. Markus Matuszek, CFA, Hermes Capital Management
  8. Michael Knecht, SIGLO Capital Advisors
  9. Rudolf Bohli, RBR Capital
The group also discussed:
  • How did alternative beta do in 2008 (page 15)? How inexperienced alt beta providers can get their fees wrong (page 24)
  • How to properly analyze funds and strategies post 2008 (pages 10, 14-15)
  • Why even 6% and 7% type of yield will be the exception going forward (page 13)
  • Why selling volatility to enhance yield is no different to increasing the leverage of your portfolio (page 11)
  • Has short volatility become a crowded trade? (page 17)
  • Where can investors find the best risk-reward across the spectrum of asset classes and instruments? (pages 8, 11)
  • Invested in a “mega hedge fund”? Why you need to be really confident that these large funds are going to deliver reasonably high Sharpes consistently (pages 13-14)
  • Why hedge funds should not try to turn themselves into huge investment houses (page 14)
  • How do you determine the “right” fee level for a fund? (page 15)
  • Why (and how) investors who have a balance sheet should use it (page 20)
  • Why have more and more investors turned their back on UCITS and 40 Act funds? (page 22)
  • Why “old-fashioned” fund of hedge funds still have a role to play (page 25)
  • Why Malta's Recognized Incorporated Cell Companies (RICC) can be a better incubation platform for smaller funds (page 27)
  • How setting up in the greater Zurich region has worked out very well for a good number of hedge funds (pages 27-29)

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