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Alternative Market Briefing

Oaktree's Howard Marks issues another cautionary tale

Friday, July 28, 2017

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Howard Marks
Benedicte Gravrand, Opalesque Geneva:

Oaktree's co-chairman Howard Marks' latest memo is another cautionary one that advocates low-risk investments.

He highlights what he thinks are the most noteworthy components of current conditions thus:

  • The uncertainties are unusual in terms of number, scale and insolubility in areas including secular economic growth; the impact of central banks; interest rates and inflation; political dysfunction; geopolitical trouble spots; and the long-term impact of technology.
  • In the vast majority of asset classes, prospective returns are just about the lowest they've ever been.
  • Asset prices are high across the board.  Almost nothing can be bought below its intrinsic value, and there are few bargains. In general, the best we can do is look for things that are less over-priced than others.
  • Pro-risk behavior is commonplace, as the majority of investors embrace increased risk as the route to the returns they want or need.

As performance has been good for the past eight years, he notes, most people are aware of those uncertainties, know that prospective returns are "quite skimpy" and that things are unlikely to go well forever. However, "most people can't think of what might cause ......................

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