One month ago, in a surprising reversal, we reported that Bridgewater was outperforming peers this year even after losing money in April, largely as a result of a a massive derisking, i.e. turning bearish. As Bloomberg further added, “the fund has also reduced its net long bets on U.S. equities to about 10 percent of assets from 120% earlier this year, and that overall, the fund is net short equities.”
And now we know why.
In one of Bridgewater’s latest Daily Observations authored by co-CIO Greg Jensen, the firm writes that “2019 is setting up to be a dangerous year, as the fiscal stimulus rolls off while the impact of the Fed’s tightening will be peaking” a point echoed yesterday by the head of the Indian central bank, Urjit Patel, who warned that unless the Fed ends its balance sheet reduction which comes as a time when the Treasury is soaking up dollar liquidity by issuing substantial amounts of Treasuries to fund the Trump budget, the tightening in financial conditions could lead to a global conflagration started by emerging markets.
And since asset markets lead the economy, Bridgewater continues, “for investors, the danger is already here” and explains as follows:
“Markets are already vulnerable, as the Fed is pulling back liquidity and raising rates, making cash scarcer and more attractive – reversing the easy liquidity and 0% cash rate that helped push money out of the risk curve over the course of the expansion. The danger to assets from the shift in liquidity and the building late-cycle dynamics is compounded by the fact that financial assets are pricing in a Goldilocks scenario of sustained strength, with little chance of either a slump or an overheating as the Fed continues its tightening cycle over the next year and a half.”
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