March 27, 2013 | By Scott Minerd, Global CIO
Asset valuations are becoming more extended, making risk assets such as equities and below investment grade debt vulnerable to a near-term setback. For the past five years, risk assets were fundamentally cheap, providing a cushion against market noise and periodic setbacks. We are transitioning into a period, though, in which bargains are much harder to come by in many of the major asset classes. High yield debt and corporate bonds, in particular, appear overbought at current levels. Although these markets are not exhibiting signs of a bubble, stretched valuations make these asset classes more sensitive to bad news. Despite the favorable longer-term economic outlook, investors should be prepared for the type of price volatility which is characteristic of more mature bull markets.
The Citi Macro Risk Index, calculated based on credit spreads, swap spreads, and implied volatility on major asset classes, is often used to measure risk aversion in global financial markets. This index has tracked closely with the S&P 500 over the past few years, however, the correlation broke down in January of this year. Despite an increasing level of macro risk driven by uncertainties in the eurozone, U.S. equity indices continue to climb to new highs.
Source: Citigroup, Bloomberg, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 3/22/2013.
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