As we write this piece on the first working day of August, we thought we would take the opportunity to reflect on the month of July. Broadly speaking it was a mixed month, High Yield bonds posted very healthy returns of +3.6%, while their high-quality equivalents returned +1.0%. Equities were more mixed in Pound Sterling terms, with the FTSE All Share down -3.6%, while global equities, as measured by MSCI ACWI, were down marginally (-0.9%).
Perhaps the most substantive move of the month was in the currency markets. The US Dollar had its worst monthly performance since September 2010 – falling -4.4% against a basket of the USA’s six largest trading partners over the course of July. The Dollar had acted as a safe haven in the depth of the coronavirus selloff in February and March, and the US Equity market also proved resilient relative to global peers.
A number of factors are now leading investors to question the supremacy of the almighty Dollar as the world’s reserve currency. First has been the US’s very poor showing in how it has handled the spread of the coronavirus crisis as cases continue to rise in many states. Real interest rates in the US have also converged with the rest of the developed world and are now negative. In addition, the USD has a degree of political risk in the upcoming November election. All of these factors have seen other major currencies surge vs the Dollar in July, and we have seen gold rally to an all-time high.
The potential for a substantial weakening in the US Dollar is something we had thought was possible for over a year, as a result, we are well-positioned to benefit via our holdings of Local Currency Emerging Market Debt in the higher-risk portfolios.
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All the data contained in the communication is believed to be reliable but may be inaccurate or incomplete. Unless otherwise specified all information is produced as of 3 August 2020.