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MORE STIMULATION: ECB Contemplates Purchasing Corporate Bonds

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ecbThe European Central Bank (ECB) is contemplating on whether to purchase corporate bonds on the secondary market. On Tuesday, Reuters broke the story on the ECB’s consideration of corporate bond purchases. The central bank will most likely decide on the measure in December and if approved, bond purchases may begin in the first quarter of 2015. This move would augment the central bank’s private sector asset-purchasing initiative in a bid to pump up economic activity in the eurozone. Taking a page on quantitative easing (QE) measures from the U.S. and Japan, the ECB is attempting to raise the supply of money in the European economy. Last week, ECB executive board member Yves Mersch, former Governor of the Central Bank of Luxembourg, commented that large asset purchases by the ECB would expand the gap between rich and poor.

Boosting Europe

On October 20, the ECB began purchasing covered bonds and is targeted to be buying asset-backed securities later this year. Covered bonds are backed by a pool of loans such as mortgages. There is no targeted amount for the covered bond purchases. The central bank has been purchasing short-dated covered bonds from a swath of countries.

US Treasury Sec Mnuchin May Have More Sanctions for Turkey

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin revealed the United States is preparing more Turkey sanctions. This stems over the issues with an American pastor in Turkey. Turkey’s lira, has fallen to record lows recently.

The week before, U.S. President Trump announced the doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium to 50 and 20 percent, respectively. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called for a boycott of electronics products of the United States, which includes iPhones (a smartphone product of Apple).

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Scott Keller Returns to T. Rowe Price to Head up EMEA

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Scott Keller returns to T. Rowe Price as head of global investment management services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa from January 1, 2019. Keller is currently at UBS Global Asset Management, working in the Asia Pacific region, heading efforts in the bank’s institutional and intermediary distribution. Keller joined UBS in 2014. Before UBS, Keller was at T. Rowe Price.

Scott Keller is replacing Peter Preisler at T. Rowe Price. Preisler exited T. Rowe Price in August 2017.

At UBS, Nick Trueman will replace Scott Keller.

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Rising Interest Rates Impact Sovereign Wealth Strategies

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Sovereign wealth funds are paying closer attention to the U.S. Federal Reserve as it enters fresh territory under Jay Powell. Powell’s decisions are impacting foreign exchange holdings globally, as central bankers adjust to a newer environment of policy normalization. The United States is not the only country raising interest rates. The Philippines, Argentina, Indonesia, India, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Pakistan are just some emerging market countries that have raise interest rates.

Global institutional investors like BlackRock are concerned that the U.S. dollar could grind higher. In times of increased geopolitical or financial tensions, the greenback is seen as a safe haven by many central banks, sovereign funds and foreign public funds. July marks the 110th month of expansion, a streak that is one year away from becoming the longest in U.S. history. Stronger economic data – with U.S. gross domestic product hitting 4.1% for the second quarter of 2018, rising interest rates, and bids to lower U.S. trade deficits, are making sovereign funds rethink asset allocation or at least shift more assets out of markets like Turkey, South Africa and Brazil. The Turkish lira fell further in August, prompting the country’s central bank to take drastic action. The fallen lira sent jitters across emerging markets and to banks in Southern Europe who have exposure to Turkey. What are sovereign wealth funds doing now?

On the fixed income front, sovereign funds are paying much closer attention to their government bond holdings, keeping a close eye on countries that rely heavily on external funding. Shorter duration bonds and inflation-linked debt can act as a safeguard against rising rates and inflation. Sovereign funds, like Singapore’s GIC Private Limited, are recognizing that global equity returns are less synchronized, thus there is a move to identify select countries and regions being conducted for strategic asset allocation for 2019 and beyond. A stronger greenback, positive U.S. corporate earnings, and rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China are becoming a boon for active equity managers and smart beta funds, as public funds are requesting enhanced levels of skills in navigating stock selection. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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