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. ]
Despite a recent downdraft in the stock market, economic signs suggest that the nation has prospered since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected. His first year was marked by mega mergers and acquisitions, and renewed hopes for deregulation and tax relief. M&A deals totaled US$ 1.2 trillion in the year since Trump was elected in a stunning upset, which compelled former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pen the book, “What Happened.” The total number of deals also set a record. In sum, nearly 13,000 deals have been made between the election and the end of the 2017 calendar year. Business sentiment was clearly buoyed by Trump’s election, with investors and organizations cheering the business-friendly environment to come. Unemployment dropped to a low of 4.1% in 2017, before further falling to 3.7% in 2018. This has been described as “full employment.” The unemployment rate will only fall to a certain level because there are always employees looking for something new and leaving jobs they hold. The stock market has also done well under Trump. Not since the 1960’s was volatility as low as it was during the early part of his presidency. Even with the swoon over the last several weeks, the market is still up substantially since Trump’s election. Despite consistent pessimistic headlines on major financial news sites, Amazon is still moving ahead with its massive #2 headquarters, while Google is planning a gigantic development in his core home of Mountain View, California.
Yet, controversy swirls as former U.S. President Barack Obama declared, “When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.” [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei requested the Central Bank of Iran to boost the value of the Iranian rial, according to the central bank’s governor. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]
UBS Trumbull Property Fund Faces Redemption, MassPRIM Benefits
Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (Mass PRIM) Allianz Real Estate, and Beacon Capital Partners acquired the Exchange Place skyscraper in Boston has been sold for US$ 845 million from UBS Realty Investors. UBS Realty, part of UBS Group AG, acquired the 53 State Street office tower in December 2011 from Brookfield Office Properties for US$ 610 million. Tenants of the property include Morgan Stanley, The Boston Globe, Hill Holliday, and Nixon Peabody. The property was a major holding of the open-ended fund called UBS Trumbull Property Fund.
MassPRIM will own 49% of the property.
Tower Hamlets Pension Fund Awards Equity Protection Mandate to Schroders
In September 2018, Tower Hamlets Pension Fund awarded Schroders with a mandate for a risk management solution for £700 million in an equity protection strategy. This covers about half of the fund’s portfolio of £1.4 billion. The pension fund’s consultant is Mercer.
Ebola Spreads in the Congo
The second-largest Ebola outbreak in world history has spread to Butembo, a city in eastern Congo with more than 1 million inhabitants.
NZSF Board Member Joins Board of NZX
The NZX (New Zealand Stock Exchange) board of directors named Lindsay Wright as lead independent director. She is Deputy Chair of the Board of the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
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