Volatility plays to active manager strengths

Glenn Freeman  |  --Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Glenn Freeman: Now, Libby, just firstly, has there always been this much interplay between politics and financial markets or is it something that's more – is it just that we're seeing more in the headlines and it's more front of mind now or what are your thoughts on that?

Libby Cantrill: Yeah, I mean, I think the U.S. politics has always mattered to financial markets to a certain extent. But I would argue that after the financial crisis, after we saw really unprecedented regulations, so more involvement in the US government in companies, in markets and we saw more fiscal expansion, that arguably politics actually had more of an impact on financial markets.

I think an example of that was the debt ceiling crisis in the United States in August of 2011. I think that was sort of proof positive to investors that, yes, they actually hadn't paid attention to what was going on in Washington because it could move markets.

Freeman: And given there is changeability in the political scene how difficult does that make that for companies like PIMCO and for investors to make sort of medium-term and long-term calls?

Cantrill: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great question. And certainly, this environment is more difficult; there is more uncertainty. But we would argue from an active management perspective it actually creates a lot of opportunity. And our investment process really sort of feeds into this type of market in that we get together on a quarterly basis to talk about what's going on in the next three to nine months. And then once a year, we all come together and talk about what's happening over the three to five years. So, we have a lot of opportunities for us to test both our medium-term and long-term thesis. And then of course, in between those our investment committee is meeting on a regular basis. So, we would say that, yes, a lot of uncertainty, yes, a lot of volatility, but it's sort of the sweet spot, we would argue for a manger like PIMCO.

Freeman: And so, again, for retail investors what do you as perhaps the greatest risk facing them, just on a macro level over the next 12 months?

Cantrill: Well, from a political perspective, which is of course what I cover, there are lots of different political risks, whether it's geopolitical risks with increasing tensions with North Korea, whether it's potentially more increased protectionism from the administration or whether it's something as extreme as draconian as impeachment, which is not certainly what our base case is, but is definitely a possibility with any administration.

What we think is more likely, however, to play out is that President Trump will just see that there are more obstacles to getting his agenda through Congress. So, our base case is that less actually happens, but that some of these draconian risks actually don't come to fruition either.

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