The Greatest Tail Risk for the Market

US Dollar risk

Bank of America takes a ‘Global Managers Survey’ each month to get feedback on various market-related topics. The most famous is the issue of the financial markets’ greatest tail risk. 

Presented by graphs, the evolution of the “biggest tail risk” shown month by month. Taken at the start of each month.

Evolution of Global FMS “biggest tail risk”
(Source: BofA Global Fund Manager Survey)

At the start of the second month, the results of the 2020 US presidential elections were the number one topics in the majority of dealers’ minds. Intel concerning the coronavirus began in December and it became a known factor in the States by early January.

By the end of the first month, the commonly employed heuristic was that the 2003 SARS outbreak. But, indiscriminate use of any prior episode is not sound given the character of it normally differs. Should you employ past events to find out the upcoming events while forgetting that the future differs in the past – you are likely to run into problems.

Even though SARS saw equity markets drop about 10% in many sections of the developed world, the coronavirus was considerably more infectious and virulent. The result was a downfall worse than 2008, with lockdowns in place and lost economic activity.

The virus-related dangers remained underrrated in the same period when volatility was low and interest rates were reduced relative to the potential return on equity. Subsequently the market did a 180 and captured almost everybody off guard.

The best-perceived risk went fast from what occurs to risk assets if Bernie Sanders or even Elizabeth Warren becomes president? – to an unexpected outbreak, a tail risk whose potential is never priced in. The pandemic should have been perceived as a larger tail risk in February, but most thought it would pass.

From the start of March, almost two weeks following the event when the stock exchange topped and dropped 25 percent peak to trough. Obviously the coronavirus became the largest tail risk. The consensus has been the greatest since July 2018 when the ‘trade war’ was at the forefront of the markets and also the most enduring researched threat since the EU autonomous debt crisis in 2011-12.

The Second Wave of Covid-19 is the greatest tail risk

From April’s poll, the risk moved from not only the coronavirus itself, but to an expected second wave.

In the event of the 1918 pandemic, the initial wave was comparatively short when put up against the big second wave. Even a third wave arrived which has been 2x-3x the size of the initial one. Then it disappeared.

The Second Wave of Covid-19 is the greatest tail risk

Though the stock exchange is up from the bottom by 30 percent, and lots of nations are working on timelines to start back up, those plans may be thrown into disarray if a second wave comes.

Most business owners are excited about restarting the market and their own businesses. Nonetheless, it is unlikely to be a return to normality. Restarts will likely be partial and brittle. Clients and workers in certain types of companies may be susceptible to fever tests and enhanced monitoring. That is very likely to emerge in the 2nd part of 2021.

A closer look at the ‘biggest rail risk’ problem

We are aware that a coronavirus second wave is the largest tail risk assessed by Bank of America’s institutional customers with almost 60 percent of their vote.

When it comes to the 2nd and 3rd wave, at 30 percent came a systemic credit occasion, accompanied by a ‘V-shaped’ recovery at 9 percent.

What do you consider the biggest "tail risk"?
What do you consider the biggest “tail risk”?
(Source: BofA)

Exactly why is a V-shaped recuperation – a fantastic thing – perceived as a tail risk?

When there’s a speedy recovery, it is going to incentivize the Federal Reserve to pull back to their stimulation steps. The degree of help the Fed is supplying to the market has been siphoned ahead by market participants. As is obviously the case, and also continues to be a large part of the market’s return. It has retraced roughly half of its dropped profits in the US (in the S&P 500 the move is down to 2,180 from 3,390).

If the collection of stimulation measures – credit warranties, lending plans, quantitative easing, no interest charges – is pulled, it will take few of the unprecedented quantities of liquidity from the fiscal system and cause the economy to fall.

The Fed will have to pull on its steps attentively, as markets price in what they anticipate. Markets mean a great deal for policymaking since they supply cash and credit that go into the actual market’s spending.

Very good things for economies can be awful things for markets. In February 2018, when brief volatility placement was quite large, wage growth amounts were greater than expected (a fantastic thing). When non-farm payrolls were published, the known figures point published on the first Friday of every month.

However, this was translated by the market that the Fed would increase interest rates quicker than was dismissed into the curve. Therefore, we witnessed a bit of a correction in asset rates.

(Source: Trading View)

Fourth on the list is the notion about what occurs to asset costs if Democrats have good results from the 2020 elections since they are perceived as less market-friendly.

What sort of procedures are investors most concerned about?

Coronavirus is a kind of notional hazard. For it to spill into markets it needs to be considered in terms of exactly what products or processes does that influence.

There is a financial threat of lost productivity and lost economic activity since individuals shelter and decrease their movement. That subsequently reverted into credit markets as people, companies, and governments (generally emerging market authorities who can not print money) have trouble meeting their duties.

There are always far more monetary assets (an advantage to some and a corresponding obligation to someone else) and duties compared to money available to cover them.

Whenever there’s a race for money, individuals attempt to sell assets to develop more of it. Governments who have control over this procedure then will need to give a mixture of cash printing and credit guarantees to acquire a floor below the circumstance.

Credit risk

The credit risk (default) is number one in the minds of investors:

Going to the coronavirus crash, many dealers were set for the market to get better, although the market got steadily worse.

Business cycle threat

That is accompanied by the business cycle threat. The conventional way business cycles wind up is by way of the central bank rising the interest rates (generally to battle inflation).

Ordinarily, as unemployment drops and the need for workers exceeds their supply, the price of work starts to pick up. Monetary policymakers then have a far more intense trade-off balancing growth for this specific pressure. It is tough to find right footing and at times central banks should opt to corral inflation by hiking rates in order to control it. This bumps up credit costs to excess and leads to a recession. Then the central bank eases the situation by lowering interest rates. We’re all used to this cycle that normally lasts 5-10 decades, though not one is precisely the same.

That is the standard dynamic that has been supporting other bear markets. Especially the fall in asset prices in markets that are developed and the majority of the planet in Q4’18.

The coronavirus crash was different. We are not dealing with inflation and output trade-off. No, we are dealing with what occurs when debt is high relative to earnings. You have little capacity to reduce rates of interest or purchase longer-duration resources to facilitate policy. Instead, other coverage forms need to be exercised, especially monetary and fiscal policy manipulation.

When it is very tough to set a floor beneath it – especially when pushing nominal rates of interest below nominal growth rates – the contraction keeps moving.

Just after the Fed guaranteed to set financing centers for lending, swap lines, also backstop an extremely broad variety of security. Not just from US Treasury bonds and government-backed mortgage securities, but corporate credit, too (like some low-grade bonds), municipal bonds, as well as ETFs – did the industry hit bottom.

So, the company cycle threat as it is typically known – output and inflation trade-off – is different this time round. In addition, this is what incentivized the 2019 bull run that eventually ended in February 2020 due to the coronavirus disturbance.

We are currently addressing a “deperssion” dynamic. While the term is evocative as it conjures pictures of Hoovervilles and bread lines, and can be employed for sensationalized functions. It basically has to do with the dynamic of an unsustainably large debt burden relative to the present amount of output. Rectifying this imbalance entails either writing down the value of the debt and duties or the central bank “printing” cash.

We’re not coping with the standard recession dynamic that central banks command through the alteration of short-term rates of interest.

Market structure risk

Market structure is 3rd on the list, in regards to the character of the marketplace participants and that the sellers and buyers are. Passive versus active, people versus machines, central banks versus private associations, and that whole debate about the way that it influences liquidity and price discovery.

Even as the character and decision-making procedures (e.g., rate, amount of automation) of these market participants have shifted, the fundamental dynamic of these kinds of cycles and the way they play out over the years has not been altered.

Counterparty risk

Counterparty liability includes those who are tangled in a transaction defaulting on their obligation(s) in a deal. When 2008 arrived, a few banks went under, attracting worries that cash deposited in a bank may be lost if not removed. For investors, it might signify a broker ceasing their capacity to lend, which might be bad news should you spend with borrowed money. It’s the reason why many institutional investors diversify their balances among multiple banks.

Counterparty risk hasn’t been as large of a factor in contrast to the previous recession because the financial industry has deleveraged comparative to where it had been in 2007 and 2008.

Emerging market risk

Emerging economies (broadly called non-US countries, developing Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) have constituted approximately 50% of all economic production and much of all new output. Exporters have been especially hard hit by the oil price crash. Some emerging markets (e.g., Argentina, Ecuador, Zambia, Lebanon) are going through defaults or restructurings. There is an emerging market threat, identified by close to 70% of surveyed participants.

Many nations borrow in dollars using their lower rates of interest and greater financing availability. However, they run into trouble if they encounter balance of payments issues. Which causes difficulties with their money and difficulty in repaying at a foreign currency that is increased in worth.

Developed Europe, the US, and Japan have currencies in reserve. They also have the capability to produce their own cash to cancel the lost economic activity. But emerging market states are somewhat more restricted in this capability, particularly if their borrowing is accomplished in forex. If debtor emerging economy states run into debt problems during the catastrophe, will have to impose austerity measures. Which may result in years or even years of output.

Protectionist risk

Protectionist risk pertains to commerce disputes to markets such as “globalism” and free trade. Since it assists with the efficient allocation of work and resources to optimize earnings.

There is a longstanding issue with this front between the US and China and probably between the US and EU. While all this is presently on the back-burner, this is going to be in existence for a lengthy time.

There are questions if every nation must have separate distribution lines. If the products being made in China (to export into the US) should rather be produced from the States for the sake of liberty? There are concerns about funding flows. By way of instance, if you are from China and buying from the States, is that a good move if there are economic sanctions (and vice versa)?

Each nation has a different method of managing problems.

Large tech and large information is a potent force in driving innovation and fresh productivity – and also the US and China are the world’s leaders. How “large tech” is handled will depend on the culture of these countries.

In the States and the majority of the western world (though largely US; Europe isn’t really a tech pioneer), it is a bottom-up choice, beginning with people and businesses.

In China, it is a top-down decision where they gather as much information as possible largely with no regard to privacy issues to make the best choice for the very best outcome. The US and western democracies mostly prize individualism while China highlights the part of family or what is best for the nation as a whole. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The”trade war” is only 1 prong at the struggle of the US fighting an ascendant power, which will last for decades.

This is a long-term financial confrontation that is one part of a bigger image of an increasing power coming up to battle the status quo of the incumbent international military and economic superpower. If it comes to structural concessions which disturb China’s long-term goals – e.g., intellectual property, non-tariff obstacles like market access for US businesses, government subsidies, high-tech transport, cyber-espionage – this just will not be agreed upon.

Geopolitical risk

Geopolitical threat is an issue for just more than half of survey respondents.

This involves U.S.- China ties, which also branches to Russia-Saudi Arabia and their impact on the world’s most valuable asset (and how it plays into global money flows, currencies, and financial markets). Mideast turmoil (e.g., Iran), and the worry and frets over North Korea and its nuclear and ballistics program, which has also been put to the back-burner.

Monetary risk

Just about one-quarter of investors view monetary matters as a material threat, including things like higher rates of interest, which would violate a recovery.

But central banks in developed markets will likely be pinned there for quite some time.

Highly indebted societies can’t support high real rates of interest. Low actual rates would be the best way to decrease debt burdens and shortages. The US held prices artificially reduced before and following WWII leading to negative real returns for investors. We ought to expect to maintain zero short-term rates of interest in the States, EU, and Japan for quite a while.

Investors also feel that central banks have great control over their currencies.

However, while interest rates are in the reduced zero bound and may no more be reduced and comparative rates of interest can not be shifted currency volatility should pick up. If that is not accurate, then you receive economical volatility. That is a problem in the most important three international reserve currencies — USD, EUR, JPY – at which interest rates are at zero.

A major issue in itself is the devaluation of currency and what it entails for savers and the management of possible downturns. Nobody needs a stronger currency and no nation would like to allow 1 of them to devalue itself to get a leg up in exchange. This may result in the matter of “currency wars” along with other kinds of financial battles.

That is the reason why a lot of investors diversify a smaller part of the funds into challenging book assets such as gold along with other valuable metals which function as other currencies.

Long-term impacts

The San Francisco Federal Reserve lately published a paper analyzing the long-term financial consequences of pandemics, instead of solely the short-term factors. Some anticipate, or want to be more optimistic regarding, the above ‘V-shaped’ retrieval, or getting back lost output signal in a brief period.

Throughout the research of previous outbreaks, the authors discovered longer-run financial implications related to these events.

They discovered that significant macroeconomic after-effects of those pandemics persist for approximately 4 decades, with real rates of return considerably depressed.

In the degree that data are available, they pulled time series data even from pandemics dating back to the Middle Ages. They reported fifteen major pandemics with at least 100,000 deaths, starting with the 1300s Black Death which killed an estimated 75 million people.

When recessions hit, real interest rates frequently stay depressed for 5-10 decades. Nevertheless, they discovered that actual interest rates stayed depressed for up to several decades following the close of the pandemic within a statistically significant manner.

To examine differences to see exactly how this general finding held up in various niches, they discerned the ramifications from different European nations:

Some divergences appear dependent on the relative vulnerability of every individual nation to the pandemic, the degree of the functioning labor inhabitants, and its level of industrialization.

They discovered the ramifications of wars to have a contrary effect. In which wars raise real rates of interest in a statistically significant manner and within the exact same 30-40 year interval. Wars consume funds and need debt financing. Which might suggest higher real interest rates as more funds compete for less cash. Capital can be ruined during wartime surroundings, after exactly the exact same source and crowding out debate. It might also mean increased risk premiums as greater indebtedness usually means a greater probability of default.

If Covid-19 is comparable and generates lower real interest rates than could have been seen differently, this is advantageous for authorities with financial space who will borrow cheaply. Longer-term sovereign debtors may also possibly decrease the financial results of the pandemic with reduced interest expenses.


In spite of all the attention of an economic re-opening through the developed world, investors believe that a future wave of this coronavirus as the largest tail risk going forward.

Investors must approach the forthcoming 1-2 years as a span of higher than normal volatility and risk with financial policy out of question in the standard ways.

Possessing well-balanced tactical diversification hasn’t been more significant ever and is how many dealers will have the ability to make profits over the long run.

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