9 months later, global equity allocations are nearly the lowest since November 2016. Moreover, cash balances are high. Globally, investors are relatively bearish. How can this be?
The reason is mostly outside of the US. While US equities are at all-time highs, both European and emerging markets are down in 2018. That has impacted investors' regional allocations in an important way.
After being out of favor for 17 months, fund managers are now overweight US equities by the most since January 2015. It's at an extreme, and the US should underperform.
Fund managers are now underweight emerging market equities by the most in 2-1/2 years; the region is now a contrarian long. Europe is neutral, as are global bonds.
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Among the various ways of measuring investor sentiment, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) survey of global fund managers is one of the best as the results reflect how managers are allocated in various asset classes. These managers oversee a combined $600b in assets.
Our sincere gratitude to BAML for the use of this data.
The data should be viewed mostly from a contrarian perspective; that is, when equities fall in price, allocations to cash go higher and allocations to equities go lower as investors become bearish, setting up a buy signal. When prices rise, the opposite occurs, setting up a sell signal. We did a recap of this pattern in December 2014 (post).
Let's review the highlights from the past month.
Overall: Relative to history, fund managers are overweight cash and underweight equities. Enlarge any image by clicking on it.
Within equities, the US is overweight while emerging markets in particular are underweight. This is a significant change from the past year.
A pure contrarian would overweight emerging markets equities relative to the US and underweight cash.