Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good news!...

We're now the worst case scenario.

If you've been wondering why index funds have been pouring money into commodities when it makes no fundamental sense, you're not alone.
A third explanation is that investors are making increasing use of commodities as an investment class. Although Treasury Inflation Protected Securities offer a hedge against an increase in the U.S. consumer price index, they don't offer protection for foreign investors against depreciation of the dollar. Insofar as increases in the prices of commodities like oil may depress real economic activity, holding commodities as an investment also offers useful diversification against risks to equities. Particularly when interest rates are low, there is an incentive to hoard physical commodities as an investment vehicle.
The paper by Tang and Xiong proposes that the increased use of commodities as a financial investment accounts for the increasing correlation among commodity price changes over time. In support of that claim, they note the growing popularity of investment strategies based on the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index or the Dow Jones Commodity Index. Tang and Xiong document that correlations among commodities included in the indexes have increased faster than those not included. For example, one of the regressions they estimate relates the return on commodity i to equity returns, bond yields, the value of the dollar, and oil prices, where the coefficients are allowed to grow with time at different rates before and after 2004, and with different trends on these coefficients estimated for commodities included in indexes as for those excluded. The figure below shows their estimated time path for the coefficient on oil prices comparing the indexed and non-indexed groups.  [More]
And it's probably because you think the world economy is not about to collapse - you giddy fool, you.
In a report entitled "Worst-case debt scenario", the bank's asset team said state rescue packages over the last year have merely transferred private liabilities onto sagging sovereign shoulders, creating a fresh set of problems.  
SocGen advises bears to sell the dollar and to "short" cyclical equities such as technology, auto, and travel to avoid being caught in the "inherent deflationary spiral". Emerging markets would not be spared. Paradoxically, they are more leveraged to the US growth than Wall Street itself. Farm commodities would hold up well, led by sugar. [More][My emphasis]

Of course, they're French, but still I feel better.

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