In this week’s video, EPFR’s Steve Muzzlewhite discusses key economic data and the consequences that this may have for fund flows and allocations.
Flows into EPFR-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds during the third week of January climbed to their highest level since mid-1Q21 as investors positioned themselves for China’s much anticipated economic rebound and, the anti-inflation rhetoric of the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) notwithstanding, an early end to the current interest rate cycles in the US and Europe. Investors also steered $2.5 billion – a 101-week high – into Emerging Markets Bond Funds.
The final week of 2022 saw EPFR-tracked Bond Funds post consecutive weekly outflows for the first time since mid-October, capping a year when the overall group smashed its previous outflow record as central banks scrambled to contain inflation running at multi-decade highs.
Behind the headline number, however, was a marked shift from active to passive management.
A final look to EPFR-tracked equity funds in December 2022, with alternative, balanced, bond and money market funds experiencing significant redemptions as investors grapple with a highly uncertain outlook for the first half of next year.
Overall, the second week of December 2022 saw all Equity Funds record a collective inflow of $17.9 billion while Bond Funds absorbed $2.3 billion.
With the European Central Bank meeting the day after the latest reporting period and US Federal Reserve policymakers convening five days later, flows to EPFR-tracked fund groups were predictably subdued in early June. Investors opted for liquidity, with flows into Money Market Funds hitting a nine-week high, while steering clear of most fund groups tied to European and emerging markets assets.
In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic’s initial onslaught, central bankers proved their policy toolkit had not – as feared – been exhausted by the great financial crisis of 2008-09 and its aftermath. Furthermore, the experience of combating the GFC taught them to deploy that tool kit quickly and decisively. But, especially in the case of the US and Europe, those central bankers were slow to dial back their support as the global economy rebounded from the initial shock of the pandemic. Many now stand accused of stoking inflationary pressures. With inflation hitting multi-year highs in the US and Europe and fiscal discipline in many countries now honored mainly in the breach, central bankers face a new set of challenges.
The Bank of Japan has been the pace-setter among central banks when it comes to purchasing non-government financial securities. It was the first central bank to officially declare that it was buying exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Japan Real Estate Investment trusts (J-REITs).
Central bankers have prided themselves on clear communication with markets in recent years. But the road mapped out by Bank of England (BoE) policymakers isn’t taking UK interest rates where markets expected, leaving currency investors all at sea.
The first week of October saw US lawmakers sparring over the country’s debt ceiling, authorities in China scrambling to limit the wider damage property giant Evergrande’s debt crisis may cause, and central bankers from Canada to Poland wrestling with the tradeoff between economic growth and rising prices.