Insight - Making Sense of the Narrative

Invest with Market Thinking in a UCITS global equity fund, developed in collaboration with Toscafund, a UK and HK-based specialist investment manager, harnessing the power of behavioural finance through thematics and factor ETFs.


In the internet boom investors chased stocks like Nokia, Ericsson and Cisco to crazy sales multiples that required growth to be not just good, but parabolic to deliver any returns. A small disruption to those expectations led to a profit warning and a crash in the market. AI is the new 'internet' and investors are once again chasing picks and shovels. However, when a market is putting China stocks on less than 1x sales due to 'concerns over China/Taiwan while simultaneously paying 40x sales for a company where half its customers and all its manufacturing is done in the region, there is something of a disconnect in the risk management.

The Bond markets have curbed some of their enthusiasm over rate cuts while momentum stays with US tech. Japan and EM ex China continue to behave well, although China continues to behave like a bear market, This has little to do with fundamentals like value or earnings and more to do with perceptions of risk and uncertainty that are driving liquidity flows. However, we would note that the stock market is not the Bellweather of the Economy that it is in the US and that intervention will take place only for stabilisation. They do not believe in the so called Fed put, or the wealth effect.

The peasants are rebelling against the bien pensants. The people of Europe are pushing back against their would be masters, symbolised by the Tractors of the Dutch, German and now French Farmers as they blockade the Citadels. Misleadingly portrayed as 'Far Right', the key feature is the ESG and Green Leap Forward policies that have, unbidden, replaced the Common Agricultural and Common Industrial Policies as the Raison d'etre of the EU and that are, as the farmers put it " absurd, extreme and unworkable" . There is a high 'risk' that this will drive increased nationalism and ultimately seriously damage to the EU and the other associated Globalist institutions.

Year in Review notes are often separated from Year Ahead pieces, but we find it helpful to combine the two in order to get context. 2023 was a much better year for 60:40 funds as both markets mean reverted from a terrible 2022. In Bonds, the mean reversal came late, following a dramatic selloff in Q3, the compelling bond math finally brought long term investors out of cash, taking hem from oversold to if not overbought, then fair value given rates are being eased not slashed. In Equities, the dominance of the Magnificent 7 meant active investors either made money not owning them in 2022 or owning them in 2023. Few did both. This year opportunities are likely to lie elsewhere, suggesting diversification either within the US market or geographically. International markets largely traded sideways with a positive year end (Europe, UK, EM ex China) or appeared to have started new bull phases - Japan and India. China, which remains in a bear market thanks to weak sentiment and aggressive narrative management is the equivalent of buying Meta in January 2023. One for the brave, but also one to watch. Politics will play a large part in narrative management this year and thus be key to risk management.

With almost half the world voting in 2024 we see Populism upsetting the status quo from both left and right. Davos Man is facing something of an existential threat this year. Globalists have sold a false premise that the system has to be either Capitalism or Socialism, when in fact it can have both. Instead we have 'third way' Crony Capilalism/Corporatism in the West where households are excluded as Governments and Corporates are essentially being run for their own benefits. This has reached the point of over-reach and populists from both left and right are going to push back with a different interpretation of Build Back Better

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