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Input 10.09.2020

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe”

Good afternoon

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many supply chains were under pressure due to the proliferation of e-commerce, increasing shipping and consumer expectations in terms of availability as well as constant geopolitical battles, such as, for example, Brexit and the US-China trade war. Then came the pandemic, which created a doomsday scenario for supply chains driven by travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, massive fluctuations in demand and uncertain prospects. Although the projections are still uncertain, we expect three main trends to emerge that will lead to a faster shift to online from offline: more flexible supply chains, greater diversification and contingency planning. In addition, we believe that senior executives in many companies attach greater importance to this area. In our view, this will accelerate investments in several key supply chain technology areas. These include fulfillment technologies, supply chain planning, warehouse automation, supply chain and logistics visibility and last mile technologies. Although not typically considered as supply chain technologies, e-commerce platforms should also see a significant benefit – and many already have.

The US and China showed signs of de-escalation of the trade tensions as both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the trade agreement signed earlier this year (source: Bloomberg.com). In the latest announcement, the US discussed the steps taken by China to comply with the terms of the agreement, which were depicted to be improving despite not being on pace with the year-end goals. This improved understanding led to a constructive view on US and Chinese stock markets, moving equity indices, such as the S&P 500 Index SPX, up to reach new all-time highs. Chinese stock prices went up as well, with a recent period of stagnation but showing short-term signs of ticking higher again.

The Chinese equity space is no stranger to the trends in 2020, after all, it was one of the first areas internationally to rebound from their COVID-induced economic downturns. There are a variety of names within the Chinese technology sector that have shown improvement, as evidenced by the strength of funds oriented toward that area. One of the most valuable companies in China, Alibaba Group Holding ADR BABA, has advanced in recent weeks which speaks for a broader improvement of the Chinese technology and internet industry.

The measures taken against the corona virus were accompanied by increased volatilities and downside risks within the markets. To manage these risks, we combine our in-house expertise with best-in-class technologies, including the Nowcast technology of OpenMetrics (an ETH Spin-Off), which strictly relies on regularly and frequently measuring the current state of the markets and reacting according to those measurements. This in contrast to predictive models, which work on well-defined and stationary states only. Real life systems, such as the weather, might show such states, but in most cases not for more than a couple of days, even though the physical principles for the weather are solid and well-defined. In financial markets, such states which could be exploited by predicting future states, do not seem to exist outside of the high frequency domain.

The Nowcast approach is not based on such assumptions but can deal with erratic systems by always adapting to the current state. Therefore, we are achieving similar risk profiles as passive hedging strategies while realizing more of the upside.

This approach is becoming increasingly popular in the pension fund industry and forms the basis of our modular framework, which offers customized solutions for different risk profiles. A new module, based on OpenMetrics’ Nowcast technology, will go live in the coming weeks.

Extremely low or even negative yields erode the risk-free foundation of earnings. As a result, investors will be more exposed to fluctuations in market prices. Fixed income instruments might no longer efficiently fulfill their diversification function. If this environment persists, new approaches will be required to generate income while preserving capital. To achieve consistent returns, strategies based on alternative sources of income could be considered.

As with the Nowcast approach, the objective of such strategies must be to achieve consistent returns, as only stable returns allow accurate long-term forecasts of investment results. Using a systematic, non-predictive technique based on volatility premiums, a defensive investment strategy was provided to our clients to complement their multi-asset portfolios:

Please challenge us with your ideas and comments.

Best wishes

Bjoern