The reason we've seen such a big reversal this year, or at least one of the reasons, I think comes down to valuation. So you think about what happened in 2013 and even 2012 was that you had a lot of very strong trends. People bought equities. They bought particular types of equities, such as small caps. They piled into high-yield bonds. And what happened was that, through the course of the last 18-24 months, many of those asset classes got very expensive. You know, small caps are a good case in point.
And as we got into 2014, once there was a little bit of volatility in the market -- as there was in January, then later again in May -- you saw people leaving those asset classes. In other words, they were looking at something like U.S. small cap or U.S. biotech and they were saying, "Huh. If the momentum has been broken, it's not clear that I want to pay as much as I'm having to pay to buy that asset." So, as a result, people were looking for what I call "relative value." And the reason I emphasize the word "relative value" is that there aren't that many asset classes today that are cheap.
So to my mind what this implies for investors are a couple things, the most important being many of these relative value trades are likely to continue to do better in the back half of the year -- so looking for asset classes that did not run up as much in 2013 or 2012 that offer better value. Some of the examples of that would include, in the United States, large-cap companies, which are generally cheaper than small-cap companies. Another example in 2012 and parts of 2013: many defensive companies in the U.S. did well. Utility companies is one example -- companies that offer high dividend and a lower volatility. Rather than pay up too much for those, investors may want to consider more cyclical companies, which are both cheaper and will also benefit as the economy strengthens in the back half of the year.
Related by Topic: Economic Outlook , Equities
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Last week's decline in volatility for both stocks and bonds is likely to be a temporary phenomenon. Chief Investment Strategist Russ Koesterich draws some conclusions from the recent market and economic action for small caps, Asian equities and commodities.