Sunday 26th April 2015
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, APRIL 24th 2015:Luc Luyet, CIIA – Senior Market Analyst AT Swissquote says that yesterday, “the SNB surprised the market by announcing that the number of sight deposit account holders that are exempt from negative interest has been reduced. This decision doesn’t change much the domestic banks’ situation as the “20 times the minimum reserve requirement” rule is still running. On the other side, the institutions associated with the Confederation, such as the pension fund of the Confederation or the pension fund of the SNB, are no longer exempt of negative interest. Consequently, only the account holders of the national social security system are still fully exempt.” - High yield debt issuance remains buoyant. Issuance volume for the week ending April 17, 2015, slowed down a bit from the previous week, but remained strong. Junk bond, or high-yield debt, issuers continued to issue bonds as yields remained favourable. High-yield debt is tracked by the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF and the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond Fund. According to data from S&P Capital IQ/LCD, dollar-denominated bonds amounting to $10.75bn were issued across 16 transactions in the week ending April 17th. The issuance volume fell by 3.2% from the week ending April 10. Pricing was evenly spread across the week. The number of transactions fell from 18 to 16 week-over-week. Last week brought the total US dollar issuance of high-yield debt to $115.8bn in 2015 YTD, up some 15% from the same period in 2014, the bulk of which is refinancing of older debt - Moody's says EMEA auto ABS performance remained stable during the three-month period ending February 2015. The sector's average performance trend was positive in terms of delinquency ratios and cumulative losses. The 60+ day delinquencies decreased to 0.66% in February 2015 from 0.77% in February 2014, while cumulative defaults decreased to 1.06% from 1.20% over the same period. This decrease was due mainly to the good performance of the German and Dutch markets. The prepayment rate increased slightly to 13.49% in February 2015 from 13.30% a year earlier. As of February 2015, the pool balance of all outstanding rated auto ABS transactions was €27.55bn - According to Sino specialists Red Pulse, China’s State Council is considering allowing daily repatriation for QFII. Currently, RQFII enjoys T+1 repatriation while QFII is restricted to T+5. QFII is the largest channel for foreign investment into China with quota of USD150bn, however, only half of the quota is in use, like at least partly due to the five-day repatriation stipulation - Malaysia’s state pension fund will offer a Shari’a-compliant investment option for its members by 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today. Najib says it will create the largest Shari’a fund of its kind in the world. Malaysia has one of the world’s largest Islamic finance sectors and the authorities are keen to develop it further. They envision the industry accounting for 40% of the country’s total banking assets by 2020 compared with latest figures of around 23% released last year. The $160bn (MYR577.4bn) Employees Provident Fund (EPF) already invests about a third of its portfolio in stocks and bonds that comply with Islamic principles, which ban interest payments and pure monetary speculation. The fund reportedly hired consultants last year to study the feasibility of a state-backed pension fund focusing entirely on Shari’a-compliant investments. Additionally, local press reports says that Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional has received regulatory approval to issue a MYR1billion (around $275m) socially responsible Islamic bond - The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share on the company's outstanding common stock, an increase of 67% from the prior $0.15 per share quarterly dividend. The dividend is payable on June 26TH 2015, to shareowners of record at the close of business on June 12TH 2015 - Lazard Ltd today reported operating revenue1 of $581m for the quarter ended March 31st. Adjusted net income was $103m, or $0.77 (diluted) per share for the quarter. These results exclude a pre-tax charge of $63m relating to a debt refinancing2. Q1 2015 net income on a U.S. GAAP basis, including the pre-tax charge, was $56m, or $0.42 (diluted) per share. "Our Financial Advisory and Asset Management businesses continue their strong performance," says Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lazard. "In the first quarter, we refinanced and repaid a portion of Lazard's long-term debt, significantly reducing our interest costs," adds Matthieu Bucaille, chief financial officer of Lazard. "Consistent with our capital management objectives, we have increased the quarterly dividend by 17%, the fifth increase in as many years." -

Are there rational causes for “home bias”?

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 Written by 
Are there rational causes for “home bias”? Savers and investors in every country hold an excessive quantity of domestic securities relative to foreign securities, so-called “home bias”. In the euro-zone, home bias has been growing sharply of late. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Savers and investors in every country hold an excessive quantity of domestic securities relative to foreign securities, so-called “home bias”. In the euro-zone, home bias has been growing sharply of late.

Suggested causes for home bias include:

  • holding domestic assets can protect domestic investors against domestic risks such as inflation or exchange-rate depreciation;
  • the benefits of international diversification are small relative to the transaction costs involved in buying foreign assets;
  • and information on domestic assets is of better quality than that on foreign assets.

The scale of the home bias
“Home bias” characterises an excessively high weight of domestic assets in portfolios, relative to what would be optimal, and therefore results in an excessively low weight of foreign assets.



Using Germany and France as examples, 65% of French and German institutional investors’ stock portfolio is in domestic equities while German institutional investors have 53% of their bond portfolio in German bonds. Indeed, French savers as a whole hold three times more French equities than foreign equities while German savers hold almost four times more German equities than they do foreign equities and more German bonds than foreign bonds. And in September 2011, German and French banks held respectively 75% and 42% of their own government’s securities.

Is it possible to find rational explanations of home bias?
There may be irrational explanations for home bias i.e. investors are not penalised by losses on domestic assets as much as by losses on foreign assets and they have a "patriotic" attitude etc. But there may also be rational explanations for home bias such as hedging domestic risks, small benefits of international diversification, and quality of information.

1. Hedging of domestic risks

Investors will hold large portfolios of domestic assets if these assets provide a better hedge against specific domestic risks than foreign assets do.

Exchange rates

Holding euro-zone equities is unlikely to protect investors in the euro-zone against a depreciation of the euro. Indeed, this much is evident when comparing the European stock market with the US stock market. Over the period 2008 to 2012, the European stock market declined relative to the US stock market and the euro depreciated.

Inflation

Certainly, this argument cannot apply to bonds since countries that experience an unexpected increase in inflation normally experience a rise in long-term interest rates, which generates losses for domestic investors – meaning that an internationally diversified bond portfolio would actually be preferable.

In the case of equities, one could think that this is an asset indexed to prices, which therefore provides a hedge against domestic inflation. However, in the case of France and Germany it is quite the opposite as the Price Earnings Ratio is negatively correlated to inflation. Indeed, equities do not provide any protection against domestic inflation, and the reverse is in fact true.

2. Small benefits from international diversification

The idea is that if the benefits of international diversification are smaller than the adjustment costs (transaction costs) incurred when buying foreign assets, investors will abstain from international diversification. If we take the example of euro-zone bond portfolios, one would see that diversification to the euro-zone as a whole in the period 1999-2012 reduces the return and the risk slightly, but in a very limited way.

3. Advantage in terms of information

It is an often-heard argument that the information available for investors is better for domestic assets than for foreign assets – largely because investors have better contacts with company management and their own government.

If this is true, this bias is likely to be far larger for small and mid-sized companies than for large companies that have better information resources. As a result, we should expect larger unexpected (news) shocks for small and mid-caps than for large-caps, and subsequently higher volatility in small and mid-cap indices. Indeed, this appears to be the case. The volatility of large-cap indices has been lower since 2003 than that of small and mid-cap indices.

Patrick Artus

A graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, of Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Adminstration Economique and of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Patrick Artus is today the Chief Economist at Natixis. He began his career in 1975 where his work included economic forecasting and modelisation. He then worked at the Economics Department of the OECD (1980), before becoming Head of Research at the ENSAE. Thereafter, Patrick taught seminars on research at Paris Dauphine (1982) and was Professor at a number of Universities (including Dauphine, ENSAE, Centre des Hautes Etudes de l'Armement, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and HEC Lausanne).

Patrick is now Professor of Economics at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. He combines these responsibilities with his research work at Natixis. Patrick was awarded "Best Economist of the year 1996" by the "Nouvel Economiste", and today is a member of the council of economic advisors to the French Prime Minister. He is also a board member at Total and Ipsos.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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