The strength of the US dollar was a key factor affecting the performance of the Global Fund in the third quarter and, indeed, over much of the last year. The dollar’s strength reflected the implementation of two unorthodox public policies in the United States: late-cycle fiscal stimulus in the form of a corporate tax cut, and tariffs levied on our largest trading partner, China.
Looking beyond the United States, we confront a very large question in China: Can it sustain its rapid pace of growth? In an effort to rein in the shadow-banking sector, Chinese authorities have slowed money-supply growth. Arguably, China’s banking sector is too big relative to world money supply to simply return to its historical rates of asset growth.
Looking forward, there are, as always, plenty of risks about which to be concerned. Many of the Fund’s stocks have suffered from a view that margins have reached a secular peak and that earnings will fall. The combination of this “as good as it gets” perception with fears about global GDP growth, the impact of trade disputes, rising US interest rates, and a strong dollar has resulted in reduced multiples across the Fund.
In the third quarter of 2018, the fixed income market improved to some extent from investment-grade bonds down through leveraged loans, but duration-sensitive names and sectors generally continued to be punished—damage that may accelerate with further potential increases in Treasury yields.
On February 2nd the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped −2.54%—its largest percentage decline since the Brexit referendum in 2016— while the S&P 500 Index dropped −2.11% and the MSCI World Ind
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