Monthly Market Outlook

Overcoming a slowing global economy

November 2019 (click to download)

With the threat of a global recession hanging over equity markets, and many bond yields in negative territory, the Manager finds itself faced with something of a conundrum. While it wants to shelter portfolios from potential volatility, safer assets are offering very low returns and are at risk should inflation begin to rise.

Gold: the ideal diversifier

As a result of these conditions, the Manager has recently made a moderate investment in gold. Gold is another way of owning money, but in a form that provides protection from rising inflation while offering returns when other asset classes are struggling. This strategy adds further diversification to portfolios and is a good way of offsetting some of the risks associated with prevailing marketing conditions. This is discussed in more detail in the investment view section on page two.

Monetary policy continues to support business

With interest rates remaining low, the Manager continues to favour profitable and well-run companies that can access cheap financing to support a solid growth strategy. The Manager will invest more in these solid and stable companies, while making sure it is well positioned to take advantage of periods of volatility and good investment opportunities that arise.

Fiscal policy to stimulate growth

As the Manager positions portfolios to mitigate the shorter-term risk of a recession, it will also keep a close eye on fiscal policy and the associated longer-term inflation risks. In times of slow economic growth, pressure can build on governments to increase spending. The Manager anticipates this will happen as they take advantage of cheap financing from the central banks.

Indeed, in his first Queen’s Speech in mid-October, Boris Johnson announced ambitious plans for the NHS, education and funding care for the elderly, suggesting that the current UK Government has recognised the need to give the economy some fiscal support.

“In response to the macro conditions we favour a moderately cautious approach that reflects the market risks while still allowing for returns to be generated.”

Philip Smeaton, Chief Investment Officer

Sanlam Private Wealth


The percentage share held in gold of the United States total foreign reserves, as calculated by the World Gold Council. In contrast the UK has less than 5%.

Investment View: Why gold can offer shelter in times of uncertainty

With the global economy teetering on the edge of recession, and markets behaving somewhat erratically as a result, it’s important to ensure portfolios are as diversified as possible to mitigate latent risk. The Manager has recently added gold to its portfolios for this very reason.

Gold is the ideal diversifier. It behaves differently to other asset classes in that it does well when others struggle and when investors are feeling particularly pessimistic, while offering protection if inflation unexpectedly rises. Gold is another way of holding money while giving the opportunity for growth should the supply and demand go in its favour. This is particularly important in today’s environment of negative bond yields.

Price of gold is on the increase

Source : Sanlam, World Gold Council

Eight key attributes of gold

  • Gold traditionally performs well when the US Dollar weakens as it becomes cheaper to buy in other currencies
  • Gold can appreciate during times of equity market stress
  • Gold should appreciate if inflation returns, while bonds would see losses
  • Gold is portable
  • Gold is divisible without a change of value (as opposed to diamonds)
  • Gold is durable – it does not tarnish, evaporate or decay, burn or rust
  • Gold cannot be inflated, is hard to produce and is rare
  • Gold will become increasingly scarce and its value relative to other goods (purchasing power) should increase

It is important to note that there are risks to owning gold. Gold does not create an income, is subject to currency fluctuations and, depending on how it is held, can be illiquid and subject to high transaction charges or counterparty risk. The Manager would only buy gold as part of a balanced portfolio.

Source: Sanlam Private Wealth

Sanlam Private Wealth is a trading name of Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Ltd.

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