Since the implementation of the initial Open Door Policy in 1978, China has experienced rapid development—making it the world’s second largest economy in nominal terms.
In the next year, the country will move into the next phase of opening up its economy by lifting restrictions on the foreign ownership of securities, insurance, and fund management firms, and this will make the economy more accessible to the outside world than ever before.
An Opportunity Too Big To Ignore
Today’s infographic from BlackRock explores the steps China’s markets have taken to attract foreign capital on a global scale.
China’s moves are funding the nation’s next stage of growth, and are also creating new investment opportunities for foreign investors.
The China Investment Opportunity
Currently, foreign investors hold just 3% of total Chinese securities, despite the country having the world’s second largest stock and bond market globally.
As the onshore equity and fixed income markets open up, investors have the opportunity to gain exposure to more sectors, particularly those that focus on the domestic economy.
China’s large consumption base of 1.3 billion consumers is a powerful engine of growth, with consumer spending increasing to $4.7 trillion in 2017, from $3.2 trillion in 2012.
Ensuring Sustainable Growth
There are structural reform gaps that need to be addressed in order to ensure China’s growth is sustainable.
These reforms, which seek to correct imbalances caused by uneven economic growth, cover many areas of the economy. They affect the government, as well as corporate, financial and household sectors.
Some of these key reforms include:
- Capital reallocation: Debt reduction and interest rate liberalisation
- Income redistribution: Property, household and corporate tax reduction
- Market regulation: Supply-side reform and environmental protection
- Institutional framework: Intellectual property protection, and reformation of the hukou— China’s registration program, which serves to regulate population distribution and rural-to-urban migration
With 22 reforms currently in progress, the long-term impact is expected to be tremendously positive for growth.
Opening Up the Great Wall
China has shown great support for economic globalisation, and has already been making strides to open its markets to the rest of the world.
- 2002: Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) scheme launches
- 2011: Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) scheme launches
- 2014: Shanghai/Hong Kong Stock Connect launches
- 2016: Shenzhen/Hong Kong Stock Connect launches
- 2017: Bond Connect scheme launches
- 2018: MSCI announces 20% inclusion factor of A-shares
- 2019: Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index begins including yuan-denominated bonds
- 2020: JPMorgan Chase & Co. plans to add Chinese government debt to index
These index inclusions will result in a substantial inflow of new investor funds. According to Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg’s decision to increase the weighting of Renminbi-denominated government and policy bank securities in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index could attract between $120-$150 billion in new investments into Chinese debt markets.
New China vs. Old China
China has transformed from an export-driven and rural country, into a global manufacturing and technology superpower.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into China’s tech sector have been rising significantly, and currently account for almost a third of total FDI.
China already has the world’s largest robot market, and the government is actively promoting the robotics industry with tax reductions and special R&D funding.
—Victoria Mio, CIO Chinese Equities, Robeco
China’s ambitious “Made in China 2025” ten year plan will lower its dependency on imported technology and make China a dominant player in global technology manufacturing.
An Economic Force To Be Reckoned With
China will inevitably face challenges as it proceeds to lead global economic growth. However, its changing economy is creating a new landscape of opportunity for potential growth, and may continue to do so for the coming years.
The continuous expansion of market access, combined with new policies that promote foreign investment, have helped improve investor confidence. If foreign investors exclude China from their portfolio, they risk missing out on the huge potential of this rapidly expanding market.
The History of Interest Rates Over 670 Years
Interest rates sit near generational lows — is this the new normal, or has it been the trend all along? We show a history of interest rates in this graphic.
The History of Interest Rates Over 670 Years
Today, we live in a low-interest-rate environment, where the cost of borrowing for governments and institutions is lower than the historical average. It is easy to see that interest rates are at generational lows, but did you know that they are also at 670-year lows?
This week’s chart outlines the interest rates attached to loans dating back to the 1350s. Take a look at the diminishing history of the cost of debt—money has never been cheaper for governments to borrow than it is today.
The Birth of an Investing Class
Trade brought many good ideas to Europe, while helping spur the Renaissance and the development of the money economy.
Key European ports and trading nations, such as the Republic of Genoa or the Netherlands during the Renaissance period, help provide a good indication of the cost of borrowing in the early history of interest rates.
The Republic of Genoa: 4-5 year Lending Rate
Genoa became a junior associate of the Spanish Empire, with Genovese bankers financing many of the Spanish crown’s foreign endeavors.
Genovese bankers provided the Spanish royal family with credit and regular income. The Spanish crown also converted unreliable shipments of New World silver into capital for further ventures through bankers in Genoa.
Dutch Perpetual Bonds
A perpetual bond is a bond with no maturity date. Investors can treat this type of bond as an equity, not as debt. Issuers pay a coupon on perpetual bonds forever, and do not have to redeem the principal—much like the dividend from a blue-chip company.
By 1640, there was so much confidence in Holland’s public debt, that it made the refinancing of outstanding debt with a much lower interest rate of 5% possible.
Dutch provincial and municipal borrowers issued three types of debt:
- Promissory notes (Obligatiën): Short-term debt, in the form of bearer bonds, that was readily negotiable
- Redeemable bonds (Losrenten): Paid an annual interest to the holder, whose name appeared in a public-debt ledger until the loan was paid off
- Life annuities (Lijfrenten): Paid interest during the life of the buyer, where death cancels the principal
Unlike other countries where private bankers issued public debt, Holland dealt directly with prospective bondholders. They issued many bonds of small coupons that attracted small savers, like craftsmen and often women.
Rule Britannia: British Consols
In 1752, the British government converted all its outstanding debt into one bond, the Consolidated 3.5% Annuities, in order to reduce the interest rate it paid. Five years later, the annual interest rate on the stock dropped to 3%, adjusting the stock as Consolidated 3% Annuities.
The coupon rate remained at 3% until 1888, when the finance minister converted the Consolidated 3% Annuities, along with Reduced 3% Annuities (1752) and New 3% Annuities (1855), into a new bond─the 2.75% Consolidated Stock. The interest rate was further reduced to 2.5% in 1903.
Interest rates briefly went back up in 1927 when Winston Churchill issued a new government stock, the 4% Consols, as a partial refinancing of WWI war bonds.
American Ascendancy: The U.S. Treasury Notes
The United States Congress passed an act in 1870 authorizing three separate consol issues with redemption privileges after 10, 15, and 30 years. This was the beginning of what became known as Treasury Bills, the modern benchmark for interest rates.
The Great Inflation of the 1970s
In the 1970s, the global stock market was a mess. Over an 18-month period, the market lost 40% of its value. For close to a decade, few people wanted to invest in public markets. Economic growth was weak, resulting in double-digit unemployment rates.
The low interest policies of the Federal Reserve in the early ‘70s encouraged full employment, but also caused high inflation. Under new leadership, the central bank would later reverse its policies, raising interest rates to 20% in an effort to reset capitalism and encourage investment.
Looking Forward: Cheap Money
Since then, interest rates set by government debt have been rapidly declining, while the global economy has rapidly expanded. Further, financial crises have driven interest rates to just above zero in order to spur spending and investment.
It is clear that the arc of lending bends towards ever-decreasing interest rates, but how low can they go?
Sustainable Investing: Debunking 5 Common Myths
Do sustainable strategies underperform conventional ones? This infographic shines a light on the realities of sustainable investing and the ESG framework.
Sustainable Investing: Debunking 5 Common Myths
It began as a niche desire. Originally, sustainable investing was confined to a subset of investors who wanted their investments to match their values. In recent years, the strategy has grown dramatically: sustainable assets totaled $12 trillion in 2018.
This represents a 38% increase over 2016, with many investors now considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors alongside traditional financial analysis.
Despite the strategy’s growth, lingering misconceptions remain. In today’s infographic from New York Life Investments, we address the five key myths of sustainable investing and shine a light on the realities.
|Sustainable strategies underperform conventional strategies||Sustainable strategies historically match or outperform conventional strategies|
In 2015, academics analyzed more than 2,000 studies—and found that in roughly 90% of the studies, companies with strong ESG profiles had equal or better financial performance than their non-ESG counterparts.
A recent ranking of the 100 most sustainable corporations found similar results. Between February 2005 and August 2018, the Global 100 Index made a net investment return of 127.35%, compared to 118.27% for the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI).
The Global 100 companies show that doing what is good for the world can also be good for financial performance.
—Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights
|Sustainable investing only involves screening out “sin” stocks||Positive approaches that integrate sustainability factors are gaining traction|
In modern investing, exclusionary or “screens-based” approaches do play a large role—and tend to avoid stocks or bonds of companies in the following “sin” categories:
However, investment managers are increasingly taking an inclusive approach to sustainability, integrating ESG factors throughout the investment process. ESG integration strategies now total $17.5 trillion in global assets, a 69% increase over the past two years.
|Sustainable investing is a passing fad||Sustainable investing has been around for decades and continues to grow
Over the past decade, sustainable strategies have shown both strong AUM growth and positive asset flows. ESG funds attracted record net flows of nearly $5.5 billion in 2018 despite unfavorable market conditions, and continue to demonstrate strong growth in 2019.
Not only that, the number of sustainable offerings has increased as well. In 2018, Morningstar recognized 351 sustainable funds—a 50% increase over the prior year.
|Interest in sustainable investing is mostly confined to millennials and women||There is widespread interest in sustainable strategies, with institutional investors leading the way|
Millennials are more likely to factor in sustainability concerns than previous generations. However, institutional investors have adopted sustainable investments more than any other group—accounting for nearly 75% of the managed assets that follow an ESG approach.
In addition, over half of surveyed consumers are “values-driven”, having taken one or more of the following actions with sustainability in mind:
- Boycotted a brand
- Sold shares of a company
- Changed the types of products they used
Women and men are almost equally likely to be motivated by sustainable values, and half of “values-driven” consumers are open to ESG investing.
5. Asset Classes
|Sustainable investing only works for equities||Sustainable strategies are offered across asset classes|
This myth has a basis in history, but other asset classes are increasingly incorporating ESG analysis. For instance, 36% of today’s sustainable investments are in fixed income.
While the number of sustainable equity investments remained unchanged from 2017-2018, fixed-income and alternative assets showed remarkable growth over the same period.
Tapping into the Potential of Sustainable Investing
It’s clear that sustainable investing is not just a buzzword. Instead, this strategy is integral to many portfolios.
By staying informed, advisors and individual investors can take advantage of this growing strategy—and improve both their impact and return potential.
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