Paul Singer: Investor FOMO Could Lead To Significant And Long Lasting Damage

Johnny HopkinsPaul SingerLeave a Comment

In his recent article for the Financial Times, Paul Singer discusses why investor FOMO could lead to significant and long lasting damage. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

What then for the institutional managers when the rush for the exits begins? One answer might be that the authorities will never allow a sustained downturn in asset prices to happen again. This points to one of the key problems with the current set of monetary and fiscal policies in the developed world: they mask and minimise risks while preventing stock and bond prices from performing their indispensable signalling roles.

Currently, policies across the developed world are designed to encourage people to believe that risks are limited and that asset prices, not just the overall functioning of the economy, will always and forever be protected by the government. Due to this extraordinary support for asset prices, almost all investment “strategies” of recent years have made money, are making money and are expected to keep making money.

The most successful “strategy,” of course, has been to buy almost any risk asset, leaning hard on the latest fads, using maximum leverage to enhance buying power and buying more on the “dips”.  So it is no wonder that under these manufactured conditions, investors would “move out on the risk curve” — investor-speak for taking on more risk unconnected to expected returns.

Most investors who say that they are willing to bear more risk do not actually mean that. What they really mean is that they fear missing out on the higher returns experienced by other investors — in other words, missing their benchmarks. However, the ability of governments to protect asset prices from another downturn has never been more constrained.

The global $30tn pile of stocks and bonds that have been purchased by central banks in order to drive up their prices has created a gigantic overhang. With inflation rising, policymakers are reaching the limits of their ability to support asset prices in a future downturn without further exacerbating inflationary pressures.

With all this in mind, it is puzzling that a growing number of otherwise sober money managers are in the process of boosting their allocations to riskier assets, rather than trying to figure out ways to make some kind of rate of return without giving back years of capital accretion in the next crash or crisis.

Investors who have upgraded their risk levels, relying on policymakers to protect the prices of their holdings, may suffer significant and perhaps long-lasting damage when the government-orchestrated music finally stops.

You can find the original article here:

FT: Paul Singer – Investors piling on risk are setting themselves up for a fall

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