Our weighted average return in November was -0.36%, bringing our year-to-date return to +15.26%.
Many of our favoured sectors performed poorly in November – emerging market bonds sold off, biotech was weak and base metals miners underperformed. Thankfully, our asset allocations and security selection allowed us to preserve capital in our portfolios.
Earlier in the month, I attended an investment conference in Berlin and was taken aback by the amount of construction going on in the city. My perceptions of the German economic zeitgeist were confirmed later on in the month when I heard of an actual case of a commercial lease in Berlin being renewed at a 40% increase from its previous level. Unsurprisingly, Germany reported impressive GDP growth of 2.8% versus an estimate of 2.3%. Clearly low rates in Europe are having the desired effect in its largest economy. Moreover, the Eurozone manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) hit a new record high of 60.1, which is consistent with a growth rate of more than 3%. Not so long ago Europe was petrified of deflation and interest rates were below 0%. Now the stage has been set for what could be considerable inflation. It remains to be seen how the ECB will navigate this new environment, but we will be avoiding investment grade, long duration European bonds for the foreseeable future.