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The Stealth Bear Market | VT Downing Fox Funds Investment Letter

Simon Evan-Cook
Simon Evan-Cook

Fund Manager

Simon Evan-Cook
Simon Evan-Cook

Fund Manager

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The Stealth Bear Market (and why that feels so bad)

Things don’t look too bad. So why does it feel like they are?

It’s taken me several attempts to write this letter, because I’ve been trying to work out what the hell is bugging us all. Your clients are getting antsy, which is making you antsy, which is making us antsy. That’s too much antsyness. And it’s not immediately obvious why there should be any antsyness, let alone a chronic case of it. What gives?

The good news? I’ve worked out what the problem is. The bad news? This won’t make it go away. But it might just make it easier to bear.

So, what is it?

When it comes to health, one thing that’s worse than having an illness is having an undiagnosed illness. You get all the same problems, but without the satisfaction of knowing what’s causing it and, therefore, being officially able to classify yourself as sick. It also makes it hard to know how long it might last, and how you can treat it. It’s all very pernicious.

Well, it turns out the financial equivalent is nasty too. And that’s exactly what I think this is: We’re trying to muddle through an undiagnosed bear market.

The classic definition of a bear market is “a period in which the prices of financial securities fall by 20% or more”. This can be any type of asset, but because equities are the headline-hogging superstars of the financial world, a bear market won’t be widely declared until at least one of the major stock market indices has tripped through that barrier.

There are a number of problems with this, but they all amount to the same thing: Unless your financial ailment meets that very narrow definition, you’ll be diagnosed with nothing more than a “buck your ideas up”, leaving you feeling you’re making a fuss about nothing.

Well, let me put you out of your misery: You do have a problem, and you’re right to feel bad about it. You – and your clients - have been living under what amounts to a bear market for two and a half years. No wonder there’s no lead in your pencil. Let’s run through my diagnosis.

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Written by Simon Evan-Cook, Fund Manager, VT Downing Fox Funds

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[1] For the record, not all multi-asset portfolio managers lost their clients money in last year’s Bondmageddon. A handful completely avoided long-duration bonds and did just fine…

Risk warnings:

Opinions expressed represent the views of the fund manager at the time of publication, are subject to change, and should not be interpreted as investment advice. Please refer to the latest full Prospectus and KIID before investing available from Downing LLP or from the ACD, Valu-Trac; your attention is drawn to the risk, fees and taxation factors contained therein. Please note that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Capital is at risk. Investments and the income derived from them can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the full amount invested.

This document is for information only and does not form part of a direct offer or invitation to purchase, subscribe for or dispose of securities and no reliance should be placed on it. Downing does not offer investment or tax advice or make recommendations regarding investments. This document contains information and analysis that is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change without notice. Whilst care has been taken in compiling the content of this document, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Downing LLP as to its accuracy or completeness, including for external sources (which may have been used) which have not been verified. Downing is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No. 545025). Registered in England No. OC341575. Registered Office: St Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6HD.


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