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11 Mar 2022 - Hedge Clippings |11 March 2022



Hedge Clippings | Friday, 11 March 2022

As Russia's invasion (sorry, "reunification") of Ukraine drags into its third week, it is difficult to imagine Putin pulling his forces back - or out.  Any such move in the face of defeat or sanctions would signify such a massive loss of face on his part that it seems unthinkable. As a result, there are not many alternative outcomes, assuming the US and Europe stick to their guns (apologies for the mixed metaphors) and refuse to either implement a no fly zone, or decline to let the Polish lend Ukraine their (Russian built) MIG fighters.  

In spite of the lopsided numbers, the Ukrainian armed forces, assuming they're not wiped out (or surrender, which seems as unlikely as Putin doing the same) could dig in for a long war of attrition. History shows that these types of conflict are rarely won by the initial aggressor, as Russia knows all too well, having lost 15,000 dead and 35,000 wounded (not to mention an estimated 2 million Afghans) before retreating from their 10 year invasion of Afghanistan. By all accounts, Putin's plans assumed another decisive victory, or a quick Ukrainian capitulation, and although it's still only early days, neither of which seem likely. So a long war of attrition on Europe's doorstep will be accompanied by equally long standing sanctions and the equally damaging economic fallout that will follow.

As suggested previously, while Putin's unlikely to back down, and sanctions will be effective over time, but hurt both sides, the leverage that can be put on by the increasingly asset-less Oligarchs, and the mothers of Russian soldiers, are likely to be the solution.

Unless of course, Putin decides to up the ante by resorting to his oft threatened nuclear solution, thereby giving the West no option but to get further involved, escalating to goodness knows where. Estimates currently suggest a 10% chance of this outcome within 12 months.

To markets: Some investors will reduce their exposure, while some will watch, wait and worry, while others see opportunity in some oversold situations.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, it seems almost certain that the sharp spike in inflation - 7.9% and the highest for 40 years - will see an increase in interest rates. Even taking food and energy out of the figures, the annual rate was still 6.4%, and the numbers to the end of February don't factor in the inflationary effects of the recent spike in oil prices. It is safe to assume that even though higher inflation and associated increases in interest rates have been flagged and factored in for some time, when the actual time comes for the announcement - from the US Federal Reserve or our own RBA - the market will react. And given that expectations are for further inflation to flow through the system, the rate increase is unlikely to be the only one, but the first in a series.

Closer to home Adviser Ratings has released the results of their survey of financial adviser numbers in Australia, with just 17,266 still in the industry, bringing numbers down by 40% since the Hayne Royal Commission. There are a number of implications from this - one being that it is increasingly difficult for those people who need advice, to find or afford it. At the same time, the alternative of using technology to provide a "robo-solution" can only solve so many problems, given the investors needing the advice may not be suited to a robo solution.

At the end of the day, in all walks of life, you tend to get what you pay for.

News & Insights

The question is, when should you invest? | Insync Fund Managers

Markets Volatile; Ukraine Invaded | Laureola Advisors

Aligning Interests: (no freeloading on my tab!) | Colins St Asset Management

February 2022 Performance News

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Cyan C3G Fund

Bennelong Emerging Companies Fund

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ASCF High Yield Fund

Bennelong Australian Equities Fund

L1 Capital Long Short Fund (Monthly Class)

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