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11 May 2022 - Seeking predictable returns during economic turmoil
By: Laureola Advisors

Seeking predictable returns during economic turmoil

Laureola Advisors

April 2022


Continuing Instability, More War; Credit Excesses.

The war in the Ukraine continues with shocking humanitarian suffering and carnage not seen in Europe in 8 decades. The ongoing war and related sanctions will likely lead to sustained inflation, more market instability and heightened geo-political uncertainties. The reaction of the Russian leadership to any failure on the ground cannot be predicted.

In China, an outbreak of Covid has led to strict lockdowns, with the inevitable economic downturn and possible social unrest. China has her own deflating financial bubble, primarily in real estate: the yields on major Chinese Developers ranged from 15.5% (Country Garden) to 109% (Evergrande). Excess credit leads to instability in all countries.

Real world inflation continues to be an issue - another outcome of credit excess exacerbated by war, Covid and supply-chain problems. Many commodity prices are up double digits, wages are up, and central banks appear to be starting a tightening cycle: the first since 1994, nearly 30 years ago. Most Fund Managers will be seeing one for the first time.

Investors must contemplate multiple scenarios, including current inflation, credit instability, rising default rates, and probable deflation in financial assets.

Inflation and Life Settlements. 

Should Life Settlements be part of investors' portfolios in times of inflation? A rational analysis will begin by establishing three assumptions: expected return on the LS portfolio, expected inflation, and the time horizon.

The expected return of the Laureola LS strategy is 8% to 12%; the actual return in the past few years has been between 6% and 9%. At least this has the validity of being backed by realised gains.

  • Let's use 7% as a conservative assumption with a high probability of being realised. (Laureola's portfolio is currently valued at a 13.5% IRR - gross of fees and fund costs, so there is a buffer).
  • As for inflation expectations, there are as many as there are investors. Current YOY inflation is above 8%, but the broad market expects inflation to average 3.34% according to the 5-year TIPS auction last week. This has been climbing since April 2020, so let's use 4% to have some buffer above current market expectations.
  • Let's use 5 years as the time horizon, as we have the 5-year figure for inflation expectations, LS returns are more reliable over the 3-5 year time frame, and seasoned investors will typically prefer a longer time frame for their decisions.

Mathematically, a 7% return will be helpful, even in a 4% inflation environment. Investors can adjust both figures according to their analysis, but there is a significant buffer. Despite the fixed income characteristics, LS prices are only modestly correlated to interest rates. The IRRs on LS have ranged between 6% and 12% above Treasuries and LS prices have proven to be more dependent on capital flows and liquidity. The prices of LS may vary over the coming 5 years, but the realised return on those already purchased will not be affected. The realised return on LS is reliant primarily on getting the mortality right, and that is why Laureola has such a strong focus on understanding the mortality of each insured. Control for this variable will beat inflation in most scenarios.

Performance and positioning

Investors are concerned about the effects of inflation on their portfolios. There is no doubt a place for assets that directly protect against inflation, such as commodity exposure, real estate, or possible gold. But a portfolio focussed only on these assets may not do well in other scenarios, e.g. more moderate inflation or deflation resulting from a credit crisis. A stable 7% annual return over 5 years will provide investors with 40% more purchasing power 5 years from now.

Laureola has always delivered 7% or better over 5 years and, as the strategy is based on mortality, it brings the added benefits of genuine non-correlation, stability and protection from geo-political and economic shocks.


Funds operated by this manager:

Laureola Australian Feeder Fund

Australian Fund Monitors Pty Ltd
A.C.N. 122 226 724
AFSL 324476
Email: [email protected]