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Chart of the Week

Weekly chart using economic data to address timely market topics from the Wells Fargo Investment Institute Global Investment Strategy team.

May 10, 2022

James Sweetman, Senior Global Alternative Investment Strategist

Macro — A strategy that may have found its moment

This chart shows the rolling 12-month annual return of the HFRI Macro Index from January 1, 1990 to March 31, 2022. In the early 1990’s, returns averaged just under 30%, before dropping to average just over 10% from 1996 until the financial crisis in 2007. Since the financial crisis, returns have frequently dipped into negative territory, but the chart shows a recent uptick since late 2020.Sources: © 2022 – Morningstar Direct, All Rights Reserved1 and Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Monthly data from January 1, 1990 to March 31, 2022. Index returns do not represent investment performance or the results of actual trading. Index returns reflect general market results, assume the reinvestment of dividends and other distributions and do not reflect deduction for fees, expenses, or taxes applicable to an actual investment. Unlike most asset class Indexes, HFR Index returns are net of all fees. Because the HFR Indexes are calculated based on information that is voluntarily provided actual returns may be lower than those reported. An index is unmanaged and not available for direct investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investment Strategy (May 2, 2022), chart excerpted from Market Charts.

The environment for Macro has been improving as commodity prices have climbed higher

Historically, the global macro systematic strategy has provided non-correlated alpha (excess return) in times of stress and market uncertainty. Through April 22, this strategy again has shown it was non-correlated against the equity and fixed-income markets, producing gains of 13.4% compared to double-digit negative returns for global equities and global bonds over the same period.

Entering the year, we upgraded our guidance to favorable for hedge fund strategies, including the global macro strategy, which we believed could provide diversification and low correlation in uncertain times.

What it may mean for investors

Heading into the second half of 2022, we see the potential for an attractive investment environment for the global macro strategy. We expect the drivers of year-to-date 2022 performance to remain in place — higher-than-expected inflation, higher commodity prices, divergent global gross domestic product growth, higher interest rates, and heightened volatility.

1 The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

Risk Considerations

Each asset class has its own risk and return characteristics. The level of risk associated with a particular investment or asset class generally correlates with the level of return the investment or asset class might achieve. Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile. Stock values may fluctuate in response to general economic and market conditions, the prospects of individual companies, and industry sectors. Foreign investing has additional risks including those associated with currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, and different accounting standards. These risks are heightened in emerging markets. Bonds are subject to market, interest rate, price, credit/default, liquidity, inflation and other risks. Prices tend to be inversely affected by changes in interest rates.

Alternative investments, such as hedge funds, are speculative and involve a high degree of risk that is appropriate only for those investors who have the financial sophistication and expertise to evaluate the merits and risks of an investment in a fund and for which the fund does not represent a complete investment program. They entail significant risks that can include losses due to leveraging or other speculative investment practices, lack of liquidity, volatility of returns, restrictions on transferring interests in a fund, potential lack of diversification, absence and/or delay of information regarding valuations and pricing, complex tax structures and delays in tax reporting, less regulation and higher fees than mutual funds. Hedge fund, private equity, private debt and private real estate fund investing involves other material risks including capital loss and the loss of the entire amount invested. A fund's offering documents should be carefully reviewed prior to investing.

Hedge fund strategies, such as Equity Hedge, Event Driven, Macro and Relative Value, may expose investors to the risks associated with the use of short selling, leverage, derivatives and arbitrage methodologies. Short sales involve leverage and theoretically unlimited loss potential since the market price of securities sold short may continuously increase. The use of leverage in a portfolio varies by strategy. Leverage can significantly increase return potential but create greater risk of loss. Derivatives generally have implied leverage which can magnify volatility and may entail other risks such as market, interest rate, credit, counterparty and management risks. Arbitrage strategies expose a fund to the risk that the anticipated arbitrage opportunities will not develop as anticipated, resulting in potentially reduced returns or losses to the fund.

Definitions

The HFRI Macro Index: Investment Managers which trade a broad range of strategies in which the investment process is predicated on movements in underlying economic variables and the impact these have on equity, fixed income, hard currency and commodity markets. Managers employ a variety of techniques, both discretionary and systematic analysis, combinations of top down and bottom up theses, quantitative and fundamental approaches and long and short term holding periods. Although some strategies employ RV techniques, Macro strategies are distinct from RV strategies in that the primary investment thesis is predicated on predicted or future movements in the underlying instruments, rather than realization of a valuation discrepancy between securities. In a similar way, while both Macro and equity hedge managers may hold equity securities, the overriding investment thesis is predicated on the impact movements in underlying macroeconomic variables may have on security prices, as opposes to EH, in which the fundamental characteristics on the company are the most significant are integral to investment thesis.

An index is unmanaged and not available for direct investment.

General Disclosures

Global Investment Strategy (GIS) is a division of Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Inc. (WFII). WFII is a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

The information in this report was prepared by Global Investment Strategy. Opinions represent GIS’ opinion as of the date of this report and are for general information purposes only and are not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any individual security, market sector or the markets generally. GIS does not undertake to advise you of any change in its opinions or the information contained in this report. Wells Fargo & Company affiliates may issue reports or have opinions that are inconsistent with, and reach different conclusions from, this report.

The information contained herein constitutes general information and is not directed to, designed for, or individually tailored to, any particular investor or potential investor. This report is not intended to be a client-specific suitability or best interest analysis or recommendation, an offer to participate in any investment, or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell securities. Do not use this report as the sole basis for investment decisions. Do not select an asset class or investment product based on performance alone. Consider all relevant information, including your existing portfolio, investment objectives, risk tolerance, liquidity needs and investment time horizon. The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but we make no guarantee to its accuracy or completeness.

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