06 Jul

Brand New Year. Same Old Story!

The clock has officially ticked over into the new financial year, with July often marking the point where investors reassess their portfolios, looking at what assets to trim, as well as which ones to buy.

Inevitably, it also marks the time where market commentators issue a plethora of news updates, many hoping to highlight ‘the next big thing’ that investors should be chasing.

From our perspective, despite it being a new financial year, it’s going to be largely the same story when it comes to the key drivers of financial markets, as well as property and commodity prices, with the risks and opportunities for investors essentially unchanged.

And that story, at a high level, is as follows:

  • Interest rates will soon peak.
  • Inflation will ease, but remain higher than forecast.
  • Financial assets are overvalued.
  • Recession risks are building.

We highlight why the above backdrop will continue to favour pink diamonds in detail below.

Cycle turn to favour pink diamonds

For most of the last year, financial market participants and investors have been focused on two primary areas of interest: interest rates and inflation.

The latter soared in the early part of 2022, with inflation rates heading toward the 8-10% level in the United States and Australia, while in Europe the numbers went even higher, fuelled by the surge in energy prices as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

As a result, central banks, who until late 2021 were forecasting no interest rate increases for years, begun hiking rates like crazy. Many have now gone on to increase interest rates by 4-5% or more, one of the fastest paces of policy rate tightening on record.

The results have been mixed to say the least.

For while inflation has eased, it is still nowhere near the levels that policymakers aim for, with there being little chance it will return to the 2-3% range for some time yet.

Meanwhile, there has been a huge slowdown in economic activity, with the chances of a global recession in late 2023 or early 2024 strengthening by the day.

Indeed, this slowdown in activity is the primary reason that central banks are starting to hit pause (if not yet stop) on the interest rate button, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, who this week kept rates steady at 4.10%.

They might go a little higher in August or September, but there seems little doubt we are near the end of the rate hiking cycle.

That’s going to be bullish for pink diamonds in due course, as lower rates combined with still uncomfortably high levels of inflation fuel demand for hard assets.

Pink diamonds for Australian investors

While the factors that drive pink diamond demand, and pink diamond prices, are global in nature, there is no doubt that there is an Australian element to the pink diamond story that is highly relevant to our wonderful clientele at Australian Diamond Portfolio.

Part of this is the Australian origin of pink diamonds, given that more than 90% of all pink diamonds produced have been sourced from the now closed Argyle Diamond Mine located in the Kimberly region of Western Australia.

While it’s not a primary driver of investment demand, the ability to ‘buy Australian’ and own a piece of Australian history has always been a complimentary part of the pink diamond investment story for local investors.

From a pure investment perspective, the Australian case for pink diamonds is built around the following factors.

  • Currency diversification: Any fall in the Australian dollar boosts the value of pink diamonds for local investors. This is particularly relevant given that the global (and indeed Australian economy) is heading toward recessionary conditions, with the Australian dollar typically falling substantially in such periods.
  • Interest rate sensitivity: No country is more exposed to higher interest rates than Australia, given near record levels of household debt, and the fact most mortgages in this country are based on floating interest rates. This can be seen in the chart below (sourced from this article) which highlights debt repayments as a share of household income in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. This means that of all central banks, the Reserve Bank of Australia may have the most trouble bringing inflation down. This makes cash in the bank higher risk in Australia, and will be one factor putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.

    Debt Repayments to Household Income

    Source: Bank for International Settlements, Macro Business.

  • Diversification: Unlike many other countries, Australia’s economy is highly reliant on a combination of mining and real estate, best evidenced through the local share market which has a more than 50% weighting to these two industries. In a recession-like environment, and with record high housing debt, both of these industries are set to suffer. That makes our market more fragile than others.

Add all the above factors up, and combined, Australian investors have no shortage of reasons to invest in assets like pink diamonds.

They offer inflation protection, market leading long-term growth, genuine scarcity, and portfolio protection.

As we said at the start of this article, it may well be a new financial year. But it’s the same story that will drive pink diamonds higher.

As always, we hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition of “In the Loupe” and we look forward to any questions or comments you may have.


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