Investment Environment Introduction

05/09/2020 1 By indiafreenotes

The term investment refers to exchange of money wealth into some tangible wealth.  The money wealth here refers to the money (savings) which an investor has and the term tangible wealth refers to the assets the investor acquires by sacrificing the money wealth. By investing, an investor commits the present funds to one or more assets to be held for some time in expectation of some future return in terms of interest or capital gain. Investment can be defined as commitment of funds that is expected to generate additional money.

The term Investment Environment encompasses all types of investment opportunities and the market structure that facilities buying and selling these investments. Different types of securities, institutional set-up and the market intermediaries are the components of investment environment.

Market prices / rates are volatile and this is the chief risk faced in financial / real asset markets and this takes place in the investment environment.

The investment environment is the international economy and the domestic economy, developments in which have an effect on the values (prices) of the assets of the asset classes. It is well known that the prices of financial assets, particularly shares, can be extremely volatile, and this introduces the element of risk in financial markets. Investment risk is broadly defined as volatility in asset prices and it is measured in these terms.

Ultimately, gross domestic product (GDP) growth is the major driver of asset prices, and asset price changes (positive and negative) are often exacerbated by the irrational behavior of participants in the investment arena (known as the “herd instinct”). GDP is driven by gross domestic expenditure (GDE) and the trade account balance (TAB). GDE is driven by the consumption expenditure (C) and investment expenditure (I) of the private and government sectors, such that C + I = GDE. This is domestic demand. Foreign demand for local products is reflected in exports (X) while imports (M) reflect domestic demand for foreign goods. So, X – M = TAB = net foreign demand. The “big picture” (the entire economy) is complete:



Given asset price volatility, fund managers (or “investment houses”) and broker-dealers (who service the fund managers) employ the services of investment analysts and specialist economists to anticipate future asset price developments. The investment analysis process they undertake has four parts, as presented in Figure 8.

It is a well know fact that asset class allocation is the most critical decision made in asset management. It is responsible for a significant proportion of asset / portfolio performance (some analysts say up to 80%). Asset class allocation is critically based on macroeconomic (domestic and international) analysis. In this regard we conclude with a relevant view of an asset manager:

“All investment decisions, particularly those relating to asset allocation, implicitly or explicitly rest on some forward-looking macro-economic assumption. Any change to the macro-economic assumption will inevitably influence the intrinsic or fair value of that investment or asset class. For example, a decision to buy long-term government bonds is based on some assumption about future inflation; if the investor assumed low future inflation and the outcome is high inflation, the value of such an investment would turn out to be dramatically lower than anticipated.

Figure 8: investments analysis: four steps

“One pillar of our investment philosophy is the recognition that the economic future could easily turn out to be very different from the assumptions. Overconfidence in their ability to read the future is a classic mistake made by investors. We guard against this risk by incorporating more than one economic scenario into our investment strategy.

“We consider as wide a range of potential economic scenarios as possible. From these possibilities we typically choose two or three scenarios that we believe cover a significant range of potential outcomes. In this way we acknowledge and mitigate the risk attached to an uncertain, and often unpredictable, future.

“For each economic scenario we make assumptions about short and long-term interest rates, and about economic growth and inflation, both locally and internationally. Using these economic assumptions as our basic input, we estimate the intrinsic or fair value of each asset class that we explore.

“The scenarios have a strong international flavor. In a globalizing world, with integrated financial markets, we believe international influences will dominate over time. The scenarios are projected over rolling five-year periods, a time frame typically used by most successful long-term investors.

“We attach probabilities to each scenario. The use of probabilities skews the macro-economic input in the direction that we believe is the most likely outcome. This means that our investment strategy is based on a core macro-economic view, although the element of future surprise is minimized through the incorporation of various scenarios.

“Another pillar of our philosophy is diversification across a range of asset classes. Diversification also hedges our investment strategy against the potential for the future to surprise.”

The last mentioned, i.e. diversification, is one of the pillars of asset management; it is given some attention in a later following section.