We are in an investing 'twilight zone'

It has been a crazy year for markets.

We’ve hit worrying lows — with headlines like “Chaos on Wall Street” — and then not long after catapulted over record highs. It’s almost like investors are trying to get their story straight, but can’t quite agree on where the world is headed.

One analyst is calling this strange period an “investing twilight zone.”

“2016 has thus far lived up to our expectations that this might be a watershed year that would redefine investment styles,” Viktor Shvets, analyst at Macquarie, said in a note to clients.

“Investors are residing in a ‘twilight’ zone between dying free market signals and the coming era of state-driven credit, capital investment and consumption.”

There are two primary factors driving the ‘twilight zone’ mentality on Wall Street, according to Shvets: Global leverage and a lack of productivity.

The global economy has too much debt, totaling as much as three times gross domestic product, according to Shvets. This amount leads to volatility in the markets and undermines investor confidence.

At the same time, increasing advances in technology mean that computers are replacing basic human jobs instead of augment them, leading to lower productivity, according to Shvets.

“This will likely force central banks to maintain current monetary policies, as the only way to avoid demand contraction and ensure that asset values are rising to facilitate further leveraging,” Shvets writes.

The solution

There is one way out of the twilight zone if you’re to believe Shvets. He calls is the “nationalization of capital.”

The best way to cement prices and demand is for states to take over capital allocation spending. Central banks would fund public consumption, infrastructure spending and research and development.

It’s a risky plan. If not done correctly, nationalization of capital could lead to deflation, hyper-inflation, lower return on equity or even more capital misallocation.

A lot of big names in finance are in favour of government stimulus, agreeing that it’s necessary to get out of the funk the global economy is in right now.

As Mohammad El-Erian, chief economic advisor to Allianz put it, we are at the end of the road. There will either be an event that sets markets back on track, or no one figures it out in time and we face the next big market crash. But we are approaching the point where we figure out which path is the right one.

No matter what you call it, end of the road or twilight zone, investors need to get their story straight, and soon.

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