Can you model the future amid the war in Ukraine?
Global equities are only down 11% as of Friday’s close prices despite galloping commodity markets and large scale war on European soil. The probability of a recession has gone and the range of outcomes in the Ukraine war is almost infinite. It is the true definition of maximum uncertainty, which is a huge liability for equity valuations as equities are discounting growth and future cash flows. In its essence the war in Ukraine is the collapse of the future because the future has become so uncertain that under the precautionary principle of risks equity valuations have no other way than to go lower pushing up the equity risk premium.
The war in Ukraine has pushed European equities to a new relative low against US equities measured in EUR total return terms since 1999. It really has been 15 years of hardship for European companies in terms of performance against the US and at one point investors will consider the opposite trade, but in the short-term European equities are too uncertain.
In today’s session we were much lower in European before news came that Russia would cease its war on Ukraine if the Ukraine would make a change to its constitution to ensure neutrality (not entering any blocs such as NATO or EU), acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and recognize Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states. These demands are essentially the same as previously communicated by Russia, but the market is relieved sending equities higher because it is being interpreted as an opening for potential peace in Ukraine. Intraday volatility today shows that short-term sentiment is driving everything because “the future cannot be priced”.