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Looking beyond reflation…

Coming into 2021 investors were seeking exposure to the green-tinged global reflation story they expect in the second half of this year and hedging against the inflation they fear will accompany renewed growth. This tension between reflationary and inflationary expectations also kept volatility in the spotlight.

These themes have persisted during the first quarter. Equity funds with global mandates have posted inflows every week year-to-date, as have equity and bond funds with funds with socially responsible (SRI) or environmental, social and governance (ESG) mandates. At the same time Inflation Protected Bond Funds have absorbed fresh money for 20 straight weeks and Bank Loan Funds, traditionally used to play rising short-term interest rates, for 14 consecutive weeks.

As the first quarter wound down the terms of the debate started to shift, with investors asking if the economic expansion they have pencilled in for the second half of the year will simply be a stimulus-fuelled rebound or the start of a sustained recovery based on faster adoption of productivity enhancing technologies.

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