Trouble in Argentina
by Charles Cheng, CFA
Following surprise Primary election results, Argentina’s currency, the peso, fell around 30% in a single day on August 12th before recovering somewhat versus the US dollar. The country’s stock market also made a dramatic plunge, with the Merval stock index falling nearly 38%, resulting in a one day loss in USD terms of over 48%. Regardless of the reasons of the fall or whatever may happen next, this episode highlights a couple of investing lessons that all investors could use.
8月12日阿根廷貨幣比索在出人意料的初選結果發出後，在一天之內下跌約30％，隨後比索兌美元匯率有所回升。而該國股市也出現大幅下挫，Merval股指下跌近38％， 以美元計算的話一天內的損失超過48％。 無論股市下跌的原因或接下來可能發生什麼，這次發生的事情都讓我們看到了一些對所有投資者都有用的投資經驗。
Argentine Peso Spot
S&P Merval Index in local currency (Argentina)
Expect the Unexpected
Argentina’s economy was already in trouble with inflation at 55% and unemployment rising over 10%. However, a move of this magnitude means that investors were still caught extremely off guard. A popular term in financial markets is “black swan”, which usually describes a situation that not anticipated because it has not yet been observed before. Considering the volatile history of South American markets and politics, the expression does not really apply that well here. But in statistical terms, one can consider that the dramatic move the Argentinian market made is “off the charts”.
阿根廷經濟早已陷入困境，其通膨率為55％，失業率上升超過10％。 然而，即使是上述如此規模的股市動盪仍舊讓投資者對這次的事件極度措手不及。 金融市場中一個流行的術語是“黑天鵝”，它通常描述了一種未曾預期的情況，因為人們之前尚未觀察到這種情況。 考慮到南美市場和政治的不穩定歷史，這種表達方式並不適用於此。 但從統計數據來看，人們可以認為阿根廷市場的戲劇性舉動為 “超出外表”。
1 Year Historical Daily Return Histogram, Merval Index (USD)
While on most days, the percentage moves conform to a certain mathematical distribution, the price drop on the 12th completely breaks the model. This renders certain widely used risk statistics useless in the event of a real crisis. Common sense and being prudent with investment exposure would be more useful in managing risk.
雖然在大多數日子裡，百分比浮動通常符合某種數學分佈，但本月12日的下跌完全打破了模型。 這使得某些廣泛使用的風險統計數據在發生真正危機時無用。 在投資風險方面，常識和謹慎投資將更有用。
Beware of Home Country Bias
Home country bias is the tendency of investors to significantly overrepresent the country that they are resident in within their investment portfolios. It’s reasonable to invest more in companies that one is familiar with and in the currency with which pays their expenses. However, most investors take this too far, especially ones who live in countries with small equity market capitalizations and less stable currencies. At the end of 2018, Argentina had around just 0.07% of world market capitalization, compared to 44% for the US. More globally diversified investors would have been able to better handle these kinds of events.
本國偏見是投資者傾向於過度投資於他們居住中的國家。 人們對其熟悉的公司以及用於支付費用的貨幣上投資更多是合理的。 然而，大多數投資者在這一點上走得太過，尤其是那些生活在股票市值小且貨幣穩定性較低的國家的投資者。 截止至2018年底，阿根廷僅佔全球市值的0.07％，而美國則為44％。 全球多元化做的比較到位的投資者能夠更妥善地處理類似事件。
Don’t Get in a Position You Can’t Recover From
In nominal terms, Argentina’s stock market has done fairly well over the past couple of years, haven risen nearly 40 percent per annum since early 2012 before the recent crash. If any complacent investors had leveraged their stock portfolios or currency positions, they would have risked margin calls and forced sales, permanently impairing their investment capital.
Again, being prudent and utilizing common sense in investing is best way to avoid being caught flat-footed even in the most extreme investment events.
按原幣價值計算，阿根廷股市在過去幾年表現相當不錯，自2012年初以來，至最近的崩盤之前，該國股市每年上漲近40％。 如果投資者自以為是的利用槓桿來增強他們的股票投資組合或貨幣頭寸，那他們將會面臨追加保證金和強制賣出 (斷頭) 的風險，並將永久損害他們的投資資本。
所以我們要重申一次，謹慎 (避免融資) 和利用常識進行投資是避免即使在最極端的投資事件中被套牢的最好方法。
Mr. Cheng is a managing partner at a Hong Kong based independent private investment office. This article reflects his personal views and not his firm’s and should not be viewed as an investment recommendation.