Europe was the main talking point for the US-based fund managers that Rathbone Unit Trust Managers head of multi-asset investment David Coombs met on a recent trip to the US West Coast.
Coombs visited US-based PimCo, Western Asset Management and RCM in October, expecting conversation to be dominated by the US economy but he found that the hot topic was Europe as the managers were amazed at the lack of direction shown by political leaders in tacking the sovereign debt crisis.
The managers say they are struggling to be positive on Europe. Coombs found them critical of the European Central Bank, which had increased interest rates at the time but rates have subsequently been cut since Coombs’ visit.
The managers that Coombs spoke to believe that the ECB should be given a mandate to print money as a short-term solution.
Then, over the long term, the tax system should be harmonised across the eurozone, although they understand that is politically difficult to achieve.
Coombs says: “The feeling about investing in Europe was mixed. Some managers were completely out of the market, a couple were underweight and some were reducing their underweight positions but nobody was positive on European equities.”