NETHERLANDS – The chief strategist of Robeco, Jacob van Duijn, says he favours emerging markets and equities – and that a global bull market has now started.

“A new cyclical bull market is underway,” van Duijn told delegates at the FTSE Global Investing conference in Amsterdam today. He said that the European bear market bottomed out on March 12 2002 and that the 22-year bull market in bonds is now over.

Van Duijn also said he favours emerging markets. He said Robeco is “double-overweighting emerging markets in our model portfolios” – based on emerging markets valuations and economic outlook. And he backed equities. “Equities should be the favourite asset class.”

He dismissed the recent talk of deflation, saying that it had been overdone. He predicted inflation would return in the second half of the current decade in Europe as labour markets become tighter and wage inflation kicks in.

Europe, van Duijn said, was the “weakest link” in the global economy, with the US pulling away and China catching up. Japan was difficult to gauge, he said. Europe’s problems were not just cyclical, but due to its low productivity and labour force growth. Governments were providing very little stimulus, he added.

Van Duijn recently retired as Robeco’s chief investment officer and is now chief strategist.

Robeco is the asset management arm of Dutch bank Rabobank and manages around 12 billion euros in European pension fund assets.