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Markets may be headed for a "double-barrelled taper tantrum" and investors don't have a lot of safe havens left as shelter, one CIO has warned.
That's because the Bank of Japan (BOJ), which meets later this month, may step away from its negative interest rate policy and the U.S. Federal Reserve may be on the eve of its second rate increase, Edward Dempsey, chief investment officer of Pension Partners, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. Pension Partners manages around $200 million in assets.
"You're doing that in a world where all assets are aggressively priced, especially U.S. bonds, especially G-7 bonds around the world, but also all the bond surrogates, all the safe places, the low-beta places of health care, utilities, staples," he said. "There's not a lot of places to hide in this juncture if we're about to enter a second taper tantrum."
The so-called taper tantrum occurred three years ago, when emerging market assets tanked, weighing markets globally, after the U.S. Federal Reserve first broached the possibility of tapering its asset purchases. In 2013, $14.1 billion exited emerging market equity funds, while $14.04 billion was pulled from the segment's bond funds, according to data from Barclays.
Some analysts have been concerned that markets may head into a "hike hissy" if the Fed normalized its policy too quickly, or other global central banks stepped away from their easing measures.
The Fed and the BOJ were both due to meet on September 20-21. The Fed's September meeting is considered "live," which means that it could raise interest rates for the first time since December. Meanwhile, the BOJ is set to make a comprehensive assessment of its quantitative easing and negative interest rate policies, leading to even more than the usual uncertainty over its possible next moves.
That uncertainty helped spur a market sell-off in recent trading sessions, with stocks tumbling globally, while sovereign bond yields rose. On Wednesday, 20-year and 30-year Japanese government bond yields hit their highest levels since mid-March, while the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was at 1.754 percent, compared with levels near 1.540 percent late last week. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Dempsey said he expected more volatility ahead.
"The volatility post-Brexit was abnormally low and now we're coming into quite a bit of turbulence around central bank action," he said, referring to Britain's shock referendum outcome in June to exit the European Union. "I think we're inching and getting very close to a correction."
Dempsey forecast that concerns over central banks stepping away from easing, combined with the likelihood that governments would step up their fiscal spending – and bond issuance - in the wake of populist political movements, would spur a selloff in longer duration bonds.
"The markets are starting to realize that those who bought negative or near-negative yields are now going to very quickly face capital losses," he said.
Dempsey advised moving into cash-like instruments to ride out the selloff. He also noted that gold was an option.
"If you're going to have zero and then of course, negative rates, the opportunity cost of holding gold is zero. There's no opportunity cost," he said. "You're not losing any interest. So gold is also an option on the ineffectiveness or, dare I say, the stupidity of politicians."
For investors with a longer-term time horizon of two to four years, Dempsey said emerging market equities were worth considering.
"The least aggressively priced asset out there is emerging market equities - that gave back all of their outperformance going back to the late 90s," he said.
—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter