A spot of turbulence

Global markets hit a rough patch in early February. Equity markets sold off, commodities softened, credit spreads widened and capital flowed out of emerging markets as volatility bounced back sharply. There have been a range of explanations offered for this dislocation, from jitters over rising inflation to concerns that rising term premia could snuff out … Continue reading “A spot of turbulence”

A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth

The 10% depreciation of the trade-weighted US dollar over the past year is an underappreciated driver of the synchronised upswing in world trade and global economic growth. That’s because movements in the US dollar have global consequences above and beyond movements in any other currency – dollar appreciation tends to crimp global trade and credit … Continue reading “A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth”

A healthy correction?

The phrase “healthy correction” is one of the most frequently used in the investment lexicon. It has been ubiquitous over the past few days as a descriptor of the significant falls in global markets. It is also a phrase that has puzzled me over the years. As to “healthy”? Falls of over 4% in a … Continue reading “A healthy correction?”

Rebuilding macroeconomics: an intellectual revolution in the making

The severity of the global financial crisis, and the weakness of the subsequent recovery, triggered much soul-searching among the economics profession. The global economy may finally be escaping from the long shadow of the crisis, but macroeconomics has continued to undergo a major reassessment in light of its apparent failure to predict and explain the … Continue reading “Rebuilding macroeconomics: an intellectual revolution in the making”

The challenges of change

When the first electric light switches were installed in the White House in the 1890s, then-president Benjamin Harrison refused to touch them for fear of being electrocuted. For the duration of his presidency, he would ask his staff to flick the switches. Harrison’s aversion is one small example of rational human fear in response to … Continue reading “The challenges of change”

Investors should prepare for a thaw

I was recently in New York. While the snow and freezing temperatures ensured there was a chill in the air, my bigger worry was the air of complacency among investors. Like other stock markets around the world, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were recording all-time highs. Meanwhile, the much followed VIX index has been … Continue reading “Investors should prepare for a thaw”

The changing shape of the world economy

Sometimes as an investor it is a good idea to look at the big picture and the long term view. It is easy getting involved in day to day or week by week movements and topical controversies. Much of this is just noise in the system, a temporary high or a short term disappointment. The … Continue reading “The changing shape of the world economy”

Farewell to 2017

Is it better to travel than to arrive?  The US share market has done well this year.  It has been in fitful anticipation of tax cuts to come.  As the old year draws to a close the tax cuts have as we expected taken legislative form. The US growth rate has risen, exceeding 3% as … Continue reading “Farewell to 2017”

Keeping the faith: now is not the time to abandon inflation targets

Monetary policy is at an inflection point. The extraordinary support from central banks is being gradually scaled back as economies improve and financial markets remain calm. Yet investors remain sceptical about how much central banks will raise interest rates by, because inflation remains stubbornly low across most of the advanced world. Historically, declining unemployment has … Continue reading “Keeping the faith: now is not the time to abandon inflation targets”

Exchanges and the companies quoted on them – surely it’s different this time?

Although it is not the oldest stock exchange in the world, the London Stock Exchange can trace its lineage back more than 300 years. The earliest stockbrokers were debarred from London’s centre of commerce, the Royal Exchange, because of rowdiness. Instead, they began to congregate at Jonathan’s Coffee-House on Change Alley. Here, one of the … Continue reading “Exchanges and the companies quoted on them – surely it’s different this time?”

Outlook 2018: Another good year for investors?

As investors look ahead to a new year, they could be forgiven for wondering whether they will be as pleasantly surprised in 2018 as they were in 2017. A number of political worries on the horizon this time last year signally failed to materialise, including the likely shape of President Trump’s trade policies, the rise … Continue reading “Outlook 2018: Another good year for investors?”

World pension ages on the rise: when will you retire?

State pension ages are rising around the world. Most countries will increase the point at which people can withdraw payments to 67 in coming decades. Some governments have been more aggressive. The UK and Ireland will increase the age to 68, and the British government has indicated that more even higher ages are inevitable. The … Continue reading “World pension ages on the rise: when will you retire?”

Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates

We lived through history earlier this month. The Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates for the first time in ten years. But interest rates will stay low for a lot longer yet and this should encourage those with a long-term view. The move was symbolically important – a small, but significant, reminder that interest … Continue reading “Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates”

Will it be smooth sailing for markets until the end of the year?

Schroders Keith Wade & Aymeric Forest look at whether equities can sustain their stellar run in view of the coming reduction in central bank liquidity, geopolitical tensions, currency moves and stretched valuations? Equities underpinned by solid synchronised global growth The global economy is on a firm and synchronised upward trajectory, which is increasingly industrial-led and underpinned … Continue reading “Will it be smooth sailing for markets until the end of the year?”

Inflation is dead, long live inflation

When the Federal Reserve and other central banks introduced quantitative easing in response to the global financial crisis, the loudest and most persistent criticism was that such actions would unleash a major surge in inflation. The reality has been very different. Inflation has persistently fallen short of central bank targets and economic forecasts for the … Continue reading “Inflation is dead, long live inflation”