Tough times for the UK may force rate cut

The UK economy is struggling to stay above water. Brexit uncertainty has hit confidence, causing many companies to postpone or cancel investment projects. Even households are now cutting back. According to the latest survey from the British Retail Consortium, average sales growth weakened to just 0.6% in the 12 months to June, which is the … Continue reading “Tough times for the UK may force rate cut”

Quantitative easing returns to the European Central Bank

History seems set to repeat itself in Europe. Less than a year after the European Central Bank (ECB) wound up its bond-buying programme, the words ‘quantitative easing’ (QE) are back. ECB President Mario Draghi sent the latest signal about the Bank’s intentions at last month’s Sintra conference for central bankers in Portugal. He made it … Continue reading “Quantitative easing returns to the European Central Bank”

Why the world economy is like a wobbly bike

The world economy increasingly resembles an unstable bicycle that can be tipped over by the slightest bump in the road. Three months ago we said “the easing in US-China trade tensions, more flexible central banks and the benefits of lower oil prices should stabilise activity later this year and support an upgrade in our global … Continue reading “Why the world economy is like a wobbly bike”

Whatever it takes…to raise inflation

The European Central Bank has consistently failed to meet its inflation target in the seven years since the region’s sovereign debt crisis. Nor has the market any faith that it might do so in future. With the European Union (EU) elections out of the way, the horse-trading over a host of top EU jobs will … Continue reading “Whatever it takes…to raise inflation”

Is the UK stuck in Brexit limbo?

The UK has been granted its second extension to the Article 50 deadline, averting a no-deal Brexit that would have happened on 12 April. The UK now has until 31 October to ratify the current Withdrawal Agreement, although there was some disagreement amongst other EU members as to how much longer the UK should be … Continue reading “Is the UK stuck in Brexit limbo?”

Why Emerging Market Debt’s positive start to 2019 can continue

After a challenging 2018 in which emerging market debt (EMD) logged negative total returns, 2019 has begun with an eye-catching recovery. In the case of EMD sovereigns, all the losses of 2018 were erased by January 2019, and most EMD asset classes have added to or held onto their gains since then. So what next? … Continue reading “Why Emerging Market Debt’s positive start to 2019 can continue”

Fed turns more dovish and signals an end to rate hikes

The Federal Reserve (Fed) has lowered its projections for US growth and inflation and reduced its expectations for interest rates. The “dot plot” published after last night’s meeting shows no rate hikes this year and only one in 2020.  Tighter financial conditions At his press conference, Fed chair Jerome Powell said growth was slowing by … Continue reading “Fed turns more dovish and signals an end to rate hikes”

A good start to the year – where next?

As we move into March, global stocks have enjoyed the best start to the year in almost three decades. Does this bode well for the rest of 2019? History suggests it does. Since 1928, a good January/February has led to a positive calendar year over 80% of the time. However, history does not always rhyme … Continue reading “A good start to the year – where next?”

EU caught up in internal war of words

The President of the EU Commission had some choice words to say about the Italian budget dispute. Jean-Claude Juncker argues that Italy has to keep to strict budget limits on spending and borrowing that has been laid down by the EU. He went so far as to suggest it would mean the end of the … Continue reading “EU caught up in internal war of words”

Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout

Once again, markets are roiling. As with so many sell-offs, this is a story of pressure building steadily until it must vent. Volatile markets are here to stay, but the next few weeks will tell us whether this episode is a sign of something more ominous to come or just another bump in the road. … Continue reading “Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout”

Europe’s struggle to break free

At the start of 2018, it looked likely that interest rates could start to rise across Europe, signalling the end of the necessary post-crisis readjustment in the financial sector. However, as is often the case, the themes that drive markets at the start of the year can often be forgotten by the end. As 2018 … Continue reading “Europe’s struggle to break free”

Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis

Ten years ago, the demise of Lehman Brothers marked the height of the financial crisis. At the time, I was an economist at one of the UK’s largest financial institutions. Working there gave me abundant insights into the psychological biases at play, both in that institution and in the companies that it supported. Many of … Continue reading “Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis”

Doom Loop

The most likely candidate for the next ‘Lehman moment’ is in Europe. In some ways the regulatory response that followed in the years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been a success. The days of racy balance sheets chasing outsized profits on wafer thin capital are largely over; replaced by a mantra of prudence … Continue reading “Doom Loop”

How long will the bull market last? Four areas to watch…

The global economy’s ongoing expansion continues to underpin the current equity bull market, which is already one of the longest-running in history. We do not expect this dynamic to change in the short term, but there are shifts occurring within the economic backdrop which warrant monitoring for signs that the investment environment may be beginning … Continue reading “How long will the bull market last? Four areas to watch…”

What does a normal interest rate look like?

Markets have been worried that interest rates in the west are heading back to normal in a hurry. If rates go too high too soon they could damage the recovery and do more harm to shares. As the West agonises over the pace of putting up interest rates and winding down special monetary measures, the … Continue reading “What does a normal interest rate look like?”