Tags: invest | optimism | economy | china

Few Reasons for Investor Optimism as New Year Dawns

Few Reasons for Investor Optimism as New Year Dawns
(Dollar Photo Club)

Thursday, 31 December 2015 10:04 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A very volatile year ended, naturally, on a very unusual note.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, warned that “global economic growth will be disappointing and uneven next year while the outlook for the medium-term has also deteriorated.”

Lagarde, in her guest article in the German financial daily Handelsblatt, highlighted the threats to global growth that come from a slowdown in trade, the impact of slumping oil and metal prices on commodity-producing nations as well as financial vulnerability (too much dollar-denominated debt) among emerging nations.

Interestingly, she also noted: “Most highly developed economies, except the U.S. and possibly the U.K., will continue to need loose monetary policy.”

Let's look at the substance of her statement and what the IMF itself said at the occasion of the publication of its October 2015 World Economic Outlook (WEO):

“Global growth for 2015 is projected at 3.1 percent, 0.3 percentage point lower than in 2014, and 0.2 percentage point below the forecasts in the July 2015 World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update. Prospects across the main countries and regions remain uneven. Relative to last year, the recovery in advanced economies is expected to pick up slightly, while activity in emerging market and developing economies is projected to slow for the fifth year in a row, primarily reflecting weaker prospects for some large emerging market economies and oil-exporting countries. In an environment of declining commodity prices, reduced capital flows to emerging markets and pressure on their currencies, and increasing financial market volatility, downside risks to the outlook have risen, particularly for emerging market and developing economies.”

I wonder why Lagarde considered it absolutely necessary to warn the world that 2016 won’t be a good year for global growth after we have suffered global growth decline and stagnation since 2009.

When we look at the IMF's October 2015 World Economic projections, we see overall weaker projections for 2015 as well as for 2016. So when Lagarde says there are “potential spillover effects,” with the prospect of increasing interest rates there having contributed to higher financing costs for some borrowers (including in emerging and developing markets), investors should note that markets could become volatile because of a possible further worsening of the economic and financial situations in various emerging economies.

The U.S., the U.K., Germany, India, Australia and a few others are still in expansion. Russia, Brazil, Greece and Finland are in recession. China, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina, Norway, Denmark, South Africa are all "at risk."  Finally, most of the eurozone remains in recovery, albeit at very uneven paces.

Over the short to median term, and putting geopolitical threats aside, we see the dangers to global growth will mainly come from China and the emerging economies (EM). We have seen this year how the world has seriously felt China’s growing pains caused by its transition to a more sustainable economy. That transition isn’t over yet.

Emerging economies, which represent about 40 percent of the global economy, face the threats of "structural" slowing of their economies, aggravated by capital outflows. Their direction is unknown if the actual trends don’t reverse soon.

If Lagarde is right, haven investment vehicles, which include government bonds, gold, the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen, will be the only safe bet.  One thing is for sure: As an investor, this isn't the time to be optimistic.

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments. To read more of his articles, GO HERE NOW.

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One thing is for sure, as an investor, these are no times for being optimistic.
invest, optimism, economy, china
Thursday, 31 December 2015 10:04 AM
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