2016 was a year full of unsettling headlines and subsequent market overreactions, in most cases soon reversed. This may be even more the case in 2017, where we will first have to cope with the implementation of key commitments made in 2016 (most obviously, Mr. Trump’s policy priorities and the triggering of Article 50 by the U.K. to commence the Brexit process). And there are a lot of other new possible disruptive factors too – ranging from elections in Europe, to the upcoming Chinese leadership reshuffle. An additional point to remember is that in the past monetary policy tightening cycles – as the US is now embarking on – have often led to periods of increased volatility. At the moment, market volatility also seems rather low for the level of global economic policy uncertainty. Investors will therefore need to distinguish between short-lived market overreactions (as happened, for example, after the Brexit referendum vote) and longer-term structural market shifts.
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The International Monetary Fund has warned that the deep uncertainty over Donald Trump’s economic policies exposes the global economy to big risks if US interest rates and the US dollar rise sharply, but it also offers potential growth benefits. The performance of the world economy and financial markets may hinge on whether the incoming US president embarks on a risky short-term spending spree that triggers negative global spill overs or implements sensible long-term reforms that deliver sustainable higher economic growth. Another source of potential volatility is the upcoming French, German and Dutch elections in 2017.
Continue reading below:Monthly-Notes-January-2017.pdf
Goldman Sachs examined the key Trump policy proposals — higher tariffs on trade, curbing illegal immigration, increased federal stimulus, tax cuts for corporations and Americans — and found that while the plan would give the US a short-term bump in GDP growth, it would be a drag on global growth. The near-term effects are positive because the fiscal stimulus package boosts US demand and this has positive spill over effects to other economies. However, the longer-term effects on US growth are negative because the fiscal boost peters out and the other policies — higher tariffs, reduced immigration, and tighter Fed policy — weigh on growth. The policy proposals have negative spill over effects on other economies, especially in emerging market economies with partially fixed exchange rates or US-dollar based economies. The reason for the greater impact there is that the Trump agenda is likely to result in higher US interest rates and therefore a stronger dollar. Essentially, lower imports to the US and a stronger dollar from Federal Reserve rate hikes, combined with higher servicing costs for debt held in dollars, would curtail economic activity, especially in emerging markets, and drive global GDP lower than it would be otherwise. Global growth is expected to be 0.1% lower annually than the baseline projection without Trump’s policies by 2020. While this may not seem like a lot, global growth was at only 3.1% for 2015, and analysts call anything under 2% growth a global recession, so there is little room for negative shocks.
Continue reading below:Monthly-Notes-December-2016-continual.pdf