After 10 good years, the markets appear to be finally getting back to pre-crisis norms. Our analysis suggests that this normalisation may result in investment returns becoming much more modest than they have been over the years since the financial crisis, when extraordinarily loose monetary policy has boosted asset prices.
After a bearish end to 2018, financial market participants are preoccupied with the question of whether a global downturn is imminent. Yet they should be asking a different question: have they accounted for the way that technology and other factors are transforming business models?
Asia Pacific ex Japan markets started the year well, holding on to gains that were chalked in the strong rally in 2017. But by mid-year, signs of slowing economic growth surfaced, primarily induced by US-China trade tensions, leading to a sharp market correction, particularly for Chinese equities.
After President Trump signed the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ into law on 22 December 2017, we expected corporate earnings growth to be strong in 2018. In fact, it has been far stronger, as the direct effect of the tax cut on corporate earnings was further magnified by the acceleration in economic growth.
Reflecting on 2018, global equity markets have lurched from optimism to pessimism. At the beginning of the year there was a complacent belief in synchronised global growth. But cut to the fourth quarter and many strategists are speculating whether the United States might soon enter a recession and how Chinese economic growth is slowing as they try to get a grip of their own excessive debt levels.