Some ten years after the outbreak of the Great Recession, global economic growth is positive and broadly based, inflation is low in the developed economies and falling in important emerging economies, and monetary policies are very supportive, cautious, and predictable. At the same time, company earnings growth has increased significantly, and the volatilities of many asset prices are low. This environment is generally positive for risky asset classes.
Making sense of it all
I will be upfront about it: to me, the Taylor rule is still a helpful tool to assess the future monetary policy of the US central bank. However, it should not be used as blueprint without thinking it through. Instead, it should be seen as heuristic tool that helps structure one’s analysis.
Taylor Rule – precise formula, vague Inputs
Since 2008, the key-lending rates in the USA seem to have been significantly too low as measured by the Taylor rule. With some economists blaming Alan Greenspan’s loose monetary policy as partially responsible for the financial crisis of 2008, the question is whether we are in for a déjà-vu.
The US central bank has embarked on a cycle of interest rate hikes. The question is: by how much will the interest rates increase still, and at what point will it reach a level detrimental to the economy, where equities should be regrouped into asset classes less sensitive to the economic cycle?Read more
Imagine a fairy that grants you three wishes. What would you wish for? The answer would be very easy for me. I would just like to know if the economy is caught up in a recession of has embarked on an expansionary phase a year from now. And whether the central bank will be pursuing an expansive or restrictive policy. If I got these two wishes granted, I would even forego the third one. Or, as a good fund manager, I might engage in risk management and save up for bad times. Growth and monetary policy are of significant relevance to the return of almost all asset classes.
Two developments are prominently noticeable on the markets at the moment: on the one hand, the indicators of real economic growth suggest a stable real economic growth rate of about 3%. On the other hand, we have seen global consumer price inflation decline since the beginning of the year. The reflation phase, i.e. the general increase in inflation in the second half of 2016, seems to be over (for now).
The global economy is growing moderately, inflation is low, and the monetary policy is loose. This environment supports many asset classes from bonds to equities. The political uncertainty has been absorbed rather well so far too. Will this situation last?
Have you ever been to a Californian beach? If you have, you may have noticed the hoards of “searching”, elderly people. They would usually be holding a metal rod that beeps, looking for valuables that no-one else has found. And sometimes somebody finds a lost golden watch on the beach. But most of the time the things that turn up are only worthless beer caps.
Football has two strategies. Some prefer focusing on the defensive so as not to concede a goal – i.e. they try to maintain the status quo. Other teams favour the offensive and actively engage in a fight for victory – i.e. they take risks. The strategies on the bond markets are similar. Credit-safe government bonds are preferably used to protect one’s wealth, whereas risky corporate bonds are chosen to produce surplus gains.
The interest rates, or coupons, that bonds pay differ due to a variety of parameters. If bond A pays a higher interest rate than bond B, this premium is referred to as spread.