On some indicators equities look expensive – the CAPE ratio is the highest since the dot.com boom. But with interest rates at multi-decade lows, shouldn't equity earnings yields be low too? Rising interest rates pose a threat to valuations, but models suggest this could be offset as long as recession fears remain low.
Many 2017 outlooks included the sentence "in a strong US dollar environment..." Expectations for the US dollar immediately after the election of President Donald Trump were elevated, while the euro continued to face headwinds. As often happens with forecasts, it couldn't have been more wrong. So what's next?
With the Fed and ECB unwinding QE, what happens when we come off the meds? There are signs that the patient (the economy) has healed, suggesting limited withdrawal effects. While addiction and placebo effects could still increase risk premia, low inflation reduces the risk of going ‘cold turkey’.
All seems well with markets, but there are always clouds on the horizon. With price inflation remaining contained, one risk we think deserves more airtime is how a corporate margin squeeze could cause the next downturn. The next US Federal Reserve chair is also a mystery that could rock markets and President Trump’s objectives will be central to what candidates have to promise if they’re to get the big job.
As deflationary disappointment continues, we think that structural drivers are making it hard to generate wage inflation. As central banks all try to bluff it out, I take a tour of the pressures facing the US, UK and Europe and what we think it means for asset classes.