US inflation was lacklustre in 2017, despite falling unemployment. This combination was very supportive for equities. In 2018, a key risk is that we see a similar wage pick-up in the US to what we’ve already seen in Central and Eastern Europe, where labour markets are also tight. As a result, we believe there are potential benefits in holding US dollar and US inflation exposure in portfolios to help mitigate the risk of higher interest rates undermining equities and other risk assets.
When you’ve already had one great idea, it can be daunting trying to find another that tops it, like our mannequin challenge last year! But the team has pitched together to bring you our very own investments interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas to raise money for our charity, Children with Cancer UK (CwCUK). If you can't wait to donate, visit our Justgiving page.
US wage inflation remains subdued. Many believe this is due to workers' fears about automation and offshoring. Yet US consumers believe jobs are 'easy to get' and companies struggle to find labour. This contrasts with Germany in 2004 when the EU expanded eastwards. So second-round effects from low oil prices and ageing demographics appear more plausible explanations.
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.
Recently on CNBC, I discussed technological disruption in the auto industry from car sharing, autonomy and electric vehicles. I argued that batteries were likely to be similar to microchips – falling 20% in price every year – and could therefore disrupt the internal combustion engine.