The 'gradually' maturing investment cycle - what is the risk of a US recession?

The period since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has seemed unusual in the sense that periodic crises and post GFC caution prevented the global economy from overheating and excesses building, in turn preventing the return of the conventional economic cycle. Many of course concluded this was permanent and that inflation would never rise again (with talk of…

Australia's love affair with debt - how big is the risk?

IntroductionIf Australia has an Achille’s heal it’s the high and still rising level of household debt that has gone hand in hand with the surge in house prices relative to incomes. Whereas several comparable countries have seen their household debt to income ratios pull back a bit since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), this has not been…

The pullback in shares-seven reasons not to be too concerned

The pullback in shares seen over the last week or two has seen much coverage and generated much concern. This is understandable given the rapid falls in share markets seen on some days. From their highs to their recent lows, US and Japanese shares have fallen 10%, Eurozone shares have fallen 8%, Chinese shares have fallen 9%…

Correction time for shares?

2017 was unusual for US shares. While Japanese, European and Australian shares had decent corrections throughout the year of around 5 to 7%, the US share market as measured by the S&P 500 saw only very mild pullbacks of less than 3%. This was against the backdrop of a strongly rising trend thanks to very positive economic…

Higher global inflation and higher bond yields - what's the risk and implications for other assets?

Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) there have been a few occasions when many feared inflation was about to rebound and push bond yields sharply higher only to see growth relapse and deflationary concerns dominate. As a result, expectations for higher inflation globally has been progressively squeezed out to the point that few seem to be expecting…

2018- a list of lists regarding the macro investment outlook

Although 2017 saw the usual worry list – around President Trump, elections in Europe, China, North Korea and Australian property – it was good for investors. Balanced super funds had returns around 10%, which is pretty good given inflation was around 2%. This year has started favourably but volatility may pick up as geopolitical threats loom a…

The Fed hikes again, still gradual but likely to be a bit faster next year - implications

Two years after it first started raising interest rates in this cycle in December 2015, the Fed has increased rates for the fifth time, raising the Fed Funds rate another 0.25% to a target range of 1.25-1.5%. For the last two years, it has been right not to fear the Fed as tightening was conditional on better…

Review of 2017, outlook for 2018 - still in the 'sweet spot', but expect more volatility ahead

2017 – a relatively smooth year By the standards of recent years, 2017 was relatively quiet. Sure there was the usual “worry list” – about Trump, elections in Europe, China as always, North Korea and the perennial property crash in Australia. And there was a mania in bitcoin. But overall it has been pretty positive for investors: