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Manulife Asset Management offers insight in "Global Intelligence Interim Outlook — Autumn 2017" Central Banks’ next move, and more

Featuring "boring" global capital markets, low investor anxiety, Central Banks’ next move, and more


TORONTO, September 26, 2017 — Manulife Asset Management today released its latest Global Intelligence report, summarizing the near-term outlook of its investment experts. Entitled “Global Intelligence Interim Outlook: Autumn 2017,” the report and an accompanying video are available at (full link below).

Among the topics covered in the report:

"Quiescent" Global Equity Markets

Bob Boyda, Head of Capital Markets and Strategy, thinks that global capital markets have become boring. The message from the options market, he says, is that investors are highly content and not at all interested in buying protection.

"Global equity markets appear so quiescent that even the threat of nuclear war with a rogue nation like North Korea caused no more than a day’s disruption in the steady march to higher equity prices. During the past quarter, many global equity bourses in the developed world merrily registered new all-time highs," he observes.

As for bond yields and interest rates, "Traditionally, higher bond prices and the accompanying lower yields represent a measure of anxiety and a search for safety; except not this time. Lower yields on bonds appear to signal another form of low anxiety specifically about the trajectory of central bank policy: lower for longer continues to dominate the hearts and minds of global capitalists.” Furthermore, "At last, after a decade of singing the praises of US High Yield debt, we believe it is time to begin the process of reducing exposure."

Regarding the U.S. dollar, Mr. Boyda says: "A lower U.S. Dollar will add to U.S. profits particularly among the major listed companies in the S&P 500 who derive up to 40 percent of earnings from overseas.1 The shrinking value of the U.S. Dollar has also boosted the relative value of non-U.S. investments. For U.S. investors, non-U.S. developed market equities are up nearly 20 percent year to date and Emerging Market equities are up nearly 30 percent."

He does believe that the risk remains elevated for a short-term "garden variety" correction in U.S. equities.

Can Central Banks All Reverse Course Simultaneously?

Chief economist Megan Greene is paying attention to what’s next for Central Banks. "After nearly a decade of monetary policy accommodation, central banks seem to be trying to shift into a new paradigm, whereby they pass the baton over to governments. This path is rife with risk, and central banks may find that rather than passing the baton along to governments, they could end up dropping it altogether."

She worries about the possible impact. "The Fed, ECB, BoJ and PBoC are all likely to provide less monetary stimulus next year, though they are all doing it for different reasons and in different ways," Ms. Greene writes. "In our view, the seeming focus of global markets on the Fed tapering its balance sheet is a red herring. What investors should pay attention to is the fact that we will likely see the Fed shrinking its balance sheet, the ECB tapering its QE purchases, the BoJ undergoing an unofficial stealth taper and the PBoC pulling back on stimulus ,all at the same time. If there is less stimulus provided by all of these central banks simultaneously, we are likely to see an economic slowdown unless governments step in to fill the gap."

Key Messages from Manulife Asset Management fund managers:

  • Most managers regard geopolitical risk as a top concern, in particular, rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
  • Most believe the U.S. economy remains fundamentally sound, with the labor market remaining healthy, but note that this has yet to lead to a correspondingly healthy inflation rate.
  • As highlighted by Megan Greene, most managers expect the Fed and ECB to begin reducing or tapering their monetary accommodation and will be monitoring both central banks for signs of movement.


Link to report:


1. S&P: S&P 500 Foreign Sales Decline To 43.2%, at Lowest Level Since 2003, July 20, 2017