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WH Ireland's Ian Brady predicts US recession 'battle'

Asset Allocator recently heard from Ian Brady, chief investment officer at WH Ireland.

Brady became CIO in 2020 when Harpsden Wealth, which he co-founded, was bought by his current employer. 

Coming into 2023, he tells Asset Allocator that he doesn't expect US rates to rise much from here, and anticipates that country to be "battling recession" in 2023.

In that context he finds the valuations at which US equities trade to be "stretched" and he remains underweight right now. 

He says: "On the economic front, several surveys pointed to declines in activity and housing also continued its malaise.

"Labour markets continue to hold up relatively well although there are indications that they too will begin to struggle as the effects of interest rate rises are felt on the economy.

"These effects will likely dominate the US economy in 2023 as it battles to avoid a recession.

"Company earnings expectations have been downgraded but less so than elsewhere in developed markets."

Conversely, he has started to look again at UK mid- and small-cap equities, as he feels valuations there are attractive in the context of inflation potentially having peaked.

He is also more positive on the outlook for the Eurozone, noting recent economic data which indicates the supply chain issues which have hurt European manufacturing businesses are starting to ease. 

A call in favour of UK mid and smalls relative to the US is certainly brave, and the average exposure to European funds in DFM balanced portfolios has bumbled around between 4 and 5 per cent for quite some time, suggesting most DFMs could take it or leave it.

But given the bullish start equities have made in 2023, it could be that it's a year in which the brave man's game triumphs. 

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