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Murray's Stout warns Trump could plunge world into recession

Murray's Stout warns Trump could plunge world into recession

The protectionist policies of Donald Trump would lead to a global recession, according to Bruce Stout, who runs the £1.6bn Murray International investment trust.

President Trump has announced his intention to levy tariffs on the imported goods of China.

Mr Stout said: "The diverse spectrum of economic thought is renowned for disagreement on most issues of practical economics, but on one there is almost universal agreement – free trade is vastly more favourable than protectionism.

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"There can be no doubt that if current verbal hostilities escalate into a full-blown global trade war then resulting higher inflation and interest rates will plunge the global economy into recession.

"The coming months will be crucial as to what path is ultimately taken, therefore great caution will continue to be exercised."

Andrew Herberts, head of private investment management at Thomas Miller Investment, said the possibility of protectionism is a reason to be negative on the outlook for emerging markets.

He said those economies tend to perform best when the volume of global trade is rising, and protectionism would be more likely to make trade volumes fall.

Protectionism would be expected to push inflation up in the US, denting the level of demand in the economy, and slowing economic growth.

Mr Herberts said he remains positive on the outlook for global stock markets and has not changed the investments in his portfolios during the recent bout of market turbulence.

He presently has less than the market weighting in US equities, due to the valuations of that market.

Dominic Fisher, who runs the Thistledown Income fund, has been cautious on the outlook for global markets for some time.

He said: "I have written repeatedly that the unprecedented monetary policies of central banks are worrying and dangerous to your wealth. Ten years after the financial crisis it appears that these are coming to an end.

"The bond markets are reacting and prices for longer dated bonds have fallen significantly from their peaks. Equity markets have continued to rise. I believe they will suffer too and continue to hold significant levels of liquidity and shorter dated bonds."

David Scott, an adviser at the firm of Andrews Gwynne in Leeds, said he is currently “in a strong wealth preservation” phase at present, due to uncertainties around central bank policies and political uncertainty.

david.thorpe@ft.com