Monetary Policy  

Uncertainty still remains for 2020

This article is part of
Guide to investing in 2020

Uncertainty still remains for 2020

As we go into the next decade, the golden question is likely to be “Will there be a recession in 2020?”

Much of the chatter in the beginning of the year, focused on the likelihood of a repeat of a 2008-like financial crisis. 

The good news for investors is that, while many in the industry fear a global economic slowdown, most do not think 2020 will culminate in a recession. 

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So what is 2020 going to be about really?

US-Sino Trade 

Most in the industry caution that US-Sino trade tensions may still persist despite the phase one agreement signed on 13 December. 

Alasdair McKinnon, lead fund manager of the Scottish Investment Trust says: “Although we now have a ‘phase one’ trade deal, there will undoubtedly be more twists and turns on the way.”

Mr McKinnon adds: “The situation could change as quickly as President Trump can tap out a tweet.

"It remains to be seen whether there is much substance to that deal because China and the US looked to be some distance apart on a number of issues.”

But Bastien Drut, strategist at CPR Asset Management struck a more optimistic note and says: "The fact that a phase one deal has been reached between US and China should prompt the industrial sector to stabilise globally.”

In December China and the US struck the much awaited phase one of the trade deal. 

The agreement commits China to buying at least $40bn of US agricultural goods annually, tightens protection for US intellectual property rights and bans the forced transfer of technology from US companies. 

Mr McKinnon does acknowledge the importance the world’s second largest economy will hold in 2020. 

He says: “China’s deceleration, the huge slowdown in global automotive sales and the trade war have all depressed demand for industrial goods which has hurt export-heavy countries such as Germany.

“Looking forward, the biggest swing factor is likely to be the prospects for the Chinese economy, which is showing some tentative signs of stability.”

Going fiscal 

Many commentators believe that fiscal policy will be the biggest driver of change. 

Gregory Perdon, co-chief investment officer at Arbuthnot Latham & Co, says: “The $15trn question on investors’ minds is ‘has Quantitative Easing lost its mojo?”

Mr Perdon adds: “For this reason markets will be increasingly looking towards fiscal policy to carry the baton forward.”

He believes that QE was extremely beneficial at the beginning but “it is losing its efficacy today”. 

QE is a form of loose monetary policy, whereby a central bank purchases predetermined quantities of government assets in order to reduce interest rates. 

The European Central Bank and a number of other countries such as the UK and the US adopted QE post-recession. 

Mr Predon adds: “Of course the Fed and ECB will remain accommodative, but Mario Draghi always said, monetary policy without the fiscal can’t work in the long run and he is right.