Monetary Policy  

Uncertainty still remains for 2020

This article is part of
Guide to investing in 2020

"Ms Lagarde will certainly use her political skills to encourage Fiscal spend.”

The US Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times in 2019, indicating its concern over sluggish economic growth. 

Geoffrey Yu, head of UK chief investment office at UBS Global Wealth echoes this view. 

“With interest rates already close to, at, or below zero, the effectiveness of traditional monetary policy is now diminished. We're therefore now also considering the role of fiscal policy in stimulating growth.”

“Given a divided US Congress, Eurozone budget constraints, and China's concerns about managing leverage, meaningful fiscal stimulus in 2020 appears unlikely, in our view.

"But low inflation and interest rates do provide the leeway to take a fresh look at the role of government spending,” explains Mr Yu. 

He adds that coordinated fiscal and monetary action could offer material upside to our growth expectations, even if it might require a "mini-crisis" to force policymakers to reassess their current approach.

Mr Yu says: “The word recession is again being more commonly uttered.

"But we don't foresee this happening in the next year. Instead, we expect the story to be one of continued weak growth globally, at a rate of around 3 per cent.”

Brexit 

Friday 13 December, also led to the re-election of Boris Johnson as UK prime minister, a move which financial markets welcomed with both sterling and UK stocks inching higher. 

Most commentators feel the Jeremy Corbyn threat has been eliminated, and with that much of the uncertainty hounding UK markets. 

But the ultimate fate of the UK economy depends on which sort of trading agreement the UK and EU strike post December 2020, when the transitional period is due to end. 

David Holohan, senior portfolio manager at Mediolanum says: “The near term outlook remains challenging as both business and consumer confidence have been negatively impacted by the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.”

He adds:  “While the election outcome should result in an improvement in both measures, the durability of the bounce will be heavily influenced by the amount of progress on Brexit that the government can achieve over the coming months”

Mr Yu says: “Overall, the picture is one of sluggish growth of around 1 per cent for 2020.

"Last month's victory for Boris Johnson means we now have greater clarity over Brexit in the near term, which in turn should prompt a modest recovery in economic activity.”

He warns: “This phase looks set to be every bit as difficult as the last, with just over 12 months until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

"The prime minister has ruled out applying for an extension by the 1 July deadline, meaning no-deal fears could soon return.

“Therefore, the increase in business activity and investment will be limited. Finally, for open economies such as the UK, global weakness remains a headwind to a domestic recovery,” adds Mr Yu.