July 2021 / INVESTMENT INSIGHTS
Global Asset Allocation: July Insights
Discover the latest global market themes
1. Market Perspective
- Global economic growth to remain strong through the back half of the year, albeit off peak levels, as monetary and fiscal policy support moderates from crisis-level highs.
- Longer-term interest rates likely challenged to move higher as growth moderates, inflation softens from recent peaks and Federal Reserve moves closer to tapering asset purchases, while short-term rates could begin to price in tighter policy leading to a flattening yield curve.
- While still supportive, global monetary policy should continue to see a gradual trend towards tightening among central banks, notably within emerging markets (EM), facing rising inflation.
- Key risks to global markets include the path forward for the coronavirus, elevated inflation, central bank missteps, higher taxes, stricter regulatory environment and increasing geopolitical concerns.
2. Portfolio Positioning
- We remain modestly underweight equities relative to bonds and cash as the risk/reward profile looks less compelling for equities and could be vulnerable to fading policy support, increased rate volatility, high inflation levels and potential tax increases.
- Within equities, we continue to favour value‑oriented equities globally, US small-caps and EM stocks as we expect cyclically exposed companies to continue to benefit from strong economic growth and global reopening.
- Within fixed income, we continue to have a bias towards shorter‑duration, higher‑yielding and inflation-sensitive sectors through overweights to high yield bonds, emerging market debt local currency and corporates and inflation-linked government bonds.
3. Market Themes
Easy on the Austerity
Following a shaky start to its vaccine rollout, Europe appears to be recovering as businesses are reopening and lockdowns continue to ease in some areas. As the European Central Bank debates the extension of its EUR 1.85 trillion asset purchase programme, due to expire next March, additional fiscal stimulus is being rolled out through the unprecedented European Union recovery fund, worth up to EUR 800 billion. While the fund shows signs of growing unity among member nations, lines are being drawn once again as members take sides on scaling back monetary policies put in place amid the pandemic. Leaders such as Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, warn that shifting back to austerity too soon could ignite another decade-long recovery similar to the post-global financial crisis period. With Europe already lagging the US and China, shifting back to austerity too soon could prevent the region from heading on a path towards more sustainable growth.
Curbing Our Enthusiasm
Global equity markets represented by the MSCI All Country World Index have returned nearly 12% year-to-date in US dollar terms amid signs that the worst of the pandemic may finally be behind us. But, as supportive trends that have fueled the global economic growth rebound start to fade, it’s hard to envision equity markets expanding at the same record pace. In the back half of the year, we expect that growth will be off peak levels, monetary policy will continue to tighten, fiscal stimulus will be at lower levels and higher taxes are likely. Adding to these headwinds, equity markets are sitting at elevated valuations supported by low interest rates, input costs are rising and earnings growth is expected to moderate next year. Despite these trends, equities remain attractive as pent-up demand continues to be unleashed and, while moderating, growth remains elevated. However, the ultra-easy environment is changing quickly and may lead to more volatility ahead, so investors may need to curb their enthusiasm for equity returns going forward.
For a region-by-region overview, see the full report (PDF).
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