Economies are doing reasonably fine, not spectacularly well. Although we have no indication that economies are getting worse, the outlook is still a bit gloomy, with risks arising mostly from the political arena.
There are plenty of uncertainties, such as what the Trump administration will do. China has an important year in its political cycle, and incentive enough to keep its growth rates going. Yet the main political issues will probably arise in Europe, with several elections taking place in 2017. The outcomes and how the Brexit negotiations develop will steer the future of the European Union. The ECB had already expanded its stimulus program, albeit at a lower level, to towards the end of 2017, ensuring that more can be done if necessary. As a result, we remain neutral on equities, with a preference for developed markets over emerging markets, as the latter face headwinds from different sides.
US rates will be crucial for bonds. Aside from being Fed watchers, we also need to become Trump watchers, because a lot will depend on the execution of the plans announced during the election period. Political events may cause interest rate volatility in Europe, with the ECB acting as a kind of watchdog on the sideline. Our underweight to government bonds still seems to be appropriate.
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