From a macroeconomic perspective, 2022 centered around the actions of reserve banks around the world. While the fight against inflation continues into 2023, the discussions are more focused on recession and potential weakness in the US dollar. I recently gathered with some of our economists across the firm to discuss these topics-here are some of my key takeaways:
- US inflation is trending lower, but the fight isn't over This contrasts with Europe, where inflation remains higher and has not peaked. Asia has generally seen milder inflation. Japan, for the first time in over 20 years, is experiencing inflation and positive real interest rates. Our economists disagree on how quickly and how far inflation will fall. The market consensus suggests US inflation will run at roughly 3% for the full year. Internally, we have a healthy debate on how quickly inflation will fall and whether it will get to the US Federal Reserve's (Fed's) 2% target.
- Interest rates are near peaking. In the United States, we expect the Fed's policy rate to rise to at least consensus expectations of around 5%, with the possibility of reaching 25%. Our economists disagree on how long the Fed will hold rates at the higher level. The implications for fixed income and equity investors are that the Fed is unlikely to provide a "Fed put" if the market has a correction.
- How deep might a US recession be? One could describe 2023's economic outlook as "the most-anticipated recession ever," with surveys of economic forecasters and market behavior in 2022 providing the evidence. Everyone seems to "know" the United States is going to have a recession, and everyone seems to "know" it will be Whenever "everybody" thinks something, that type of herd mentality makes me nervous because
- often the herd is I gain some comfort from internal discussion and healthy debate among our economists, whose views on recession vary from the possibility of no recession at all, to a "normal" recession, which typically lasts about 10 months.
- Time to consider increasing fixed income allocation. Fixed income is now providing income again. Rates are near a peak, and 2023 may be a year of positive returns for fixed income. We see a general shift toward larger fixed income allocations no matter how one is currently
- There's a quality bias when leaning into fixed We believe investment grade and sovereigns are particularly attractive in this environment, with continued economic uncertainty perhaps providing opportunities on a selective basis in areas like high yield.
- Opportunity outside of the United This year, analysts expect US growth to come in below that of Japan-which has not happened for over two decades-while emerging and developed Asia overall will likely see higher growth than the United States. Meanwhile, Europe's economy is doing better than many forecasts expected, due largely because of a mild winter.
- Expect volatility. While our economists agree that taking a long-term strategic view suggests taking on a bit more duration, there may be tactical opportunities within the fixed income markets.
- Emerging markets may have Both debt and equity markets in emerging markets are seeing favourable conditions. Relatively stronger growth rates combined with tempered inflation-and the potential the US dollar may have peaked-provides opportunities, particularly in Asia.
- Asia generally, and specifically Japan and China, may provide new opportunities for active With a whiff of inflation in Japan, it is now facing different dynamics than during previous decades of deflation. Meanwhile, China is finally coming out of COVID-19 lockdown, which should help spur renewed consumption and improve global growth prospects.
These are my main observations as we lean into 2023. The rest of this piece explores some of these issues more deeply from the lens of the economists across Franklin Templeton. Read on for our latest Macro Perspectives.
Wild cards: Worries and optimism
Here are some key themes our economists are watching closely.
US debt ceiling/budget deficits
Government deficits around the world have grown since pre-COVID. We are mindful of economic and market risk if the United States does not resolve its debt-ceiling limit. This could cause severe market volatility, and in the worst case, could lead to a ratings downgrade.
If the global economy is stronger than expected, and inflation proves more long-lasting, this could cause a very different monetary policy approach (tighter for longer) than the market is currently pricing in.
Growth in Asia and China's reopening
With China beginning to reopen, growth dynamics could have some moderate inflationary impacts.
The recognition that Asia's growth rate is likely to outperform that of the United States' is not without country-specific risks, but also creates opportunities for investors in non-dollar assets.
Europe, energy and war
Amid a milder-than expected winter, Europe seems unlikely to face the type of severe downturn feared just a few months ago. The outlook can be considered fairly encouraging, but still represents geopolitical uncertainty, especially as the Russia-Ukraine war continues.
This material is intended to be of general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax advice. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Franklin Templeton. The views expressed are those of the investment manager and the comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as of the publication date and may change without notice. The underlying assumptions and these views are subject to change based on market and other conditions and may differ from other portfolio managers or of the firm as a whole. The information provided in this material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region or market. There is no assurance that any prediction, projection or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market or the economic trends of the markets will be realized. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. Past performance is not necessarily indicative nor a guarantee of future performance. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. Any research and analysis contained in this material has been procured by Franklin Templeton for its own purposes and may be acted upon in that connection and, as such, is provided to you incidentally. Data from third party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and Franklin Templeton (“FT”) has not independently verified, validated or audited such data. Although information has been obtained from sources that Franklin Templeton believes to be reliable, no guarantee can be given as to its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed and may be subject to change at any time without notice. The mention of any individual securities should neither constitute nor be construed as a recommendation to purchase, hold or sell any securities, and the information provided regarding such individual securities (if any) is not a sufficient basis upon which to make an investment decision. FT accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from use of this information and reliance upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user. Products, services and information may not be available in all jurisdictions and are offered outside the U.S. by other FT affiliates and/or their distributors as local laws and regulation permits. Please consult your own financial professional or Franklin Templeton institutional contact for further information on availability of products and services in your jurisdiction