Contributed by: Jaclyn Jackson
As the current bull market for U.S. stocks nears its eighth anniversary, is there potential room to grow or could we be heading for the next recession? In the face of slow growth, low interest rates, and low inflation how could "Trumped-Up" economics and an increasingly hawkish Federal Reserve, affect the economy and the markets going forward?
On February 21st, 2017, Vanguard Investment Strategy Group Education Specialist, Maria Quinn, and Center for Financial Planning Director of Investments, Angela Palacios, CFP®, teamed up to tackle these pressing questions with a market and economics insights webinar. While Maria discussed market themes and outlooks, Angela focused on policy changes and their potential impact on investments.
Here is a recap of key points from the “Economic & Investment Update” webinar (as well as a link to the webinar replay).
Global growth should stabilize, not stagnate. Risks to the global growth outlook is more balanced this year as U. S. and European policy adds to increasingly sound economic fundamentals that should, in part, offset weakness in the United Kingdom and Japan. Aided by labor productivity rebound, Vanguard believes U.S. growth could be 2.5% in 2017. Vanguard’s long term 2% U.S. growth trend is influenced by lower population growth and the exclusion of consumer-debt-fueled boost to growth evident between 1980 and the Global Financial Crisis.
Deflationary forces are cyclically moderating. Central banks (globally) will struggle to meet 2% inflation targets. U.S. core inflation may modestly overshoot 2% this year, prompting the Fed to raise rates. U.S. wage growth has increased slightly and may continue to rise with productivity gains. Euro-area inflation will move towards target, but will like stay below it. There is deflation in Asia and monetary easing is not having the desired effect on nominal wage growth.
Cautiously optimistic outlook indicates modest portfolio returns underscoring the value of investment discipline, realistic expectations, and low-cost strategies. Keep in mind, diversification doesn’t work every time, but it can work over time.
Corporate tax and trade reform could have mixed implications. The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates among developed countries. A lower corporate tax policy may curve current incentives for U.S. businesses to operate in other countries or take on too much debt. Lowering the corporate tax rate could benefit U.S. stock price performance or potentially increase the amount of dividends paid back to investors. On the other hand, it could increase inflation which may cause higher interest rates and strengthen the dollar.
With respect to trade reform, a tariff, value added tax, or border added tax on imports could increase the cost of goods and build inflation in the U.S. Additionally, other countries may retaliate with tariffs on U.S. products, triggering trade wars. Another thought is that U.S. goods could become more expensive at home and in other countries creating a scenario where U.S. goods have higher prices and with lower demand.
Tips for strategic action when markets are up include: planning for upcoming cash needs; rebalancing portfolios; making charitable contributions; and maintaining plan discipline.
If you missed the webinar, please check out the replay below. As always, if you have questions about topics discussed, please give us a call!
Jaclyn Jackson is a Portfolio Administrator and Financial Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®
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The BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. T-Bill 0-3 Month Index tracks the performance of the U.S. dollar denominated U.S. Treasury Bills publicly issued in the U.S. domestic market with a remaining term to final maturity of less than 3 months. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) is a free float adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed market equity performance, excluding the United States & Canada. The EAFE consists of the country indices of 21 developed nations. The MSCI Emerging Markets is designed to measure equity market performance in 25 emerging market indices. The index's three largest industries are materials, energy, and banks. Dow Jones Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. 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