Global Strategy 1Q 2022
Strongly rising numbers of new COVID-19 infections, higher energy prices, and persistent bottlenecks in supply chains are dampening the short-term growth outlook. Beyond that horizon, the economic recovery should continue. The central banks will continue to reduce their purchase programmes. Interest rates should rise in the USA in 2022 but remain unchanged in the Eurozone. We continue to prefer investments in equity markets and broadly diversified investments in high-yield corporate bonds and investment grade hybrid bonds.
Economy: After the substantial economic recovery in 2Q and 3Q 2021, high new COVID-19 infection rates and a new virus variant dampen the short-term growth outlook. This situation is complemented by supply-side bottlenecks that have lasted longer than expected and a drastic increase in energy prices. In this environment, both private consumption and the willingness to invest could suffer temporarily. However, the supply chain bottlenecks should be resolved over time and the situation on the energy markets should normalise. Therefore, we expect the economic recovery to continue despite these short-term challenges. Inflation has increased more significantly than anticipated in the short run but should fall back in the medium term due to base effects and the receding pressure from energy prices. The medium-term inflation development will hinge on the state of the job markets and the resulting wage pressure.
Bonds: The ECB has defined a very clear path for monetary policy for the year 2022. The purchasing program PEPP is set to end at the close of March. At the same time, the purchases made under the APP will be raised from April and then reduced to EUR 20bn per month over the rest of the year. We believe that interest rate increases are still far off, as it is not clear at this point when the ECB will reach its medium-term inflation target of 2%. The Fed will discontinue its bond purchases already in March rather than, as originally planned, around the middle of the year. This gives the Fed more room to manoeuvre, should more rapid interest rate hikes become necessary. The development on the job market will be crucial to his question. Both central banks could be confronted with contradictory data in the coming weeks in view of high rates of new infections and challenges to the supply side. The economic recovery should continue throughout the year, which is why we expect the ECB and the Fed to stay on course. The yields of 10Y German government bonds and US Treasuries should move sideways and at best edge moderately higher until the end of the year.
Currencies: A correction of excessive interest rate expectations in the USA could slightly weaken the US dollar in 1Q; beyond that, we expect a sideways movement around 1.15. Negative real yields and safe-haven flows should support the gold price in 1Q. Due to political risks, the Swiss franc could also continue to hold steady at relatively strong levels in 1Q.
Equities: Global companies will be faced with declining earnings growth in 2022 relative to 2021, and the performance of the leading indices of the developed markets should fall short of last year’s development. We expect the global equity market to achieve gains of 0 to 5% in 1Q.