The polycrisis has entered a new phase. While economies had started the year with signs of resilience, continuous rate hikes and extensive monetary tightening are now taking their toll.
While a recession in developed markets appears to be the likeliest outcome as we head through 2023, China‘s reopening could provide a degree of respite to markets spanning East to West. Fidelity International highlights the three trends expected to dominate the markets as we enter Q2 2023.
- Hard versus soft landing
As several cracks appear in the banking sector on the back of the fastest rate hiking episode in history, a recession in developed markets appear to be the likeliest outcome. As we progress through the year, further policy tightening will increase the chance of a much harder landing.
Andrew McCaffery, CIO, Fidelity International comments: “In the face of persistently sticky inflation and strong labour markets, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) has so far held its course. Keeping rates higher for longer will increase the pressure on the financial system, and cracks are already starting to show. Recent banking collapses have added to the pressure, however, we do not believe they are indicative of broad systemic risk within the banking system. The current sell-off has been heavily influenced by a deterioration in sentiment rather than by core fundamentals. Many banks are much better capitalised than during the 2008 crisis, credit quality and liquidity are stronger, interest rates remain supportive of bank profitability overall, and regulators have the tools to deploy to restore investor confidence. Even so, we could see uncertainty continue in the weeks to come.
“New stresses will appear without an easing of monetary policy and a cyclical recession over a 12 month-time horizon, in which unemployment reaches 1-3 per cent, is still the most likely outcome. But we expect a more severe recession would be on the cards should the Fed remain restrictive throughout 2023.”
- Corporate risks and opportunities
Andrew McCaffery continues: “In this higher-for-longer environment, our investment teams are focused on using their bottom-up research capabilities to identify names with resilient profiles. We’re looking for sectors and regions with structural tailwinds and defensive characteristics, along with attractive valuations, that present the best balance between risk and reward.
“Over the longer-term, the themes of sustainability, demographics, and re-shoring/near-shoring continue to offer strong outperformance opportunities.”
- China’s Reopening
As many developed markets grapple with high inflation, rising interest rates and potential recessions, the outlook for Asia is more sanguine with China’s reopening playing a key role. The ending of the Communist Party Congress in October last year has led to a new positive phase of investment for the country, while the party meetings in March emphasised the government’s growth agenda. The reopening of China’s economy spurring increased consumption, and supported by fiscal and monetary policy settings to generate a sustainable recovery, plus the positive feedback loop into renewed consumer confidence, should spur a strong rebound and bring fresh opportunities for investors.
Andrew McCaffery says: “One important signal from China’s annual parliamentary meeting in early March was an increased emphasis on high-quality economic growth, which requires the restructuring of the economy from a largely investment, export-driven model to something more balanced, relying on domestic consumption and manufacturing activity to support this. The approach was reflected in the measured annual growth target of around 5 per cent set at the meeting. Policymakers are likely to roll out additional stimulus measures to support the economy, but with more focus on the quality rather than the pace of recovery.
“Consumer spending in China has also shown signs of a rebound, driven by pent-up demand after three years of Covid restrictions. A full recovery may not be far away. However, the Chinese middle-class are taking a cautious approach. A sustained recovery depends on consumers lifting their income expectations and feeling confident enough to tap into the savings amassed during the pandemic. Reviving and boosting consumption has topped the government’s agenda since the end of the zero-Covid policy and we expect the government to roll out further supportive measures.”
To read Fidelity International’s full Q2 2023 investment outlook, please click here.