Today’s economic landscape may challenge the performance of traditional investments going forward. Recent positive cyclical momentum looks set to continue for some time, but long-term structural headwinds remain firmly entrenched. Despite strong growth, low interest rates could challenge investors in 2018.
Declining long-run potential growth, contained inflation expectations, and low global yields have all put downward pressure on interest rates for years. Interest rates peaked in the high inflation days of the 1980s, and today’s lower rates mean investors have fewer options to meet their income needs.
We expect interest rates to remain relatively low for some time, particularly by historical standards. To monitor markets going forward, we are watching:
Real GDP growth has trended lower over the last 50 years, caused primarily by slowing labor force growth and productivity. Positive cyclical momentum has caused growth to pick up in the second half of 2017, and 2018 could see a further boost from pro-growth policies and improved optimism. Yet the gravitational pull of structural headwinds is powerful, and we believe investors may need to prepare their portfolios for a lower-for-longer growth environment.
To gauge whether the recent state of positive growth data is cyclical or structural in nature, we are monitoring the following:
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