Japonská centrální banka si v dohledné budoucnosti udrží svou velmi uvolněnou měnovou politiku. Na svém posledním zasedání dne 23. ledna ponechala depozitní úrokovou sazbu pro finanční instituce na úrovni -0,1 %, takže banky, které chtějí uložit peníze u centrální banky Japonska, stále platí sankci. Záporná úroková sazba je platná od února 2016, cílem je motivovat finanční instituce, aby půjčovaly své prostředky na investice, než aby je ukládaly u centrální banky.
Cílem tohoto kroku je také podpořit inflaci v Japonsku. Místní centrální banka nedávno vyjádřila optimismus v tomto směru a očekává, že inflace bude mírně růst, i když zatím zůstane pod cílovou hodnotou. Pro Japonsko - jehož ekonomika byla paralyzována deflační spirálou klesajících cen, klesajících mezd a nedostatečnými investicemi po značnou dobu - je to jasné zlepšení. Inflace v listopadu dosáhla meziročního růstu 0,9 % po 11 měsících nepřerušeného růstu. Japonské centrální banka však usiluje o výrazně vyšší míru kolem 2 %, což znamená, že v blízké budoucnosti je nepravděpodobné, že by banka opustila svou velmi uvolněnou měnovou politiku.
Japonsko v současné době vykazuje nejdelší období růstu od přelomu tisíciletí
Obecně lze říci, že japonská ekonomika se vyvíjí pozitivně s konstantním růstem v posledních sedmi čtvrtletí, což znamená nejdelší fázi růstu země od přelomu tisíciletí. Poslední údaje za třetí čtvrtletí roku 2017 byly také lepší, než se očekávalo; HDP vzrostl o 0,6 % od července do září oproti předchozímu čtvrtletí. Projektovaný růst HDP na tento rok činí 2,5 %.
Příspěvek exportérů k tomuto vývoji je významný díky silné poptávce z Číny a USA. V listopadu se vývoz výrazně zvýšil o 16,2 % meziročně, když rostl již dvanáctý měsíc po sobě. Dovozy se zvýšily ještě výrazněji a rostly o 17,2 %. To však může být přičítáno slabému jenu, což dělá dovoz ropy mnohem dražší.
Hospodářský růst bude pravděpodobně pokračovat i tento rok. Mezinárodní měnový fond nedávno revidoval svou prognózu růstu v Japonsku pro rok 2018 až na úroveň 1,2 % - o půl procentního bodu výše než v říjnové prognóze – a to kvůli neočekávaně úspěšným ekonomikám v Asii a Evropě.
Lokální akciová burza roste podporovaná dobrou náladou, která proniká celou japonskou ekonomikou: hlavní japonský burzovní index Nikkei-225, je v současné době zhruba 24 000 bodů, což je nejvyšší úroveň za posledních 26 let.
Prognózy nejsou spolehlivým ukazatelem budoucího vývoje.
One year after Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the United States, the only way for the US stock market is up. In 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, the world's leading stock market barometer, rose nearly 25 per cent. On Tuesday, 16 January, the Dow topped 26,000 points for the first time in its history, having hit the historic mark of 20,000 just one year earlier.
The S&P-500 index, comprising 500 selected US companies, and the US technology index Nasdaq Composite also boasted strong gains since Trump has taken office. The S&P-500 has increased by around 23 per cent since January 2017, Nasdaq by around 31 per cent.
If the US president is to be believed, the current optimism among investors is due to his very own efforts: “The reason why the stock market is so successful is me,” Trump praised himself. Economic trends were indeed very positive in 2017: job markets are more or less showing full employment. The International Monetary Fund currently estimates 2.2 per cent US economy growth for 2017, with the last quarter’s three per cent being the highest since the beginning of 2015. In addition, the US tax reform, successfully passed just before Christmas, made the markets happy, providing massive tax relief for companies and wealthy Americans.
Experts view Trump’s contribution to US economic upturn as negligible
According to experts, however, Trump's contribution to the economic upswing in the USA is low to nil. Gustav Horn, head of the German Institute for Macroeconomics and Economic Research (IMK), for example, explains that the trend started long before Trump took office. If anything, the president's contribution lies in not hampering the upward trend.
The tax reform also increases the US’s attractiveness as a business location and could contribute to relocating manufacturing to the US in the longer term, but will also increase the deficit, as the state is giving up income. This is not how a sustainable economy works, says Dennis Snower, president of the German Institute for the World Economy. Trump may have provided a stronger superficial and short-term boost for the economy and the stock markets than expected, but “this is not positive”.
“It is much more likely that the next crisis will come sooner due to the political actions of Donald Trump. And we are in a worse position to combat it, because many of the problems we face must be dealt with internationally,” warns Snower, also accusing Trump of fragmenting society. Horn sees Trump’s protectionist trade policy as a threat to world trade, especially if the controversial US president’s approach causes others to jump on the bandwagon.
However, the markets are unlikely to worry about this – at least so far, there is no end to the optimism.
The Brexit continues to impact the pound negatively. After Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016, the currency was massively devalued against the euro and the US dollar and has not really recovered since – the main reason being the uncertainty about the outcome of the exit negotiations between the EU and the UK.
Before the Brexit vote, the pound was still trading at around 1.30 euros (around 1.47 dollars). In the days following the vote, the currency then plummeted, losing roughly eight per cent against the euro and 11 per cent against the dollar. Now in early 2018, a little over one and a half years later, the pound stands at around 1.13 euros or around 1.35 dollars, which means that it has hardly recovered from the shock following the Brexit, especially against the euro. Since early 2016, it has dropped more than nine percent against the dollar and over 16 per cent against the euro.
The exit negotiations between the EU and the UK are currently in full swing. An initial agreement has already been reached on the question of Ireland's border with Northern Ireland, the future rights of the approximately three million EU citizens in Britain and the UK's financial commitments to the EU. Phase two deals with the future bilateral relations between the EU and London after the Brexit. However, it remains to be seen whether the UK will leave via a “hard Brexit” – i. e. an exit without subsequent access to the EU's single market.
Weak pound drives inflation in UK
The British economy has suffered noticeably from this uncertainty. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), economic growth on the island has already slowed down this year – despite a favorable global economic environment. The weak pound has also led to rapidly rising inflation through higher import prices, putting pressure on real wages and private consumption. This is a concern for investors; consequently they are focusing their investments on other currencies for the time being.
The euro, for example, saw an upturn in 2017, climbing from around 1.05 dollars at the beginning of 2017 to 1.20 dollars at the start of 2018. The euro zone’s booming economy, helped this trend along, among other things. However, this has also increased expectations for the European economy, which significantly reduces the potential for surprises in 2018. Some experts therefore expect a slight decline in the euro this year. The YOU INVEST funds are currently hedging risks against foreign currencies.
Forecasts are no reliable indicator for future developments.
The result of the US presidential election was probably surprising on two levels. Firstly, Donald Trump’s victory itself came as a surprise. And secondly, the analysts had made predictions for the event of Trump’s victory that did not match reality: after a very short moment of shock, the stock exchanges turned clearly into the positive. The bond markets, on the other hand, recorded a significant decline. In view of the announced higher spending on infrastructure and the planned tax cuts, the US budget deficit will rise drastically in the medium term. This also means higher inflation and would tend to trigger higher US Treasury yields. The correction of the US Treasury bonds also hit the stock exchanges in the emerging markets, which are negatively affected by the possible barriers to trade, such as higher import duties for certain goods, and the now stronger US dollar.
In the YOU INVEST funds we had already prior to the elections sold off US Treasury bonds either completely or, in case of the YOU INVEST solid fund, reduced them to about 5%. The assets were regrouped into inflation-protected euro bonds or into more aggressive emerging markets bond funds. With the exception of YOU INVEST solid, the weighting of classic government bonds from the Eurozone and the USA is therefore currently zero percent. We left the equity allocation of the funds unchanged. Within the equity portion, we slightly increased the weighting of US equities at the expense of equities from Canada, Australia, and Korea. US equities therefore account for slightly more than 40% of total equities.
On 10 March, the Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) loosened its monetary policy further, as had been expected. Here are the most important measures:
In view of the decline of the leading economic indicators and the excessively low inflation in the Eurozone, the bundle of measures introduced by the ECB is necessary. The economy is currently not running smoothly. Inflation remains low and is far from the ECB target of slightly below 2%. We are still waiting for effective tax policies and structural reforms.
What do the ECB measures mean for the investor? The yields of safe government bonds remain very low in the foreseeable future. The central bank expects unchanged rates for a sustainable period of time – or even lower ones, should the data deteriorate. Yield increases, if any, would then only be of a temporary nature.
All this exacerbates the desperate search for yield by investors. The incentives to shift to asset classes that promise a higher rate of return, but that also come with higher risk such as corporate bonds and equities, have increased. The incentives for banks to expand their lending volume have increased as well. This might lead the moderate economic upswing of the Eurozone to continue.
Forecasts are no reliable indicator for future developments.