In the coming 12 to 18 months, we expect central banks to turn the corner on monetary policy and start to be worried far more about growth than inflation.

Central banks, guided as they are by their main roles of managing inflation and unemployment, are having their policy action dictated by two of the most lagging economic indicators it is possible to find. It is the equivalent of driving a car while looking in the rear-view mirror. But if we look forward out the windscreen, there are a range of leading indicators pointing towards recession.

Year over year growth in money supply (the measure known as M2) in the US is deeply negative, deeper than at any time since the 1930s in fact, and this historically has been strongly associated with recessions. The excess savings which have supported consumption for the past couple of years have now been virtually exhausted, elevated mortgage rates are leading to housing market stagnation, while the S&P 500 has seen negative earnings for two consecutive quarters and CEOs therefore might think hard about their cost base, with the obvious implications for unemployment.

Soft landing – wishful thinking?

So is the US headed for recession? Whether or not it enters a technical recession is anyone’s guess, but we certainly feel strongly that the idea of the US economy experiencing a soft landing is wishful thinking at this point. Policy has tightened so much, and so quickly, that it has not yet fully fed through into the real economy. Even if the US Federal Reserve (Fed) halted rate rises today (and their rhetoric suggests they might still have one rise left in them before reality bites) then the economy would still keep feeling the impact of that tightening for months to come.

Remarks from Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the Jackson Hole Symposium in August did not provide new information to market participants. Powell recognized progress made so far on reducing inflation, but as expected highlighted that the task is not complete.

Developed markets central banks are still fairly dependent on economic data, but looking at emerging markets we already see some rate cuts. Brazil and Chile have started their rate cutting cycle as have Hungary and Poland. These are the same central banks that anticipated the rate hiking cycle two years ago and might thus be a good leading indicator for the path that developed markets might follow in the coming quarters

Fixed income opportunities

An environment in which inflation keeps rolling over, growth falters, and the employment picture worsens is one in which continued hawkish policy from the Fed will rapidly become untenable and cuts will follow. In our view, this lays the foundation for an extremely promising investment environment for fixed income.

The investment opportunity, as we see it, is an enticing one. As we come off the back of one of the worst bond market sell-offs in history, valuations especially in government bonds have gone from expensive to cheap in our opinion. Away from the world of government bonds, our economic outlook means we have been getting more cautious on credit in aggregate. Credit markets, led by the high yield bond market, have continued to perform pretty well, but they are not yet pricing in the economic slowdown that we foresee. But that doesn’t mean credit is without opportunities! However, our preference is for the more defensive sectors, including bonds with secured structures and bonds with shorter maturities or nearer term call dates. It is also fair to say that the last quarters have seen more meaningful differences in market segments, with the lower quality portion of the European credit market meaningfully underperforming and pricing in a more bearish economic outlook vs comparable segments of the US market.

Flexible portfolio

We have a high level of conviction in our macroeconomic view, but of course we know that nothing is guaranteed and there are factors which could de-rail the world from this path, including China generating a rapid economic turnaround, governments stepping in to shield the public from the impact of higher rates (e.g., mortgage rate relief), and the recent recovery in energy prices. The world is an unpredictable and volatile place, as we’ve all had ample evidence of in recent years. But the vast breadth of fixed income asset classes available means we have confidence that, whatever fate throws at bond markets, a flexible and dynamic global bond portfolio should have the tools at its disposal to meet that challenge.

The value of active minds – independent thinking:

A key feature of Jupiter’s investment approach is that we eschew the adoption of a house view, instead preferring to allow our specialist fund managers to formulate their own opinions on their asset class. As a result, it should be noted that any views expressed – including on matters relating to environmental, social and governance considerations – are those of the author(s), and may differ from views held by other Jupiter investment professionals.

Important information

This document is intended for investment professionals* and is not for the use or benefit of other persons including retail investors, except in Hong Kong. This communication is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. Market and exchange rate movements can cause the value of an investment to fall as well as rise, and you may get back less than originally invested. The views expressed are those of the author(s) at the time of writing, are not necessarily those of Jupiter as a whole and may be subject to change. This is particularly true during periods of rapidly changing market circumstances. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of any information provided but no assurances or warranties are given. Issued in the UK by Jupiter Asset Management Limited, registered address: The Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6SQ is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Issued in the EU by Jupiter Asset Management International S.A. (JAMI), registered address: 5, Rue Heienhaff, Senningerberg L-1736, Luxembourg which is authorised and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. Issued in Hong Kong by Jupiter Asset Management (Hong Kong) Limited (JAM HK) and has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission. No part of this [commentary] may be reproduced in any manner without the prior permission of JAM, JAMI or JAM HK.


*In Hong Kong, investment professionals refer to Professional Investors as defined under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong) and in Singapore, Institutional Investors as defined under Section 304 of the Securities and Futures Act, Chapter 289 of Singapore.