The weakness of global growth in 2019 was not unexpected, but the extent of the slowdown certainly was.
The main culprit was elevated uncertainty, which has become the defining feature of politics and monetary policy and has undermined decision-making in the real economy.
In the year ahead, there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful resolution to the trade and geopolitical tensions that have defined 2019.
As a result, growth next year is likely to be lower than previously expected, and to stay lower for longer.
What are the implications for investors?
This combination of slowing global growth and persistent geopolitical uncertainty will create a fragile backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.
The short-term outlook for global equity markets is cautious, with the risk of a downturn in shares and other higher-risk assets more elevated than in a more ‘normal’ market environment.
Longer term, investors may need to get used to market returns that are likely to be lower than in previous decades.
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