As a consequence there seems to be little choice but to apply a more probabilistic framework around the likely path of global monetary policy. This also implies us being somewhat reactive in our views.
We expect over the second half of 2017 this divergence will likely be resolved to a substantial degree. Either it will become clear there has been a durable reduction in inflation-proneness post crisis, or cyclical relationships as we understand them will start to make their presence felt.
The central view underlying our forecasts suggests most central banks in advanced economies will continue to gradually move away from extreme monetary accommodation, although we don’t expect the European Central Bank to shift rates until very late 2018. New Zealand is also in this group.
In contrast, the modest nature of the recovery will actually leave room for some central banks, particularly India, to countenance easier monetary policy.
There is also some risk Australia may slip into this group if wages don’t start to recover. Forming a consequent view on the asset market and economic impact of the unwinding of QE is not trivial.
Certainly there is a vanilla presumption as the introduction of quantitative easing encouraged yield curves to bull flatten, capital to find a home in alternative assets and drove volatility down, it’s unwind should reverse these effects.
The vanilla approach, however, presumes the world of the QE unwind is the same as the world of QE introduction. Patently that is not the case.
The reality is the world as it currently stands simply cannot handle interest rates at levels we think of as more ‘normal’. Part of this is about debt levels.
Most important are rates of income growth. The combination of these two forces implies interest rates simply cannot increase very much, or asset markets decline too substantially, without a cost to growth.
Until the income story, at the very least, starts to change, it’s hard to see bond yields increasing sharply.
Our commodity views in many ways reflect the modestly above-trend nature of global growth. Growth is neither strong enough nor weak enough to drive a large and synchronous commodity cycle.
Neither is the $US a large influence, as was the case in 2014. As a result, other influences, like supply, are left to exert their idiosyncratic effects unevenly across the commodity spectrum.
For currency markets, the evolution towards the end of unconventional monetary policies is likely to be the defining feature of exchange rates.
We expect a gradual decline in official sector liquidity to bring overall liquidity down. This should bifurcate currencies along risk lines – with the Yen and Euro outperforming risk-sensitive currencies in Asia, $A and $NZ. Do not expect, therefore, a uniform strong $US trend to emerge in currency markets.
The increased confidence in growth also shouldn’t completely distract from the structural headwinds which persist.
Even in the US, which is furthest advanced in its economic cycle, there has still been no meaningful improvement in the level of public debt, business investment remains subpar and broad money supply growth remains well below what was common pre-crisis.
There is sufficient evidence to suggest, therefore, well beyond wages and inflation, all is still not ‘normal’ in the world.
One structural concern from many is the impact of demographics and more aged populations. We are less concerned than most on this issue, despite the policy challenges inherent herein.
Already people are working longer as working life reconverges with life expectancy, technology is sustaining participation, and small open economies are responding through their migration policies.
The impact of more prudent banking sector activity on growth, however, is likely to be a more sustained issue.
A decade after the crisis many economies are still tweaking their strengthened financial stability regimes to make them even more robust. Both the UK and Australia have made recent shifts in this regard, even if the US is on the cusp of tilting the other way.
The stability wins from this are undeniable. The growth impacts are less obviously recognised but are likely to be substantial.
Richard Yetsenga is Chief Economist at ANZ