PIMCO's Economic Outlook - Five Key Takeaways

clock • 5 min read

PIMCO global economic adviser Joachim Fels looks at the key economic trends for investors to keep an eye on over 2019.

Our long-standing views on risks to the status quo are being priced into financial markets, with heightened volatility one indicator. We believe the global economy is past peak growth in the cycle, central bank support continues to be reduced and political risk looms large across countries.

As we discuss in depth in our latest Cyclical Outlook, "Synching Lower", five key macro debates are likely to shape the economic and market outlook for 2019:

How late is it in the cycle?

Our updated quantitative models indicate that the probability of a US recession over the next 12 months has risen to about 30% recently and is thus higher than at any point in this nine-year-old expansion. Even so, the models are flashing orange rather than red. A more qualitative analysis corroborates the quant models: We currently do not see signs of overheating in labour or goods markets that have heralded some recessions in the past, nor the overspending or credit excesses that have preceded others. Importantly, however, the current market environment makes amply clear that it doesn't take a recession for turmoil to roil financial markets.

Have we reached the end of US economic exceptionalism?

In 2019, we expect the growth gap between the US and the rest of the developed world to narrow. Over the past year, the US had a large fiscal boost that accelerated growth while the world was slowing, a central bank that confidently raised rates every quarter, a stock market that outperformed most others, and a dollar that appreciated despite the president's protestations. Looking ahead, we see US growth "synching lower" as tighter financial conditions start to bite, fiscal stimulus fades and the recent plunge in oil prices benefits Europe, Japan and China more than the US, which has become a net energy exporter.

Will inflation ever return?

We lowered our sights on inflation in 2019 due to the recent plunge in oil prices and continued sogginess in core inflation in the US, Europe and Japan. Our baseline sees core inflation broadly flat or slightly higher in these three regions and thus still running below target. It is certainly possible that wages start to accelerate more in response to declining unemployment, leading to a bend in the Phillips curve that describes the relationship between unemployment and wages. However, we concluded that rising productivity growth would likely moderate unit labour cost pressures, and heightened competition and transparency in goods markets due to the Amazon effect would likely keep consumer price inflation subdued. 

The Fed pauses, then what?

If and when the Federal Reserve pauses its policy rate hikes in 2019, will this be followed by a resumption of rate hikes, or will the next move after a shorter or longer pause be down in rates? We reckoned it would be difficult to communicate a pause without markets jumping to the conclusion that this is the end of the rate cycle and the next move will be down. As Ben Bernanke reminded us, his attempt to signal a pause in the previous rate cycle led to significant volatility. With the probability of recession likely to rise over time, a resumption of rate hikes after a pause seems relatively unlikely.

US versus China: Truce or peace?

The conflict between the US and China is likely more deep-rooted and about much more than trade alone, and thus could continue to be a source of uncertainty and volatility even if there were a deal on trade.

These trends support our relatively cautious positioning and intense focus on liquid assets, which will allow us to respond either to specific opportunities or generic spread widening and higher volatility.

Read PIMCO's latest Cyclical Outlook, "Synching Lower", for further insights into the 2019 outlook for the global economy along with takeaways for investors. 

Read Here 


For professional investor use only. All investments contain risk and may lose value. 

PIMCO Europe Ltd (Company No. 2604517) and PIMCO Europe Ltd - Italy (Company No. 07533910969) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (12 Endeavour Square, London E20 1JN) in the UK. The Italy branch is additionally regulated by the CONSOB in accordance with Article 27 of the Italian Consolidated Financial Act. PIMCO Europe Ltd services and products are available only to professional clients as defined in the Financial Conduct Authority's Handbook and are not available to individual investors, who should not rely on this communication. | PIMCO Deutschland GmbH (Company No. 192083, Seidlstr. 24-24a, 80335 Munich, Germany) and PIMCO Deutschland GmbH Swedish Branch (SCRO Reg. No. 516410-9190) are  authorised and regulated by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) (Marie- Curie-Str. 24-28, 60439 Frankfurt am Main) in Germany in accordance with Section 32 of the German Banking Act (KWG). The Swedish Branch is additionally supervised by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) in accordance with Chapter 25 Sections 12-14 of the Swedish Securities Markets Act. he services provided by PIMCO Deutschland GmbH are available only to professional clients as defined in Section 31a para. 2 German Securities Trading Act (WpHG). They are not available to individual investors, who should not rely on this communication. | PIMCO (Schweiz) GmbH(registered in Switzerland, Company No. CH-, Brandschenkestrasse 41, 8002 Zurich, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 44 512 49 10. The services and products provided by PIMCO (Schweiz) GmbH are not available to individual investors, who should not rely on this communication but contact their financial adviser.

This material contains the opinions of the manager and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. PIMCO is a trademark of Allianz Asset Management of America L.P. in the United States and throughout the world. ©2018, PIMCO.

More on Investment

Partner Insight: What's next for real assets in a changing landscape?

Partner Insight: What's next for real assets in a changing landscape?

Despite the uncertainty surrounding interest rates and inflation, global appetite for real assets remains strong.

Sarka Halas
clock 12 April 2024 • 1 min read
 Stories of the week: People's Partnership; Brightwell; Epson buy-in

Stories of the week: People's Partnership; Brightwell; Epson buy-in

People's Partnership calls for ban on pension switching incentives; Brightwell launches self-serve retirement journey; Epson scheme completes £60m buy-in

Professional Pensions
clock 12 April 2024 • 1 min read
Partner Insight: Navigating the new opportunities in high yield

Partner Insight: Navigating the new opportunities in high yield

The high yield market has seen significant shifts over the last few years. After a period of low borrowing costs, high interest rates have created a new environment. While strong companies are finding opportunities, riskier issuers could face challenges, says Azhar Hussain, Head of Global Credit, Royal London Asset Management.

clock 11 April 2024 • 5 min read