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From unemployment and inflation to climate change and social inequality, central banks (CB) are on the frontlines. In the context of the ECB’s and the Federal Reserve’s strategic reviews there are now open debates about their new tools, targets and mandates. But a more profound change in central banks’ behaviour should also be discussed, regarding recession aversion, fiscal dependence and markets interaction.
Didier BOROWSKI, Pierre BLANCHET, Annalisa USARDI, Valentine AINOUZ
Fourth quarter 2019 earnings season confirmed the flat trend of the past 12 months. Hardly had 2019 ended than all eyes turned to 2020. For several months now, the earnings growth consensus for 2020 looked too optimistic. The spreading of coronavirus has only made us more cautious. The epidemic will certainly have a big impact on the first quarter of 2020 but some catching-up can be expected in the following quarters. In the short term the market should remain nervous. In the longer term a cautious optimism should eventually prevail.
While in the short term we do expect some temporary relief coming from positive economic surprises and supportive news on the trade front (should coronavirus impact be limited), on a medium-term horizon our economic scenario confirms the fragility of the profit cycle. Exceptional features of this cycle are lower growth due to trade war escalation, unprecedented low interest rates due to unconventional monetary policy and a fairly resilient labour market due to the strong domestic sector resilience. Notwithstanding these specificities, the 2020 is still compatible with a late cycle phase; but the most likely scenario for the end of 2021 is the transition into a correction phase
Annalisa USARDI, Lorenzo PORTELLI
The new European leadership (at the head of the European Commission and the ECB), combined with historically low real interest rates, provides a unique opportunity to rethink priorities in order to meet the challenges at hand (economic, financial, environmental and security challenges). In economic terms, strengthening Europe and improving its competitiveness means tackling all these challenges simultaneously. At the level of economic policy, the link between monetary and fiscal policy must inevitably be rethought. But that's not enough. The expansionary policy mix must be accompanied by an improvement in the financial architecture. We identify two pillars on which the European authorities shold be able to act significantly in 2020-21: the Capital Market Union and budgetary rules. This is a prerequisite for dealing with the inevitable macrofinancial shocks that the future holds. Against this backdrop, the voices of Christine Lagarde and Ursula von Der Leyen (Presidents of the ECB and the Commission respectively) are eagerly awaited.
Head of Global Views