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As part of their toolkit to support the economic recovery during the Covid-19 crisis, central banks could implement yield-curve control. Although appealing, the implementation and exit risks of such a policy counterbalance the benefits, particularly in the Eurozone. Moreover, the impact on financial markets could be significant since chained risk-free assets could temporarily leave risky assets unsettled.
Pierre BLANCHET, Didier BOROWSKI, Paresh UPADHYAYA, Annalisa USARDI
Global Views Analyst
The outcome of Super Tuesday took most people by surprise and maybe even Joe Biden himself… A third-time campaigner to become the Democratic Party’s candidate (after 1988 and 2008) for the November 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden had a tough start.
Head of Investment Intelligence
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.
2019 proved a strong year for US assets, with US equity markets recording the strongest annual total return since 2013 and the US aggregate bond index up almost 9.0%. In addition, the past decade proved the best ever for the S&P 500 index, which returned 256% overall, well above its historical average.
Kenneth J. TAUBES, Christine TODD, Sergio BERTONCINI, Noah FUNDERBURK, Marco PIRONDINI, Eric MIJOT, Annalisa USARDI, Paresh UPADHYAYA
CFA, Senior Economist
Over the last decade, easy financial conditions encouraged an increase in sovereign and corporate debt. Indeed, the leverage of American companies has reached record high levels and US corporate debt has been used for financial risk-taking to fund corporate payments to investors, as well as for mergers and acquisitions. At the opposite, the leverage of European companies has remained at low levels as European companies have remained more cautious over this cycle. In 2019, we have evolved in a new regime: the global economy has entered a synchronised slowdown and major central banks have returned to an easing stance. What are the risks for companies in this new context? We are following closely: The downgrade risk in the US Investment Grade universe. Net leverage for US issuers have resumed their upward trajectory in recent months. In 2020: (1) companies to make a trade-off between maintaining share buy backs and the stability or their debt (2) the downgrade risk to increase among firms facing increase pressure on profits. The default rate risk for low-quality high-yield bonds. Sluggish earning growth poses the biggest threat for companies to pay interest on their debt despite the low cost of financing. Indeed, at this stage of the cycle, we think that interest coverage is more closely related to earnings than to its interest expense: interest coverage could be quickly eroded by a hit to earnings. A selective approach is required in the low-rated Euro and US High Yield segments.
Deputy Head of Developed Market Strategy Research