This site uses cookies

To give you the best possible experience, the GAM website uses cookies. You can read full information of our cookie use here. Your privacy is important to us and we encourage you to read our privacy policy here.

2018 Outlook – Events to Watch out for this Year

Thursday, January 04, 2018

GAM Investments' investment experts highlight what they believe will be the key events to look out for over the course of 2018 in their specialist fields.


Accelerating inflation

Larry Hatheway, group head of investment solutions and chief economist

A key development to watch out for in 2018 is the potential advent of accelerating inflation. It matters most because it is almost entirely unanticipated by markets, yet seems likely from the perspective of macroeconomic conditions. But it is also of great significance because unanticipated inflation will lead to major setbacks in both bond and stock markets, with significant aftershocks in almost all asset classes. It would undermine the efficacy of conventional ‘balanced’ multi-asset portfolios, but potentially serve well multi-asset, multi-strategy portfolios that can go short (eg target return).


A return to ‘normal’ volatility

Niall Gallagher, portfolio manager for European equities

We have witnessed very low levels of overall equity market volatility during the last 12 months, with investors seemingly unfazed by global events that would have previously caused short-term volatility or rotation within equity markets. The continued expansion of the ECB’s balance sheet has undoubtedly had a smoothing effect, but also caused extended valuations in certain ‘safe haven’ areas of the market. Fund investors have also followed this trend, witnessed by the positive net inflows into ‘low-vol’ or ‘short-vol’ packaged products. What will trigger a return to more normalised levels of volatility? We cannot know for certain, but the impending unwinding of the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet would seem to offer a real test, particularly to the ‘bond proxy’ equities.


US tax reform

Roberto Bottoli, portfolio manager for merger arbitrage strategies

US tax reform could be a key event to watch out for in 2018 for the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market and for the stock market in general. If the reform kicks in, one may expect increased M&A activity, which could be bolstered by additional resources made available by tax savings and possibly cash repatriation measures. On the other hand, a limit on the deductibility of interest expenses is proposed in the same reform, which would limit the use of debt and make certain leveraged buyouts, typical of private equity companies, uneconomic, thus limiting this type of transaction.


NAFTA negotiations

Paul McNamara, investment director for emerging markets fixed income

In early 2018, we are likely to get more information on progress in the NAFTA negotiations, and arguably a better sense of the US’s policy direction towards global trade. The outcome of these negotiations could have profound implications for emerging markets (EM) in general and Mexico in particular. President Trump’s protectionist attitude remains a major risk for EM growth and any shift towards higher tariffs would have a material impact on all EM currencies. At the same time, elections in Mexico, the reform process and elections in Brazil, internal party politics in South Africa and developments in Turkey could all increase the volatility of EM returns as well.


After the hurricane is before the hurricane

John Seo, investment director for insurance-linked securities and managing principal at Fermat Capital Management

In 2018, we expect a 10% increase in risk-adjusted yields in catastrophe bonds and adjacent areas of the insurance-linked securities (ILS) sector. In the year just ending, active returns helped offset losses to deliver a net positive return, despite a string of loss events led by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM). The ILS market has not fully come to grips with some fundamental realities, which emanate from the fact that HIM insured losses, though still substantial, will be approximately USD 60 billion, not the USD 100 billion widely assumed. In 2018, we expect to adopt a moderately offensive stance in our portfolios by selectively investing in higher yield positions. We also expect 2018 catastrophe bond issuance to break all previous records with USD 12 billion in bonds coming to market.

Important legal information
The information in this document is given for information purposes only and does not qualify as investment advice. Opinions and assessments contained in this document may change and reflect the point of view of GAM in the current economic environment. No liability shall be accepted for the accuracy and completeness of the information. Past performance is no indicator for the current or future development. Allocations and holdings are subject to change.
Scroll to top