The economic future of the U.S. may not be as bright as markets expected following the 2016 presidential election – but that doesn’t mean the economy has lost its footing.
“The expectations for economic growth given the change in administration and potential changes to the tax code and regulation did increase the belief that growth was to accelerate,” says Peter Hardy, vice-president and client portfolio manager at American Century Investments in Kansas City, Missouri. Now, “that thesis is being revised.”
Still, says Hardy, economic growth in the 2% range is steadier than the expansions that other global economies are experiencing. In June, the IMF cut its 2017 growth expectations for the U.S. from 2.3% in April to 2.1%, and it also cut its U.S. projections for 2018 to 2.1%.
There are also bright spots in the U.S. market, he adds. “Earnings growth for S&P companies in the U.S., for the most part, has been very strong,” says Hardy, whose firm manages the Renaissance U.S. Equity Income Fund. He and his team find stock price movements are the main reason corporate earnings are showing strength, versus macroeconomic forecasts and revisions of those.
It also pays to keep a close eye on interest rates globally and their trajectory. Says Hardy: “the expectations around economic growth, to us, are probably also less impactful than the trajectory of interest rates and potential changes to central bank policy worldwide.”
Just think about how loose monetary policy has “resulted in a mountain of liquidity that has found its way into asset prices,” he explains, pointing to stocks and bonds, housing appreciation in Canada, and the low levels of yield worldwide. He and his team will watch as these trends develop, and will also consider how the greenback has been impacted by lower growth expectations.