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  • Neil Williams
    The US and UK are already running highly negative interest rates, when QE is considered, according to a report by the International business of Federated Hermes.
  • Neil Williams
    Neil Williams argues that comparisons between G7 economies’ current experiences and those of Japan since the late 1990s are more than just a coincidence...
  • 12th September 2018
    Macroeconomics and Risk
    Neil Williams
    In his Q4 Economic outlook, Neil Williams, Senior Economic Adviser to Hermes Investment Management, argues that even a decade after the fall of Lehman Brothers - central banks will be slow to lift a tide of liquidity still hiding the rocks beneath.
  • Neil Williams
    Neil Williams, Senior Economic Adviser, Hermes Investment Management: “After softer activity data, the BoE's rate-hike today, their second in this cycle, may raise some eyebrows. However, it shouldn't be seen as heralding a swift move upwards. “As with their first rise last November, the Bank's tone again reflects caution. Suspecting that its room to manoeuvre will become more constrained as Prime Minister May seeks a Brexit Treaty in 2019, it may be putting as much store on tactics as long-term strategy. Even if there is a deal next year, it would most likely only be a precursor to sorting out the various legal and trade systems by December 2020. “Motivating today's move will be the MPC’s assessment of very little slack left in the economy, and building excess demand. It will also be hoping that spring’s pay settlements data have been strong enough to help validate the traditional link with low unemployment. “Yet, their window to hike may become smaller in 2019, and even close by 2020. UK growth has almost ground to a halt - from the top of the G5 quarter-on-quarter growth-table in H2 2016 (just after the referendum) to the bottom by H2 2017 - despite a softer fiscal stance.”
  • Neil Williams
    To test whether the macro strains in the eurozone periphery are still holding back the core members, Neil Williams, Senior Economic Adviser to Hermes Investment Management, updates his ‘Misery Indices’ (MIs) out to 2019. He finds that, with macro-economic convergence between euro members next year set to be the strongest since 2007, they should be on a better footing to weather their next challenge - linked perhaps to Italy’s political risk. Off-the-wall methods for proxying economic hardship include an index adding together a country’s unemployment and inflation rates. Though hardly scientific, they become especially flawed in a low inflation or deflationary world when the components may move in opposite directions. We offer a more logical alternative to this, and to GDP estimates, which are produced with more of a time lag and frequently revised.
  • Neil Williams
    In his latest Quarterly Economic Outlook, Neil Williams, Senior Economic Adviser to Hermes Investment Management, argues that markets are still taking a ‘glass half full’ view of the macro outlook, with little real consideration of the new risk emerging. Until now, this has made sense, with speculation the US would open the fiscal box having justified ‘reflation trades’. However, while better for growth (see chart 1), markets are ignoring the darker cloud looming. Rather than financial distrust, we may need to brace for political distrust with the threat of beggar-thy neighbour policies - from the US to anti-European populism - rising. 2018 could be a ‘year of two halves’... In which case, 2018 could be a year of two halves, where stimulus- euphoria gradually gives way to stagflation concern. Helpfully, the trade-off is that policy rates stay lower than many expect. As chart 2 attests, the world’s appetite for international trade has, as a share of GDP, more than doubled in the past 50 years. Nevertheless, without care, the unhelpful jigsaw piece of retaliatory protectionism from the 1930s, might come crashing into place. In 1930, it was triggered by the Smoot-Hawley reforms that raised US tariffs to up to 20% on over 20,000 imported goods. This hit the US’s relatively small number of trading partners, most notably Canada and Europe, and prolonged the depression.