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LGT Private Banking Europe House View – October 2020

September 30, 2020

A deadlock is looming on the US elections, this could cause nervousness on financial markets in the coming weeks. We are sticking to our constructive attitude towards financial markets in the medium to long term, as the dual stimulus continues to work and hopes for a possible Covid-19-vaccine are also strongly supportive. In the short-term, we remain on the sidelines at an asset allocation level and leave the equity exposure at neutral. From a cross asset point of view, we continue to have a preference for equities over bonds. The setback in gold can and should be used to build up positions.

LGT Private Banking Êurope House View

Autumn is usually not on the side of the stock market bulls and it seems that the corona year 2020 will be no exception. The seasonal headwinds have been reinforced this year with a renewed increase in Covid-19 infections as well as the uncertainties surrounding the election of the US President and the Congress. In such a setup, it makes sense to take a step back and take a closer look at the overall weather situation.

Faster economic recovery than during the financial crisis

In recent weeks, investors have often compared the recession triggered by the corona pandemic to the great financial crisis twelve years ago. As graph 1 impressively shows, the economic slump in the corona crisis was much deeper than in the financial crisis, but the recovery is now also clearly faster. The difference can be found in the enormous dual stimulus. In the banking and real estate crisis starting 2008, only the central banks went “all-in”, whereas in today's global pandemic not only the central banks, but also the governments have entered into crisis mode and are adopting extensive fiscal packages. Thus the stimulus measures are much more substantial today and are the primary driver of the economic recovery, but are also mainly responsible for the rise in capital markets, especially the stock market. At first glance, this upswing looks like a textbook “V-shaped“ recovery, which is also supported by leading indicators. But under the surface, it looks more differentiated, especially with regard to the labor market and consumer confidence, which are clearly lagging behind the great financial crisis. In certain areas of the economy, a recovery at different speeds can be observed .

US fiscal impulse 2.0 at risk

So far, an agreement between Republicans and Democrats on a fiscal stimulus package 2.0 before the upcoming US elections has clearly been the base case scenario. In recent weeks, however, this has definitely become less likely. It is not impossible but the odds have clearly worsened. In our view, this is also the reason why capital markets are in a “wait and see” mode at the moment. Caution is therefore still warranted in the coming weeks, as the political developments in Washington are likely to keep volatility high. In this context, special attention will be paid to the television debates between US President Donald Trump and his democratic challenger Joe Biden, which kicked off last night with more to follow in the coming weeks (graph 2).

The following three scenarios are currently feasible:

■ expected fiscal package of USD 1.5 to 2 trillion

■ no deal before the elections

■ a slimmed-down package with limited stimulus, aimed at supporting consumers

From our point of view, scenario 1 can be classified as improbable five weeks before the elections. Only a drastic deterioration of the Covid-19 situation would probably bring the two parties to the table to agree on such a package. Scenarios 2 and 3 we consider to be equally likely.

The Trump risk

In exactly 34 days the US Presidential election will take place and the capital market has to deal with the increasing risk that there might be no clear winner on 3rd November. Only twice in history has there been a comparable situation, in the years 1876 and 2000. Twenty years ago, the haunting was ended by the Supreme Court after 35 days and the stock markets dropped about -5% during this period. The situation today, however, is much more complex and a stalemate could cause great uncertainty among market participants, at least in the short term.

We remain constructive, but stay on the sidelines for now

We are sticking to our constructive attitude towards financial markets in the medium to long term, as the dual stimulus continues to work and hopes for a possible Covid-19-vaccine are also strongly supportive. In the short-term, we remain on the sidelines at an asset allocation level and leave the equity exposure at neutral. From a cross asset point of view, we continue to have a preference for equities over bonds. The setback in gold can and should be used to build up positions. Following this month's correction in equity markets, we see already a number of very selective companies where we would think first partial positions should be built up.

 

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Imprint
Publisher: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., Glärnischstrasse 36, CH-8027 Zurich
Author: Thomas Wille, Head Research & Strategy, Email: thomas.wille@lgt.com
Editor: Alessandro Fezzi, E-Mail: alessandro.fezzi@lgt.com
Source: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd.

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