Last updated: 22:53 / Monday, 15 August 2016
Unigestion’s Market Commentary

Political Risk is Here to Stay

Imagen
Political Risk is Here to Stay
  • For now, the first of the potential market stress triggers is, naturally, political risk
    Globalization fears and a slower rate of improvement in standards of living have been two salient features of the past three years
  • Increasing wealth and income inequality or the migration scare are also factors in this new political situation
  • The next political event to watch will be the Italian referendum in October and then the US elections in November

The Brexit lesson has been learned: political risk is here to stay, and should be treated with caution. The good news for the coming quarter, according to Gaël Combes, Equities Fundamental Analyst, and Florian Ielpo, Head of Macro Research in Cross Asset Solutions at Unigestion, is that growth across developed economies should be slightly better, as consumption should remain supportive.

Emerging economiesare still set on an improving trend and the combination of improvements in both sets of countries is an encouraging sign for financial assets correlated to growth. However, politics is not the only risk: China’s gigantic level of debt is a natural source of concern as well. Risks are not off the table, but the outlook for the quarter to come is slightly better than for the previous one. That will be contingent on central banks’ planning – but that is business as usual.

Enlarge
Growth in GPD per capita (left) and country shares in global GDP (right). Source: IMF and Unigestion

For now, the first of the potential market stress triggers is, naturally, political risk. There is a rise in anti-establishment votes across developed economies, reflecting the perceived failure of liberal capitalist economies to keep their promises of a better tomorrow. Globalization fears and a slower rate of improvement in standards of living have been two salient features of the past three years. Increasing wealth and income inequality or the migration scare are also factors in this new political situation.

The good old left and right parties’ political system is struggling to adjust to this new political map as populism no longer belongs specifically to one of the two sides. A similar situation has occurred over the past 20 years – the Greek Syriza party is probably the best example of all – but never did one of the 10 biggest countries show such an endorsement for an anti-establishment electoral proposal. Indeed, the Brexit vote shows two things: first, what has long remained a minority of unhappy voters using political extremes to show their disgruntlement may now become an actual governing force.

Second, it is also a demonstration to other countries – especially in Europe – that the vox populi can turn institutions upside down: “if they did it, so can we”, a message of hope for other dissident political parties. After the Brexit vote, the next political event to watch will be the Italian referendum in October and then the US elections in November.

The success of the Italian referendum is a condition for the current Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi not to step down from his current position: the vote will offer leverage against the political establishment, creating the temptation to express frustrations. It is not an event on the scale of Brexit, but it could be another hint of what is happening across Europe: Eurosceptics are on the rise.

The US election could be a more significant step in this process, and the battle stands a good chance to be close: wealth and income inequality are particularly strong in the US, and the social unrest that it creates is supportive of Donald Trump. This list of events will extend itself next year, with the French, Dutch and German elections. The Netherlands is a country particularly at risk, with the PVV party enjoying strong success: an eventful political perspective for the quarters ahead.

menu
menu