We expect the Canadian economy to experience a consumption-led rebound in the second half of the year, supported by the substantial savings that many households have accumulated. The Bank of Canada (BOC) has indicated that monetary stimulus will continue to support the recovery, albeit at reduced levels, until inflation drops back closer to its 2 percent target.
As the economy rebounds, and employment and inflation pick up, we expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to gradually begin tightening monetary policy sometime next year. Potential sources of risk include a significant rise in interest rates, increased regulations and taxes, disappointment in Congress’s efforts to pass an infrastructure bill and the unchecked spread of COVID-19 variants.
The U.K. has shifted away from economic austerity, and we think it likely that the government will continue with expansionary fiscal policy until at least 2023. In Continental Europe, a large economic recovery plan was adopted in February of this year. Such responses by central authorities should work to insulate the European economies from the worst of the pandemic.
Inflation is rising given higher commodity prices, supply-chain bottlenecks and the fact that prices were depressed by the pandemic in the year-ago period. We remain optimistic about the outlook for Asian equities but are keeping a close eye on the shift away from highly valued growth sectors since the fourth quarter of 2020.
The factors that generally drive the relative performance of emerging markets have been the U.S. dollar and the size of the gap in economic growth and earnings between emerging and developed markets. Looking forward, we believe that the case is relatively strong that these factors will turn positive and that emerging markets will enter a period of outperformance.
The latest wave of COVID-19 infections is now retreating, allowing governments to incrementally reopen their economies. Strong growth, surging corporate profits and elevated investor confidence have helped to extend the bull market and boost global equities to record highs.