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Comprehensive list of COVID-19 initiatives and packages.
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Budget 2020 - A very comprehensive break down.
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September update of latest COVID-19 initiatives.
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Seven reasons why the trend in shares will likely remain up, albeit with bumps along the way
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Market outlook Q&A
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COVID-19: How long may your super savings take to recover?
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Boost your super in the lead up to retirement
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4 ways to help prepare your finances for a recession
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JobKeeper - Latest Update
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Australian economic and fiscal update
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The fiscal cliff is more likely to be a fiscal slope
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Protect yourself from COVID-19 related scams
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Investment options and retirement
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Extra Tools & Resources for our clients.
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The Australian economy and recovery from COVID-19
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10 medium to longer-term implications from the coronavirus shock
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Preserving retirement saving during COVID-19
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COVID-19: Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
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The coronavirus pandemic and the economy – a Q&A from an investment perspective
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Money challenges women face
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Data so large it's hard to comprehend.
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Is coronavirus driving a recession, depression or an economic hit like no other?
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Holding your nerve – why retirees fear a market plunge
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Historic $130bn wage subsidy to cover 6 million workers
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Stage 2 – Covid-19 stimulus package.
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Covid-19 Update - Small Business
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PM launches $17.6 billion virus stimulus plan
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The plunge in shares – seven things investors need to keep in mind
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Three reasons why low inflation is good for shares and property
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Can refinancing my home loan save me money?
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Expected GDP by country 2010 to 2100
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Super investment options – what’s right for you?
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Life beyond work
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Statistical picture of Australia - Update
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A resource hub for our clients.
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Real Time World Population Growth - Wow!!
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Dividends explained
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Start 2020 with a best snapshot of Australia.
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5 tips for green investing
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Make Australians save again
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Bushfires and the Australian economy
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Grow your super in the new year
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Australia by the Numbers
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How to create realistic goals…… and stick to them.
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5 days to get your finances in order
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Our Advent calendar for 2019
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Superannuation changes
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You'll be the life of the party when armed with this information!
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7 tips to improve your financial wellness
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Rebooting for retirement
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5 reasons why the A$ may be close to the bottom
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Resist today, relax tomorrow
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Market Update 30 September 2019
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How much superannuation is enough?
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All Australia's vital statistics - October 2019
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6 new financial videos
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DGP by country since 1800
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Boost savings with compound interest
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Australia by the numbers - September 2019
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Protecting your super package.
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Market Update 2019
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How the top 10 global companies have changes since 1998
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The longest US economic expansion ever
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How to retire early
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How to play catch up with your Super
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Inflation undershoots in Australia
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9 money mistakes to avoid in retirement
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What a financial planner does to help.
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Australia's vital statistics.
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What kind of money parent are you?
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How to save money
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Federal Budget 2019 - Overview
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How the 2019 Federal Budget affects you
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New Global growth slowing, plunging bond yields & inverted yield curves
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Women and Money
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Market Update - March 2019
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The problem with getting to 53 years of age.
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Things to avoid as a newbie investor
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Budget Time - How's Australia going?
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Most older Aussies prefer home care over a nursing home
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Why growth in China is unlikely to slow too far
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10 money conversations to have when your relationship heats up
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Australia slides into a 'per capita recession'
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6 steps to get your money stuff together
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All you need to know about how Australia is going.
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Australian housing downturn Q&A
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5 life insurance questions you've always wanted to ask
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2019 a list of lists - regarding the macro investment outlook
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Part 4 - The major benefit of ‘behavioural coaching'
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How to adult—a quick guide to personal finances in your 20s
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How Australia is performing.
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The Australian economy in 2019
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Holiday budgeting tips— How to avoid a travel debt hangover
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Australia - a comprehensive run-down of our vital statistics.
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The Fed and market turmoil - the Fed turns a bit dovish but not enough (yet)
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Information needed to be the BBQ expert.
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Merry Christmas for 2016, a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2017.
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54.2 million worries
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Five tips for happy healthy ageing
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Government pulls back on proposed changes to super
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Value of Advice
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The investment outlook - it's not all that bad!
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Ageing Parents
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Should you own the roof over your head?
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Brexit wins
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2016-17 Federal Budget - AMP
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2016 Budget in detail
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Procrastination: Just do it. Eventually.
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The Lucky Country holding up pretty well
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Have we reached the bottom?
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Retirement rolls around faster than you think
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Pressed for time?
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Changes to the Age Pension assets test
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Women are building financial intelligence
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Heirlooms no more
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Initial market falls precede stronger returns - Shane Oliver
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What exactly is income protection insurance and do I need it?
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A rough start to the year, which could have further to go
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Aged Care - Changes to Assessment of Rental Income
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A bump in the road, then a new start
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New year, new start – are you ready for retirement?
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Review of 2015, outlook for 2016 - Dr Shane Oliver
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We wish you a Merry Christmas for 2015 and a Happy New Year
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Go easy on the plastic over Christmas
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The Australian dollar doing what it normally does - overshoot. Dr Shane Oliver
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How to manage volatility in a low return world
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The Australian economy - more help will be needed. Dr Shane Oliver
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Insurance through my super
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Four tactics to build an investment portfolio
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The demand for global infrastructure
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Help achieve your investment goals with dynamic asset allocation
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The Power of Budgeting
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A Super Loan for all reasons
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Budget 2015 - some professional opinions
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Australian Government - Budget 2015
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Is off-the-plan on the money?
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Should I take my super as a lump sum or not?
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To sell or not to sell?
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Saving in a material world
Review of 2020, outlook for 2021

 

... from pandemic to recovery
Dr Shane Oliver - Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist, AMP Capital

 

         

Key points
  • 2020 was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic but shares saw okay returns on the back of policy stimulus and vaccine optimism – resulting in constrained but positive returns for balanced growth super funds.
     
  • For 2021, the combination of massive policy stimulus and the prospect of vaccines allowing a return to something more normal by end 2021/early 2022 should see a decent rebound in economic growth.
     
  • This plus lower interest rates is likely to see solid returns from share markets but poor returns from bonds. Australian shares are likely to be relative outperformers.
     
  • The main things to keep an eye on are: coronavirus and vaccines; China tensions; inflation; as well as the hit to immigration in Australia and its impact on home prices.

2020 - not what it was supposed to be

2020 didn’t exactly turn out the way I or many expected a year ago. For Australia, the year started badly as severe drought had given way to the worst bushfires on record. But just as the bushfires were receding it gave way to the coronavirus pandemic. Every year has a big surprise - or what Dr Don Stammer has long called Factor X - but they don’t usually have such a profound impact as the coronavirus pandemic has.

  • It caused a massive health crisis claiming at least 1.5 million lives, with many countries seeing at least two waves.
  • It kept many confined to their homes and shut down big chunks of economies, driving the biggest fall in economic activity since the end of WW2 if not the Great Depression, with major economies seeing peak to trough falls in GDP of 10% to 20% and the Australian economy contracting by 7.3%. This saw unemployment surge and inflation plunge.
  • Share markets had 35% or so plunges in February/March, commodity prices collapsed with the oil price going negative at one point as investors sought out safe havens like bonds.
  • And it, or rather the poor management of it, lost President Trump the US election (even though he denies losing).

The pandemic also increased tensions with China and is likely to leave a longer term mark with a further set back to globalisation, more social tensions, bigger government and public debt, the risk that massive money printing eventually results in higher inflation, faster structural change due to an accelerated embrace of technology, more consumer caution and a lower population in Australia due to the hit to immigration.

However, while 2020 is a year many of us would prefer to forget and coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in much of the world, the end result for economies hasn’t been as bad as had been feared back in March and April. This reflected a combination of:

  • An unprecedented and rapid fiscal stimulus that protected businesses, jobs and incomes;
  • Debt forbearance schemes that headed off defaults;
  • Massive monetary stimulus that saw interest rates plunge;
  • Social distancing which has helped contain the virus enabling some reopening – albeit better in some countries (eg, Asia, Australia and New Zealand) than others.

This enabled economic activity to bounce back faster than expected through the second half as restrictions eased, even though it wasn’t always smooth (eg, in Victoria or in Europe and the US) and we still have a way to go to full recovery. As a result investment markets also performed far better than feared.

Investment returns for major asset classes

Total return %, pre fees and tax

2019 actual

2020* actual

2021 forecast

Global shares (in Aust dollars)

28.0

6.3

4.0

Global shares (in local currency)

27.4

9.9

8.0

Asian shares (in local currency)

18.8

16.3

12.0

Emerging mkt shares (local currency)

18.1

12.3

12.0

Australian shares

23.4

0.2

12.0

Global bonds (hedged into $A)

7.2

4.8

-2.0

Australian bonds

7.3

4.8

-2.0

Global real estate investment trusts

22.1

-15.9

10.0

Aust real estate investment trusts

19.4

-5.0

10.0

Unlisted non-res property, estimate

6.0

-3.5

4.0

Unlisted infrastructure, estimate

11.0

-3.0

5.0

Aust residential property, estimate

5.6

2.5

5.0

Cash

1.5

0.4

0.1

Avg balanced super fund, ex fees & tax

14.7

3.0

6.0

* Yr to date to Nov. Source: Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, REIA, AMP Capital

  • While share markets plunged in March during the early stages of the pandemic, they then rebounded thanks to massive fiscal stimulus and reopening, low interest rates and bond yields that made shares cheap as well as good news on vaccines that enabled investors to look forward to further recovery in 2021.
  • This all drove solid returns in global shares with Asian and US shares (which were boosted by a relatively a high exposure to IT and initially health care stocks which benefitted from the pandemic) outperforming. The more cyclical Japanese and European markets underperformed.
  • Australian shares also unperformed due to the greater cyclical exposure of the Australian share market.
  • Government bonds had reasonable returns as yields fell in response to central bank rate cuts and bond buying along with safe haven demand – which drove capital growth.
  • Real estate investment trusts had negative returns as a result of a hit to property space demand and rents.
  • It was the same story for unlisted commercial property and infrastructure, although industrial property did well.
  • Home prices fell 3% around mid-year but then started to recover as low interest rates, government support measures and reopening swamped the hit to immigration, weak rental markets and higher unemployment. Houses, outer suburbs & regions benefited from “escape from the city.”
  • Cash and bank term deposit returns were poor as the RBA cut the cash rate to just 0.1%.
  • Due to reasonable share returns but weak property and infrastructure returns balanced super funds have so far seen low but positive returns – but this followed a strong 2019.

2021 - recovery

Just as 2020 was dominated by the pandemic and this determined the relative performance of investment markets and stocks, 2021 is likely to be dominated by the recovery. This in turn will have a profound effect on investment markets. There are four reasons for optimism. First, massive fiscal and monetary stimulus is still feeding through economies with very high saving rates indicating pent up demand that can be spent once confidence improves, which will also help offset the wind down of some support measures like JobKeeper in Australia.

Second, the news on vaccines is positive. While uncertainties remain, by end 2021 or early 2022 there is a good chance the world will be approaching a degree of herd immunity.

Third, a new US president in Joe Biden should usher in a period of more stable and expert based policy making in what is still the world’s biggest economy. In particular, it will likely head off a return to trade wars that could have wreaked havoc in 2021. A more diplomatic US approach to resolving differences with China could also help Australia move down a path to resolving its own differences with China.

Finally, Australia along with NZ has navigated 2020 remarkably well, controlling coronavirus far better than most comparable countries and seeing its politicians and institutions work well together. It also led to structural reforms that may help future growth (eg, property tax reform in NSW, IR reform nationally).

The combination of vaccines, policy stimulus and pent up demand is expected to see a supercharged cyclical rebound in global GDP of around 5.2% and 4.5% in Australia in 2021. This is likely to see strong double-digit rebounds in profit growth.

Inflation is likely to remain weak, reflecting still high levels of spare capacity which in turn means interest rates will remain low. While this is not good for those relying on bank interest, it benefits the household sector as a whole (with debt exceeding bank deposits) & corporates, eases the servicing of high public debt levels and makes shares cheap. So, in a way we remain in the sweet spot of the investment cycle with improving growth but low rates. In Australia, the cash rate is expected to end 2021 at 0.1% but there is still a risk of more quantitative easing.

 

Implications for investors

Shares are at risk of a short term correction after having ran up so hard recently and 2021 is likely to see a few rough patches along the way (much like we saw in 2010 after the recovery from the GFC), but looking through the inevitable short term noise, the combination of improving global growth and low interest rates augurs well for growth assets generally in 2021. In particular, we are likely to see a continuing shift in performance away from investments that benefitted from the pandemic and lockdowns - like US shares, technology and health care stocks and bonds - to investments that will benefit from recovery - like resources, industrials, tourism stocks and financials.

  • Global shares are expected to return around 8%, but expect a rotation away from growth heavy US shares to more cyclical markets in Europe, Japan and emerging countries.
  • Australian shares are also likely to be relative outperformers helped by better virus control, enabling a stronger recovery in the near term, stronger stimulus, sectors like resources, industrials and financials benefitting from the rebound in growth and as investors continue to drive a search for year yield benefitting the share market as dividends are increased resulting in a 4.4% grossed up dividend yield. Expect the ASX 200 to end 2021 back around 7200.

Aust shares still offer an attractive yield versus bank deposits

Source: Bloomberg, AMP Capital

  • Ultra-low yields & a capital loss from a 0.5-0.75% or so rise in yields are likely to result in negative returns from bonds.
  • Unlisted commercial property and infrastructure are ultimately likely to benefit from a resumption of the search for yield but the hit to space demand and hence rents from the virus will continue to weigh on near term returns.
  • Australian home prices are being boosted by record low mortgage rates, government home buyer incentives, income support measures and bank payment holidays but high unemployment, a stop to immigration and weak rental markets will likely weigh on inner city areas and units in Melbourne and Sydney. Outer suburbs, houses, smaller cities and regional areas will see stronger gains in 2021.
  • Cash and bank deposits are likely to provide very poor returns, given the ultra-low cash rate of just 0.1%.
  • Although the $A is vulnerable to bouts of uncertainty about coronavirus and China tensions and RBA bond buying will keep it lower than otherwise, a rising trend is still likely to around $US0.80 over the next 12 months helped by rising commodity prices and a cyclical decline in the US dollar.

The main things to keep an eye on in 2021 are as follows:

  • Coronavirus and vaccines – problems with vaccines or their deployment could result in ongoing waves of new coronavirus cases & slower recovery than we are assuming.
     
  • US politics – a Democrat victory in Georgia’s January 5 US senate elections would risk more of a leftward tilt under Biden, although conservative Democrat senators will limit this. Trump could also try to throw a spanner in the works.
     
  • China tensions – we expect a shift to a diplomatic approach here but there is a risk of misjudgement on either side which could start to slow our longer-term economic growth rate.
     
  • Inflation – we are assuming it remains weak but if it rebounds faster than expected it will mean faster increases in bond yields and downward pressure on asset valuations.
     
  • The hit to immigration in Australia – it’s hard to see 700,000 less immigrants out to mid-2023 having no impact on inner city Sydney and Melbourne property prices.


     

Important note: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this document, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455) make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This document has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.