Despite market volatility, the synchronised global economic recovery has continued apace. In the UK, GDP forecasts were revised up to 1.6% on the back of this stronger growth, whilst we also saw wage growth exceed inflation for the first time in twelve months. However, this dip in inflation (to 2.5%) has caused the market to speculate that UK interest rates – and therefore bond yields – will not now rise as fast as previously thought.
One of the major themes we have been talking to investors about recently has been the changes wrought since the onset of the global financial crisis a decade ago. It is often forgotten, for example, that interest rates in the UK stood at 5.50% at the end of 2007, that 10 year UK and Greek government bond yields were nigh on identical and that the Bank of England had a balance sheet of just £77 billion. But what did the sterling corporate bond market look like?
Although the economic outlook for the UK in 2018 is mixed, we believe the consensus is too pessimistic on growth. The global economy is now firing on all cylinders – which will benefit the international-facing UK market – and we believe the risks to growth, inflation and interest rates are all to the upside, in the UK as well as globally.