The Omicron Variant dominates the headlines, but will likely prove a short-term market factor. No doubt a renewed round of panicked responses, lockdowns, travel bans and Christmas threats will occur, but markets should take these in their stride – the biggest risk is margin calls triggering something deeper.
Short porridge this morning as I’m angry and in a rush. As the UK government flounders in yet another storm of sleaze and corruption accusations, its venality and crass opportunism appears to be spreading through the economy, and is likely to hold back the recovery of personal and business travel.
Everyone loves a conspiracy theory, but what if the stories Covid escaped from a China virus lab take hold? We will never know the truth, but as the rumours multiply, they could trigger renewed trade-war. It could unravel China’s regional hegemony and trigger a dramatic reversal for the global economy -especially for China.
Across the Occidental Economy there seems a trend towards political failure as polarization, sleaze and opportunism takes hold, even as electorates suffer from increasing inequality and declining prospects. As the threat of post-pandemic inflation rises, the ingredients are all there for further instability and labour strife. It’s all happening as the geo-political spheres of influence between China and the West are being redrawn.
There are plenty of positive news stories emerging as the global economy reopens, but also an increasing number of real-world tangible threats emerging. The Pandemic has affected economies from top to bottom, and many issues won’t be resolved overnight. For markets the issues to consider aren’t just inflation or market bubbles, but how supply chain issues and instability could continue to impact sentiment.
Markets anticipate the end of pandemic, but the news flow from India highlights ongoing global crisis and Covid is here for the long-term. The risk of political instability from failed Covid policies is high. In the UK, political instability could ratchet higher on the rising tide of Tory sleaze and Dominic Cummings taking his revenge cold.
Markets are celebrating spring, rebirth and recovery. The problem is the pandemic is not over, and may continue to cast is baleful malice over markets for decades. Meanwhile… would you appoint an ESG-compliant, full-on Woke gender & diversity championing Head-hunter to find you the next killer quant-trader?
Europe’s plans for a €1 trillion bond programme will create a single US Treasury scale market, but who agreed it? The big risks are the imperfect non-democracy’s funding programme will magnify political volatility, while empowering bad political deals.
How long can markets party on like there is no tomorrow? The thing is – there always is and the hangover is bound to hurt, which is an apt metaphor as English pubs reopen today ! Markets need to prepare for the inevitable consequences of the big transition from 12 mixed years of fairly useless monetary experimentation to a future of fiscal pump-prime policies. What will it all mean for speculative bubbles, inflation and investment preservation?
Markets are priced for perfection in a very imperfect world. As stocks hit new highs, are the bulls or bears correct? Politics are likely to be the major influence on where we go next, but lurking around the next corner might just be inflation.