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Investors should be on guard for equity market correction

Stephen Miller
By Sarah Kendell
14 January 2020 — 1 minute read

Investors should not become complacent around the strong returns achieved by the equity market in 2019 and should be on guard for a potential correction in 2020, according to an investment manager.

GSFM adviser Stephen Miller said with a number of geopolitical and economic risks on the horizon, it was more likely that equity markets could experience a correction this year rather than continued growth.

“Monetary policy is almost exhausted and ongoing global tensions such as the US–China trade negotiations, US and European politics, Hong Kong and more recently Iran, mean that risks may be asymmetrically weighted to the downside,” Mr Miller said.

“2019 surprised us by how bloody good it was, and when it’s good, markets can become complacent. When something goes wrong, the correction might be shorter, but it can also be deeper, and investors need to be alert to that potential.”

Of particular concern was that monetary authorities in many key markets had run out of economic levers to pull in case of a crisis, Mr Miller added.

“We may well see the cash rate at 25 basis points in Australia, but I’m not convinced of the potential for meaningful quantitative easing in a local context, and that may make things difficult,” he said.

“At some stage in 2020, the federal government might have to give up on the surplus. But if you want to mitigate a severe downturn, you need a mechanism that delivers it quickly, not slowly, and fiscal policy is not always adept at delivering stimulus quickly.”

Nick Griffin, chief investment officer of global equities-focused manager Munro Partners, agreed that interest rates were likely to stay low across international economies in 2020, forcing investors to take on more risk in order to boost portfolio returns.

“Despite numerous headwinds, markets were strong in 2019 as central banks moved to lower rates in the face of weakening growth,” Mr Munro said.

“For 2020, we’re expecting rates to remain historically very low for the first half of this year at least, as central banks have openly flagged that they want inflation to go over the targets for a period before hiking rates. For the standard investor, this means they’re going to be forced to take on more risk to earn an adequate return, and this should support equity markets.”


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