Global Outlook Q3 2021

Rene Buehlmann, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific

Welcome to the latest edition of Global Outlook, the quarterly publication that offers some of our latest thoughts, opinions and views on a range of investment, economic and political topics.

Summer in the northern hemisphere is traditionally a time when sports fans, like myself, are treated to an embarrassment of riches in the form of big sporting events.

Despite the best efforts of Covid to spoil the party, we recently sponsored the golf action at the Scottish Open; tennis fans made their annual pilgrimage to Wimbledon; and football fans felt the agony of penalty shootouts at the European Championship (yes, my beloved Switzerland was eliminated on penalties!).

As the chief executive of our Asian business I will also be following the major sporting events that are coming up in Asia. The Tokyo games, delayed by the pandemic, are now taking place, while the Winter Games are to be held in China early next year. 

China is always on my mind these days because it’s one of the most exciting alpha-generating markets in the world for both equity and fixed income.

For active investors, China offers hidden gems. Its consumers are driving growth as their taste for goods and services become more sophisticated; it’s a world leader in wind, batteries and solar production as countries set net-zero carbon goals; a focus on self-reliance will support innovation and technology.

What’s more, we’re engaging with Chinese companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and, in many cases, we are starting to see positive changes. This is in line with what we’ve been doing for many years throughout the rest of the Asia Pacific region.

But let’s look beyond China.

In this edition of Global Outlook, Kwok Chern-Yeh writes about the resilience of Japan’s companies. Exports are bouncing back, boosting the outlook for many firms whose fortunes are tied to the global economy. Domestic consumption is improving as the pace of vaccinations accelerate. Meanwhile, cash-rich companies are starting to invest again.

The scrap value of a ‘gold’ medal got Robert Minter thinking about how central banks have been ‘printing money’ to support financial markets, sparking devaluation concerns around so-called ‘fiat’ currencies. He wonders how cash, cryptocurrencies and gold stack up in the race to preserve value.

Gershon Cohen discusses the US$50 trillion global infrastructure spend that will offer investment opportunities for patient investors. New and upgraded infrastructure is needed to support population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and economic competition. This is as important to countries in Asia (even when they’re not hosting major sporting events) as it is for those in the rest of the world.

Timothy Skiendzielewski compares US smaller companies to sporting champions – competitors with more focus and drive. Investors often overlook what’s in the ‘small cap’ space because of all the interest that the US tech giants attract. This, says Timothy, is a mistake.

The multi-talented Robert McKillop shows us the similarities between elite sports and managing investments. Robert used to be a professional rugby coach and over the years he has identified common traits behind sustainable high performance.

Last but not least, Richard Dunbar and Jeremy Lawson peer into their crystal ball to provide their latest economic and market outlooks. They write about ‘cautious optimism’ – two more years of above-trend economic and earnings growth, albeit in a more volatile environment.

I hope you find these articles as thought provoking and enjoyable as I did.

 

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