Global economy shows signs of stabilizing

After historic decline in activity, early signs of improvement can be seen.

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Key takeaways

  • The US remains in the recession phase, even as economic conditions have begun to improve from extremely low levels.
  • We see early signs of improvement in global activity, though the coronavirus shock continues to weigh heavily on manufacturing, trade, and services.
  • The potential for outsized bouts of volatility is likely to remain high.

United States

  • The US remains in the recession phase, even as economic conditions have begun to improve from extremely low levels.
  • Household and corporate conditions, while significantly weakened by the shock from COVID-19, have been boosted by extraordinary fiscal and monetary support.
  • Near term, improvement remains likely as the US continues to ease restrictions.
  • The economy remains in a vulnerable state, however, and additional policy accommodation aimed at the household sector may be needed to support its incipient momentum.
  • Amid supply-chain disruptions and low demand, the outlook for corporate profits remains weak. Businesses in several sectors are likely to face ongoing solvency concerns.

Global

  • We see early signs of improvement in global activity, though the coronavirus shock continues to weigh heavily on manufacturing, trade, and services.
  • China's economy is in a fragile uptrend led by a rebound in industrial activity and increased policy support. Weak demand from the rest of world, a soft recovery in the service sector, and an uncertain property outlook are likely to keep the recovery muted.
  • China's path out of lockdown—as well as initial readings from other countries—strengthens our conviction that the path to normalcy for the US and global economies will be hesitant and uneven.

Asset allocation outlook

  • The sharp recovery in riskier assets reflects abundant liquidity and hopeful expectations about reopening, but the economic outlook remains highly uncertain.
  • Asset market returns are likely to be increasingly affected by both fiscal and monetary policy decisions.
  • The potential for outsized bouts of volatility is likely to remain high—a more cautious near-term portfolio tilt may be warranted.
  • Amid tremendous uncertainty, portfolio diversification is as important as ever.

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