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Commuters everywhere will not be surprised. Infrastructure spending not only improves convenience and safety, but also productivity, as poor roads and delayed flights hold back economic growth. With such obvious benefits, why the underinvestment? Years ago, governments found it far easier to approve infrastructure projects.

After WWII a strong public consensus developed everywhere as to the desirability of undertaking large projects that would stimulate growth and put people to work, while modernizing the infrastructure asset base to support a rapidly changing industrial society. The U. Interstate Highway System built out over 35 years from the late s , high-speed auto routes across Europe, bullet trains in Japan followed by high speed trains in Europe, and massive airports everywhere—these projects were not only sources of national pride, but added substantially to wealth and productivity.

In the U. The need to overcome these challenges is clear to all, and the need to boost infrastructure spending is one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in the U. Yet a split Congress may make it difficult for any substantial infrastructure bill to pass. Tangible plans to increase infrastructure commitments are emerging in other countries, as shown in the box below. We expect more national infrastructure initiatives in the future.

Fiscal policy will likely play a larger role in counteracting the next recession, given interest rates are unlikely to have room to fall far enough to lever the economy higher unaided. Central banks could conceivably play a role: Two big changes have occurred within infrastructure investment over the past 40 years: Faced with the increasing scale, complexity, and financing needs of infrastructure projects, governments have sought more private sector participation. Meanwhile pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and insurance companies have found long life infrastructure assets often match the long-term liabilities they deal with.

Infrastructure projects also offer a reliable cash flow once up and running, often including an inflation adjustment mechanism.

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The traditional universe of infrastructure projects—bridges, roads, and power generation—has expanded to include rapid transit systems, high speed rail, airports, electricity transmission grids, harbours, and hospitals. Newcomers include: Infrastructure investments should perform relatively well in the economic environment we foresee prevailing over the coming decade. Most infrastructure sectors benefit from economic growth and inflation to some extent, while demand tends to be relatively resilient in downturns.

Higher interest rates may make the investment environment more challenging as infrastructure assets tend to be financed by debt, but the impact will depend on the capital structure and return potential of each project. Infrastructure investments can offer valuable diversification benefits. Most deliver an income stream from low-risk, stable assets that would be less affected by an economic downturn. This should mean infrastructure investments will hold up better than the overall market in a downturn. How effective a diversification tool they are will depend on the investment.

Like all asset classes, infrastructure projects are subject to a broad spectrum of risks. At one end are less risky projects, such as conventional power generation in developed economies where costs can be controlled, demand can be more confidently assessed, and the regulatory environment can be relied upon. Riskier infrastructure investments behave more like risky equities, potentially reducing or eliminating the diversification benefits of the asset class.

Infrastructure investment options include individual stocks, funds, or a combination of both. For single stocks, investors could focus on listed utilities, pipelines, or railways; industrial companies providing equipment, engineering services, or materials for projects; or companies that manage infrastructure assets. For funds, the most significant benefit is the ability to diversify across industries, geographies, and the risk spectrum.

Some factors to consider when choosing a fund include:. Infrastructure as an investment theme has a long life ahead of it. The demand for repair, replacement, and upgrading of existing infrastructure assets is immense across the developed world. Emerging economies need equally massive infrastructure investment to achieve economic and social goals. The private sector has become an important source of infrastructure financing.

We expect individual investors will discover the attractions of this asset class to a much greater extent over the coming decade. Required disclosures. Research resources. Analyst Disclosure: These individuals are not registered with or qualified as research analysts with the U. Artificial intelligence AI has been dominating the headlines—all the way from the transformative opportunities it can bring to society, businesses, and governments, to the science fiction doomsday scenarios.

There is a great amount of hype surrounding AI, and the first step to assess the extent of its impact is to remove the mystery and understand what it has to offer. Humans process information like this day in and day out, without even thinking about it. As such, AI can be interpreted as a set of algorithms logic , programs instructions to a computer , and statistical models that interact to replicate an output very similar to that of human intelligence.

However, AI is unable to connect insights or understand specifically why something is happening—another key aspect of human thinking. Only other humans can do that. Deep Learning. MIT Press, While AI might seem like a very 21st century concept, it is not new.

Commentary

The term was coined in and AI went through alternating phases of early development followed by hibernation. Its revival has been driven by a simultaneous improvement of factors never seen before: AI would not be fully viable without any one of these improvements. For example, consider the dramatic decline in storage costs that enables AI users to store previously unimagined quantities of data, so much data that it is doubling in size every two years.

Even though we can loosely define AI, there is no uniform definition that everyone agrees on. In general, most references to AI revolve around three main stages of development: However, it is crucial to recognize that only one, Artificial Narrow Intelligence, is mature today, while the hype about AI taking over the world refers to the other two areas in nascent stages. Some see the potential for significant leaps in AI, especially related to the human brain. That additional quantity will again be an enabling factor for another qualitative leap in culture and technology.

This prospect might be exciting to some and dreadful to others. Even without massive leaps, today the opportunities for AI are vast and we believe it is evident that human expertise has the potential to be augmented by a combination of human and machine intelligence, which surpasses that of either a human or a machine on a standalone basis. AI is already beginning to make its mark in a wide variety of industries. For the first time in its decades-long history it has become commercialized. Internet giants use it for search optimization and product recommendation, among other applications, while businesses outside of the technology industry have begun to implement AI for uses such as fraud detection, facial recognition, mapping the customer journey, and much more.

North America is expected to be the biggest consumer in the market with its widening usage of AI applications across numerous business verticals, while Asia Pacific will likely experience the fastest growth in uptake of the new technology, according to Reuters.

AI is rapidly emerging as an industry in itself. The direct beneficiaries are confined to areas like software, where some companies have established a first-mover advantage. As time passes, as happened with previous technological breakthroughs e. Another approach would be to invest in indirect beneficiaries, companies that would benefit from incorporating AI technologies in their business.

In addition to technology and communication services, we expect five industries to benefit in the near future:. New AI innovations in the health care industry are appearing with great rapidity, making it the most promising industry, in our view, where image recognition has dramatically improved diagnostics—detecting melanoma skin cancer with 95 percent accuracy, for example—adding decision-making support and improved patient monitoring.

Heart disease diagnosis and treatment could benefit in the same way. Deep learning and predictive analytics tools are reducing the costs and time of drug development by predicting the therapeutic use of new drugs, thus driving significant efficiency gains. Industry practitioners expect autonomous vehicles to transform the future of transport along with other AI solutions that will: AI supports production forecasting and quality control with robotics and sensor technologies.

AI is making strides in the form of virtual assistants, chatbots, speech recognition, alternative data sources, sophisticated trading models, real-time risk assessment, the development of innovative new financial instruments, and much more. We believe AI offers transformative opportunities for society, governments, and businesses, even though the state of the technology still lags the hype. What is clear to us is that AI is here to stay.

As with the arrival of computers, automation, and the internet, those companies that pursue the opportunities AI presents and understand the competitive threats it may pose, will likely fare better than those who choose to ignore it or fight a rearguard action to forestall it.

Since then, and noted in various Global Insight publications in , the China hawks in the Trump administration have steadily gained the ascendancy. The Trump administration moved quickly from words to actions. Chinese equity markets have declined deep into bear market territory, although this is amid a backdrop of Chinese policy aimed at financial deleveraging, a clunky term that simply means tackling riskier areas of lending in the economy. More recently, it is beginning to dawn on global investors, including in the dominant U. Something far larger is afoot.

As Trump accused China in September of interfering in the U. How things have changed. What is going on is much more than a trade dispute. It is primarily a national security dispute where the key ingredients are: All U. Of note: They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.

The complaints in the U. As such, it is nigh impossible that all will be resolved in a brief meeting and a handshake between Trump and Xi. At most in the short term, there may be some agreement to postpone tariff increases, for example, or agree to rejoin negotiations currently minimal. But the U. Moreover, while the dispute has been intensifying over the past year, it has really been many years in the making. The Obama administration discussed similar issues. That belief is being ditched. Plan B is in operation and it does not only include tariffs. State media labelled U.

Along the way, there have been a number of public comments made by U.


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The most strident was a speech—history might term it the speech—delivered by Vice President Mike Pence on October 4 in Washington. The combination of its smorgasbord of complaints and accusations across multiple spheres including commercial affairs, political ideology, military expansion, and human rights; the length of the speech; the entire focus on China; and the fact that it was delivered by the second-highest U.

For its part, China questions its role in a unipolar world subject to U. The nature of the strategic relationship between the U. We expect this divergence to continue as both countries work to remove some interdependencies over time. There is growing mistrust on both sides. We believe that the process will be protracted and peppered with bouts of real tension. If economic measures are restricted to tariffs of moderate levels, we believe the impact on the U. However, unpredictable secondary actions, such as restricting market access in China or imposing a series of harsh sanctions, would be more damaging to certain companies, in our view.

Additionally, the inflationary effects of tariffs are unclear—at a time when U. For China, the impact of a full-blown trade war would be more pronounced, perhaps reducing growth by up to 0. However, the Chinese economy is also more consumer- and services-oriented than many people might think, in our view. Equity markets in China, Hong Kong, and to some extent elsewhere in Asia have responded rapidly and negatively since the first tariffs hit. This trend needs to halt before investors can become more constructive, in our view. Indexes shown: Unfortunately for China, the dispute comes at a time of financial deleveraging, which itself is impacting the ability of Chinese companies to tap the domestic capital markets.

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For example, some Chinese property developers are being forced to offer markedly higher yields on new bond issuances. We have begun to see Chinese policy support for the equity market. Historically, the actual market has bottomed between one to six months after such support is announced, but every situation is different. The dispute has also meaningfully impacted other Asian equity markets. Some of these markets are approaching levels where valuation may become supportive.

Going forward, a growing divide between the U. However, we believe this is more likely to be an ongoing erosion of growth rather than a shock. For companies, the impact on some will be negligible, for others potentially significant. Investors should consider this when constructing and managing portfolios. This individual is not registered with or qualified as a research analyst with the U.

The later stage of the economic cycle is the time to start formulating a game plan to de-risk portfolios.

We believe reducing credit risk in fixed income portfolios is a good place to start this process because compensation for taking those risks is currently minimal and credit quality has weakened. Interest rates tend to rise for a considerable period of time in the later part of an economic cycle in response to a strong economy and rising inflation. This process is now well underway; the Fed has moved its benchmark rate from 0. Meanwhile, the year U.

Treasury bond yield is up by almost basis points bps since July While interest rates rise in response to a strong economy, those higher rates eventually slow down the economy—often pushing it into a recession, ushering in a period of shrinking corporate profits in the process. Bond investors typically experience poor performance as yields rise to a peak prior to a recession, while stocks tend to head into a bear market around the time when the recession actually arrives.

Conversely, higher-quality bonds tend to perform well in this environment as investors seek more secure cash flow streams. Louis Federal Reserve. It is difficult to determine the exact point where higher interest rates will slow down the economy.

Investment outlook for 12222

However, higher bond yields and an eventual recession are two possible scenarios that some of the lower-quality segments of the bond market are poorly positioned for. We believe some of these riskier parts of fixed income portfolios that investors have crowded into in search of higher yields are an appropriate place to start the overall de-risking process. Full valuations for so-called high-yield bonds defined as bonds rated below BBB mean that the yield pickup on this debt is modest relative to yields available on higher-rated bonds.

We believe this leaves this asset class segment in the unappealing place of being vulnerable to both higher interest rates and a recession. Similar logic can be applied today beyond just High Yield. Lower-rated bonds generally—for example, BBB rated corporate bonds versus A rated corporate bonds—are likely to experience larger price declines as rates rise, and their low rating by definition means that they have less financial capability to cope with an economic slowdown.

This diminished yield advantage offered by high-yield bonds means they offer a smaller margin of safety in the event credit or business conditions deteriorate. Government-backed bonds and high-quality corporate bonds typically experience price gains when central banks reverse course and start lowering rates to support a faltering economy. But low-quality borrowers often experience business dislocations in economic downturns that may call into question their ability to make interest payments and repay principal. Apply now. Read more. Product details Office Product Publisher: English ISBN Tell the Publisher!

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