Quarterly Economic Environment and Outlook
Basel, Q1-2022 (January 2022)
Growth will slowdown in the first quarter of 2022. External demand continues to have a positive impact on the economy. But German manufacturing remains under pressure with a negative effect across Europe and Switzerland. The strength of the Swiss Franc is still a concern. The central bank continues to be vigilant, also trying to mitigate the effects of a strong currency. The main issue, the coronavirus pandemic across the world, is shattering confidence but the success of vaccine roll-outs in much of the rich world should help to improve prospects.
The US economy will remain steady. Consumption is strong, the labour market conditions are healthier and the service sector is accelerating. House prices are stable, residential investment is rebounding. Interest rates will start to increase, inflation forecasts are not optimistic. The corporate sector is improving. Hesitant growth in Europe and the world could hurt export-oriented companies. The economic scenario is more encouraging now. The combined weight of emergency fiscal and monetary measures, the pandemic relief bill and government funding plan should alleviate economic pain in spite of the rapid spread of Omicron coronavirus variant bringing concerns for the global economy.
Industrial production is weakening. Growth rates are not improving, most countries are still challenged by public debt financing. In Germany, the industry is less robust, the service sector is resilient. Manufacturing companies are hesitant but optimistic. Exports and services rise in France, Italy, and Spain, this raises some questions about the opportunity to continue fiscal stimulus. The ECB has made clear its willingness to act without limits but quantitative easing will not go on forever. For the moment interest rates will remain at low levels. In the UK, the central bank follows a new monetary strategy to finance the country’s response to the pandemic. The Bank of England became the first major central bank to raise interest rates in response to inflation concerns and should end its asset purchases next year. The Chancellor continues to implement measures following the definitive break-up from Europe.
The government in Japan is pushing for more growth and the central bank, with its negative interest rate policy, has pledged to expand asset purchases, buying bonds and treasury bills. The public debt is already very high. The economy is still improving, but it struggles with the pandemic’s impact. Exports are strong but a less competitive yen increases corporate pessimism. In China, exports growth is better than expected. The economy and domestic demand remain under strong pressure. In India, the government continues to encourage policy changes designed to improve growth. Escalation of Covid-19 infections will have an impact on the road to recovery.
|CHF||Stable, due to its role as a safe haven currency. The SNB will continue to sell Swiss francs to avoid a further appreciation.|
|JPY||To remain stable, likely to soften again if there is bank intervention.|
|Gold||Firm, even with a stable dollar.|
The aforementioned Economic Environment and Outlook shall not constitute a recommendation or an investment advice. It is not the result of any financial analysis and the “Directives on the Independence of Financial Research” issued by Swiss Bankers Association does therefore not apply.