There was plenty to worry about in 2019, though this did not stop risk assets having a year that would have defied all but the most optimistic forecasters. The initial trigger came from the US, where the central bank performed a U-turn, abandoning planned interest rate increases. Gold also had its best run in years.
- The year ended with a tense stand-off between the US and Iran that served as a reminder that relative geopolitical calm should not be taken for granted. This helped to boost the price of oil.
- The UK gave the Conservative government an emphatic parliamentary majority to carry out Brexit, though many uncertainties remain. The non-election of Corbyn and the absence of a hung parliament drove flows into UK assets.
- The shine returned to technology stocks in the US while, in China, a new breed of technology companies are challenging incumbents in a manner the US has not witnessed.
For 2020, caution is still the watchword with high asset values, ongoing trade disturbances, a US Presidential election and an unclear path on Brexit (see page 21 in the attached pdf version) lurking.