Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Jun 4, 2024

Spirited Debates Around Our Midyear Outlooks

Transcript

Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I am Vishy Tirupathur, Morgan Stanley's Chief Fixed Income Strategist. Along with my colleagues bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll be talking about the key debates we engaged in during the mid-year outlook process.

It's Tuesday, June 4th at 1pm in New York.

Over the last few episodes, you've been hearing a lot about Morgan Stanley's midyear outlook, where our economists have forecasted a sunny macro environment of decelerating growth and inflation, and policy easing in most developed market economies, leading to a positive backdrop for risk assets in the base case, especially in the second half of the year.

But beyond the year end, many uncertainties -- uncertainties of outcomes and uncertainties of the consequences of those outcomes -- point to a wider range of outcomes, driving a wider than normal bull versus bear skew in our expectations for markets over the next 12 months.

As always, these outlooks are the culmination of a process involving much deliberation and spirited debate among economists and strategists across all the regions and asset classes we cover. I thought it might be useful to detail some of these debates that we've had during the process to shed a better light on the forecast in our outlook.

First, given the many changes to market pricing of Fed's rate cuts year to date, driven by higher-than-expected inflation, the path ahead for US inflation was heavily debated. Our economists argued that the acceleration in goods and financial services prices, which explains a substantial portion of the upside in the first quarter inflation data should decelerate from here. And also that leading indicators point to a weaker shelter inflation ahead. Their analysis also showed that residual seasonality contributed to the unexpected strength in first quarter [20]24 inflation data, suggesting a payback has to happen in the second half of 2024.

The outlook for China economy and our cautious stance on the market was another point of debate, mainly because China's growth has surprised to the upside relative to our 2024 year ahead outlook. Our economists argued that while there are a few policy positives on housing and green products mitigating the debt deflation spiral, growth remains unbalanced and subpar. So, we discussed our cautious stance on China equity markets against this backdrop and concluded that the equity market recovery is still very challenging in China.

Third, given the combination of favorable technicals, solid fundamentals, and a relatively benign economic outlook, we debated whether corporate credit, on which we are constructive, should we be even more constructive in our forecasts. After all, the setup for corporate credit has many elements similar to those during the mid 1990s, when, for example, US IG index spreads were about 30 basis points tighter versus the current spread targets.

Our strategist highlighted the significant differences in the market structure, the composition of the index, and the duration of the underlying bonds that make up this index today, versus 1990s -- all of which put a higher floor on spreads, which explains our spread targets.

The debates notwithstanding, we cannot argue with the benign macro backdrop and what that means for the second half of 2024. We turn overweight in global equities and overweight in a range of spread products within fixed income, most notably agency MBS, EM Sovereign credit, leveraged loans, securitized credit, especially CLO equity tranches.

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Our Chief Fixed Income Strategist takes listeners behind the curtain on Morgan Stanley’s expectations for markets over the next 12 months.