Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Ed Stanley, Morgan Stanley's Head of Thematic Research in Europe. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, today I'll be discussing 10 key themes for 2023. It's Tuesday, January the 17th at 2 p.m. in London.
At the start of the New Year, we identify 10 overarching, long-term themes that we believe will command investor attention throughout the year and beyond. If you're a regular listener to the show, you may have heard my colleagues and I discussing some of these topics over the past year. We will certainly revisit them in 2023 as we develop new insights, but let me offer you a roadmap to navigate these themes in the coming months.
First, company earnings and margins are likely to come under pressure this year as pricing power declines and costs remain sticky. Both the U.S. and Europe look at risk from this theme. The S&P 500 earnings will likely face significant pressure and enter an earnings recession, and Europe earnings similarly will likely fall 10%.
Second is inflation. Last year we flagged that inventory had grown sharply, while demand, especially demand for goods, is falling. In 2023, companies will need to decide how they want to handle that excess inventory, and we believe many will turn to aggressive discounting.
Up next is China. We've talked a lot over the last few months about China's expected reopening, and we believe a V-shaped recovery in China's growth is now likely, given the sudden change in prior COVID zero policy. We expect a 5.4% GDP growth for China in 2023.
Out fourth theme is ESG. We think that what we call ESG rate of change, i.e. companies that are leaders in improving environmental, social and governance metrics, will be a critical focus for investors looking to identify opportunities that can both generate alpha on the one hand and ESG impact on the other.
Next, in Q4 last year, you may have heard us talk about Earthshots, which is our fifth theme. These are radical technological decarbonization accelerants or warming mitigants. Clean tech funding is one of the most resilient segments in venture, and breakthroughs are becoming more frequent. We're keeping a close eye on the key technologies that we think will hold the greatest decarbonization potential in 2023 and beyond.
Sixth, we're in the upswing of unicorns, i.e. privately held startup companies with a valuation over $1 billion, needing to re raise capital to maintain operations and growth. In the absence of unicorn consolidation, we expect money to flow out of public equities to support or compensate for the weakness in private investments. This will be the year of the down round, in our view, where companies need to raise additional funds at lower valuations than prior rounds. But also we expect it to be a year of opportunity for crossover investors and a potential reopening of the IPO market.
Next, I've already mentioned our China forecasts, but we are also in the early innings of the "India Decade", which is our seventh theme. India has the conditions in place for an economic boom fueled by offshoring, investment in manufacturing, the energy transition and the country's advanced digital infrastructure. This is an underappreciated multi-year theme, but importantly one that is gathering momentum right now.
Our other regional theme to watch this year is Saudi Arabia, which is also undergoing an unprecedented transformation with sweeping social and economic reforms. With about $1 trillion in "gigaproject" commitments, and rapid demographic shifts, it's our eighth big theme. And one that we think could easily leave people behind given the blistering speed of change.
Penultimately, with the emergence of ChatGPT, the future of work is set to be further disrupted. We believe that we are on a secular trajectory towards the workforce, particularly the younger Gen Z, entering what we call the "multi-earner era" - one where workers pursue multiple earning streams rather than a single job. There are a vast array of enabler stocks for this multi-year era, in our view.
And finally, last but not least, we believe obesity is the "new hypertension" and that investing in obesity medication is moving from a linear secular theme to an exponential one, with social media creating a virtuous feedback loop of education, word of mouth, and heightened demand for weight loss drugs.
So that's it. Hopefully we've given you some thought provoking macro, micro, regional and ESG ideas for the year ahead.
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