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Slow growth angst is key driver behind five-year return forecasts for investors, says Northern Trust

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Northern Trust expects most investments to generate single-digit positive returns over the next five years, predominantly due to slow economic growth and persistent low interest rates.

This “slow growth angst” – one of six key themes profiled in Northern Trust’s annual five year market outlook – is a key driver behind the company’s return forecasts for global investors of 5.8 per cent for global equities and 2.1 per cent for investment-grade bonds.
 
“While we expect markets may be volatile at times, we remain convinced the global economy is in a narrow and slow growth channel,” says Northern Trust chief investment strategist Jim McDonald. “Current regulatory and fiscal policies have greatly restricted the boom-bust cycles and, although the risk of a recession increases, if one does materialise it should be shallow due to a lack of economic excesses and financial system stability.”
 
Despite these subdued, yet positive, projections, Northern Trust believes the three-month German Bunds and Japanese Government Bonds will turn in negative returns during the next five years.
 
“Developed economies overall will continue their slow pace, expecting annual real economic growth of 1.4 per cent over the next five years, and the outlook for emerging economies remains similarly subdued,” says Wayne Bowers, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Asset Management in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific.
 
“Ultimately, while concerns over slow growth are further impeding global growth, investors need to resist becoming bearish during market weakness or bullish when the economy appears strong and instead scrutinise any future dramatic swings – positive or negative.”

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