Stocks struggled last week amid more evidence out of the world’s largest economies that global economic growth isn’t accelerating as expected.
In the United States, March retail sales, industrial production and housing figures all disappointed, and the persistent softness in U.S. economic data means the United States will struggle to hit the 3% annual growth rate that investors had expected at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, first quarter growth in China decelerated to 7%, the slowest pace in six years.
However, as I write in my new weekly commentary, “QE: The Silver Lining of Slower Growth,” slower growth has a silver lining: the potential for greater monetary and fiscal stimulus.
Investors in China, for instance, are hoping slower growth will lead to stimulus by the government. Investors are being similarly consoled in Europe, where, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi just reiterated his commitment to Europe’s quantitative easing program. Even in the United States, the weak pace of global growth has reassured investors that a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve isn’t a near-term threat.
As has been the case for most of the past six years, slow growth and the monetary stimulus intended to combat it benefit some markets and hurt others. Among the beneficiaries of this environment: many, although not all, financial companies.
With interest rates low and most central banks stuck in a position of near-permanent easing, it should come as little surprise that many large financial firms are seeing a benefit.