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The risk of a global recession has ‘significantly increased,’ strategist warns

CNBC logo CNBC 7/2/2018 Silvia Amaro
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A slew of global developments are convening to threaten economic growth, according to one investment manager, who believes that the risks of a recession next year have now “significantly increased.”

Global growth stood at 3.8 percent in 2017 and it is set to add another 3.9 percent this year and the next, according to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But, the escalation of trade tensions, coupled with other factors, could reverse this trend, Beat Wittmann, a partner at financial consultancy Porta Advisors, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“I think the risk of a global recession in 2019 has significantly increased,” he said.

“We have normalization of monetary conditions, that’s one thing, so we are in a late stage environment. Then we have this escalation in tariffs and trade … We have things like Brexit. All of these things lead to losses of investment confidence and I mean real economic investment confidence,” Wiitman warned.

Central banks have started ending to their crisis-era accommodative policies, with the U.S. Federal Reserve, in particular, increasing interest rates — which are set to translate into higher mortgage payouts and less available income for consumers.

At the same time, the U.S. has imposed new tariffs against global trade partners and these nations have retaliated. The trade tensions are set to continue with Europe currently preparing for new duties on its cars. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC last month that the trade tensions are the “biggest” risk for economic growth in the euro zone.

Wittman also warned against the planned fiscal expansion in the United States, which could raise the government’s deficit, also highlighting the election of several populist leaders across the world. With this global backdrop, some investors are finding it increasingly difficult to invest in the stock market.

“Most managers are worried because there’s nowhere to hide,” Peter Toogood, the chief investment officer at The Embark Group, told CNBC Monday.

“It’s not (the year 2000), it’s not (2008), you can still go and buy the defensives in a way,” Toogood said in reference to a recession at the start of 2000 and the global financial crisis of 2008. But he warned that it is becoming increasingly difficult to invest in those stocks that are not sensitive to global growth fluctuations, the so-called defensive stocks.

“It does look like global growth has peaked, it does look like equity market behavior is telling you that things aren’t looking so special, the cyclicals (stocks sensitive to global growth) are selling off,” he warned.

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