VALLEY FORGE, PA (December 13, 2021)—Vanguard today released its wide-ranging outlook and analysis on the future of the global economy and financial markets. This year’s report, “Striking a better balance,” serves as a guidepost for what investors can expect from the global economic landscape in the years ahead. Vanguard's economists explore key themes that will drive the direction of markets, including economic growth, the trajectory of global inflation, and policy decisions that will shape the next phase of the recovery.
“The road ahead for investors promises to be a challenging one," said Joe Davis, global chief economist and co-author of the report. “Global markets will test investors’ discipline as they navigate the risks of unwinding monetary policy support, slower growth, and rising real rates.”
Challenges are likely to be most evident with the unwind of monetary policy, a critical factor in 2022 as central bankers assess a rapidly evolving economic landscape. Inflationary pressures have sharpened the focus on monetary policymakers as these pressures may drive changes in central bank communications and actions. Vanguard projects that central banks will largely try to avoid sharp and unexpected shifts in the timing of policy changes, particularly of policy rate increases, but that conditions will force them to act in 2022 and quite possibly by more than markets are anticipating.
With the global economic recovery expected to continue in 2022, Vanguard economists foresee the low-hanging fruit of rebounding activity to give way to slower growth, regardless of supply-chain dynamics. In both the U.S. and the Euro area, Vanguard expects economic growth to normalize to 4%. In the U.K., Vanguard expects growth of about 5.5%, and in China, expectations are that growth will fall to about 5%.
As outlined in the report, Vanguard expects labor markets will continue to tighten, with several major economies quickly approaching full employment. Vanguard estimates the cyclical effects of supply constraints will persist well into early 2022 and then normalize as the structural deflationary forces of technology and unemployment take hold again. These factors contribute to expectations that inflation will trend higher for some time before slowing in the second half of 2022.
Capital markets outlook
Vanguard’s long-term outlook for global asset returns for 2022 and beyond remains guarded, particularly for equities where valuations are high and low real interest rates continue to act as a strong gravitational pull on future returns. Importantly, investors should not fear a “lost decade” for U.S. stocks, but rather, a lower-return one. For fixed income, low interest rates mean that investors should expect lower returns. However, because rates have risen modestly since 2020, Vanguard’s outlook is commensurately higher.
Vanguard’s 10-year annualized return projections are as follows:
IMPORTANT: The projections and other information generated by the VCMM regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. Distribution of return outcomes from VCMM are derived from 10,000 simulations for each modeled asset class. Simulations as of September 30, 2021. Results from the model may vary with each use and over time. For more information, please see the important information below.
Globally, however, opportunities still exist. Given the differences in valuations between the U.S. and non-U.S. developed markets, Vanguard projects that international equities will outperform U.S. equities in the coming decades and value stocks will outperform growth in the U.S. Vanguard believes investors are best served in a broadly-diversified portfolio, inclusive of international equities. Vanguard has long counseled investors on the benefits of international diversification, as differing economies and markets produce returns that can vary from those of an investor’s domestic market.
“While the economic recovery is expected to continue through 2022, easy gains in growth from rebounding activity are behind us, and policy will replace health as the leading consideration for investors,” added Mr. Davis. “Despite a potential low-return environment, we are still expecting a positive premium for bearing equity risk. Investors should continue to focus on what they can control, and if they have the patience to weather potential periods of underperformance, we believe accepting some active risk offers the opportunity to offset low future returns.”
Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment management companies. As of October 31, 2021, Vanguard managed $8.4 trillion in global assets. The firm, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, offers 418 funds to its more than 30 million investors worldwide. For more information, visit vanguard.com.
Asset figures as of October 31, 2021 unless otherwise noted.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.
IMPORTANT: The projections and other information generated by the Vanguard Capital Markets Model regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. VCMM results will vary with each use and over time.
The VCMM projections are based on a statistical analysis of historical data. Future returns may behave differently from the historical patterns captured in the VCMM. More important, the VCMM may be underestimating extreme negative scenarios unobserved in the historical period on which the model estimation is based.
The Vanguard Capital Markets Model® is a proprietary financial simulation tool developed and maintained by Vanguard’s primary investment research and advice teams. The model forecasts distributions of future returns for a wide array of broad asset classes. Those asset classes include U.S. and international equity markets, several maturities of the U.S. Treasury and corporate fixed income markets, international fixed income markets, U.S. money markets, commodities, and certain alternative investment strategies. The theoretical and empirical foundation for the Vanguard Capital Markets Model is that the returns of various asset classes reflect the compensation investors require for bearing different types of systematic risk (beta). At the core of the model are estimates of the dynamic statistical relationship between risk factors and asset returns, obtained from statistical analysis based on available monthly financial and economic data from as early as 1960. Using a system of estimated equations, the model then applies a Monte Carlo simulation method to project the estimated interrelationships among risk factors and asset classes as well as uncertainty and randomness over time. The model generates a large set of simulated outcomes for each asset class over several time horizons. Forecasts are obtained by computing measures of central tendency in these simulations. Results produced by the tool will vary with each use and over time.