After the U.S. skirted another recession this year and Europe heads into a recession now, Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management has made its portfolio position bets for 2012 based on expected uneven global market conditions.
Deutsche’s 2012 outlook comes as the U.S. successfully beat back two threats to its economy earlier this year: the Arab Spring that kept oil prices artificially high and the earthquake in Japan that cramped the auto industry’s supplies.
“Our thesis is that we skirted that recession, and we’re going to have GDP growth in the United States into 2012,” Benjamin A. Pace III, chief investment officer and head of global investment solutions at Deutsche Private Wealth Management in the Americas, said at the firm’s New York offices on Tuesday morning.
Those growth expectations come as Deutsche sees negative growth in Europe for this quarter and the following two quarters, while a comeback could happen in the second half of 2012. “From an economic perspective, we think Europe is in a recession, that the recession is probably starting now,” Pace said.
A recession has already been under way in Europe’s peripheral countries for most of this year, Pace said, and will be offset by positive growth in northern European countries including Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as the U.K.
Emerging markets should have “comfortably” positive GDP growth, according to Pace. That comes after those economies fought inflationary pressures driven by excess aggregate demand in the past 12 to 18 months. But following central bank action in many of those areas, many of those countries have managed to slow their inflationary cycles, Pace said.
With that global forecast, Deutsche’s investment recommendations are overweight U.S. large cap equities and emerging market equities, Pace said, while underweight European equities.
When it comes to equity sectors, China’s economic progress should bode well for technology, industrials and energy, said Owen Fitzpatrick, chief investment strategist for equities at Deutsche Asset Management. The firm is underweight consumer staples and utilities sectors, Fitzpatrick said.
Deutsche is largely underweight when it comes to fixed income, Pace said, due to worries that large fiscal deficits could drive interest rates up. At the same time, the firm is actually overweight in the riskier areas of fixed income, including high yield and emerging market debt.
Gary Pollack, head of fixed income trading and research at Deutsche Private Wealth Management in the Americas, said credit risk is a continuing concern for municipalities, while both local and state governments still face structural challenges. From political point of view, Pollack said, those state and local governments are ahead of the federal government when it comes to understanding the changes that they need to make.
Pollack said he favors revenue bonds of all kinds, while he also sees investment opportunities in niche areas including higher education and hospital bonds.
When it comes to alternative investments, Deutsche has a flat forecast on oil, Pace said, while gold is expected to continue to hold its investment appeal into 2012.
When it comes to currencies, strong performance from China should boost the Australian dollar and provide positive returns, Pace said, which could be augmented by also investing in the Australian equity and fixed income markets.
Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.