The end of the year is almost here, so we’re getting the usual flood of end-of-the-year and preview 2018 reports. Nomura analysts have entered the fray with their grey swan predictions for 2018, which include an interesting mix of tidbits such as lessons from the movies about 2018, continuing impacts of Amazon and e-commerce on inflation, bitcoin proliferation, and other suggestions.
Of note, the Nomura team said they avoided scenarios that are more widely discussed, such as Trump’s risk of impeachment, North Korea tension, elections in Italy and others. The events they did include on their list of grey swan predictions for 2018 are those they say could be foreseen, unlike black swan events, which are highly unpredictable.
How technology plays into grey swan predictions for 2018
It should come as no surprise that technology plays into some of their grey swan predictions for 2018. For example, when looking at movies that were set in 2018, Terminator Salvation comes up, and like the other films in the Terminator franchise, technology is again rising up against humanity. The technology that’s used includes artificial intelligence, drones, power grids controlled by computers and “networked transportation and food systems.”
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Amazon is also in focus, along with the broader e-commerce market, in relation to inflation. Economists broadly expect next year to be the year inflation returns, but the Nomura team argues that e-commerce and technology could dampen inflation by restraining goods prices. Smartphones make it much easier for shoppers to compare prices, and buying things online is more convenient.
The firm’s analysts will be watching Australia in 2018, as Amazon has just begun offering one-day delivery there and the nation has the second-fastest mobile broadband speeds among G10 countries.
Will 2018 bring the exit of the low-volatility environment?
Interest in bitcoin has been rising over the last few years, but it suddenly surged throughout the second half of this year, especially over the last month. Although bitcoin is being traded like an asset or currency, it’s the blockchain technology behind it that makes it a crossroads between technology and the finance world.
The Nomura analysts expect 2018 to bring the expansion of exchange-traded funds focused on bitcoin now that bitcoin futures have arrived. As a result of cryptocurrency’s shift into the mainstream, they say the volatility seen in the bitcoin market could move to other markets. Of course, if this grey swan prediction does play out in 2018, it would mean the end of the low-volatility environment which has left most investors searching for yield, and to some, that may not seem like such a bad thing.
Grey swan predictions for 2018 in the political world
Politics and economic developments always feed into each other, so it makes sense that Nomura’s list of grey swan predictions for 2018 would include several political developments. The U.K. makes the list in two ways. The first is that either there is finally a year in which nothing huge happens in politics there, or if the nation becomes so unstable that next year brings another general election or another referendum on Brexit. The other is a unification of the rest of Europe after Brexit in a sort of “United States of Europe” way, as the firm’s analysts put it.
Economically speaking, they suggest that 2018 may finally be the year that the housing market declines in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway and Canada, all markets with soaring housing prices going on for years. Norway and Sweden are already beginning to see declines, so the other markets could too. And if the housing bubble pops, central banks can be expected to cut interest rates, prolonging the economic environment of ultra-low rates.