Look beyond the US elections, says JP Morgan

Whatever the election results, long-term trends will write script in US, says Michael Hood, executive director of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Institutional Market Strategy Group.

In a paper, he argues that a number of broader trends will drive the US economy whatever the outcome of the 2012 Presidential elections. Long-term trends in demographics, energy, manufacturing and finance, as well as fiscal policy, will determine the pulse of the US economy.

Hood said: “The 2012 presidential election naturally looms large as investors consider the outlook for the United States. Yet, the medium-term forces that will shape economic outcomes do not necessarily depend on the result of this year’s vote.”

Hood raised concerns that the ageing of the US population will slow expansion in the labour force. Meanwhile, though increased domestic production will likely see net energy imports decline sharply in coming years. U.S. petrol prices will continue to depend on world-wide factors.

J.P. Morgan sees a potential revival in the long-slipping manufacturing sector, but warns that the financial sector will likely shrink. Hood believes that lower secondary market trading volumes and bank withdrawal from some business lines may create a persistent discount in some markets, which will be available for capture by investors willing to give up some liquidity.

Hood said: “These trends represent only a fraction of the forces that will shape the US economy and markets in years to come. Developments entirely unexpected today may play major roles in determining the path for risky assets, both with the US and beyond its borders.

“After all, even when the Great Recession was already underway, few observers expected the virulent euro area debt crisis to occupy so much of the markets’ attention just a year or two later. Instead, we hope this list will serve as a spark for ongoing discussion about the medium-term outlook.”

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