In 2022, markets had a terrible time. So far, 2023 looks different. Many indexes, including the Euro Stoxx 600, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and a broad measure of emerging market share prices, have seen their best start to the year in decades. America’s S&P 500 is up by 5 per cent. Since reaching its peak in October, the trade-weighted value of the US dollar has fallen by 7 per cent, a sign that fear about the global economy is ebbing. Even Bitcoin has had a good year so far. Not long ago, it felt as though a global recession was nailed on. Now optimism is re-emerging.
“Hello lower gas prices, bye-bye recession,” cheered analysts at JPMorgan Chase on Jan 18, in a report on the euro zone. Nomura has revised its forecast of Britain’s forthcoming recession “to something less pernicious (than) what we originally expected”. Citigroup said that “the probability of a full-blown global recession, in which growth in many countries turns down in tandem, is now roughly 30 per cent (in contrast with) the 50 per cent assessment that we maintained through the second half of last year”. These are crumbs: The world economy is weaker than at any point since the lockdowns of 2020. But investors will eat anything.