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Share markets shake

Share markets around the world have wobbled – but whether fears of a recession will prove correct is still up for debate.

Thursday, August 15th 2019, 1:30PM

Wall St sold off sharply on Wednesday after the US Treasury yield curve temporarily inverted.

When short-term bond yields are higher than long-term bonds, it is often assumed to be a sign of imminent recession.

The NZX was trading down 1.6% at midday Thursday.

Chris Douglas, a principal at My Fiduciary, said there was a "tremendous" amount of volatility in the market and growth was slowing around the world. "There's also geopolitical tensions, as well."

He said, when technical factors such as the yield curve inversion came into play, investors quickly became scared.

"From our perspective, despite the fact growth is slowing globally, economies appear to still be growing."

NZ Super Fund chief economist Mike Frith said the fund did not focus on short-term market movements.

But he said most commentary agreed a global recession was unlikely. 

Growth locally was moderate but positive, he said.

He said the biggest concerns related to the trade stand-off between the United States and China. "Twelve months ago, when this kicked off, most people thought it would be sorted by Christmas. But it seems to be ongoing and ongoing, and gives rise to increased uncertainty."

He said policy-makers and central banks were not "sitting with their heads in the sand".

"They are acting to prevent the possibility of a recession and reduce the likelihood of that."

But he said any time lower growth was mentioned people's thoughts immediately went to a recession.

The Super Fund dropped 10% in the fourth quarter of last year but got it all back the following quarter.

May saw a 4% drop, which reversed in June.

Douglas said recent market movements proved that while markets could sell off quickly, they could also recover quickly.

Tags: bonds Federal Reserve Markets Mike Frith MyFiduciary NZ Super Fund NZX recession volatility

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