Economic powerhouse" China will contribute about three times as much as America to global growth next year.
Economic powerhouse" China will contribute about three times as much as America to global growth next year.

Drive safely through the fog of uncertainty



Just as in war, fog complicates investing. All action takes place in a kind of fog that gives things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance, according to Carl von Clausewitz, the military strategist.

After two years of historic fiscal and monetary stimulus that boosted equity and commodity markets, investors will soon enter a thick fog of economic policy uncertainty.

Will developed nations continue to load up on debt to stimulate their ailing economies? While major emerging market policymakers have already raised interest rates to control overheating, rising commodity prices are likely to push regional inflation higher. Even though global growth momentum is likely to spill over into next year, will emerging market overheating force policymakers to tighten policy further, even at the risk of torpedoing growth in the second half of next year?

Investing is always rife with risk. But risk is rapidly rising, since the political appetite for debt-laden stimulus has darkly diminished, as this year's electoral protest votes in the US, UK and Germany indicate. While another round of global stimulus was grudgingly endorsed in recent months at the developed world taxpayer's expense, hopes of further stimulus, should it become necessary, may prove futile as sour politics increasingly override economic imperatives. In the year ahead, policymakers will be constrained by anti-debt politics in the developed world while policymakers in the fast-growing developing world will be challenged by voter angst as rising inflation bites.

The two-track recovery of the past year confirms that the burden of global growth increasingly rests on emerging nations. The dichotomy between the developed and developing world will continue to play out, with the former desiring a slight increase in inflation to escape deflation, pushing for stronger growth and desperately seeking job creation. Meanwhile, the latter will continue to struggle to keep inflation low, keep currencies from appreciating, and target moderated but sustainable growth. Leading economists forecast global growth next year at about 4 to 4.5 per cent, versus an estimated 4.8 per cent this year.

The developed world is likely to grow just over 2 per cent, while the emerging world gallops at above 6 per cent. This means that about half of next year's GDP growth will have to come from China and India, and a full two-thirds from emerging markets, if measured on a purchasing power parity basis. While global economic expansion is likely to continue and drive equity and commodity markets higher in the next quarter, the twin risks of debt problems in the developed world and inflationary pressures in the emerging world elevate risk in the year ahead.

In this bifurcated growth scenario, the pivotal role of China should not be underestimated. China will contribute about three times as much as the US to global growth next year. The Chinese economy has been running hard and fast for a decade, but structural issues, policy constraints and upward pressure on its currency mean that growth in the next few years will be slower than over the past decade. A rebalancing of growth towards domestic consumption and investment is likely, thus lowering the contribution from exports.

Because of the strong inflation control measures and withdrawal of stimulus enacted in the middle of this year, growth is likely to slow to 7 to 8 per cent a year, which is still healthy, but slower than the 9 to 10 per cent normal of the past decade. If government policymakers' attempts are successful, growth will be more targeted towards soft infrastructure after overinvestment in hard infrastructure in recent years.

China's policy is aimed at reducing commodity intensity and import dependency, but it will remain the dominant consumer by far in most commodity categories. Therefore, the outlook for commodity prices, and by extension the earning power of large sectors of the global economy, are strongly tied to China's growth rate and commodity intensity.

In the US, the world's single largest economy, aggressive monetary policy easing has reduced concerns of a double-dip recession, but the recovery will remain subdued and below its growth potential of 2.5 per cent, implying a slack economy. This will mute core inflation and offset rising commodity prices.

The drag from consumer deleveraging will continue but will be less severe than this year, since consumer savings rates are already at comfortably high levels of about 6 per cent of disposable income. However, the consumer is likely to remain cautious and fearful of declines in housing. The credit environment remains weak, especially for small businesses, which will crimp the recovery and shift the burden of growth to the labour market.

Only 1 million of the 8.5 million jobs lost have been regained. There has been enough private-sector hiring to prevent the employment market from worsening, but improvements are likely to be slow because some of these job losses are not cyclical but structural. In each of the past three recessions the recovery has been lacking in job creation as outsourcing has increased, and this recovery might be similar.

In refreshing contrast, in the Middle East the fog of uncertainty is clearing. Sentiment has recently improved because of oil prices remaining well above the US$60 per barrel fiscal budget break-even level, successful debt restructuring and the subsequent raising of capital in the UAE. Importantly, additional evidence that requisite reforms to diversify away from hydrocarbon revenues slowly but surely continue, with Qatar's World Cup bid win being the most recent.

After more than a year of negative surprises on the debt management and economic growth fronts, much of the bad news has already been priced in by the Middle East equity markets. While much remains to be done, including strengthening bank balance sheets in UAE and Bahrain and regulatory reform to make key industries more competitive and efficient in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, we believe that next year we will see sufficient additional progress on these fronts. Most global investors are underweight in this region and are likely to incrementally increase allocation here if reforms continue to progress. However, there is a strong dependency on global growth and risk appetite, again underscoring the pivotal nature of global policymaker actions.

When driving in the fog of global policy uncertainty, it is difficult to look farther than you can see. Hence it will pay to maintain a balanced portfolio that includes a mix of risky assets such as equity and commodities to achieve long-term growth objectives while maintaining a sizeable allocation to safe assets such as deposits, short-term bonds, and income-producing property in populous regions. In the early part of the upcoming year, investors should position their investment portfolios positively to capture the growth momentum generated by the recently extended stimulus policies.

However, as valuations and commodity prices rise, the second half of next year will prove to be challenging. So keep driving through the fog, but also keep one foot on the brake pedal.

Rehan Syed is the head of portfolio management at the ABN AMRO private bank in Dubai. The opinion expressed is personal

'Falling for Christmas'

Director: Janeen Damian

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Jack Wagner, Aliana Lohan

Rating: 1/5

If you go

The flights
Etihad (etihad.com) flies from Abu Dhabi to Luang Prabang via Bangkok, with a return flight from Chiang Rai via Bangkok for about Dh3,000, including taxes. Emirates and Thai Airways cover the same route, also via Bangkok in both directions, from about Dh2,700.
The cruise
The Gypsy by Mekong Kingdoms has two cruising options: a three-night, four-day trip upstream cruise or a two-night, three-day downstream journey, from US$5,940 (Dh21,814), including meals, selected drinks, excursions and transfers.
The hotels
Accommodation is available in Luang Prabang at the Avani, from $290 (Dh1,065) per night, and at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort from $1,080 (Dh3,967) per night, including meals, an activity and transfers.

The specs

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 660hp
Torque: 1,100Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 488km-560km
Price: From Dh850,000 (estimate)
On sale: October

EXPATS

Director: Lulu Wang

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sarayu Blue, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, Jack Huston

Rating: 4/5

The most expensive investment mistake you will ever make

When is the best time to start saving in a pension? The answer is simple – at the earliest possible moment. The first pound, euro, dollar or dirham you invest is the most valuable, as it has so much longer to grow in value. If you start in your twenties, it could be invested for 40 years or more, which means you have decades for compound interest to work its magic.

“You get growth upon growth upon growth, followed by more growth. The earlier you start the process, the more it will all roll up,” says Chris Davies, chartered financial planner at The Fry Group in Dubai.

This table shows how much you would have in your pension at age 65, depending on when you start and how much you pay in (it assumes your investments grow 7 per cent a year after charges and you have no other savings).

Age

$250 a month

$500 a month

$1,000 a month

25

$640,829

$1,281,657

$2,563,315

35

$303,219

$606,439

$1,212,877

45

$131,596

$263,191

$526,382

55

$44,351

$88,702

$177,403

 

Ballon d’Or shortlists

Men

Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Aregentina/Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Netherlans/Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (France/Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Serbia/Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (France/PSG), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England/Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Netherlands/Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Arsenal), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany/Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Juventus), Alisson (Brazil/Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands/Juventus), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands/Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Portugal/Manchester City), Son Heung-min (South Korea/Tottenham), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich), Roberto Firmino (Brazil/Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal/Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (France/Barcelona), Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool), Eden Hazard (BEL/Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Brazil/Paris-SG), Raheem Sterling (Eengland/Manchester City), Joao Félix(Portugal/Atletico Madrid)

Women

Sam Kerr (Austria/Chelsea), Ellen White (England/Manchester City), Nilla Fischer (Sweden/Linkopings), Amandine Henry (France/Lyon), Lucy Bronze(England/Lyon), Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany/Lyon), Pernille Harder (Denmark/Wolfsburg), Sarah Bouhaddi (France/Lyon), Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC), Lieke Martens (Netherlands/Barcelona), Sari van Veenendal (Netherlands/Atletico Madrid), Wendie Renard (France/Lyon), Rose Lavelle(USA/Washington Spirit), Marta (Brazil/Orlando Pride), Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Lyon), Kosovare Asllani (Sweden/CD Tacon), Sofia Jakobsson (Sweden/CD Tacon), Tobin Heath (USA/Portland Thorns)

 

 

Museum of the Future in numbers
  • 78 metres is the height of the museum
  • 30,000 square metres is its total area
  • 17,000 square metres is the length of the stainless steel facade
  • 14 kilometres is the length of LED lights used on the facade
  • 1,024 individual pieces make up the exterior 
  • 7 floors in all, with one for administrative offices
  • 2,400 diagonally intersecting steel members frame the torus shape
  • 100 species of trees and plants dot the gardens
  • Dh145 is the price of a ticket
Stan Lee

Director: David Gelb

Rating: 3/5

Quick facts on cancer
  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular diseases 
  • About one in five men and one in six women will develop cancer in their lifetime 
  • By 2040, global cancer cases are on track to reach 30 million 
  • 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur in low and middle-income countries 
  • This rate is expected to increase to 75 per cent by 2030 
  • At least one third of common cancers are preventable 
  • Genetic mutations play a role in 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cancers 
  • Up to 3.7 million lives could be saved annually by implementing the right health
    strategies 
  • The total annual economic cost of cancer is $1.16 trillion

 

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

WHAT IS GRAPHENE?

It was discovered in 2004, when Russian-born Manchester scientists Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov were experimenting with sticky tape and graphite, the material used as lead in pencils.

Placing the tape on the graphite and peeling it, they managed to rip off thin flakes of carbon. In the beginning they got flakes consisting of many layers of graphene. But when they repeated the process many times, the flakes got thinner.

By separating the graphite fragments repeatedly, they managed to create flakes that were just one atom thick. Their experiment led to graphene being isolated for the very first time.

In 2010, Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. 

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Four tips to secure IoT networks

Mohammed Abukhater, vice president at FireEye in the Middle East, said:

- Keep device software up-to-date. Most come with basic operating system, so users should ensure that they always have the latest version

- Besides a strong password, use two-step authentication. There should be a second log-in step like adding a code sent to your mobile number

- Usually smart devices come with many unnecessary features. Users should lock those features that are not required or used frequently

- Always create a different guest network for visitors

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Poacher

Director: Richie Mehta

Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Could We Be More

Artist: Kokoroko
Label: Brownswood Recordings
Rating: 3.5/5

UAE v Zimbabwe A

Results
Match 1 – UAE won by 4 wickets
Match 2 – UAE won by 5 wickets
Match 3 – UAE won by 25 runs
Match 4 – UAE won by 77 runs

Fixture
Match 5, Saturday, 9.30am start, ICC Academy, Dubai

The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

Mazen Abukhater, principal and actuary at global consultancy Mercer, Middle East, says the company’s Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index - which benchmarks 34 pension schemes across the globe to assess their adequacy, sustainability and integrity - included Saudi Arabia for the first time this year to offer a glimpse into the region.

The index highlighted fundamental issues for all 34 countries, such as a rapid ageing population and a low growth / low interest environment putting pressure on expected returns. It also highlighted the increasing popularity around the world of defined contribution schemes.

“Average life expectancy has been increasing by about three years every 10 years. Someone born in 1947 is expected to live until 85 whereas someone born in 2007 is expected to live to 103,” Mr Abukhater told the Mena Pensions Conference.

“Are our systems equipped to handle these kind of life expectancies in the future? If so many people retire at 60, they are going to be in retirement for 43 years – so we need to adapt our retirement age to our changing life expectancy.”

Saudi Arabia came in the middle of Mercer’s ranking with a score of 58.9. The report said the country's index could be raised by improving the minimum level of support for the poorest aged individuals and increasing the labour force participation rate at older ages as life expectancies rise.

Mr Abukhater said the challenges of an ageing population, increased life expectancy and some individuals relying solely on their government for financial support in their retirement years will put the system under strain.

“To relieve that pressure, governments need to consider whether it is time to switch to a defined contribution scheme so that individuals can supplement their own future with the help of government support,” he said.