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The World Macroeconomic Risk Map in 2020

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Macroeconomic Risk by Country

This Markets in a Minute Chart is available as a poster.

The World Macroeconomic Risk Map in 2020

In times of crisis, risk is thrown under the microscope and former assumptions are reassessed.

From the political climate to the flow of international trade, the impact of COVID-19 has destabilized macroeconomic conditions in many jurisdictions globally.

The above Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments is a macroeconomic risk map of 241 countries and regions as global economies shift.

Measuring Risk

Data for the risk map comes from Euler Hermes, and it scores macroeconomic risk primarily based on the following categories: political risk, structural business environment, commercial risk, and financing risk.

The political risk category, for example, takes into account the concentration of power in a country. It also assesses the degree of independence of national institutions and social cohesion.

In total, a country’s macroeconomic risk profile is determined, representing the broad risk of non-payment of companies within a country.

Highest Macroeconomic Risk

Given the sheer weight of the current economic climate, which countries have the highest macroeconomic risk?

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇫 AfghanistanHigh Risk
🇦🇱 AlbaniaHigh Risk
🇦🇴 AngolaHigh Risk
🇦🇷 ArgentinaHigh Risk
🇦🇲 ArmeniaHigh Risk
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanHigh Risk
🇧🇩 BangladeshHigh Risk
🇧🇧 BarbadosHigh Risk
🇧🇾 BelarusHigh Risk
🇧🇿 BelizeHigh Risk
🇧🇴 BoliviaHigh Risk
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaHigh Risk
🇧🇮 BurundiHigh Risk
🇨🇲 CameroonHigh Risk
🇨🇻 Cape Verde IslandsHigh Risk
🇨🇫 Central African RepublicHigh Risk
🇹🇩 ChadHigh Risk
🇰🇲 ComorosHigh Risk
🇨🇩 Congo (Democratic Rep Of)High Risk
🇨🇬 Congo (People's Rep Of)High Risk
CubaHigh Risk
DjiboutiHigh Risk
Equatorial GuineaHigh Risk
EritreaHigh Risk
FijiHigh Risk
GabonHigh Risk
GambiaHigh Risk
GeorgiaHigh Risk
Guinea (Rep Of)High Risk
Guinea BissauHigh Risk
HaitiHigh Risk
IranHigh Risk
IraqHigh Risk
KazakhstanHigh Risk
KyrgyzstanHigh Risk
LaosHigh Risk
LebanonHigh Risk
LiberiaHigh Risk
LibyaHigh Risk
MadagascarHigh Risk
MalawiHigh Risk
MaldivesHigh Risk
MaliHigh Risk
Marshall IslandsHigh Risk
MauritaniaHigh Risk
MoldovaHigh Risk
MongoliaHigh Risk
MontenegroHigh Risk
MozambiqueHigh Risk
Myanmar (Burma)High Risk
NauruHigh Risk
NepalHigh Risk
NicaraguaHigh Risk
NigerHigh Risk
NigeriaHigh Risk
North KoreaHigh Risk
PakistanHigh Risk
Papua New GuineaHigh Risk
SeychellesHigh Risk
Sierra LeoneHigh Risk
Solomon IslandsHigh Risk
SomaliaHigh Risk
South SudanHigh Risk
Sri LankaHigh Risk
SudanHigh Risk
SurinameHigh Risk
SyriaHigh Risk
TajikistanHigh Risk
Timor LesteHigh Risk
TogoHigh Risk
TongaHigh Risk
TurkmenistanHigh Risk
UkraineHigh Risk
UzbekistanHigh Risk
VenezuelaHigh Risk
YemenHigh Risk
ZambiaHigh Risk
ZimbabweHigh Risk

Argentina’s soaring inflation is estimated to reach 40.7% in 2020. Coupled with a poorly-timed debt restructuring, its economy is anticipated to shrink 12% over the course of the year. Yet for all its hardship, the country managed to send COVID-19 relief money to its citizens in just three days.

Meanwhile, countries including Venezuela and Bolivia are at steeper risk, compounded by their heavy reliance on commodity exports, such as oil.

Medium to Sensitive Risk

Overall, roughly 100 jurisdictions live within this mid-range risk threshold.

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇼 ArubaMedium Risk
🇧🇼 BotswanaMedium Risk
🇧🇷 BrazilMedium Risk
🇧🇬 BulgariaMedium Risk
🇨🇳 ChinaMedium Risk
🇭🇷 CroatiaMedium Risk
🇨🇾 CyprusMedium Risk
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicMedium Risk
🇸🇻 El SalvadorMedium Risk
🇬🇷 GreeceMedium Risk
🇬🇹 GuatemalaMedium Risk
🇭🇺 HungaryMedium Risk
🇮🇸 IcelandMedium Risk
🇮🇳 IndiaMedium Risk
🇮🇩 IndonesiaMedium Risk
🇯🇴 JordanMedium Risk
🇰🇼 KuwaitMedium Risk
🇲🇦 MoroccoMedium Risk
🇳🇺 NiueMedium Risk
ParaguayMedium Risk
PhilippinesMedium Risk
QatarMedium Risk
RomaniaMedium Risk
RwandaMedium Risk
Saudi ArabiaMedium Risk
ThailandMedium Risk
Trinidad & TobagoMedium Risk
AnguillaMedium Risk
BahamasMedium Risk
BruneiMedium Risk
ChileMedium Risk
ColombiaMedium Risk
Costa RicaMedium Risk
French PolynesiaMedium Risk
Hong KongMedium Risk
IsraelMedium Risk
LatviaMedium Risk
LithuaniaMedium Risk
MacaoMedium Risk
MalaysiaMedium Risk
MauritiusMedium Risk
MexicoMedium Risk
MontserratMedium Risk
PanamaMedium Risk
PeruMedium Risk
PolandMedium Risk
PortugalMedium Risk
Puerto RicoMedium Risk
SloveniaMedium Risk
United Arab EmiratesMedium Risk
UruguayMedium Risk
AlgeriaSensitive Risk
Antigua & BarbudaSensitive Risk
BahrainSensitive Risk
BeninSensitive Risk
BhutanSensitive Risk
Burkina FasoSensitive Risk
CambodiaSensitive Risk
Cook IslandsSensitive Risk
Côte d'IvoireSensitive Risk
CuracaoSensitive Risk
DominicaSensitive Risk
EcuadorSensitive Risk
EgyptSensitive Risk
EswatiniSensitive Risk
EthiopiaSensitive Risk
GhanaSensitive Risk
GrenadaSensitive Risk
GuyanaSensitive Risk
HondurasSensitive Risk
JamaicaSensitive Risk
KenyaSensitive Risk
KiribatiSensitive Risk
LesothoSensitive Risk
MicronesiaSensitive Risk
NamibiaSensitive Risk
North MacedoniaSensitive Risk
OmanSensitive Risk
PalauSensitive Risk
RussiaSensitive Risk
SamoaSensitive Risk
Sao Tome & PrincipeSensitive Risk
SenegalSensitive Risk
SerbiaSensitive Risk
South AfricaSensitive Risk
St. Kitts & NevisSensitive Risk
St. LuciaSensitive Risk
St. MaartenSensitive Risk
St. Vincent & The GrenadinesSensitive Risk
TanzaniaSensitive Risk
TunisiaSensitive Risk
TurkeySensitive Risk
TuvaluSensitive Risk
UgandaSensitive Risk
VanuatuSensitive Risk
VietnamSensitive Risk

As Russia contends with sanctions and counter-sanctions with the West, its political conditions face greater risks. Alongside this, increased involvement in the Syria crisis also factors negatively.

On the other hand, Indonesia’s strong banking system and solid fiscal policies are met with interest rates that fall around 4%. This means that its central bank has leeway to lower interest rates to help spur growth.

Lowest Macroeconomic Risk

As the dust begins to settle, which countries are positioned with the least risk?

France’s high quality education system and diversified economy provide key strengths. Sweden, also with a highly educated population, is cushioned with solid public finances. Also, its R&D spending is among the highest globally.

Meanwhile, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have favorable factors at play.

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇸 American SamoaLow Risk
🇧🇲 BermudaLow Risk
🇻🇬 British Virgin IslandsLow Risk
🇰🇾 Cayman IslandsLow Risk
🇨🇽 Christmas IslandLow Risk
🇨🇨 Cocos (Keeling) IslandsLow Risk
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicLow Risk
🇫🇰 Falkland IslandsLow Risk
🇫🇴 Faroe IslandsLow Risk
🇬🇮 GibraltarLow Risk
🇬🇱 GreenlandLow Risk
🇬🇺 GuamLow Risk
🇮🇪 IrelandLow Risk
🇮🇹 ItalyLow Risk
🗾 JapanLow Risk
🇲🇹 MaltaLow Risk
🇾🇹 MayotteLow Risk
🇳🇨 New CaledoniaLow Risk
🇳🇫 Norfolk IslandLow Risk
Northern Mariana IslandsLow Risk
Pitcairn IslandsLow Risk
San MarinoLow Risk
SlovakiaLow Risk
South KoreaLow Risk
SpainLow Risk
St HelenaLow Risk
St. Pierre Et MiquelonLow Risk
Svalbard & Jan MayenLow Risk
TaiwanLow Risk
TokelauLow Risk
Turks & CaicosLow Risk
US Virgin IslandsLow Risk
Wallis & FutunaLow Risk
AndorraLow Risk
AntarcticaLow Risk
AustraliaLow Risk
AustriaLow Risk
BelgiumLow Risk
BES Islands (Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba)
Low Risk
Bouvet IslandLow Risk
British Indian Ocean TerritoryLow Risk
CanadaLow Risk
DenmarkLow Risk
EstoniaLow Risk
FinlandLow Risk
FranceLow Risk
French GuianaLow Risk
French Southern TerritoryLow Risk
GermanyLow Risk
GuadeloupeLow Risk
Heard and McDonald IslandsLow Risk
LiechtensteinLow Risk
LuxembourgLow Risk
MartiniqueLow Risk
MonacoLow Risk
NetherlandsLow Risk
New ZealandLow Risk
NorwayLow Risk
ReunionLow Risk
SingaporeLow Risk
South Georgia/Sandwich IslandsLow Risk
SwedenLow Risk
SwitzerlandLow Risk
United KingdomLow Risk
United StatesLow Risk
US Minor Outlying IslandsLow Risk
Vatican CityLow Risk

How about the U.S.? Backed by the world’s reserve currency, its strengths rest on its diverse GDP and low interest rates. However, the implications of high corporate debt—climbing to $10.2 trillion—weighs significantly, not to mention increasing political fragmentation.

As central banks in wealthy countries press ahead, the end of stimulus packages still seems like a distant prospect. Together, rich nations are projected to borrow a combined 17% of their GDP in this year alone. This, matched with low inflation, is helping to defend economies from collapse.

Still, it raises a key question—is this necessary for a sustainable global recovery ahead?

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Markets in a Minute

Buy the Dip, Buy the Rise, or Follow a Plan: Which Had the Best Return?

Investors may want to buy the dip when values drop or buy the rise when values climb. We compare these strategies with simply following a plan.

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Buy the Dip

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Buy the Dip, Buy the Rise, or Follow a Plan?

As performance trends come and go, investors may wonder whether they should adjust their portfolios accordingly. When prices drop, should they buy the dip in anticipation of prices going back up? Conversely, when prices rise, should they buy the rise in case the climb continues?

In this Markets in a Minute from New York Life Investments, we compare these scenarios with following a financial plan to see which one has delivered better returns.

A Tale of Three Portfolios

To evaluate these strategies, we compared the historical performance of three hypothetical portfolios:

  • Buy the dip: 100% of the portfolio was invested in the worst-performing asset class from the prior year.
  • Buy the rise: 100% of the portfolio was invested in the best-performing asset class from the prior year.
  • Follow a plan: A balanced portfolio of 60% U.S. large cap stocks and 40% U.S. investment grade bonds for the entire duration.

We considered 13 asset classes to determine the best and worst-performing assets in each year.

EquitiesFixed IncomeAlternatives
U.S. Large Cap StocksU.S. Taxable Municipal BondsGold
U.S. Small Cap StocksU.S. Investment Grade BondsEquity Real Estate Investment Trusts
Developed Market StocksU.S. High Yield BondsHedge Funds
Emerging Market StocksForeign BondsGlobal Commodities
Cash (U.S. Treasuries)

Four were within the broad category of equities, five were under the fixed income umbrella, and four were alternative investments.

Portfolio Values Over Time

We assumed all three portfolios had the same starting value of $10,000 as of January 1, 2011. Here’s how the year-end values of the portfolios would have changed over the last decade.

 Buy the DipBuy the RiseFollow a Plan
2011$10,007$10,893$10,433
2012$11,890$12,076$11,541
2013$11,896$12,421$13,689
2014$11,911$13,137$15,109
2015$7,997$13,509$15,301
2016$8,906$14,674$16,488
2017$8,979$16,616$18,814
2018$9,142$14,368$18,386
2019$10,754$14,685$22,360
2020$10,812$17,387$25,414

The buy the dip portfolio climbed steeply in 2012. Emerging market stocks, the worst-performing asset class in 2011, rebounded the following year with an annual return of 19%. Unfortunately, the buy the dip portfolio saw its value drop significantly in 2015. Global commodities had the worst return two years in a row, returning -33% in 2014 and 2015. Ultimately, the value of the buy the dip portfolio ended close to where it started, with total gains of just $812.

On the other hand, the buy the rise portfolio saw its worst annual performance in 2018. Emerging market stocks had returned an impressive 36% in 2017, but saw losses the following year. The buy the rise portfolio had its best return in 2020, when U.S. large cap stocks continued their upward climb from the year before. By the end of 2020, the buy the dip portfolio saw gains of over $7,000.

Finally, the balanced follow a plan portfolio experienced a small drop in 2018 when U.S. large cap stocks declined. However, it climbed the following two years due to a recovery in U.S. large cap stocks, which was the top-performing asset class in 2019. In the end, the balanced portfolio more than doubled its original value—the best performance of the three portfolios we analyzed.

Risk and Return

Of course, return is only one side of the equation. To properly evaluate all three strategies, investors can consider both risk and return.

Below, we look at how risk and return stacked up for each portfolio over the 10 year period.

 Buy the DipBuy the RiseFollow a Plan
Cumulative Return8%74%154%
Min Annual Return-33%-14%-2%
Median Annual Return1%7%11%
Max Annual Return19%18%22%
Standard Deviation14%9%7%

Standard deviation based on annual returns.

Not only did the buy the dip strategy have the lowest cumulative return, it also had the highest risk. For instance, this portfolio experienced the biggest one-year decline of -33%, and had the highest standard deviation of 14%.

In the middle of the pack, the buy the rise portfolio’s worst drawdown was -14% and it had a standard deviation of 9%. Notably, its median annual return of 7% was much higher than that of the buy the dip portfolio.

Lastly, the follow a plan portfolio performed well on all fronts. Compared to the other two portfolios, it had the highest cumulative return and the lowest risk. Over the 10 year period, its worst annual performance was a decline of just -2%.

Buy the Dip: More Effort & More Risk

Notably, there are lots of variables that could affect the results of these strategies.

  • Time period: Are there general market conditions at play? For example, U.S. large cap stocks had a bull market for most of the period we studied, boosting the return of the balanced portfolio.
  • Types of securities: Is the portfolio investing in entire asset classes, or specific companies?
  • Short-term or medium-term movements: Is the portfolio tracking daily dips and rises, or annual dips and rises?

However, based on this set of data, buy the dip and buy the rise strategies have historically had lower returns and higher risk than a balanced portfolio. If the market doesn’t move in the way the investor predicts, this can result in large drops in the portfolio. It also requires more effort to track these trends, and could result in higher fees from more frequent trading.

In contrast, following a balanced portfolio has historically resulted in lower risk and higher returns. By sticking to a plan, investors are also much more likely to be aligned with where they are on the investor lifecycle. This means their investment choices match up with their goals and risk tolerance.

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Markets in a Minute

Wall Street vs Main Street: The Stock Market is Not the Economy

To give context to the Wall Street vs Main Street debate, we compare S&P 500 returns and U.S. GDP growth since 1980.

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Wall Street vs Main Street

This infographic is available as a poster.

Wall Street vs Main Street

In 2020, the stock market and the economy had a very public break up. The Wall Street vs Main Street divide—the gap between America’s financial markets and the economy—was growing. By the end of the year, the S&P 500 Index closed at a record high. In contrast, 20 million Americans remained unemployed, up from 2 million at the start of the year.

Was 2020 an outlier, or does the performance of the stock market typically diverge from the economy? In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we show U.S. economic growth and stock market performance over the last four decades, to see how closely the two relate.

GDP Growth and S&P 500 Returns

Here’s how annual GDP growth and S&P 500 Index returns stack up from 1980 to the second quarter of 2021. Both metrics are net of inflation.

YearReal GDP GrowthReal S&P 500 Returns
1980-0.3%13.9%
19812.5%-18.3%
1982-1.8%10.8%
19834.6%13.4%
19847.2%-2.5%
19854.2%23.0%
19863.5%12.9%
19873.5%-2.2%
19884.2%7.9%
19893.7%22.4%
19901.9%-12.4%
1991-0.1%23.4%
19923.5%1.4%
19932.8%4.4%
19944.0%-4.2%
19952.7%31.4%
19963.8%17.2%
19974.4%29.3%
19984.5%25.1%
19994.8%16.6%
20004.1%-13.5%
20011.0%-14.6%
20021.7%-26.0%
20032.9%24.5%
20043.8%5.8%
20053.5%-0.7%
20062.9%11.4%
20071.9%-0.6%
2008-0.1%-39.2%
2009-2.5%21.6%
20102.6%11.1%
20111.6%-3.1%
20122.2%11.6%
20131.8%28.3%
20142.5%10.9%
20153.1%-1.4%
20161.7%7.3%
20172.3%17.2%
20183.0%-8.1%
20192.2%26.8%
2020-3.5%14.9%
Q1 20211.5%4.5%
Q2 20211.6%5.8%

Note: For Q1 and Q2 2021, real GDP growth and inflation rates are quarterly rates and are seasonally adjusted.

More often than not, GDP growth and S&P 500 Index returns have both been positive. The late ‘90s saw particularly strong economic activity and stock performance. According to the White House, economic growth was bolstered by cutting the deficit, modernizing job training, and increasing exports. Meanwhile, increasing investor confidence and the growing tech bubble led to annual stock market returns that exceeded 20%.

In the selected timeframe, only 2008 saw a decline in both the stock market and the economy. This was, of course, caused by the Global Financial Crisis. Banks lent out subprime mortgages, or mortgages to people with impaired credit ratings. These mortgages were then pooled together and repackaged into investments such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS). When interest rates rose and home prices collapsed, this led to mortgage defaults and financial institution bankruptcies as many MBS investments became worthless.

Moving in Opposite Directions

What about when the Wall Street vs Main Street divide grows?

Historically, it has been more common to see positive GDP growth and negative stock performance. For example, real GDP grew by a whopping 7% in 1984 due to “Reaganomics”, such as tax cuts and anti-inflation monetary policy. However, the stock market declined as rising treasury yields of up to 14% made fixed income investments more attractive than equities.

On the other hand, in five of the six years with negative GDP growth, there have been positive stock returns. The most recent example of this is 2020. Real GDP declined by 3.5%, while the S&P 500 returned almost 15% net of inflation.

The Stock Market is not the Economy

There are a number of reasons why the stock market may not necessarily reflect what is happening in the economy.

  • The stock market reflects long-term views. A stock’s price factors in what investors think a company will earn in the future. If investors are confident in the likelihood of an economic recovery, stock prices will likely rise. In contrast, GDP growth is a hard measure of current activity.
  • Sector weightings in the stock market do not reflect their contributions to GDP. The stock market remained resilient in 2020 largely because technology, media, and telecom (TMT) stocks performed well. Despite making up 35% of the market cap of the largest 1,000 U.S. stocks, these companies only account for 8% of U.S. GDP. In contrast, hard-hit companies such as restaurants and gyms generate lots of jobs and contribute materially to GDP. However, many of these businesses accounted for a small portion of the stock market or are not even publicly listed.
  • Fiscal policy lags behind monetary policy. The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) can act quickly. For instance, the Fed bought $1.7 trillion of Treasury securities between mid-March and June 2020 to stabilize financial markets. On the other hand, fiscal support requires legislative approvals. The U.S. government initially provided large-scale economic stimulus through the CARES Act in March 2020, but further relief packages were stalled due to political disagreements.

While many factors are at play, the above can help explain the Wall Street vs Main Street divide.

Wall Street vs Main Street: Together and Apart

Over the last 41 years, the economy and the stock market have moved in opposite directions almost as often as they have moved in the same direction. Here’s a summary of their movements from 1980-2020.

 # of Years
Stock Growth, GDP Growth22
Stock Decline, GDP Growth13
Stock Growth, GDP Decline5
Stock Decline, GDP Decline1

Since 1980, these time periods of differing performance have never lasted more than three consecutive years. In fact, one economist described the stock market and the unemployment rate as two people walking down the street, tethered by a rope.

”When the rope is slack, they move apart. But they can never get too far away from each other.”
—Roger Farmer, University of Warwick economist

After their public breakup in 2020, the Wall Street vs Main Street divide appears to have healed. In the first two quarters of 2021, both the stock market and the economy saw growth. Perhaps it’s easiest to sum up their relationship in two words: it’s complicated.

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