Saxo Bank has published its set of outrageous predictions for 2022.
Steen Jakobsen, Saxo’s Chief Investment Officer, explains that the theme for 2022 Outrageous Predictions is Revolution.
Mr Jakobsen comments:
“There is so much energy building up in our inequality- plagued society and economy. Add to that the inability of the current system to address the issue and we need to look into the future with the fundamental outlook that it’s not a question of whether we get a revolution, but more a question of when and how. With every revolution, some win and some lose, but that’s not the point—if the current system can’t change but must, a revolution is the only path forward”.
Saxo emphasises its annual caveat, that these Outrageous Predictions should not be seen as its official view on the market and politics. The Saxo team is trying to provoke you and themselves to think outside the box and to engage in discussing the important topics Saxo raises.
- The plan to end fossil fuels gets a rain check
Policymakers kick climate targets down the road and support fossil fuel investment to fight inflation and the risk of social unrest while rethinking the path to a low-carbon future.
Faced with rapidly rising commodity prices and an increasingly impossible road to carbon neutrality, policymakers make a surprise and controversial move in 2022 to temporarily relax environmental restrictions on new upstream crude oil and natural gas investments for five and ten years, respectively. The plan is sold as the only pragmatic way to bridge the reality of our energy- consuming present with the desired low-carbon future, while also limiting the risk of social unrest caused by rising food and energy prices.
Market impact: The iShares Stoxx EU 600 Oil & Gas ETF (Ticker: EXH1:xetr) surges 50 percent as the whole energy sector gets a new lease on life
- Facebook faceplants on youth exodus
The young abandon Facebook’s platforms in protest against their mining of personal information for profit; the attempt by Facebook parent Meta to reel them back in with the Metaverse stumbles.
A new company name (Facebook is now called Meta) and brand identity to separate and shield Instagram (its most valuable current asset), together with creating a new product tailored towards young people, is the exact same playbook tobacco companies have used for years. But in 2022, investors will realise that Meta is rapidly losing the young generation and thus the future potential and profitability of the company. In a desperate move, Meta tries to acquire Snapchat or TikTok while throwing billions of dollars into building the creepy Metaverse, which is aimed at surveilling users more directly than ever before and getting young people back into Meta’s universe of social media platforms, in the perceived wisdom that being a first mover is always best in technology. The plan struggles to take off as the young generation fails to sign up.
Market impact: Facebook parent company Meta struggles, down 30 percent versus the broader market and is urged to spin off its components as separate entities, shattering Zuckerberg’s monopolistic dreams.
- The US mid-term election brings constitutional crisis
The US mid-term election sees a stand-off over the certification of close Senate and/or House election results, leading to a scenario where the 118th Congress is unable to sit on schedule in early 2023.
In the wake of the 2022 election, a handful of key Senate and House races come down to the wire and one or both sides move against certifying the vote, making it impossible for the new Congress to form and sit on its scheduled first day of January 3, 2023. Joe Biden rules by decree and US democracy is suspended as even Democrats also dig in against the Supreme Court that was tilted heavily by Trump. Indeed, as 2023 gets underway the stand-off sees a full-blown constitutional crisis stretching over the horizon.
Market impact: extreme volatility in US assets, as US treasury yields rise and the USD drops on hedging against the existential crisis in the world’s largest economy and issuer of the world’s reserve currency of choice.
- US inflation reaches above 15% on wage-price spiral
By the fourth quarter of 2022, US CPI inflation reaches an annualized 15% as companies bid up wages in an effort to find willing and qualified workers, triggering a wage-price spiral unlike anything seen since the 1970’s.
The big difference between today and yesterday is that the pandemic has fuelled a great awakening of workers. Across sectors and income classes they realise they are now more empowered than ever. They demand a better experience: better job conditions, higher wages, more flexibility and a sense of purpose from work. Coupled with persistent inflationary pressures coming from the production side, the energy crisis and labour shortage, this results in unprecedented broad-based double-digit annualised wage increases by Q4. As a consequence, US inflation reaches an annualised pace above 15% before the start of 2023, for the first time since WWII. This prompts the Federal Reserve into a too-little, too-late move to tighten monetary policy faster in a desperate effort to tame inflation. But the central bank has lost credibility; it will take time to regain it.
Market impact: extreme volatility in US equity and credit markets. The JNK high-yield ETF falls as much as 20% and the VIXM mid-curve volatility ETF soars as much as 70%.
- EU Superfund for climate, energy and defence announced, to be funded by private pensions
To defend against the rise of populism, deepen the commitment to slowing climate change, and defend its borders as the US security umbrella recedes, the EU launches a bold $3 trillion Superfund to be funded by pension allocations rather than new taxes
French President Macron, backed by Italian Prime Minister Draghi moving to stave off Italy’s own rise of the populists, rolls out a vision for an “EU Superfund” that will address the three-fold priorities of defence, climate and the related clean energy transition. Given the EU’s aging population and heavy tax burdens, policymakers know that it will be impossible to finance the Superfund with higher taxes on incomes or other traditional tax revenues.
Instead, France has a light-bulb moment as it seeks to overhaul its pension system and looks at Europe’s enormous pensions. It decides that all pensions for all workers above the age of 40 must allocate a progressively larger portion of their pension assets into Superfund bonds as they age. This allows new levels of fiscal stimulus in the EU even with the sleight-of-hand trick of hiding the spending in inflation and negative real returns on low-yielding Superfund bonds that are actually EU bonds in disguise. At the same the younger generation enjoys a stronger job market and less unfair tax burdens as the system proves such a success that income taxes are lowered progressively.
Market impact: Bond yields harmonise across Europe, leading to German Bunds underperforming. EU defence, construction and new energy companies are some of the best performers.
- Women’s Reddit Army takes on the corporate patriarchy
Mimicking the meme stock Reddit Army tactics of 2020-21, a group of women traders launch a coordinated assault on companies with weak records on gender equality, leading to huge swings in equity prices for targeted companies.
In contrast to the often-nihilistic original Reddit Army, the Women’s Reddit Army will be more sophisticated, with women traders coordinating a long squeeze by shorting stocks of selected patriarch companies. At the same time, they will direct funds to companies with the best metrics on female representation in middle management and among executives. Instead of condemning the development, politicians worldwide welcome and support their cause, putting even more pressure on companies with outdated patriarchal attitudes, poor gender equality in pay, and under-representation of women on boards and in management to address the errors of their ways.
Market impact: The movement gets real results as the broader market catches on to the theme and joins in, forcing targeted company prices sharply lower, which sees companies scrambling to change their ways. It marks the beginning of a gender parity renaissance in markets.
- India joins the Gulf Cooperation Council as a non-voting member
The world’s geopolitical alliances will lurch into a phase of drastic realignment as we have an ugly cocktail of new deglobalising geopolitics and much higher energy prices.
Interregional trading zones will secure “closer to home” production and investment, combined with the security of reliable supplies from India’s point of view, and a reliable destination market from the GCC’s point of view. The alliance helps lay the groundwork for the GCC countries to plan for their future beyond oil and gas and for India to accelerate its development via huge new investments in infrastructure and improvements in agricultural productivity together with fossil fuel imports, bridging the way to a post-carbon longer-term future.
Market impact: The Indian rupee proves far more resilient than its EM peers in a volatile year for markets. The bubbly Indian stock market corrects with other equity markets in early 2022, but proves a strong relative performer from the intra-year lows.
- Spotify disrupted due to NFT-based digital rights platform
Musicians are ready for change as the current music streaming paradigm means that labels and streaming platforms capture 75-95 percent of revenue paid for listening to streamed music. In 2022, new blockchain-based technology will help them grab back their fair share of industry revenues.
In 2022, an NFT-based service takes hold and begins offering music from notable stars – perhaps the likes of Katy Perry, The Chainsmokers and Jason Derulo, all of whom have recently backed an effort to create a new blockchain-powered streaming platform. Other well-known artists begin pulling their music from the now “traditional” streaming platforms, which suddenly find themselves terminally disrupted. Investors see the eventual writing on the wall for podcasts, movies and other forms of digitisable contents as well.
Market impact: Investors recognise that Spotify’s future is bleak, sending its shares down 33 percent in 2022.
- New hypersonic tech drives space race and new cold war
The latest hypersonic missile tests are driving a widening sense of insecurity as this tech renders legacy conventional and even nuclear military hardware obsolete. In 2022 a massive hypersonic arms race develops among major militaries as no country wants to feel left behind.
In 2022, it is clear from funding priorities that hypersonics and space are the heart of a new phase of the deepening rivalry between the US and China on all fronts—economic and military. Other major powers with advanced military tech join in as well, likely including Russia, India, Israel and the EU.
Market impact: massive funding for companies like Raytheon that build hypersonic tech with space delivery capabilities and underperformance of “expensive conventional hardware” companies in the aircraft and ship-building side of the military hardware equation.
- Medical breakthrough extends average life expectancy 25 years
Young forever, or for at least a lot longer. In 2022, a key breakthrough in biomedicine brings the prospect of extending productive adulthood and the average life expectancy by up to 25 years, prompting projected ethical, environmental and fiscal crises of epic proportions.
The prospect of a massive leap in human quality of life and life expectancy are huge wins for mankind, but bring an enormous ethical and financial quandary. Imagine that almost everyone can look forward to living to an average age of 115 and more healthily. What would this mean for private and government pensions, or even the ability or desire to retire? And what about the cost to the planet if it is set to support billions more people, not to mention whether or not there is enough food to go around? And then there is the ethical question of whether it is humane to not make the cocktail available to everyone. In short, how would our value systems, political systems and planet cope?