Investors almost as worried about central banks as trade wars

Investors still think a trade war is the top risk for stocks, but normalized central bank policy is now a close second, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest survey of over 200 global fund managers.

Data: BofA Merrill Lynch Global Fund Manager Survey; Note: Surveys of 231 panelists with combined $646B assets under management conducted Aug. 3–9, Sept. 7–13, and Oct. 5–11, 2018; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Investors are uneasy about a global end to quantitative easing — or central banks’ use of bond purchases to push down rates — even though both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are still buying (despite slowing down).

  • Notably, this survey was conducted during the stock market's two-day rout, which was widely believed to be sparked by fears of Fed hawkishness.

Other survey findings:

  • Fears about a China slowdown moderated in October. "European populism" was the fourth biggest risk, according to those surveyed.
  • 85% of those surveyed said the global economy is in its "late cycle," the most since December 2007.
  • 35% of respondents think corporate earnings won't improve by 10% or more in the next year, but back in February 35% said they did expect earnings to improve by that amount.