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As Congress worries about inflation, investors have something else on their mind

July 26, 2021, 3:59 PM UTC

Fears over contagious new strains of the Coronavirus have eclipsed red-hot inflation figures as the main risk to financial markets, according to a new survey of global investors by Deutsche Bank.

It marks an important shift in sentiment after a spate of bullish economic data pointing to an economy firing on all cylinders. With the pace of vaccinations slowing just as businesses are reopening, money mangers are taking careful note of soaring cases in parts of the United States, U.K. and Europe.

In addition, more are now concerned that the current robust economic expansion could quickly peter out than about central banks misjudging the timing of an exit from their unprecedented monetary policy easing.

“The focus has clearly shifted to growth fears over inflationary ones,” the bank wrote on Monday after questioning some 550 investors around the world the previous week. 

Courtesy of Deutsche Bank

In the space of just one month, the number of those worried about soaring consumer prices plunged 20 percentage points to just 42% despite recent upside surprises in the data. 

Prices for U.S. consumers rose at their fastest annual pace in 13 years last month, while the picture was even worse once volatile food and energy baskets were stripped out — a 4.5% surge year-on-year marked the highest gain since November 1991. (Euro area figures were more subdued, by comparison, dipping to 1.9% in June from 2.0% in the previous month.)

While the number of those that believed inflationary pressures were mostly permanent in nature ticked up slightly, over two-thirds still agreed with central banks that inflationary pressures were mostly temporary.

Meanwhile, 63% of all participants responded that mutations including the Delta variant are now the greatest threat – a larger majority than even the 58% in April, when it last topped the survey. 

“People were much more pessimistic about life being back to normal by year end than they were a month ago,” Deutsche wrote.

Courtesy of Deutsche Bank

With the notable exception of perhaps overly confident American investors, opinion over England’s lifting of restrictions was split: responses tended to strongly favor or vehemently oppose the measure in broadly equal measure.

There was no debate whatsoever when it comes to the pros and cons of protecting oneself from COVID: Only 3% were not planning to be inoculated against the virus, with over three-quarters already fully vaccinated and the rest waiting their turn. 

This suggests money managers are among the most vaccine-friendly professions in society. By comparison, the share of Europeans, Americans and Brits fully vaccinated overall runs from 46% to 55%, and even among leaders like Chile, Israel and Canada the share is still smaller, according to the latest figures from Our World in Data.

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