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US and Europe: will the West catch-up with the East?

Avoiding a Golf buggy (this time)

Although unable to play a round of Golf at the famous Celtic Manor course at the minute, Gary Ware, Business Development Manager, has been finding other ways to add to his daily steps for this charitable challenge.


Monday 08 February

Written by Ahmer Tirmizi, Senior Investment Strategist

As we enter Newport, home to Celtic Manor and the only time Wales has hosted to the Ryder Cup, it is worth reflecting on where the US’ and Europe’s place is in the world. This competition will always be important but it in many ways symbolizes a world which no longer exists. The US and Europe aren’t the only heavyweights anymore…

I have run out of adjectives to describe the COVID crisis. I’m bored of the word ‘unprecedented’. The thing is, this recession has turned perceived economic wisdom on its head. Who knew oil prices could go negative? Or had any idea that the worst recession since the Great Depression could spark a US housing boom? Could you have conceived of a world in which governments would tell their people to stay at home indefinitely – and we’d all just listen?

This has been an unprecedented (…sorry) economic crisis. Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects is that the East has come out of this quicker than the West. It’s not supposed to be this way.

When the US sneezes, the world catches a cold,’ the old saying goes. Now, there’s a new saying - ‘when the East sneezes, the West catches something much worse than a cold, is in a seemingly never ending cycle of lockdowns and tentative re-openings until a vaccine program is rolled out in sufficient enough scope to relieve pressures on its healthcare systems’. Ok, not as catchy, but you get the point. The West is supposed to lead, the East follows after.

As we witness New Year’s Eve celebrations in Singapore, pool parties in Wuhan and packed stadiums in New Zealand, this is clearly no longer true. That part of the world is pretty much back to normal – apart from tourists from the west of course. The most important question for the next year will be – when can we say things are ‘normal’ again in the West? And we think its good news. The US and UK are rolling out the vaccine programs with impressive speed. In short, ‘normal’ could be on its way sooner than people think.

Europe is a little further behind but, unpleasant interactions with the UK aside, will catch up. If we’ve learnt anything from the last year it’s that once the problem has made the news, the powers that be are already on it.

But let’s not forget the more important lesson: ‘The Rise of Asia’ talk is no longer relevant … Asia has risen. And that means the next hundred years won’t look like the past hundred years.

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