2015: Reasons to be cheerful
For the optimists out there, here are eight reasons to be cheerful about your financial prospects in 2015.
1) The oil price – At the time of writing, the oil price around half its level of a year ago. Lower fuel costs mean lower energy bills and more money in everyone’s pockets. It’s also good for the economy – particularly in energy-dependent, consumer-focused economies such as the US.
2) Stronger global economic growth – despite some of the more inflammatory headlines this year, the global economy is still improving. The IMF is predicting growth of 3.8 per cent for 2015 and areas such as the US, and even our very own UK economy, look particularly strong.
3) Quantitative easing – The laggard economies such as the Japan and Eurozone may have the potential to derail global economic growth, but they should benefit from central bank action such as quantitative easing.
4) Lower interest rates – there has been an almost complete absence of inflationary pressure across the globe. Partly this is down to the oil price, but it means that there is little pressure on central bankers to raise interest rates. This means lower mortgage and other debt repayments, and more in the pocket of consumers. Again, this is good for the economy and good for individuals.
5) Pension changes – the pension changes come into effect this year, meaning individuals can structure their retirement planning with a great deal more flexibility and freedom.
6) Isa choices – investors not only have higher limits for their Isas, they are also likely to have more choice as to what they put in them. For example, peer to peer lending options may finally come to the market this year.
7) (Selectively) cheaper valuations – there are certain parts of the globe where stock market valuations now look very cheap. Emerging markets, Europe or Japan, may not look immediately attractive, but at least investors are being asked to pay very much to invest.
8) Volatility will create opportunities – volatility always sounds like a bad thing, but it can create opportunities to buy into stock markets at lower valuations.