Deglobalisation and its ramifications for equity markets
The global energy crisis is grabbing most of the headlines and is directly tied to the tough winter ahead for the global economy. But the real winter for the world is not the energy crisis, but the deglobalisation current which has intensified. The US government has recently restricted Nvidia on their sales of its most advanced AI chips to China as the US government worries they are being used for military applications. The decision followed the US CHIPS Act which is the biggest US industrial policy since WWII and is aimed at quickly increasing production of semiconductors in the US. While the US is charging ahead, we are seeing the same urgency in Europe on semiconductors.
China has subsequently invoked the “whole nation system” which has been used twice before, in its space programme and in biotechnology during the pandemic. This time China has decided that it has to muster more resources to become self-reliant on semiconductors. Meanwhile the US is expected to curb exports of semiconductor equipment to China, forcing China to build out the entire production chain of semiconductors.
While semiconductors are just one industry the signs are telling. The moves follow the trade wars from the Trump period—the war in Ukraine has painted the picture that the world is splitting into two value systems. Longer term it will drive energy and defence policies, and critical technologies such as semiconductors, and generally reshape global supply chains. Globalisation was the biggest driver behind low inflation over the past 30 years and was instrumental for emerging markets and their equity markets. Globalisation in reverse will cause turmoil for trade surplus countries, put upward pressure on inflation and threaten the USD as the reserve currency.
One underappreciated aspect of deglobalisation and Europe’s drive for energy independence is what it means for Africa. Europe’s drive to become resource independent of Russia means that Africa must fill the gap. That puts Europe in direct longer-term competition with China over resources on the continent and here lies the next geopolitical tension. In the middle of all of this is India: can the world’s most populous country strike a truly neutral position during deglobalisation or will the country be forced to make tough choices?
Based on the energy crisis, the green transformation, continued urbanisation and deglobalisation, we still prefer equity themes such as commodities, logistics, renewable energy, defence, India, energy storage and cyber security.