30-year return forecast: 2018 update

In our annual update of 30-year asset class return forecasts, equities are still on top, though credit has caught up in the US.


Craig Botham

Craig Botham


Despite moving a step closer to normalisation, our forecasts suggest that the long run real returns on cash remain poor, with negative returns still on offer in Japan. The US and some Asian markets do offer a positive return, but even risk averse investors might shy away from a maximum return of 0.9% per annum.

We would expect longer-dated sovereign debt to outperform cash over 30 years, but returns in real terms are still likely to be disappointing, and Japan still fails to deliver a positive return. The current valuations of bonds considered “safe assets” are unattractive and suggest low returns, despite a recent increase in yields.

Of the riskier assets, we expect credit, property and equities to outperform sovereign bonds, though some credit investors will likely prefer the US market, as IG credit in the UK and Europe is set to underperform Treasuries.

Equities remain the asset class offering the greatest potential for returns. On a regional basis, we believe most equities will deliver an attractive return (both real and nominal). However, the US high yield credit is forecast to outperform the US equity market, which has the lowest forecast returns of the equity markets we cover. UK small cap equities, followed by emerging markets and Pacific ex Japan, offer the highest returns.

Emerging market equities, however, are more prone to periods of crisis than their developed peers, and we would expect the more generous potential return to compensate greater volatility and sharper drawdowns. Meanwhile, the deflationary environment explains the relative underperformance of both the Japanese cash and JGB markets.

Our full analysis can be found as a PDF at the link below.