Investors were buffeted throughout 2022, first by the shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and then by the fastest rate-hiking cycle by the US Federal Reserve in a generation. As we had anticipated 2022 would be a volatile year in both equities and fixed income, our allocations to hedge funds provided some relative shelter from the storm that engulfed markets. Our expectation of US dollar strength during the year also proved justified, though we were surprised by the persistence of the appreciation over the course of 2022.
Looking ahead, the agility that was required to navigate markets in 2022 will remain an asset in 2023 as the global economy treads a fine line between developed economies entering recession and emerging ones seeking to consolidate recoveries. Hedge funds should continue to be a refuge for equity investors in particular, as high interest rates, elevated volatility, and the broadest single-stock dispersion since 2007 provide multiple return drivers in the new year.
This should make up for the muted equity returns we expect for 2023 as recessions bite on both sides of the Atlantic, weighing on earnings expectations. These recessionary headwinds should also slow the pace of rate hikes and inflation in the new year, allowing bond investors to generate moderate returns and create select opportunities in credit. Encouragingly, the 2022 turmoil has served to accelerate the transformation across energy and infrastructure sectors, and to increase the reliability and sustainability of key supply chains around the world. Admittedly, such change does not come without cost, with global food supplies set to be challenged in 2023 and beyond.
Just as in energy in 2022, elevated food prices will accelerate investment in the ongoing and future transformation of the segment. While geopolitical conditions are leading this transition in the short term, climate and biodiversity concerns will take over, driving the quest for more sustainable food systems. Beyond this, we see considerable scope to strengthen our focus on investing sustainably as an essential way to secure long-term returns.
Overall, these paradigm shifts will require investors to walk a tightrope between new opportunities and risks associated with the transition of the global economy. As a result, in 2023 we expect to continue to rely on active and dynamic risk management to help us maintain our commitment to both preserving and growing our clients’ wealth.