A year to remember: Crashes, QE and the return of rising rates

Investors will remember 2015 as a year spent trying to guess what major central banks around the world would do or say next.

A year to remember: Crashes, QE and the return of rising rates

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There were also political ructions and turmoil in the oil market to contend with in what was a fascinating year in financial markets.

The year began with a bang as Greece came close to crashing out of the European single currency and even the European Union, following the election of the far left Syriza government.

Alexis Tsipras was elected Prime Minister and Yanis Varoufakis installed and Minister of Finance. The pair set about a hard-line renegotiation of Greece’s national debt with their main creditors, but ultimately had to back down when given short shrift.

Markets slid as investors struggled to weigh-up the implications of a disorderly Greek exit. 

Not long after this long process kicked off, the first big central bank move of the year took place in late January as the Mario Draghi led European Central Bank finally announced its unprecedented quantitative easing programme.

In an effort to put some wind in the sails of the European economy, Draghi announced at least €1.1 trillion would be pumped into the eurozone over the following two years.

That set off the biggest asset allocation rotation of the year as wealth managers scrambled to up their European equities allocations in order to ride this wave.

As we moved into Spring, politics took centre stage in the United Kingdom as the upcoming general election made investors nervous. The prospect of a Labour/SNP coalition worried many investors, as did the prolonged uncertainty a hung parliament would have created.

The unexpected Conservative majority soothed markets to some extent but it fired the starting gun on a much bigger debate over the UK’s membership of the European Union, which is very much still running today.

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