2018 brought a host of challenges as geopolitical events, policy upheavals, and changing economic conditions buffeted the markets. Volatility, and lots of it, was pervasive, with several prominent themes rotating through the headlines and contributing to the unsettled markets.
Nine years into the economic expansion, growth remained robust, buoyed by a strong labor market and recent fiscal stimulus. Real GDP looks to come in at 2.9% for the full year, a bit stronger than the 2.3% growth we saw 2017, but with inflation comfortably in check. The Federal Reserve, under Jerome Powell’s new leadership, continued its tightening path and raised rates four times, bringing the total to nine hikes since the Fed began “normalizing” rates in 2015.