Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, institutional investors are starting to worry less about the virus — and more about their portfolios.
For the fourth weekly II Fear Index, 42 percent of surveyed investment professionals said that it was more important right now for governments to secure a stable economy, rather than focus on the health of the public.
While the majority — 58 percent — still saw public health as the more important objective, II’s weekly polls reveal a gradual shift in priorities among fund managers and asset owners. Over the last three weeks, the proportion of respondents favoring economic stability over public health has increased a few percentage points each week, rising from 34 percent in mid-April to 42 percent in this latest survey.
This week’s index reflected 163 institutional investors’ responses. They were asked about the U.S.–China relationship (nearly three-quarters thought it should be more cooperative), and how different industry sectors would fare after the economy reopens.
Respondents were most optimistic about the information technology sector, with about 62 percent predicting that IT companies would recover more quickly than others. Fifteen percent suggested that IT would be fundamentally altered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has already caused a spike in demand for remote work capabilities.
Investors were also bullish on communication services and health care. But the majority believed that real estate — hard hit as businesses and other tenants struggle to pay rent — would recover slowly relative to other sectors. Energy was another area investors felt pessimistic about, with about 42 percent predicting a slow recovery for oil and the like.
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As in previous weeks, survey respondents were also asked to rate their level of optimism regarding their professional lives and the broader economy. Once again the economic outlook was bleak: Forty-three percent said they felt less optimistic this week about the economic prospects of their countries, up from 41 percent last week. Still, a quarter reported an increase in optimism, up from 21 percent in the prior survey. Roughly a third said their outlook was unchanged.
As for economic policymakers, investors continued to distrust their national governments, while placing faith in central banks. Thirty-one percent said they felt more optimistic about central bank management of monetary policy, compared to 11 percent who felt less optimistic. Regarding federal stewardship of the economy, 44 percent reported a more negative view, while 16 percent reported an increase in optimism.
More results from the II Fear Index poll continue below. To contribute to the index, please register here.