9 episodes

In each episode of “Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs,” Allison Nathan, a senior strategist in the firm’s Global Investment Research division and the creator and editor of the GS “Top of Mind” publication, explores macroeconomic issues that are on the minds of Goldman Sachs clients.

Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs

    • Business

In each episode of “Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs,” Allison Nathan, a senior strategist in the firm’s Global Investment Research division and the creator and editor of the GS “Top of Mind” publication, explores macroeconomic issues that are on the minds of Goldman Sachs clients.

    Investing In Climate Change

    Investing In Climate Change

    In this episode, we dig into what may be the most important issue of our time: climate change. On the heels of a climate-focused World Economic Forum in Davos, the unveiling of Europe’s new Green Deal, and increased attention on climate change by the world’s largest asset managers and banks, climate change is undoubtedly Top of Mind.
    We speak with Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago, Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund and Goldman Sachs’ Steve Strongin about the climate challenge, and what it will take to address it. We also discuss how capital markets and climate policy are driving transformational shifts in the energy industry, and what it means for sector returns. Finally, the head of the Goldman Sachs Sustainable Finance Group, John Goldstein, provides insight and advice on ESG investing and integration, and the growing implications of shareholders and clients increasingly demanding more accountability on climate.

    • 20 min
    Fiscal Focus

    Fiscal Focus

    With monetary policy, conducted by central banks, nearly exhausted in the major economies and low interest rates globally, whether fiscal policy, conducted by governments, should play a greater role from here is Top of Mind. In this episode, Goldman Sachs Research’s Allison Nathan interviews former IMF Chief Economist, Olivier Blanchard, Harvard professor, Alberto Alesina, and Goldman Sachs’ Chief Economist, Jan Hatzius. They discuss whether increased fiscal stimulus today would do more good than harm, and, even if it would, whether the economies that need it the most will pursue it. Our key takeaways: Germany should embrace a large fiscal expansion, but likely won’t; investors should expect some more fiscal stimulus in China, but only enough to avoid a sharp slowdown.

    Audio of former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is courtesy of the European Central Bank YouTube channel via the Creative Commons Attribution license https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjIaLD4I8go).

    • 21 min
    Growth and Geopolitical Risk

    Growth and Geopolitical Risk

    The market has once again been gripped by recession fears at the same time that geopolitical and policy risk is flaring up. Some of these risks—like the US-China trade war—are feeding recessionary fears, while others—like the attack on Saudi oil facilities that led to the largest ever daily disruption in oil supplies—have gone almost unnoticed. And this is despite the fact that oil shocks were one of the most common causes of recession historically. Whether this complacency is warranted, and the vulnerability of the economy and markets to this and other geopolitical shocks, is Top of Mind. In this episode, Goldman Sachs’ Head of Energy Research Damien Courvalin explains why the oil market is much better positioned to deal with supply outages today, and thus is a less likely recession trigger than in the past. But the Council on Foreign Relations’ President, Richard Haass, and Columbia Professor Richard Nephew explain why instability looks set to rise in the Middle East and beyond. 

    • 19 min
    Currency Wars

    Currency Wars

    President Trump has voiced concern that a strong Dollar is damaging US competitiveness. Of course, exchange rates do matter for trade, and the US' non-oil trade balance has deteriorated sharply since the Dollar began to climb in 2014. So it’s no surprise that Trump’s laser focus on the US trade deficit would end up targeting Dollar strength—and that currency would become another front in the US-China trade war. Whether the US should, could, and would begin to proactively manage the Dollar, and whether these actions—or further trade war escalation—could lead to a global “currency war” is Top of Mind.  
    In this episode, Goldman Sachs Research’s Allison Nathan gets perspectives from the Peterson Institute’s Joseph Gagnon and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Brad Setser; both believe that Dollar strength and the associated US trade deficit are cause for concern, but see low odds of US foreign exchange intervention that triggers a currency war (Goldman Sachs analysts agree). But given that China has been managing the Yuan stronger than it otherwise would be, trade war escalation that motivates a sharp Yuan depreciation could be such a trigger.

    • 22 min
    Central Bank Independence

    Central Bank Independence

    The US Federal Reserve’s sharp pivot toward easing amid substantial White House pressure has raised concerns about central bank independence, as have developments in other advanced and emerging market economies alike. How worried we should be about this threat—and its implications for policy, the economy, and markets—is Top of Mind. In this episode, Goldman Sachs Research’s Allison Nathan interviews former central bankers Donald Kohn and Sir Paul Tucker who explain why central bank independence is critical to maintaining price and financial stability—even today when too little, rather than too much, inflation is the main problem. But while Kohn is concerned that Trump’s overt pressure could undermine Fed credibility, Tucker worries more that over-reliance on central banks since the GFC has left them vulnerable to politicization. Nathan also speaks with the firm’s chief economist Jan Hatzius who does not believe the Fed has responded directly to pressure from the White House, but does think that political pressure could already be influencing Fed policy through indirect channels such as bond market pricing. That said, Hatzius argues this in itself shouldn’t inflict too much harm on the economy unless inflationary pressures rise materially.

    • 24 min
    Dissecting the Market Disconnect

    Dissecting the Market Disconnect

    With the US expansion now the longest on record and no shortage of risks on the horizon, growth uncertainty is Top of Mind. This uncertainty has been at the heart of the dovish pivot from central banks this year, which has generally helped push bond yields lower in anticipation of Fed rate cuts ahead, but equity prices higher. So just how concerned about growth should we really be? In this episode of the Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs podcast, Goldman Sachs Research’s Allison Nathan asks Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius and others to weigh in. Dalio argues that recent price action makes sense given the Fed’s easier stance, but worries we’re pushing the limits of monetary easing, which—among other political and geopolitical factors—will ultimately bring about a negative shift in growth and markets. But Jan Hatzius argues that markets are perhaps too concerned about growth and not concerned enough about the direction of Fed policy, as the costs of easing now potentially outweigh the benefits.

    • 21 min

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