The last month has been relatively quiet for financial markets, as volatility rests near 15-month lows, as the western world prepares for the highly anticipated re-openings this summer. The United States, who are still averaging about 2 million inoculations per day, have over the past week surpassed 45% of their population in terms of first doses, with over 34% fully vaccinated at this stage. Closer to home, 28% of the EU’s population and 52% of the UK have now received their first dose, with 11% and 26% fully vaccinated, respectively.

Despite a fairly steady and slow grind higher for risk assets over the past month, we have still seen some external developments play out. These developments included President Biden’s proposed new minimum global corporation tax and higher rate of CGT in the US, Central Bank reiterations that rates will remain at or near zero while policy will have an easing bias despite some near-term temporary inflation surges, a so-far robust quarterly earnings season, and Q1 GDP results indicating a technical double-dip recession for Europe during Q1 due to widespread lockdowns. More recently, we even saw the US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, test the proverbial waters with her comments that interest rates in the United States may have to rise somewhat “to make sure our economy doesn’t overheat”.

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