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Investment and economic outlook, January 2024

Region-by-region economic outlook and latest forecasts for investment returns.


What might shipping detours of more than 3,000 nautical miles mean for goods prices and broad inflation rates? Not a lot, for now. Shipping contracts are typically locked in for a year or more, and shipping costs account for only about 1% of core goods prices. That said, freight rates for ships to move immediately out of Chinese ports have doubled in recent weeks, and Middle East-related risks to the global inflation outlook remain elevated.

As shipping companies avoid the Red Sea, container ship costs spike

Notes: The Shanghai Containerised Freight Index is based on spot rates, or rates for immediate payment and delivery, in U.S. dollars per 40-foot-equivalent units for U.S. destination ports and 20-foot-equivalent units for other global destination ports.

Sources: Shanghai Shipping Exchange and Bloomberg as of January 12, 2024.

“The steady decrease in the pace of inflation around the world in recent months is encouraging for policymakers,” said Shaan Raithatha, a Vanguard senior economist. “However, should the tensions in the Middle East escalate or continue for an extended period, the risk does increase for an upswing in inflation through higher goods prices, as well as through the potential for energy supply disruption.”

Vanguard expects central banks in developed markets to cut policy interest rates in 2024, though only in the second half of the year. We believe that market expectations for earlier cuts don’t acknowledge the challenges of bringing inflation down that last mile to many central banks’ 2% targets, given stickier wage-related services inflation. The risk of a new advance in goods prices due to protracted geopolitical tensions could give central bankers something else to consider.

Outlook for financial markets

Our 10-year annualised nominal return and volatility forecasts are shown below. Equity returns reflect a range of 2 percentage points around the 50th percentile of the distribution of probable outcomes. Fixed income returns reflect a 1-point range around the 50th percentile. More extreme returns are possible. 

5th percentile

25th percentile

50th percentile

75th percentile

95th percentile


Australian Equities







U.S. equities (unhedged)







Emerging markets equities (unhedged)







Global ex-Australia equities (unhedged)







Global equities (unhedged)







Australian REITs







Australian aggregate bonds







Australian government bonds







Australian Linkers







Australian Credit







Global bonds (hedged)







Global government bonds (hedged)







Australian cash







Australian inflation








Notes: These probabilistic return assumptions depend on current market conditions and, as such, may change over time.

Region-by-region outlook

Leading indicators suggest that Australia’s economy has improved somewhat since mid-2023. But they also suggest that economic growth is below trend, and inflation risks that skew to the upside mean that further monetary policy rate hikes aren’t off the table.

  • We expect both growth and inflation to be weaker than consensus as restrictive monetary policy takes hold. Our base case is that Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) rate hikes are complete. However, we believe that the RBA will start to cut interest rates only late in 2024, because we expect inflation to fall to the RBA’s target only in 2025.
  • We expect real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth of 0.75%–1.25% for all of 2024, with about a 40% probability of a recession over the next 12 months.
  • The unemployment rate remained at 3.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis in December. We expect an unemployment rate that touched 50-year lows after the pandemic to rise throughout 2024 as financial conditions continue to tighten in a higher-rate environment.
United States

We expect the core Personal Consumption Expenditures index—the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, which excludes food and energy prices—to fall to 2.3% on a year-over-year basis by the end of 2024. It was 3.2% in November. The last mile of the journey back to 2% inflation will be challenging, however, owing to the “sticky” nature of services inflation.

  • We believe that market expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate cut in March are overly optimistic. It likely will be midyear before policymakers are confident that they have reined in inflation sufficiently to start cutting their target for short-term interest rates.
  • In its latest Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), the Fed suggested it would trim its target for short-term interest rates with three 25-basis-point cuts in 2024. (A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.) Vanguard believes the Fed will go further. We foresee the equivalent of six to eight quarter-point cuts—a total of 150 to 200 basis points—driven not by a soft landing but by the onset of a mild recession late in the year.
  • A higher unemployment rate than the Fed envisions would be commensurate with a contraction in GDP growth. We foresee a 2024 year-end unemployment rate of 4.8%, higher than the 4.1% envisioned in the SEP. For now, the labour market appears healthy.
  • We foresee full-year 2024 real (inflation-adjusted) U.S. GDP growth of 0.25%–0.75%.

Amid weak domestic consumption and private investment, stimulus will need to play a role in the revival of China’s economy. An indication of the government’s approach came on January 2, when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced it had issued CNY 350 billion (USD 49 billion) in loans in December. The government chose to stimulate via its “pledged supplementary lending” facility, which provides support during property downturns. Vanguard expects the funds will be used toward supply-side projects, such as social housing construction and urban village renovation.

  • We expect real (inflation-adjusted) economic growth of 4.5%–5% in 2024, near our expectation of a 5% government growth target.
  • To mitigate deflationary pressure, we expect the PBOC to ease its policy interest rate from 2.5% to 2.2% in 2024, as well as to cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios. The PBOC left its one-year medium term lending facility (MLF) policy rate unchanged at 2.5% on January 15. Vanguard doesn’t consider an unchanged policy rate surprising because a cut at this point would have weighed on banks’ profitability. However, the volume of MLF operations increased, suggesting an injection of liquidity into the market.
  • We expect prices to climb out of deflationary territory over the course of 2024, with headline inflation in a range of 1.5%–2% and core inflation of 1%–1.5%, amid expectations of higher food prices. Both would be below the PBOC’s 3% inflation target.
Euro area

High-frequency data suggest that a further mild contraction occurred in the euro area economy in the fourth quarter. A preliminary estimate of fourth-quarter GDP, scheduled to be released January 30, could confirm that the economy fell into recession in the period after GDP contracted by 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter.

  • The economy is slowing broadly in line with our expectations at this stage of policy tightening by the European Central Bank, and we continue to expect that a recession will be mild. We foresee full-year 2024 real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth of 0.5%–1%.
  • Markets are pricing in ECB rate cuts totalling 140 basis points, beginning in the second quarter. We believe that rate cuts will total only 75 basis points and won’t begin until the middle of the year. (A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.) Our outlook is predicated on the ECB’s own forecasting model. A risk to our view is that the ECB’s reaction to GDP and inflation data could deviate from the past as the central bank navigates a narrow path between inflation and recession risk.
  • Vanguard cautions that only about 60% of the disinflationary process in core inflation is complete. Most of the progress still to be achieved is concentrated in stickier services inflation, as two-thirds of the services basket continues to show inflation rates above 3%.
  • We anticipate a softening in the labour market as economic activity falls below its potential amid restrictive monetary and fiscal policy. We expect the unemployment rate to rise to an above-consensus range of 7%–7.5% in 2024, illustrating our scepticism that a “painless disinflation” is attainable.
United Kingdom

As in the euro area, economic growth in the U.K. continues to hover near zero. After modest growth in the first half of 2023, the U.K. economy contracted by 0.1% in the third quarter, a second GDP estimate showed. That was a revision from a preliminary estimate of 0% growth. High-frequency data suggest the economy stagnated or contracted minimally in the fourth quarter, in line with our outlook for a mild recession.

  • For all of 2024, we foresee below-trend GDP growth in a range of 0.5%–1% as the effects of contractionary monetary and fiscal policy are fully felt. As inflation falls, however, we expect economic activity to receive a modest boost from gains in real wage growth.
  • We continue to foresee fewer and later Bank of England (BOE) rate cuts than the markets do. We expect 100 basis points of policy rate cuts in 2024 beginning in the middle of the year at the earliest, compared with market expectations for 120 basis points of cuts beginning in May or June. (A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.)
Emerging markets

Some central banks in Latin America, including those in Chile and Brazil, have already begun to cut policy interest rates, and we expect further cuts in 2024. But the gaps between high rates of monetary policy and receding rates of inflation are wide, particularly in Latin America, meaning that monetary policies are restrictive. We expect them to remain so even amid rate cuts.

  • In emerging Europe, where the gap between policy and inflation rates isn’t as large and policy is consequently less restrictive, we foresee first-half policy rate cuts amid economic growth concerns that are greater than in Latin America.
  • In emerging Asia, where inflation didn’t run as high and growth prospects appear brighter, we don’t foresee rate cuts until the second half of 2024.
  • We expect emerging markets GDP to grow mostly in line with consensus in 2024 and to a greater degree than that of developed markets. We anticipate real (inflation-adjusted) growth of around 4% for emerging markets broadly—around 5% for emerging Asia and 2%–2.5% for emerging Europe and Latin America.

Core inflation has gone sideways in recent months, complicating the calculus for the Bank of Canada (BOC), which we expect to be among the first developed market central banks to cut policy interest rates this year.

  • We foresee Canada falling into a mild recession early in 2024, with recovery later in the year in response to expected monetary policy rate cuts. We anticipate full-year 2024 real (inflation-adjusted) economic growth of about 1%.
  • We anticipate that BOC rate cuts could as much as halve the overnight rate, to a range of 2.5%–3%, by the end of 2024.
  • We foresee core inflation falling to 2%–2.5% on a year-over-year basis, within the BOC’s target range, by the end of 2024, with house prices moderating in response to declining affordability.
  • Employment was virtually unchanged in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8%. We foresee the unemployment rate rising to 6%–6.5% in 2024.


Important information:

The projections and other information generated by the Vanguard Capital Markets Model® regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. VCMM results will vary with each use and over time.

The VCMM projections are based on a statistical analysis of historical data. Future returns may behave differently from the historical patterns captured in the VCMM. More important, the VCMM may be underestimating extreme negative scenarios unobserved in the historical period on which the model estimation is based.

The Vanguard Capital Markets Model is a proprietary financial simulation tool developed and maintained by Vanguard’s primary investment research and advice teams. The model forecasts distributions of future returns for a wide array of broad asset classes. Those asset classes include U.S. and international equity markets, several maturities of the U.S. Treasury and corporate fixed income markets, international fixed income markets, U.S. money markets, commodities, and certain alternative investment strategies. The theoretical and empirical foundation for the Vanguard Capital Markets Model is that the returns of various asset classes reflect the compensation investors require for bearing different types of systematic risk (beta). At the core of the model are estimates of the dynamic statistical relationship between risk factors and asset returns, obtained from statistical analysis based on available monthly financial and economic data from as early as 1960. Using a system of estimated equations, the model then applies a Monte Carlo simulation method to project the estimated interrelationships among risk factors and asset classes as well as uncertainty and randomness over time. The model generates a large set of simulated outcomes for each asset class over several time horizons. Forecasts are obtained by computing measures of central tendency in these simulations. Results produced by the tool will vary with each use and over time.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Investments in bonds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk. Investments in stocks and bonds issued by non-U.S. companies are subject to risks including country/regional risk and currency risk. These risks are especially high in emerging markets.

This article contains certain 'forward looking' statements. Forward looking statements, opinions and estimates provided in this article are based on assumptions and contingencies which are subject to change without notice, as are statements about market and industry trends, which are based on interpretations of current market conditions. Forward-looking statements including projections, indications or guidance on future earnings or financial position and estimates are provided as a general guide only and should not be relied upon as an indication or guarantee of future performance. There can be no assurance that actual outcomes will not differ materially from these statements. To the full extent permitted by law, Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd (ABN 72 072 881 086 AFSL 227263) and its directors, officers, employees, advisers, agents and intermediaries disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release any updates or revisions to the information to reflect any change in expectations or assumptions.



By Vanguard
January 2024

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Retirement Planning

Retiring on your own terms is not always easy to achieve, however it is evident that those who plan for retirement are more likely to do so. Results also show that obtaining professional help during the pre-retirement years further improves the probability of attaining your retirement objectives.

The earlier you start implementing a plan the better the outcomes.

During one’s working life there is always an income to make ends meet when raising children, paying off a mortgage, etc.

Retirement planning is about the lifestyle you will have after you stop work and receiving employment income.  Planning focuses on issues such as how much superannuation is enough, taking a super pension, claiming the Age Pension, making superannuation contributions while receiving a pension from a super fund, estate planning and looking after your family.

Planning properly is becoming even more important now we are expected to live longer.  This greater need means that professional help has never been more important.

At Wybenga Financial we will provide the time and expertise needed to help you implement the best pre-retirement plan possible.  Contact us today to discuss how we can work together on: (02) 9300 3000 or .

Building Wealth

Investing your hard earned savings can be a complex task.  There are many issues such as levels of risk, market timing, asset classes, and your own goals, objectives and preferences that need to be considered. It can often seem a daunting task. At Wybenga Financial we have the expertise to assist you in taking control of your finances and making sure you are generating the wealth you need both now and in the future.

The first step is to create a plan. At Wybenga Financial we take great care in getting to know our clients and their future goals and objectives. We combine our knowledge of your personal goals together with an analysis of your current situation, to create a detailed, personalised plan that will help you meet your objectives. This plan will become your road map which outlines how we are going to meet your goals, whilst aligning all investment decisions to your specific risk tolerance.

After we have created your personal plan, we move to implementation. This is where we action the immediate changes set out in your plan, and put in place reminders for anything that is to occur in the future. As your professional advisers, we can action many steps on your behalf making the implementation of changes as painless for our clients as possible. We aim to make the process smooth and seamless, providing a holistic service that can be executed with ease.

The final and most important phase of the relationship with Wybenga Financial is the ongoing management and monitoring of your wealth. This ensures you are sticking to your plan and that your portfolio is aligned to your needs and attitude toward risk. An ongoing relationship ensures that we know when your circumstances change and that these can be recognised and reflected in changes to your investment approach.

While we are monitoring your portfolio from the perspective of your personal goals and situation, we also take into account the wider economic landscape and changes to legislation. We continually review and analyse our preferred investments in a structured and objective way. The benefit to our clients is that we are unemotional. This can be significantly beneficial over the long term.

At Wybenga Financial we can provide the time and expertise that will help you invest intelligently and prudently.  Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .

Personal Insurance

Life insurance isn’t just a cost, though it often feels like it.  You buy peace-of-mind that should a serious issue effect you then the consequences won’t unduly affect your family.  Insurance provides you with the ability to manage the financial and emotional impact of some of the more drastic events, whether personally or in your small business.

Insurance can’t replace a loved one but it can help reduce the financial burden by providing the capital to ensure your family has choices.

Many Australians are underinsured and the consequences can be very serious for families should there be a death or serious injury. A yes to any of the following questions means you may have a need for insurance coverage:

  1. Do you have a mortgage?
  2. Do you have school fees?
  3. Do you have any personal loans?
  4. Do you have any credit card debt?
  5. Do you have dependents?
  6. Would your financial position be affected if you were to suffer from an illness or injury?
  7. Do you want to have enough capital to look after your dependents if you were unable to care for them for an extended period of time or perhaps indefinitely?

We understand that it can be difficult determining the type and level of cover you might need, let alone choosing an insurer. We can assist by helping you determine your needs and recommend an insurer that is right for you.

At Wybenga Financial we know how to protect your wealth and will recommend solutions that best suit your needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .


Superannuation is mandatory but taking an early and active interest in your retirement planning is critical to ensuring your benefits are maximised by the time you retire.  Many will have a superannuation scheme through employment but increasing numbers are starting their own Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF).

For many, simply relying on employer contributions may not be enough to provide the lifestyle you desire at retirement. We can assist in building strategies to ensure your retirement goals are met and your required lifestyle is maintained throughout retirement.

It is always best to start saving and planning for your retirement as early as you can. 

At Wybenga Financial we know our job is to help you meet your retirement needs and we have the skills and experience to do this for you.  Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .

Self Managed Super Funds

Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs) offer a good strategy option for many individuals, families and small business owners to build tax effective wealth and to protect assets over time. SMSFs are becoming popular for those who are ready to take control of their own super investments as they give you ultimate control and flexibility to manage your retirement benefits.

It must be noted though, that you will have increased responsibilities as a trustee of the fund. As a SMSF Trustee you need to keep up to date with all required regulations and keep up with the fast paced financial markets.

Wybenga Financial can work with you to understand your personal financial situation and decide whether a SMSF structure is appropriate for you. We will also make sure your assets are invested in the most effective way to maximise your retirement benefits.

Should you wish to consider establishing a SMSF then we can help with all aspects of the process from establishment to managing your compliance obligations.

Wybenga Financial would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help maximise your opportunities to grow your wealth through a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF).  Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .

Estate Planning

Your estate is made up of everything you own. This includes your home, property, furniture, car, personal possessions, business, investments, superannuation and bank accounts.

Having an estate plan is extremely important.  Having a will is just the first step in your estate plan. It is critical to consider what outcomes you would like for your estate and to ensure a plan is in place to achieve those outcomes, both including and beyond the terms of your will.

Wybenga Financial would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help ensure your estate is organised to ensure your plans are implemented as you wish.  Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .


Loans and loan management are central to overall financial management.  Obtaining the best loans for your needs is crucial and Wybenga Financial can help you with solutions that meet your short and long term needs.

At Wybenga Financial we work with experienced mortgage brokers that can assist you in obtaining the best loan for your needs and objectives. Whilst this is an external service, we work closely with the brokers to ensure the process is as easy and smooth as possible.

Contact us today to discuss how we can work together: (02) 9300 3000 or .


We have partnerships with many respected property agents and research firms. This enables us to source suitable properties for individuals, couples and families looking to make an investment into property.

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Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is determining how an investor is going to meet their goals and objectives. It is about helping clients define their goals, gathering information and analysing data to make a plan, then implementing the plan and monitoring the results. It is also monitoring and updating goals and objectives as clients move through different phases of life.

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Secure File Transfer

Secure File Transfer is a facility that allows the safe and secure exchange of confidential files or documents between you and us.

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Tess Uncle

B.Sc, M.Com, CA, DipFP

Tess has over 22-years experience in Chartered Accounting Firms and in this time has had a broad range of experience in superannuation, taxation, business services, and financial strategy.

Over the last seven-years, Tess has turned her attention to Financial Planning, earning a Diploma of Financial Planning in 2015 and leading the newly established financial division of the Wybenga Group as a director of Wybenga Financial.

Tess’s mission is to bring the ethics and integrity of her Chartered Accounting background to the area of wealth management.

As a woman in a male dominated field, Tess is active in promoting gender equality in the industry through various programs and mentoring opportunities.

Using her depth of knowledge and experience in tax and accounting Tess is able to demonstrate a level of competence that is unique in the Financial Planning sector.

  • 2001 – Commenced employment with Wybenga & Partners and part-time accountancy studies
  • 2004 – Graduated Masters of Commerce from the University of New South Wales
  • 2005 – Admitted as an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia
  • 2007 – Promoted to Manager at Wybenga & Partners
  • 2012 – Appointed as Associate Director
  • 2015 – Awarded a Diploma of Financial Planning
  • 2016 – Appointed as Partner of Wybenga Group and Director of Wybenga Financial

Schedule a Meeting with Tess

Adam Roberts

B.Bus, B.Sc, CA, DipFP

Adam has over 18-years experience in Chartered Accounting Firms and in this time has had a broad range of experience in superannuation, taxation, business services, and financial strategy.

Over the last seven-years, Adam has turned his attention to Financial Planning, earning a Diploma of Financial Planning in 2015 and leading the newly established financial division of the Wybenga Group as a director of Wybenga Financial.

Adam’s mission is to bring the ethics and integrity of his Chartered Accounting background to the area of wealth management.

Combining traditional accounting and financial services has been a welcome move for Adam, allowing him to operate and advise in the financial sector that has been a long time personal passion.

Using his depth of knowledge and experience in tax and accounting Adam is able to demonstrate a level of competence that is unique in the Financial Planning sector.

  • 2005 – Graduated Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Sydney
  • 2005 – Commenced employment with Wybenga & Partners and part-time accountancy studies
  • 2007 – Graduated Bachelor of Business from the University of Western Sydney
  • 2010 – Admitted as an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia
  • 2010 – Promoted to Manager at Wybenga & Partners
  • 2012 – Appointed as Associate Director
  • 2015 – Awarded a Diploma of Financial Planning
  • 2016 – Appointed as Partner of Wybenga Group and Director of Wybenga Financial

Schedule a Meeting with Adam

Advisory Cadetships

What is an Advisory Cadetship?
An Advisory Cadetship enables you to commence your career whilst attaining the necessary university qualifications by studying part-time.

How does it work?
Generally, our cadets complete a relevant business or accounting degree at the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University, or the University of Western Sydney.

The Firm provides 3-hours paid study leave per week to attend university. This can either be taken at the one time or broken between days depending on the individual’s requirements. In addition, the Firm provides paid study leave for both mid-semester and end-of-year exams.

We take the work life balance very seriously at Wybenga Financial and our cadets are encouraged to have a fulfilling life outside the office. A typical day will have you arriving at the office at around 8.30am with most days concluding at 5.30pm.

What are the benefits of an Advisory Cadetship with Wybenga Financial?
Our cadets benefit from the following:

  • Career path – on completion of their degree our cadets have significant practical experience which will assist them in advancing their careers
  • Work helps your studies – by working full-time our cadets are able to apply their practical knowledge in the university subjects
  • Camaraderie with other cadets – the Firm has a number of cadets at various stages of their career
  • Mentoring – cadets are paired with a senior staff member who oversees their progress and training both at work and with their studies
  • Communication and feedback – the Firm has an open door policy which enables all cadets to interact with all members of staff including Directors
  • Culture – the Firm promotes a friendly social culture with a number of functions throughout the year
  • Modern environment – including ‘socialising’ areas such as pool table and break out area
  • Training – ongoing support and technical training. We also provide internal and external training on a monthly basis
  • Remuneration – working full-time provides a market salary and independence with salaries being reviewed every 6-months

What happens when I complete my degree?
The completion of your degree is the first step of what we hope to be a long and successful career with us. The next step is the commencement of a Diploma of Financial Planning followed by completing the requirements to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

There are always progression opportunities for the right cadets and we are dedicated to the long term development of our staff.

Who should apply?
Current Year 12 students or first/second year University Students who:

  • want to commence their career in financial advisory;
  • are due to commence or are currently completing a part-time business or commerce degree at university with an advisory major;
  • want to gain valuable hands-on experience while completing their qualifications;
  • are looking for a friendly working environment;
  • are team players who display initiative;
  • have a commitment to self-development;
  • possess excellent personal presentation and communication skills; and
  • are motivated and mature minded.

How do I apply for an Advisory Cadetship?
To apply for a Cadetship position at Wybenga Financial send us your details. Please also include in your covering letter why you wish to do a cadetship, include relevant qualities you possess, main interests / achievements, and any previous employment.

Interested candidates should initially forward a resume/covering letter of no more than 3-pages. Please provide full details of contact information (telephone or e-mail).

What if I have more questions?
For further information about our Cadetship program, please send your enquiry to .