SEI recently released its second-quarter Economic Outlook. Here is a summary of our key perspectives, focusing on global economic growth, monetary policy, inflation, geopolitics, elections across the globe, and equity markets. 

• At the onset of 2024, SEI anticipated that business activity in the U.S. would decelerate over the course of the year; so far, the economy remains fairly resilient, but signs of stress among lower-income households and mixed messages from the employment surveys suggest that the economy is downshifting to a lower growth rate, in line with our full-year expectations at the beginning of 2024. 
• Inflation remains a problem the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) cannot ignore. Although both the headline and core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price indexes (measures of inflation) have advanced less than 3% in the past year, most other measures are still in the 3%-4% range. We continue to believe that inflation will remain in a “new-normal” range that is consistently higher than was recorded after the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 to 2009 and before the onset of the pandemic in 2020. 
• Higher-for-longer inflation should also mean higher-for longer interest rates. At the start of the year, markets were pricing in as many as six or seven cuts by the end of 2024 for the U.S. federal-funds rate, the Bank of England’s (BOE) Bank Rate, and the European Central Bank’s (ECB) deposit rate. We thought at the time that this expectation was overly optimistic. Sure enough, the consensus view of the number of policy-rate cuts between now and year-end have moved much closer to our own. 
• We continue to believe that monetary policy is restrictive, but not as much as market participants generally think. Policy rates will probably fall only gradually. Zero and near-zero interest rates are unlikely to be seen again for a long, long time, even in a recession. 
• Geopolitical stress remains at an elevated level, although the temperature is much lower than in 2022. Ongoing military conflicts in Russia and Gaza could result in another price surge in oil and other commodities, or worse, a geographical expansion of the conflicts. Moreover, the heavy election schedule around the globe has already thrown up some surprises. All eyes will soon turn to the U.S. presidential and Congressional elections in November. The stakes are very high given the contrasting platforms of the two major parties. Still, given the binary nature of the eventual outcome and the even split among the electorate, we hesitate to base any portfolio decisions purely on political considerations. Far better to stick to economic fundamentals.
• Despite these issues, U.S. markets are generally taking all this geopolitical noise in stride. The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) is at its lowest level thus far this year, while the Geopolitical Risk Index (a measure of adverse geopolitical events and threats based on a tally of newspaper articles) has calmed as well. 
• At the start of the year, SEI noted that investors were unusually optimistic, driven in part by the superb performance of the S&P 500 Index during 2023. The S&P 500 has continued its ascent in 2024, and our expectation for a greater than 10% price correction has gone unfulfilled. Still, the performance of the S&P 500 continues to be dominated by a handful of stocks which may be troubling. The 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 now account for 35% of the total market capitalization of the index. While extreme geopolitical events can shock markets and cause the VIX to spike, it is important to note that the stock market has often been quite volatile when geopolitical tensions are relatively low. 
• In summary, SEI’s key macro expectations are: inflation is likely to be higher for longer; interest rates should settle closer to the levels that prevailed before the onset of the Global Financial Crisis; central-bank policies may diverge regarding the timing and extent of rate cuts; and equity and currency volatility is expected to rise from notably depressed readings.


Policy rates are the interest rates set by central banks, used to influence other interest rates. This includes the Fed’s federalfunds rate in the U.S., the BOE’s Bank Rate in the U.K., and the ECB’s deposit rate in Europe. 

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) refers to the period of extreme stress in global financial markets and banking systems between mid-2007 and early 2009.

Index definitions 

Capitalization-weighted indexes determine the weights of their constituents based on the underlying companies’ total market capitalizations, leading larger companies to have larger allocations.

Equal-weighted indexes assign equal allocations to their constituents, leading the smaller companies in terms of market capitalization to have a larger impact than they would in a capitalization-weighted index.

The Geopolitical Risk Index is a measure of adverse geopolitical events and threats based on a tally of newspaper articles. 

A purchasing managers’ index (PMI) tracks the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors. 

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) measures the constant 30-day volatility of the U.S. stock market using real-time, mid-quote prices of S&P 500 Index call and put options. A call option gives the holder the right to buy a stock at a specified price; a put option gives the holder the right to sell a stock at a specified price. 

The S&P 500 Index is a market-weighted index that tracks the performance of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. companies and is considered representative of the broad U.S. stock market.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index measures the prices that consumers pay for goods and services to reveal underlying inflation trends. The Core PCE Price Index excludes volatile food and energy prices.

Important information

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. Positioning and holdings are subject to change. All information as of the date indicated. There are risks involved with investing, including possible loss of principal. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice, (unless you have otherwise separately entered into a written agreement with SEI for the provision of investment advice) nor should it be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a security. The reader should consult with their financial professional for more information. 

Statements that are not factual in nature, including opinions, projections and estimates, assume certain economic conditions and industry developments and constitute only current opinions that are subject to change without notice. Nothing herein is intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. 

Certain economic and market information contained herein has been obtained from published sources prepared by other parties, which in certain cases have not been updated through the date hereof. While such sources are believed to be reliable, neither SEI nor its affiliates assumes any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of such information and such information has not been independently verified by SEI. 

There are risks involved with investing, including loss of principal. The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up. Investors may get back less than the original amount invested. Returns may increase or decrease as a result of currency fluctuations. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Investment may not be suitable for everyone. 

Index returns are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent actual investment performance. Index performance returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs or expenses. Indexes are unmanaged, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance does not guarantee future results. 

This material is not directed to any persons where (by reason of that person's nationality, residence or otherwise) the publication or availability of this material is prohibited. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not rely on this information in any respect whatsoever.

The information contained herein is for general and educational information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, research or investment advice regarding the strategies or any security in particular, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment. This information should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a security, derivative or futures contract. You should not act or rely on the information contained herein without obtaining specific legal, tax, accounting and investment advice from an investment professional. 

The views contained herein are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any investment in any jurisdiction. Our outlook contains forward-looking statements that are judgments based upon our current assumptions, beliefs, and expectations. If any of the factors underlying our current assumptions, beliefs or expectations change, our statements as to potential future events or outcomes may be incorrect. We undertake no obligation to update our forward-looking statements. 

Information in the U.S. is provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation (SIMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI). 

Information provided in Canada by SEI Investments Canada Company, the Manager of the SEI Funds in Canada