Business Insider asked the Chief Investment Officer of $100 billion manager Bessemer Trust on what she thinks are the biggest risks to the global economy.
“I’m always worried about what I’m missing,” said Rebecca Patterson in an interview with Business Insider. “I’m always worried most about the thing I’m not catching.”
According to Patterson, the three risk factors she worries most about are bond market volatility surrounding Federal Reserve appointments, the French election, and Russia’s involvement in Europe.
Patterson cites August 2015 when fears mounted over who was going to replace Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. As speculation swirled, bond market volatility surpassed equity market volatility. There are two vacant seats President Trump can fill now that he has taken office and there could be four or five more in the next two years. Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen’s term officially ends in January 2018.
“People are pricing in the risk of trade problems, the risk of equities, pricing in a lot of good news,” Patterson said. “I don’t think the market is adequately focused yet on the possible bond volatility we could get later this year. “
A second source of worry for Patterson is the French election and the possible electoral victory of Marine Le Pen of the right-wing populist National Front party in France. Many believe that a populist victory in France could spell the start of the unraveling of the European Union and the Euro.
“Everyone is aware of it, everyone knows it coming, that’s not going to be a shock,” said Patterson. “But if it actually plays out that Le Pen wins, I’m not sure if investors are adequately aware of the negative and broad implications that could have.”
Finally, Patterson looks towards Russia and the impact that Putin’s involvement could have in Europe. “I worry about Russia in that Putin has proven for several years now that he is good at seizing opportunities.”
According to Patterson, another rush of migrants into Europe this spring or any other potentially destabilizing events that could create more question marks around the strength of the European Union or the European currency bloc “definitely works to Russia’s advantage.”
“A weaker Europe is good for Russia,” said Patterson. “Not weaker economically but weaker politically. And so that is definitely something that I think about a lot in terms of risks that we have to watch out for this year.”